How To Do Squats With Dumbbells

Looking to build strength and power in your quads, glutes, hamstrings, and calves? No workout engages more below the waist than the squat. The dumbbell squat is one foundational exercise you won’t want to skip.

Traditional squats can burden your upper back with a weight load that can hinder your technique. With dumbbell squats, this weight load is eliminated, so you can concentrate more on your form.

How To Do Squats With Dumbbells
Want to learn how to master the dumbbell squat? Stick with us for a comprehensive guide on how to squat (the right way) with dumbbells.


How To Dumbbell Squat: Beginners Guide

Before we learn how to dumbbell squat correctly, let’s clear up a few important questions.


What Is A Dumbbell Squat?

To perform a dumbbell squat, you’ll need to hold an equally weighted pair of dumbbells at your sides and move from a standing position into squat form. Dumbbell squats can help promote muscle growth because they add more resistance to your workout than your traditional bodyweight.


What Weight Dumbbells Should I Use for Squats?

30lb to 40lb dumbbells are recommended for dumbbell squats, but you can work with something lighter if you feel more comfortable.

How Many Sets And Repetitions Should I Do?

To begin with, you should aim for six to ten repetitions and two to three sets. Ensure you warm up adequately beforehand.

If you’re a beginner or haven’t worked out for a while, we recommend starting with two sets.

1. Warm-Up

Like any exercise, your first step should be to warm up. Dumbbell squats work your hamstrings, glutes, quads, and calves, so your warm-up should focus on these muscle groups in particular. Here are some warm-up ideas you can try before your dumbbell squats:

  • Tabletop Hip Extension: 8 reps
  • Glute Bridge: 8 reps
  • Walking Lunge Twist: 8 reps
  • Arm Circles: 8 reps
  • Jump Rope: 2 minutes
  • Reverse Lunge to Knee Raise: 12 reps each side

Note: We haven’t given you a number of sets to do here. You can do as many sets as you feel comfortable with. The number of sets may vary depending on how many exercises you want to incorporate into your workout.

2. Dumbbells And Form

Now you’re suitably warmed up, it’s time to grab the dumbbells. Hold the dumbbells by your sides, and have your palms facing your legs.

Remember, the right posture is essential. You should be standing tall with your feet a shoulder-width apart from each other. Incorporate a slight bend into your knees.

Make sure your shoulders are positioned directly over your hips and retain a neutral position in the head and neck. Keep your chin tucked in throughout the movement.

Now, pay attention to your feet. The weight on your feet should be distributed evenly over each foot. You shouldn’t be holding excess weight or tension in the front or balls of your feet. Make sure your feet are lying flat on the ground to avoid this.

Lastly, grip the floor with your feet to ensure they’re stable on the ground. Keep your arms by your sides, and make sure your elbows are slightly bent. This is the exact position you’ll want to begin your workout in.

3. Begin To Bend

Now you’re in position, it’s time to start bending. Keep the dumbbells close to your body, and begin to bend your hips, knees, and ankles.

When you get close to the floor, keep the dumbbells close to your body, but bend your arms in.

You should bend down until your thighs are as parallel as possible to the ground. However, you should only bend as far as possible to keep your pelvis completely level.

Once you’re in position, pause for a few seconds before standing back up.

Begin To Bend

4. Move Back Up

When you’re ready, it’s time to start moving back up. First, push your feet into the ground to give yourself some force. As you begin to stand up, keep your chest high and squeeze your glutes in.

Now, let your knees gently straighten as you move up. Your hips should begin to travel forward with you.

5. Finish The Movement

Now you’re back in a standing position, it’s time to finish the movement. When you’re standing, squeeze in your glutes and your quadriceps while keeping your spine in a neutral position.

When you finish each repetition, you should keep your shoulders directly over your hips.

Dumbbell Squats: Common Mistakes

Now we’ve walked you through the process of performing a dumbbell squat, let’s show a few of the most common mistakes you should be avoiding.

Leaning Forward

Some beginners lean forward when they do a dumbbell squat. Leaning forward can increase the strain on your back and leave you more susceptible to injury.

If you’re leaning during your dumbbell squat, try to move your posture back and envisage yourself sitting on your hips.

A Rounded Back

Keeping your back rounded can decrease your resistance for future sets and leave you feeling unnecessarily sore after your workout. A rounded back is often caused by inadequate core strength.

When you do your next warm-up, focus on strengthening your core with exercises like planks before you launch into a dumbbell squat.

Knees Beyond The Toes

If your knees move in front of your toes, your weight won’t be evenly distributed on your feet.

This can make it harder for you to perform the dumbbell squat and increase the risk of injury during a workout. Keep an eye on your form during your squat to avoid making this mistake.

Knees Going Inward

If you find that your knees bend inward during a dumbbell squat, this could cause problems for your posture and form and reduce your stamina in future sets.

To maintain good posture, remember to keep your knees aligned with your hips and ankles.

Final Thoughts

If you’ve mastered the humble squat and done it more times than you can count in your workout routine, why not shake things up with the dumbbell squat?

The squat is one of the most versatile exercises in the book. With a dumbbell in each hand, you can work out even more muscle groups, stay in shape, and have fun!

Kevin Harris
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