Exercise Profile
  • Target Muscle Group
  • Exercise TypeStrength
  • Equipment RequiredDumbbell
  • MechanicsCompound
  • Force TypePush
  • Experience LevelBeginner
  • Secondary Muscles
    Calves, Glutes, Hamstrings, Lower Back
Target Muscle Group


Quads Muscle Anatomy Diagram

Dumbbell Squat Instructions

  1. Set up for the dumbbell squat by choosing a pair of dumbbells and holding them down by your sides.
  2. Stand with a slight bend in your knees and your feet around shoulder width apart. Keep your head up and your back straight. This is the starting position.
  3. Keeping your eyes facing forward slowly lower your body down. Don't lean forward as you come down. Your buttocks should come out and drop straight down.
  4. Squat down as far as possible or at least until your thighs are parallel with the floor, and then slowly raise your body back up by pushing through your heels.
  5. Do not lock the knees out when you stand up, and then repeat the movement.

Exercise Tips:

  1. It's crucially important that you keep a straight back when you squat! You can ensure your back is straight by keeping your eyes facing forward, chest out, shoulder blades back, and back arched. Keep your core muscles tensed throughout the movement to help hold your back in place.
  2. Always push up through your heels. Curling up your toes can help you get the technique right.
  3. Never lean forward. This happens when your hips move up faster than your shoulders. To prevent this keep the rep timing slow and controlled and stick your buttocks out as you go down.
  4. When you squat down, your hips should be dropping straight down, not coming forward. Using a light weight, perfect your form standing side on to a mirror. Your knees should never track out and over your toes.
  5. Using squats to their full potential requires squatting down at least until your thighs are around parallel to the floor.
  6. Don't point your knees in or out when you're lowering or pushing the weight. This puts unnecessary strain on the knee joints.
  7. Never look down. As soon as you look down your back rounds, simple as that.
Kieran Guinnessy
Posted on: Mon, 07/11/2022 - 05:31

Hi. Just wanted to say thanks so much for the great workouts. I've been working out 2 months now and feel I'm getting stronger but have no structure to my workouts. These weekly routines are perfect, so thanks again :)

Posted on: Wed, 07/06/2022 - 14:54

Why is there no lower leg program here?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 07/07/2022 - 08:05

This is a video demonstration piece, not a full training article. Here's something you can run with for lower legs.


Posted on: Tue, 04/27/2021 - 07:07

Is it a beginner thing to really 'feel' your lower back above anywhere else when doing this? Or my form is just wrong?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 04/27/2021 - 09:48

Hey Robinor - this could be because you're not bracing your core properly. I'd suggest doing this exercise with light weights until you get the form down.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Wed, 04/28/2021 - 09:10

Check out this article on breathing and bracing: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/breathing-and-bracing-the-com...

Posted on: Tue, 04/27/2021 - 12:51

Thank you so much for replying! So do you know of any tips on how to brace the core properly? I don't even know what it means hehe

Posted on: Fri, 04/16/2021 - 02:30

I can't seem to feel my quads when I do this, I only feel it slightly above the knees, am I doing something wrong?

James Hester
Posted on: Tue, 02/09/2021 - 22:13

should i be increasing weight with each set

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Wed, 02/10/2021 - 09:17

Hey James - that depends on the program. Which program are you following?

Posted on: Wed, 01/20/2021 - 21:02

How much weight should I do? I am a beginner.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 01/21/2021 - 08:56

Hey AbigailTatar - you should choose a weight that is challenging but still allows you to safely perform the given number of reps with proper form.

Posted on: Thu, 01/14/2021 - 14:23

Is there a way to target more of your glutes ?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Fri, 01/15/2021 - 09:21

Hey Gracia - you can try a sumo goblet squat or hip thrusts.

Posted on: Thu, 12/17/2020 - 12:13

I am beginner, and I don't have a bench at home . my dumbbells weight is 6 kg total , is this weight good to start from, and which program u suggested for me(3 DAY FULL BODY DUMBBELL WORKOUT ) goood??.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Fri, 12/18/2020 - 09:39

Hey hadi - check out this single pair of dumbbells workout: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/single-pair-dumbbell-bodyweig...

Posted on: Mon, 10/12/2020 - 08:09

i have pull ups bar, dips bar, flat bench and 4 pair dumbbells with different weight can u give me a gud workout plan for every day.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 10/12/2020 - 09:23
Posted on: Thu, 09/17/2020 - 00:26

I had to start this without weights bc I couldn't get all the way down without leaning forward, I assume that just means I have a long way to go... Also is it ok that my heels come off the floor? I can't get anywhere close to parallel without getting up on the balls of my feet, I push through my heels coming up but my achilles are super sore when I'm finished.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 09/17/2020 - 10:21

Hey Ryan- starting off with bodyweight is a perfect way to nail proper form and execution! As for the heel lifting, I would definitely look into some mobility drills to address your ankles and/or hips. Check out this articles here:

The 5 Best Exercises That Improve Your Squat Technique

3 New Mobility Drills You Should Include in Your Warm Ups

Anand Monickam
Posted on: Wed, 07/31/2019 - 22:36

What weights (kgs or lbs) would you suggest for an absolute beginner on this routine?

