The legs are a problem area for many women, and not just the thighs. Fat deposits in the lower legs can result in a lack of definition between the calf and ankle, creating an imbalance in the proportion of the legs and in your overall body silhouette. To trim and tone your ankles, you need a workout plan that incorporates a proper balance of cardio activity and strength-training exercises. Focus on exercises that target the calf muscles, the largest muscles in the lower leg. This slims and sculpts your lower legs, creating more definition between your calves and ankles.
Regular cardiovascular activity promotes overall body-fat loss, slimming your body and allowing the muscles underneath to show through. This, along with effective strength-training exercises -- and a clean, nutritious diet -- helps you achieve the defined, shapely legs you're after. Include at least one to two sessions of 30-minute cardio activity in your weekly workout plan. Walking, jogging and cycling are all examples of mild to moderate cardio exercise. High-intensity interval training is the most efficient form of cardio, blasting away calories at an even faster rate. "Shape" magazine adds that it's also more effective at increasing your metabolism, during and after your workout.
Seated Calf Extension
This strength-training exercise targets the calf muscles, helping to slim and sculpt your lower legs. Seated in a leg press machine with your feet flat on the platform and knees bent slightly, grasp the handles at your sides. Extend your legs fully to push the platform forward, then bend your knees to return to your starting position. You should feel a light stretch in your calves during the exercise. Repeat for a total of 15 reps.
Lying Calf Press
One of the most effective exercises for the calves, the lying calf press is an isolated exercise that targets the calf muscles. Seated in a leg press machine with the sled of the machine away from the platform, position your feet shoulder-width apart, flat on the bottom edge of the platform. Push off from the platform, flexing your feet until you're on the balls of your feet, your legs fully extended. Keep your upper body rigid during the exercise. Do 15 reps.
The squat is an integral lower-body exercise, targeting almost all of the major muscles in the legs, including the calves. Start in a standing position, with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, your hands straight down at your sides. Engage your core and start squatting down, keeping your back straight and your knees aligned with your toes to maintain proper form. Lower yourself until your upper legs are parallel to the floor. Push up off your heels, back to your starting position to complete one rep. Do 20 reps.
Barbell Calf Raises
Barbell calf raises target the calves and shins, helping to create a more slimmed effect around the ankles. Stand straight up with your feet shoulder-width apart, a barbell resting at the back of your shoulders. Keep your hands in an overhand grip, slightly wider than shoulder-width. With your weight over your heels, engage your core and raise yourself up, resting on the balls of your feet. Keep your body alignment straight and core tight, to maintain balance and control during the exercise. Pause for a moment before lowering back down to complete one rep. Do 20 reps.
Even when you're focusing on one area of the body, such as the ankles, it's important to include exercises that target the other major muscle groups in your body in your total workout routine, according to the American Council on Exercise. Work out three to five times a week, training your upper and lower body on separate days. This split ensures all muscle groups get rest, giving your body time to recover from the exercise, which maximizes your results and helps prevent injury from overtraining. Always consult with your doctor before adding new strength-training exercises to your routine.
- Shape: 8 Benefits of High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
- ExRx: Sled Lying Calf Press
- ACE: Bodyweight Squat
- ACE: Fit Facts: Strength Training 101
- ACSM's Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription; M. H. Whaley, PhD, et al.
Michelle Dawn has written professionally since 2005, covering a variety of topics over that time, the majority of that work focused on health and well-being. A Registered Holistic Nutritionist and Certified Yoga Instructor, she enjoys teaching others how to live their healthiest, happiest life.