30-Minute Legs and Back Workout (Strength + Cardio)

LEGS and BACK, two of the largest muscles groups in your body paired together in this 30-Minute Legs and Back Workout! The powerful combination of strength training and cardio make this an effective 30 minute dumbbell workout (that burns calories hours after your workout).

Two of my favorite muscles groups to train together — LEGS and BACK! 

I fell in love with training legs and back together after having my first child. Because I needed a home workout that was: 

  • An effective, strength and cardio workout
  • Targeting the biggest muscles groups in the body while also improving core strength
  • Done in 30-minutes using a set of dumbbells

Enter this 30-Minute Legs and Back Workout; the best home workout for busy women who want to get fit.

Single arm dumbbell row | legs and back workout

What are the largest muscle groups in the body?

  • Glutes – the largest muscle group in the lower body.
  • Back – the largest muscle group in the upper body.

Pair them together and you get an effective, 30-minute legs and back workout that targets two of the LARGEST muscle groups in your body. 

By pairing two major muscles together you maximize muscle building and calorie burn.

What are the benefits of training the legs and back together in this legs and back workout?

  1. Maximize muscle building and calorie burn by training two large muscle groups together.
  2. Improve core strength and total-body function.
  3. Reduce lower back pain.

Legs and Back Workout for Women

Let’s dive deeper into why I specifically recommend this legs and back workout for women.

3 reasons strong glutes are important for women: 

Strong glutes are important for:

  1. Proper pelvic alignment – pelvic tilt and width increase with pregnancy.
  2. Running and walking – the glutes support your bodyweight while propelling you forward during these daily activities.
  3. Supporting the lower back during lifting motions – wether it’s lifting weights of picking up children.

For more ways to strengthen your glutes at home try these leg workouts: 30 Minute Leg Day Workout for Women and 10 Glute Activation Exercises.

3 reasons a strong back is important for women: 

  1. Perform daily tasks with ease and while protecting against injury.
  2. Better posture.
  3. Move better (your lats, back muscles, help move your core and arms).

For more back exercises you can do at home try these back workouts: 8 Best Back Exercises for Women and 10 Minute Dumbbell Arm Workout for Women.

30-Minute Legs and Back Workout with Cardio

Legs Back and Cardio At Home Workout with Dumbbells

Strength training and powerful plyometric exercises combine in this challenging 30-Minute LEGS and BACK workout!

Training these major metabolic muscle groups together means you get an efficient full body workout with dumbbells in 30 minutes, AND you continue burning calories for hours after your workout finishes.

I suggest adding this legs and back workout to your fitness routine 1-2 times a week.

Equipment:

Medium to heavy set of dumbbells.

I suggest 8-20 lb dumbbells. I’m using 15 and 20 lb dumbbells for this workout.

Instructions:

Follow along with the guided video at the top of this post. I’ll coach you through this 30-minute legs and back workout; counting reps for each exercise.

The workout consists of three circuits; each circuit has one leg exercise, one back exercise, and one plyometric cardio exercise. Complete the number of repetitions listed next to each exercise below.

Repeat each circuit x2 sets. Then finish with a burnout round; completing 10 reps of each exercise. 

CIRCUIT ONE

  • Dumbbell Squat + Calf Raise, 10 reps
  • Squat Jumps, 20 reps
  • Narrow + Reverse Grip Back Rows, 30 reps

CIRCUIT TWO

  • Dumbbell Reverse Lunges, 10 reps per leg
  • Split Jumps, 15 reps per leg
  • Single Arm Rows, 10 reps per arm

CIRCUIT THREE

  • Lateral Squat Sit Backs, 10 reps per leg
  • Lateral Lunge + Bound, 15 reps per leg
  • Prone Rear Back Flys, 20 reps

1. Dumbbell Squat and Calf Raise – 10 Reps

Works: the quadriceps muscles (front of the thighs) and the gluteus maximus (butt). Adding the calf raises also engages the hamstrings (back of the thighs) and the calves.

