The Best Exercises to Tone Your Legs
Do you wear pants in the summer to hide your legs? Haven't worn a dress in years? You've come to the right place. By the end of this post, you'll have a full leg workout to help you tone your legs to your liking!
Creating toned legs may take time and patience but can be done with some diligent training!
Similarly to what we mentioned in our "Bat Wing" article, toning the legs is a result of two main things:
1. Less body fat
2. More lean muscle mass
Very basically, the more body fat you have, the larger all of your body will be. While we all hold fat in different spots and are able to reduce it differently, there is no special selection when it comes to where your body holds fat or where it loses it first.
When we hold extra fat, lose fat, or have no muscle tone, our limbs may look flabby and ripply. In order to combat this, we must build some lean muscle mass in that space to fill it out and create the toned look you desire.
While there are a ton of exercises you can do to create muscle tone in your legs, some will give you the biggest bang for your buck!
The squat is one of the most fundamental movements and is a total powerhouse when it comes to what it can do for your body. The squat hits both your legs and core (and shoulders/arms if you're holding weights!)
To perform a squat, spread your feet just slightly over hip width apart. Draw in your core
(think about pulling your belly button towards your spine), and push your butt back and down as if you were going to sit down. Get as low as you can with good form and then come back up, keeping your weight in your heels through the entire movement.
2. Reverse Lunge
Begin the lunge with your feet together, arms by your sides.
Keeping your right foot planted
on the floor, take a wide step backwards with your left foot. Bend at both knees, trying to get your left knee close to the floor and keeping your right knee behind the toe. Try to form a 90* angle with your front leg.
Return to the starting position to complete one repetition.
3. Side Lunge
Stand with your feet together, arms at the sides of your body.
Keeping your feet forward, take a wide step out with the left foot and bend at the knee.
Bring the leg back to the starting position and repeat before switching to the other leg.
Keep your abs tight the entire time.
4. Step Ups
Find a box, bench or step that you can step up onto.
This should be a height that is manageable to get onto but not so low where you barely have to move. Stand in front of the box with your feet together, arms by your sides. Step onto the box with one leg, pushing through the foot to bring yourself to standing on top of it. Come down with the opposite leg, keeping the stepping leg on the box. Repeat the movement for reps before switching sides.
5. Single Leg Glute Bridge
Lay on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Lift your right leg and straighten out the knee, pointing the toe towards the ceiling. Push through your heels to drive your hips up towards the ceiling--getting as high as you can and squeezing the glutes the entire time. Pause at the top for 1-2 seconds before lowering down and repeating.
For a less advanced version, keep both feet on the floor, push through the heels and drive the hips up in the same fashion.
6. Side Leg Raise
Jane Fonda and the other workout videos of the 80's had this one right!
Lay on your side
with your legs straight out and on top of one another. Keeping the core tight, lift the top leg in a controlled movement, squeezing the glutes the entire time. Pause at the top for 1-2 seconds then bring back down and repeat before switching sides.
For a full workout, perform these exercises for 2-3 sets each,
12-15 reps or as many as you can do with good form (total and also per side, depending on exercise).
This workout can be performed with body weight or with dumbbells, depending on your fitness level and equipment availability.