Make your legs swimsuit worthy by selecting exercises that target the tops of your thighs. Whether you exercise your thighs on their own, or use the help of other muscles such as your glutes and hamstrings, your shapely legs will beg to be shown off. The upper thighs respond to exercises that use your body weight, weight machines or dumbbells, so you're not limited to one type of resistance. The goal is to fatigue the muscle so it responds with increased strength and tone.
Stand comfortably with your feet positioned slightly wider than your hips. Point your toes just a bit out to the sides. Use all the rules for good posture, such as flattening your stomach toward your spine, keeping your chest up and pulling down your shoulders.
Inhale, bend your knees and lower your hips. Keep your heels on the floor as you sink your hips to a comfortable level. Align your knees with your heels and prevent them from moving forward as you squat.
Aim to lower your hips until your thighs are parallel with the floor, but even a shorter-distance squat will strengthen your thighs.
Exhale, straighten your legs and return to a standing position. Complete one to three sets of eight to 12 squats. Hold onto a dumbbell in each hand with your arms at your sides as your strength improves and you can easily perform three sets of 12 repetitions.
Adjust a leg extension machine to fit your body. Sit on the machine with your back pressed against the back support. Adjust the back support until the backs of your knees are resting against the seat. Adjust the height of the leg roller until it rests just above your ankles.
Position your legs behind the roller with your feet able to freely move. Flex your feet by pulling your toes toward your shins. Sit up tall with your back straight and your stomach pulled in tight. Hold onto the handrails at your sides if necessary.
Adjust the weight to a light resistance until you learn the proper leg extension technique.
Exhale, straighten your legs and push against the roller until your legs are parallel with the floor, or until you cannot lift the weight any higher. Remain seated with your glutes in contact with the seat and your back pressed against the back rest.
Inhale, slowly bend your knees and lower the roller to the starting position. Complete one to three sets of eight to 12 repetitions. Use a weight that's challenging for the final two repetitions in each set. Increase the resistance when all three sets are easy.
Stand straight and hold onto a dumbbell in each hand with your arms at your sides. Face your palms toward your legs. Stand with your back straight and your stomach pulled in tight.
Inhale and step forward approximately 2 feet with your right leg. Place your right foot flat on the floor. Bend both knees as you lower into the lunge. Keep your right knee in line with your right heel.
Exhale, push off the floor with your right foot and return to the starting position. Complete one set of eight to 12 lunges on your right leg and then perform the same number on your left leg. Repeat for a second or third set.
Select a weight amount that is difficult by the time you reach repetition number 12. Increase the weight of the dumbbells when you're able to easily perform three sets of 12 lunges.
- Warm up before you perform the leg-strengthening exercises. Spend five to 10 minutes doing full-body movements such as walking, cycling, jogging, skating or stair climbing. When you finish your strength-training session, stretch your quadriceps for a few minutes. For example, stand on your right leg. Bend your left leg and raise your left foot behind you. Hold onto your left ankle with your left hand. Breathe normally as you stretch your quadriceps.
- All weight-training exercises carry a risk of injury. To reduce your risk, speak with your doctor regarding the safety of strength training for your body. Always wear shoes when using weight-training equipment to protect your ankles, knees and hips.
A mother of two and passionate fitness presenter, Lisa M. Wolfe had her first fitness article published in 2001. She is the author of six fitness books and holds an Associate of Arts in exercise science from Oakland Community College. When not writing, Wolfe is hula-hooping, kayaking, walking or cycling.