Tip: One Dumbbell, Big Quads

Have limited equipment? Here's how to build some meaty legs without a pile of 45s.


This requires minimal equipment and provides an awesome peak contraction due to leverage. And if you have the right bench and setup you can get more range of motion than many leg extension machines.

Dumbbell Leg Extension

Your body can be manipulated more freely during execution to achieve both a great loaded stretch on the quads along with a high peak contraction. While back support is great when it comes to isolation for most exercises, allowing the torso free movement during this one can benefit it even more.

How to Do It

  • Set a bench at a low incline and position yourself on the end of it. Get your knees over the edge in the same fashion as a machine extension.
  • Clamp a single dumbbell between the arches of your feet, lean back slightly, and grab both sides of the bench with your hands for stability.
  • Extend the knees until they're straight and engage the adductors (inner thigh muscles) to keep the dumbbell in position until you've fully extended your legs.

For a larger peak contraction, lean forward at the top of the movement as you extend the knees fully. Then on the descent, lean back into a state of near extension of the hips. Squeeze your glutes until the dumbbell reaches the bottom. This will give you a great loaded stretch.

Big Quads, No Squat Rack

The Best Damn No-Weights Workout