The dumbbell squat works all the large leg muscles and is staple in any fitness routine for functional strength.

dumbbell squat with calf raise

How to do a Dumbbell Squat + Calf Raise:

  1. Begin in neutral standing position, feet shoulder width distance apart, holding dumbbells at your sides.
  2. With chest up, lower down into a squat, pushing your hips back and down till your hips align with your knees (making a 90 degree angle with your hips and knees). Driving knees out toward your pinky toes.
  3. Then drive through your heels, squeezing your glutes as you stand tall. As you drive your hips forward, raise your heels off the ground performing a calf raise. With control lower your heels back to the ground, returning to the starting position.
  4. That’s one rep, complete 10 reps.

Modification: remove the calf raise and perform a standard dumbbell squat.

2. Squat Jumps – 20 Reps

Works: the power generating muscles in the lower body — legs, butt, hamstrings, quads and calves.

Squat jumps are a powerful HIIT (high intensity interval training) exercise to build lower body strength while also raising your heart rate to burn fat.

squat jumps

How to do Squat Jumps:

  1. Begin in neutral standing position, feet shoulder width distance apart.
  2. With chest up, lower down into a squat, pushing your hips back and down till your hips align with your knees (making a 90 degree angle with your hips and knees). Driving knees out toward your pinky toes.
  3. Explode up, jumping off the ground as you drive your hips forward.
  4. Land softly with bent knees.
  5. That’s one rep, complete 20 reps.

Modification: make this a low impact exercise by not jumping; rather perform rapid air squats.

3. Bent Over Narrow + Reverse Grip Back Rows – 30 Reps

Works: the upper back, mid-back and lower back; specifically targeting the lats and rhomboids.

narrow back row and reverse grip back row with dumbbells

How to do Bent Over Rows:

  1. Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent. Holding dumbbells with palms facing in towards each other.
  2. Hinge forward at the hips till your body is in a straight line, neck in line with your spine, flat back, and belly button pulled back towards your spine.
  3. Pull the weights back towards your hips (think of pulling from your elbow versus your wrist). Stop once your elbows are in line with your rib cage, making a straight line from shoulder to elbow. Hold at the top for a moment squeezing your shoulder blades together.
  4. Control the dumbbells back down to the starting position. That’s a bent over narrow back row.
  5. Then rotate your palms out away from the body (reverse grip). And again pull the weights back towards your hips (this time with a reverse grip verse narrow grip). Stop once your elbows are in line with your rib cage, making a straight line from shoulder to elbow. Hold at the top for a moment squeezing your shoulder blades together.
  6. Control the dumbbells back down to the starting position. That’s a reverse grip back row.
  7. Each row counts as one rep. Complete 30 reps.

4. Dumbbell Reverse Lunges – 10 Reps Per Leg

Works: hamstrings, glutes and quads; a great unilateral exercise for building overall core strength and stability.

reverse lunge with dumbbells

How to do a Reverse Lunge with dumbbells:

  1. Stand with feet hip-distance apart. Holding a dumbbell in each hand at your sides.
  2. Step your right leg back into a reverse lunge, dropping your right knee down towards the ground as you lower your hips until both knees reach a 90 degree angle, front thigh parallel to the floor.
  3. Then squeeze your left leg glute, driving your back, right leg forward as you stand up; back to the starting position.
  4. That’s one rep on the right leg. Repeat this movement, alternating legs as you step back to lunge. Completing 10 reps per leg.

5. Split Jumps – 15 Reps Per Leg

Works: the quads, glutes, and hamstrings. An explosive bodyweight leg exercise that targets several lower-body muscles, while also building strength and power (and burning fat).

split jumps | jump lunges

How to do Split Lunge Jumps or Split Squat Jumps:

  1. Step your right leg back into a reverse lunge, dropping your right knee down towards the ground as you lower your hips until both knees reach a 90 degree angle, front thigh parallel to the floor.
  2. Keeping your torso upright, jump with enough force to propel both feet off the floor as you switch your stance mid-air (left leg back, right foot forward).
  3. Land softly in the reverse lunge position and power back up to continue this explosive movement.
  4. Each lunge jump counts as one rep. Completing 15 reps per leg, 30 lunge jumps total.

Modification: make this a low impact exercise by not jumping; rather perform rapid step back lunges.