Posted on: Thu, 10/17/2019 - 03:42

Ik this is kinda late but for a beginner you should start at a weight you feel comfortable with and can achieve the recquired rep range. If you can reach the max rep range you are aiming for, add another set. Once you complete that, progress ti the next comfortable weight. This is what you should do with all excercises:)

Anand Monickam
Posted on: Wed, 07/31/2019 - 21:40

This is my first day of exercise after a long time. Hopefully I can keep the 3 day workouts recommended here.

Posted on: Sat, 11/12/2016 - 21:17

Hello everyone,

I squat all the way down and find my dumbbells touch the floor before I get a full range of motion. Could I do this exercise on a small block or a couple of plates to lift me off the floor some what- as I've read elsewhere?

Posted on: Sun, 05/21/2017 - 09:54

I hold the dumbells over my shoulders, kind of resting them there, while I do the squat. Feels a lot better to me.

Posted on: Mon, 06/30/2014 - 16:10

Are you supposed to squeeze your cheeks while you do this?

Posted on: Sun, 04/06/2014 - 08:19

My knees crack horribly when doing this, even after a warm-up. Is this okay?

Posted on: Mon, 04/07/2014 - 10:12

As long there in no pain, you should be fine.

Posted on: Tue, 07/30/2013 - 00:54

please tell me if somebody know how should I breath when doing this exercise

Posted on: Tue, 08/25/2015 - 13:04

Breathe in going down, breathe out during the push back to standing.

Posted on: Mon, 03/11/2013 - 22:57

i have dumbell and a rood with total 52k waights can u give me a gud workout plan for every day....:):)

Posted on: Fri, 02/01/2013 - 15:37

What's the difference between these Dumbbell Squats and the Dumbbell Deadlift? https://www.muscleandstrength.com/exercises/dumbbell-deadlift.html

Posted on: Sat, 06/15/2013 - 02:51

DB Deadlift works out the lower back as primary,
DB Squat works the quads as the primary.

DB Deadlift is a 'pull' type exercise,
DB Squat is a 'push'

DB Deadlift works more middle back / traps / and forearms.
DB Squat focuses more on legs, glutes, and hamstrings.

Hope that helps!


Posted on: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 14:39

this is a squat. bc when going down in squats your hips and knee should form a straight line before you come back up. and he does that in this video

Lalo Dominguez
Posted on: Mon, 11/05/2012 - 14:19

will using only one dumbell be ok? i figure it would be better because i'm using more stabilization muscles to stay balanced

Posted on: Wed, 09/05/2012 - 23:28

This is most definitely a squat.

Posted on: Wed, 08/15/2012 - 11:30

This is not a dumbbell squat, this is a dumbbell crouch! A squat is when you lower yourself down as if you were lowering yourself onto a chair behind you. By ending up almost with your bottom on the floor, you are crouching. Not a good move.

Posted on: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 16:37

What would you suggest?
I find this tough too..

Frank Reyes
Posted on: Mon, 06/03/2019 - 06:52

Have you considered body weight squats? You can work on it (or variations of squats) to work on technique and form. Then when you are comfortable and ready, implement light weights and practice.

Posted on: Mon, 01/14/2013 - 14:04

And the most idiotic comment of the day award goes to...

Posted on: Mon, 05/22/2017 - 10:18


Frank Reyes
Posted on: Mon, 06/03/2019 - 06:50

He is squatting. His butt is going back like he is sitting back in a chair. His knees are not extending over his feet. What you are attempting to describe is the “ass to the ground” squats. Plus his back is arched and looks stabilized. Crouching would entail rounding one’s back and he does not do that here.

Posted on: Mon, 07/30/2012 - 10:50

What is a good way to determine how much weight to use? I am Female, 105lbs, in good cardio shape - used to doing body weight exercises as in Yoga. I am planning to do this as a part of the Whole Body Conditioning workout listed on this site at https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/conditioning-workout-for-wome.... My goal is to condition and tone, not necessarily "build" muscle.

Posted on: Tue, 07/17/2012 - 23:36

I'm confused by the 1st Tip, it says, "...keep a straight back when you squat! You can ensure your back is straight by keeping your ... back arched." What??

Posted on: Thu, 08/02/2012 - 15:15

Have your back itself arched but as a whole from hips to to shoulders be straight up.

Posted on: Mon, 06/25/2012 - 08:46

One question: The heels should stay fixed to the ground?
I think I lack flexibility here...

Posted on: Fri, 06/01/2012 - 15:21

Is it not more natural to do this with the feet pointing outward instead of straight forward (feet in a "V" shape, but shoulder width apart)?

Posted on: Wed, 07/11/2012 - 16:15

"ChrisMcG", it's not technically "more natural to do this with the feet pointing outward instead of straight forward", but the exercise should be executed in this manor. For anyone whom takes scientific experiments and discoveries seriously, and or cares for the health of their knees - they should either;

- 1. take up this advice,
- 2. do further research into the safest method of squatting.

Which ever option you chose, you'll find yourself squatting with your knees apart.

ian wilson
Posted on: Sun, 04/29/2012 - 12:00


Posted on: Fri, 04/27/2012 - 23:18

This exercise is great and I check the vid from time to time to execute a good form. :D