EPIC LEG DAY – Dumbbell Leg Workout | EPIC III Program Day 1

I was pretty excited about Caroline Girvan‘s newest EPIC program. In the free program guide she created on her website, she says that unlike her other programs, this one contains more repetition. I was pleased to read that because I do think repetition is very important in serious strength training. Dumbbell Leg Workout is Day 1 in Caroline’s EPIC III program. Since this is the first workout in the program, Caroline spends the first part of the intro talking about the program before she moves onto talking about the workout. I am not doing EPIC III as a program. I do plan to do the first 3 EPIC III workouts this week because they look so awesome but after that I will be picking and choosing just like I have done with her other 3 EPIC programs.

This was a great lower body strength workout. It was not easy but I did find it easier than some of Caroline’s other lower body workouts. That is not a bad thing. It gives you the opportunity to lift heavy and really focus on form and depth. My lower body feels well worked. There is a staple exercise that really started fatiguing my legs: Kneeling to Squat (#6 below). You will repeat that exercise a total of 5 times. 4 times with a dumbbell and once body weight. Caroline uses her 33 pound dumbbells for everything except that exercise. She uses her 17.6 pound dumbbell for that one. Probably because it does get so fatiguing. Especially the final time you do it. You would think it would be easier because you are not using the dumbbell the last time but you just finished body weight elevated rear lunges (#27 below) so if you were using your elevation properly and really going for depth on the lunge, your legs are already fatigued from that exercise. Then you do the staple Kneeling to Squat and since it is body weight, Caroline does it faster than she did when using a dumbbell. My legs were burning! The good burn though! This was another excellent workout.

This workout is done interval style: 40 seconds of work followed by 20 seconds of recovery. There is a timer in the upper left hand corner of the screen counting down your intervals and recoveries. Caroline previews the next exercise during the recovery. There is also a little bar at the bottom of the screen that counts down the entire workout time as a percentage. Caroline has a new 5 minute warm up for her EPIC III program so that is what I did before starting this workout. This workout is pretty metabolic. Including the warm up, I burned 383 calories.

Dumbbell Leg Workout is 46:17 minutes; 2:55 minute intro, no warm up and 3 minute stretch. Equipment: dumbbells, a yoga block and a fitness mat. Caroline is using 15kg/33 pounds and one 8kg/17.6 pounds dumbbell. The weights listed below are what I used. Instead of a yoga block, I used a set of 5 pound dumbbells to elevate my heels (#8 below) and my square step topper (4 inches) for the elevated rear lunges (#27 below)

  1. Squats (25# DBs)
  2. Repeat #1
  3. Static/stationary lunge (20# DBs)
  4. Repeat #3 on other side of body
  5. Repeat #3 & 4
  6. Kneeling to squat (start in kneeling lunge with one DB held at shoulder of front leg, step back leg forward into squat then return to kneeling lunge) (one 16.5# DB)
  7. Repeat #6 on other side of body
  8. Heel elevated squats (heels are elevated on yoga block) (25# DBs)
  9. Repeat #8
  10. Forward lean dumbbell tap lunge (stationary/static lunge, torso is leaned forward over front leg at bottom of lunge, hold one DB in same side hand as back leg, when you lower to bottom of lunge, tap DB to floor) (one 25# DB)
  11. Repeat #10 on other side of body
  12. Repeat #10 & 11
  13. Repeat #6 & 7
  14. Staggered squat (single leg squat, back leg is in kickstand with toe on floor (so all of your weight is on front/working leg), hold one DB in same side hand as working leg) (one 25# DB)
  15. Repeat #14 on other side of body
  16. Repeat #14 & 15
  17. Lateral lunges (stationary alternating side lunges, hold one DB in both hands, you will stay low for the entire interval, shifting from side to side) (one 30# DB)
  18. Repeat #17
  19. Repeat #6 & 7
  20. RDL w/ 2 DBs (Romanian deadlift) (35# DBs)
  21. Repeat #20
  22. 1/2 rep RDLs w/ 1 DB (lower to bottom of deadlift but only raise halfway) (one 35# DB)
  23. Repeat #22
  24. Repeat #6 & 7
  25. x5 pulse goblet squats to stand (holding one DB goblet style, lower to bottom of squat and pulse 5x before raising back to standing) (one 35# DB)
  26. Repeat #25
  27. Body weight elevated rear lunges (step back reverse lunges, front foot is on yoga block)
  28. Repeat #27 on other side of body
  29. Repeat #27 & 28
  30. Repeat #6 & 7 but body weight/no DBs

Finisher: Squat to alternating rear lunge for 60 seconds (body weight–squat + reverse lunge + squat + reverse lunge other leg)

For more info on Caroline Girvan’s workouts and other (free) streaming workouts I’ve sampled and reviewed, check out my Streaming page.


9 thoughts on “EPIC LEG DAY – Dumbbell Leg Workout | EPIC III Program Day 1

  1. Oh yes, you had shoulder surgery on your rotator cuff a little over a year ago? I remember reaching out to you after I injured my shoulder, I had a grade II AC joint separation, fortunately no surgery, but it was a very long recovery. And I’m still not back to lifting as heavy as before, I’ve just slowly built myself back up, and certain exercises still can make my shoulder pop occasionally, her renegade rows can be hard for some reason holding myself up on the dumbbells, even a yoga block can still aggravate it. I’ve got some osteoarthritis now, getting older is a real pain in the butt. I was thinking of a barbell for some of her complex lower body workouts where you are constantly holding dumbbells, it really tries your grip like for her RDLs, lunges and squats, but I didn’t think about it aggravating my shoulder, haven’t used it since I was injured. It sounds like your shoulder has recovered pretty well!