6. Single Arm Rows – 10 Reps Per Arm

Works: mainly the lats, largest muscle in your back. This unilateral exercises (working one side of the body at a time) also hits the bicep.

single arm dumbbell back row

How to do a Single Arm Back Row with dumbbells:

  1. Take a staggered-stance — left foot forward, right foot back.
  2. Start with the dumbbell in your right hand.
  3. Hinge forward at the hips till your body is in a straight line. Neck in line with your spine, flat back, and belly button pulled back towards your spine.
  4. Hold this staggered position while performing a single arm back row on the right side.
  5. Pull the dumbbell back towards your right hip (think of pulling from your elbow versus your wrist). Stop once your right elbow is in line with your rib cage, making a straight line from right shoulder to elbow. Hold at the top for a moment.
  6. Control the dumbbell back down to the starting position.
  7. That’s one rep. Complete 10 reps on the right arm and 10 reps on the left arm.

7. Lateral Squat Sit Backs – 10 Reps Per Leg

Works: mainly your gluteus medius, or outer glute that controls hip movement and side-to-side movements. Also involved are the quads and inner thighs (or adductors).

lateral sit back with dumbbell

How to do a Lateral Squat:

  1. Start with your feet wider than your hips, think a wide squat stance or sumo squat stance. With your knees and toes pointing forward (or toes just slightly turned out away from your body). Add weight by holding one dumbbell at your chest.
  2. Shift your weight into your right heel as you push your hips back, bending your right knee while leaving your left leg straight. Think of performing a single leg squat with your right leg while your left leg remains straight.
  3. Then, drive through your right foot to reverse the movement, pushing you back up to center.
  4. Repeat this movement on the left leg. Complete 10 reps per leg.

8. Lateral Lunge + Bound – 15 Reps Per Leg

Works: inner thigh muscles in addition to the glutes, hamstrings, and quads. Adding the balance knee drive and bound also engages the abs and core.

lateral lunge and bound

How to do a Lateral Lunge + Bound: 

  1. Start in an athletic stance, feet shoulder width distance apart (or slightly wider), knees softly bent; chest up.
  2. Step your right leg out to the side as you push your hips back, bending your right knee while leaving your left leg straight. Think of performing a single leg squat with your right leg while your left leg remains straight. Knees and toes pointing forward.
  3. Then, drive off your right foot to reverse the movement, exploding back up to center; driving your right knee to chest as you bound off your standing left foot into the air.
  4. Land softly on your left standing leg and repeat this explosive movement.
  5. Complete 10 reps per leg.

Modification: make this a low impact exercise by not bounding or jumping; rather perform a lateral lunge with a knee drive.

9. Prone Rear Back Fly – 20 Reps

Works: the entire posterior chain (or backside of your body) with an emphasis on the rhomboid muscles in your upper back.

This back exercise strengthens your back extensors while also increasing overall core strength.

bodyweight Prone Rear Back Flys

How To Do Prone Rear Back Flys:

  1. Lying on your stomach, legs long and arms goal-posted at your sides.
  2. Lift your head and chest slightly off the mat to engage your back muscles. Legs stay connected to the mat.
  3. Hold your head and chest off the ground as you lift your arms off the mat, squeezing your shoulder blades together.
  4. Hold at the top for a moment, then lower your hands back to the mat.
  5. That’s one rep, repeat for 20 reps.

Modification: if pregnant, do not lie on your stomach. Rather perform a Bird Dog Exercise (exercise #4 in this post).

If you liked this legs and back workout, you might also like this 30-Minute Leg Workout with Abs.

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10 comments
  1. Your workouts are fantastic! You are so motivating during each one. I really love every workout I’ve done so far! Thank you so much Lindsey!

  2. Hi! Thank you for another great workout! Just wanted to say that my 6-year old joined me today, she had two stuffed animals instead of weights, and at the end she said: “I wish she could see how good we are doing!” She stayed with me the whole time and loved it 👍🏻

    • Malin! So glad you liked this Legs and Back Workout! It’s a new favorite of mine as well. And I LOVE that your daughter worked out with you; learning from mama! Keep up the good work! -Lindsey

  3. I was SO excited when I saw this workout earlier this week and put it on my calendar for today. I just finished and it was AMAZING!! I love leg day, and adding in some back and cardio was perfection. Thanks for a great workout!!

    • Hi Tracy! I’m so glad you loved this Legs + Back workout; it’s a personal favorite of mine too! I hope you come back and do it again! xo-Lindsey

    • Hi Victoria! Yes, legs + back is a favorite of mine as well! I hope you love this workout as much as I do! Enjoy! xo-Lindsey