Great legs are always in season. You can rock them in mini skirts, pairs of skinny jeans or even bathing suits. They serve as the perfect accessory. While everyone’s definition of beauty is unique, you can never go wrong with a pair of toned legs. There are various exercises to help you tone legs from your toes to your tush.
A killer "boo-tay" is the ideal launching point for beautiful legs. The glutes are one of the largest muscles in your body. Strengthening and toning them will create a nice curvature and helps you avoid a saggy or flat butt so you can rock a pair of jeans. A study published in the American Council on Exercise’s “Fitness Matters” analyzed eight common gluteal exercises. They determined that squats elicit the most activation in the gluteus maximus, the largest muscle in your glutes. For your gluteus medius, steps-ups and lunges are the most effective.
Your quadriceps are the largest muscles on the fronts of your legs, so it is no wonder they help create beautiful legs. This muscle engages when you bend your hips or straighten your knees. Your quads have four heads, or insertion points, in your bone, so it’s best to work them in several ranges of motions to fully target them. Try the three-step quadriceps exercise to do this. For the front of your thigh, lie on your back with an ankle weight on your right leg. Fully extend that leg and lock your knee but keep your foot relaxed. Lift your leg straight up toward your head. Your aim is to get it perpendicular to the floor. Return to the start, repeat and then repeat on your weighted left leg. To strengthen your inner quads, repeat this exercise on both legs, but this time point your toes away from you. To target your outer quads, repeat the exercise again but this time turn your toes in.
Running along the backs of your thighs from underneath your glutes down to your knees are your hamstrings. This muscle, which actually connects to your tibia and fibula in your shin, helps bend your knees and straighten your hips. The American Council on Exercise study showed quadruped hip extensions, step-ups and lunges activate your hamstrings the best. For the quadruped hip extension, start on all fours with your hands and feet hip-width distance apart. Engage your core and lift your left leg, keeping your knee bent. Using your glute muscles, press your left foot toward the ceiling while only moving your hip joint. Keep your spine neutral— do not let it sag or arch. Return to the starting position and repeat. Repeat again with your right leg.
There is no better way to show off a new pair of heels than having round, toned calf muscles. Your calf is made up of two muscles: your soleus and gastrocnemius. Your gastrocnemius helps bend your knee and along with your soleus, helps flex your ankles. Examples of exercises that target your calves include the jump and reach and calf raises. To do the jump and reach, begin with your feet hip-width distance apart. Squat down as if you are sitting into a chair and pause briefly when your thighs are parallel to the floor. Swing your arms behind you as you prepare to jump, and then swing them forward and up as your body explosively moves up. Extend through your entire body to create a straight line from head to toe. Repeat.
Fitzalan Gorman has more than 10 years of academic and commercial experience in research and writing. She has written speeches and text for CEOs, company presidents and leaders of major nonprofit organizations. Gorman has published for professional cycling teams and various health and fitness websites. She has a Master of Arts from Virginia Tech in political science and is a NASM certified personal trainer.