5 benefits of dumbbell squats

Are there any benefits to dumbbell squats over barbell squats? Are dumbbell squats really a good way to train legs?

The squat is a great compound lower-body exercise that hits all parts of your glutes—gluteus maximus, gluteus medius and gluteus minimus. You can do them with your own body weight or using resistance like a barbell, kettlebells or dumbbells.

And while most people think of squats as the traditional barbell squat with the bar on the back, there are so many squat variations that should be considered.

woman in long sleeve doing dumbbell squats

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Dumbbell squats

The dumbbell squat targets every part of your legs, including your quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves. Not to mention, your abs and lower back.

Squats improve the strength of your muscles, joints and bones and increase flexibility, making you less prone to injuries both in training and in everyday life activities such as picking stuff up and sitting down.

Here are 7 benefits of working dumbbell squats into your exercise routine.

Less equipment needed

All you need are a pair of dumbbells. You do not need a squat rack, a popular piece of lifting equipment local gyms.

You can grab a pair of dumbbells at home or in the gym and get the same results without the weight plates, barbells and squat rack.

Whether you’re traveling and have only a small hotel room, or you want to get in a gym-free workout at home, squats are a convenient, powerful exercise move for tight spaces, limited time and minimal equipment workouts.

Easier on the body

Dumbbells won’t compress the spine the same way a loaded barbell will. The weight is at your side for most dumbbell squat variations.

Your back isn’t doing the work when descending and popping out of the hole of a squat like in back squats.

You also can drop the weight to the floor if you can’t complete the rep.

They work your entire body

You can work multiple muscle groups at the same time depending on where you hold the weights (by your chest in a goblet position, in front of your shoulders or at your sides).

For example, a goblet squat activates your shoulders and core to keep your chest lifted and your back upright. A split squat targets the muscles in each leg, ensuring you’re building equal strength on both sides, while enlisting the muscles in your forearms and back to keep the weights by your sides.

Dumbbells don’t cost a lot of money

Dumbbells are cheaper to buy and much more convenient than having to buy a squat rack, weight plates and the flooring set up.

Helps with the progression of other squat variations 

Dumbbell squats are an excellent exercise for new lifters and working on their proper form. It is easy to learn and perform this weighted squat.

Once you get comfortable with a dumbbell squat, progressing to other weighted squats will feel easier.

Variations to try

Dumbbell Goblet Squat

woman in long sleeve shirt doing goblet squats

The dumbbell goblet squat biggest things to remember when performing the goblet squat is to keep your chest up the entire time. Don’t let your body dip or lean forward. 

  • Select a dumbbell and position it at the front of your chest with one hand under each edge of the dumbbell.
  • Take a deep breath and descend by simultaneously pushing the hips back and bending the knees.
  • Once your thighs reach parallel with the floor, begin to reverse the movement.
  • Keep your abs braced and drive your feet through the floor.
  • Drive back to the starting position and repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Dumbbell Squat Press

The dumbbell squat press adds upper body muscles with the shoulder press as a part of the exercise. It’s also a great way to build up some serious strength in your legs and stability overall.

  • Start by holding a dumbbell in each hand at shoulder level with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Lower yourself into a squat position, keeping your back straight and your head up.
  • Press through your heels to return to the starting position and as you do so, press the dumbbells overhead.
  • Lower the dumbbells back down to shoulder level and repeat.

Dumbbell Bulgarian split squats

dumbbell bulgarian split squat starting position
woman in long sleeve doing dumbbell bulgarian split squats

Bulgarian split squats are basically unilateral exercises, like lunges.

  • Stand with your back to a bench or stable surface.
  • Place your right foot behind you on the bench and the left foot planted on the ground. This should resemble a lunge position.
  • Hold a pair of dumbbells in your hands and keep your chest tall and core tight.
  • Lunge down to the ground until you’ve reached full range of motion. 
  • The majority of the weight should be kept over the front foot with the additional weight on the rear foot.
  • To stand back up, drive through the heel on your front foot and come back to a standing position.
  • Repeat and then switch sides

Dumbbell Jump Squats

woman in long sleeve shirt setting up jump squat
woman in long sleeve shirt jump squats

Dumbbell jump squats are an explosive plyometric exercise that helps build power and burn your quads and glutes.

  • Grab a dumbbell in each hand and let them hang at your side.
  • Squat down about a quarter of the way, and then jump upwards as high as you can.
  • Land softly on your feet, and then go directly into the next repetition.
  • Repeat for the desired amount of reps.

Are dumbbell squats effective for building muscle?

Dumbbell squats will help you build muscle in your lower body, especially your quadriceps muscles. They also are safer for many lifters compared to using a barbell.

What muscles do dumbbell squats work?

Dumbbell squats primarily work the four muscles that make up the quadriceps muscle group. They also work the glute and hamstrings to a lesser degree.

The dumbbell squat is a compound exercise that almost anyone can do.

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