If you have a gym membership, you have a powerful tool for sculpting shapely legs. You have access to machines, free weights, cardio equipment and other devices that can help you build muscle and burn fat. Whether you’re a beginner or a fitness veteran, you can put yourself through workouts that challenge your quads, hamstrings and calves, helping you look better for the mirror and feel better for life.
One of the best ways to shape your legs is by putting them through challenging cardio workouts. By taking time for heart-pumping sessions on the treadmill, spin bike, elliptical machine, stationary bike or stair climber, you can burn calories to help shed fat from your entire body. As you drop pounds, your legs will get leaner and start to show the muscles more clearly. Plus, by working out on these devices and challenging your muscles through resistance or inclines, you can also build the muscles and increase their strength.
Gyms give you the chance to build your leg muscles using a variety of easy-to-use weight machines. Each machine provides an illustration and how-to guide that tells you exactly what muscles you’re working and gives you instructions for using the equipment. Instead of worrying about what to do with a set of dumbbells or free weights, you can just jump in and follow directions. To build shape in your legs, do leg extensions for your quads, leg curls for your hamstrings and calf raises for your calves. Use the leg press machine to work them all simultaneously.
If you want more freedom with your leg-shaping gym workout, venture over to the rack of free weights. With dumbbells, kettlebells and weight plates of various sizes, you can challenge your leg muscles to a variety of muscle-building exercises. Because free weights force you to maintain more control over your motions, they also help develop your core muscles and balance. You’ll also be able to work multiple muscle groups at once by doing free-weight exercises such as squats, lunges, deadlifts and step-ups.
When planning out your leg-shaping workout routine, include at least five 30-minute cardio sessions and one or two lower-body weight-training workouts per week. Combine your efforts with a healthy diet to shed fat faster and reveal the muscles you sculpt through exercise. Be sure to give your legs enough rest between weight workouts, allowing at least 48 hours for muscle recovery. Also, as with all exercise programs, consult with your physician before you start to ensure your health and safety.
After graduating from the University of Kansas with a bachelor's degree in sports information, Jill Lee served for 10 years as a magazine editor for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA). Also a published author, Lee now works as a professional writer and editor focusing on fitness, sports and careers.