Strong, toned, amazing legs are something nearly every woman strives for. They look great not only in that cute new bikini but also in your favorite pair of skinny jeans. While some women have naturally killer legs, many more have to work for them. But don't fret, even if you weren't born with them, by combining two to three sets of eight to 12 repetitions of leg-targeting exercises three nonconsecutive days a week with regular cardio and a healthy diet, your legs will soon be amazing.
Squats are one of the best exercises for developing the shape of the butt as well as toning all aspects of the thighs. This amazing leg exercise can be done using your own body weight for resistance or, for even better results, dumbbells or a barbell for an added challenge. Place a barbell across your upper back and shoulders, securing it in place with an overhand grip. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, abdomen contracted, back straight and eyes looking straight ahead or slightly up. Inhale as you slowly bend your knees and hips to lower into a squat. Continue down until your thighs reach horizontal then exhale as you press through your heels to return to the upright position.
The lunge is another amazing leg exercise that women can use to shape those trouble areas, particularly the hips and thighs. Stand with your legs slightly apart and hold a dumbbell in each hand. Pull your belly button into your spine, straighten your back and inhale as you take a big step forward with your right leg. Continue to lower into the lunge until your thigh becomes parallel with the floor while keeping your torso as upright as possible. Press through your heel to return to the upright position. Repeat the exercise with your left leg. The lunge exercise can be varied to put more emphasis on different muscles -- a large step will intensely work the glutes while a smaller step will isolate the quadriceps.
Box jumps are an explosive exercise. They work your legs from your hips all the way down to your ankles. Like the other amazing leg exercises, box jumps will challenge your thighs and hips but will also intensely work your calves. Stand facing a 6- to 18-inch box or platform -- the higher the box, the more difficult the exercise. Position your feet a few inches from the box then bend your knees and hips to lower into a squat position. From here, explode upward by extending your knees and hips to jump up onto the box. Land with both feet firmly on the box. Return to the standing position then carefully step off the box to repeat the exercise.
Cardiovascular exercise that emphasizes the use of your legs will help you tone muscle and shed the fat that's camouflaging your amazing legs. Brisk walking, jogging, swimming, cycling and elliptical training are all great ways to fulfill your cardio requirements. Aim for at least 30 minutes per day five days per week to improve your overall health and the overall appearance of your legs.
Jen Weir writes for several websites, specializing in the health and fitness field. She holds a Bachelor of Science in exercise science from Montana State University, is an NSCA-certified strength and conditioning specialist and maintains a personal trainer certification from the American College of Sports Medicine.