    It’s funny you talk about Cathes STS, I was going to start it and literally bought more plates for my barbell and then hurt myself the next day! How do you think Caroline compares to STS? I’ve done a lot of Cathe but haven’t in awhile since doing Caroline.


    1. That’s a good question. I’ve been through STS 3 times but I also feel like I was in a different headspace when I did it, if that makes sense? I did primarily Cathe workouts for years and any time I strayed from her workouts for a few weeks I would start jonsing for them. I never have an urge to do Cathe workouts anymore and I don’t miss them either. Right now, I feel like Caroline does a better job strength training me than Cathe did. But again, that could just be my “headspace” right now. I do miss Caroline, Heather Robertson and Naomi Joy workouts when I stray from them too long. Right now, the combo of those 3 trainers feels like all I really need. But I also know that may change at some point. I guess that doesn’t really answer your question. I think that Caroline is better because of the way she focuses her workouts. And that is a personal thing. I can pick and choose muscle splits that suit my way of training better. I tend to give more focus to my posterior chain and Caroline has a huge variety of workouts that isolate that. So with her workouts, I can still work every muscle in my body, but easily give additional focus to the muscle groups I think need more work. And I also love how she lifts such heavy dumbbells and always seems to be really challenging herself. I think it is that one-on-one experience with someone working as hard as you are that makes Caroline’s workouts so appealing.

      Getting older is a huge pain. And my shoulder really isn’t better. The rotator cuff surgery actually created new and different pain and now I have nerve problems in my neck that cause shoulder pain. So yay! But I work through it. It is one of the reasons I continue avoid barbells on my shoulders and choose conservative weights for things like upright rows.


      1. I never thought I would miss Cathe either but I don’t. I think there’s something to be said about never repeating the same workout over and over again. I do wish Heather and Caroline had longer stretches after their workouts, I always have to add some stretching afterwards, one of the other joys of being
        older, my body gets angry when I’m stiff. Not sure if you’ve heard of her, but Sydney Cummings on YouTube has some excellent stretching videos, if you want to check her out. She does strength and cardio too, I don’t like many of her workouts but she has over a 100 stretch videos that are 20 minutes, and focus on different muscle groups and full body as well. I love me some Heather too, that’s pretty much all I do now as well. One day I will attempt the rebounder, I worry about injuring myself as I am a huge klutz.

        Your new pain is much like mine, I have occipital neuralgia, which is a pinched nerve in my lower neck and before my injury it was only on my left side, my injury is on the right, so now it’s moved and I have to get regular massages because I can’t take the medication I was prescribed. I need a new body!!


      2. I never thought I would enjoy rebounding. I had zero interest in it until I was diagnosed with osteopenia. I read that rebounding could increase bone density. So I bought one and I never looked back. I am actually balance challenged because of my metal heels but I have far less problems with stability on the rebounder than I do on the floor! I also have problems doing anything barefoot due to how my heels were destroyed–but I can bounce barefoot and it has strengthened my feet. Plus, if you are doing the right workouts, it is a lot more fun and intense than I ever expected it to be.

        I have heard of Sidney Cummings. I have checked out her workouts because so many blog readers have recommended her to me but her workouts just do not interest me. But I never looked at her stretches. I will check those out. I am always looking for good stretches.


  2. Just wait til you get to day 3, epic III abs and glutes! I think it is her hardest glute workout to date, so be ready!!!! I tried to use 45 lbs for the hip thrusts like you in one of her previous workouts, I usually use 40 and about halfway thru the first set, had to hit pause and switch them out, it hurt to sit down the next day!


    1. I read what she wrote below the video–she said she thinks it’s her most intense! I am nervous. I scheduled it for Saturday so I could add on a long lower body stretch at the end.


      1. I did an extra long stretch afterwards and stretched my lower back, by the time I got to the sumo squats my lower back was really feeling it too! Just curious have you ever tried using a barbell for hip thrusts, squats etc? I know she never does, but she has incredible grip strength and mine is nowhere near like hers and sometimes I think I might be able to go heavier with a barbell. Don’t worry you will love the workout, it is intense though!


      2. I have used a barbell before for both. I don’t have problem grip wise with my 40 pound dumbbell for hip thrusts–my glutes just literally cannot seem to manage any heavier. I have done a few of Caroline’s workouts where I felt like I could probably increase my dumbbell weight but I haven’t return to those specific workouts yet. But I always start with the 40 now because when I tried to heavy up the first time through it killed me. I do plan to start returning to some of my favorite workouts in October. But yes, I have used a barbell for hip thrusts before, just not Caroline’s workouts.

        For squats, I prefer dumbbells but that is due to chronic shoulder problems. Sometimes getting a barbell over my head to set on my shoulders will tweak my shoulder. Since I’ve had rotator cuff surgery I avoid doing anything that tweaks my shoulders. But I also do not lift super heavy for squats anyway. The first time I did Cathe’s STS, I used her program that calculated my weights each week for progressive overload. At one point it had me using 45 pound dumbbells for squats. Not only was my grip suffering but my thighs got enormous. Since then I’ve pretty much limited myself to 25 pound dumbbells for squats and one 50 pound dumbbell for sumo squats.


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