Take a couple days out of your week to tighten and tone your legs with a workout that hits all of the major muscles. A routine designed to help you build tone will feature a couple of exercises for each muscle group, with each of the exercises being done in multiple sets. The focus is on volume rather than on lifting heavier weights.
The major muscles in the legs include the glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings and calves. Squats, lunges and step-ups are compound exercises that force the hips, knees and ankles to move. Because of this, they require contribution from the glutes, quadriceps and calves and will thus help develop tone. You can isolate the hamstrings with deadlifts. To better isolate the calves, you can also incorporate calf raises.
When you put together a leg toning workout, assign the compound exercises first. Start with squats, lunges and step-ups. To do squats, set your feet to hip-width apart and hold dumbbells down by your sides, and then push your butt back and bend your knees to drop into a squat. For lunges, stand with dumbbells held down by your sides, and then take a step forward and bend your front knee to lower your back one to the floor. To do step-ups, stand facing a plyo box with dumbbells held down by your sides. Set one foot atop the box and then drive off that lead leg to step up onto the box. For deadlifts, set your feet shoulder-width apart while holding a pair of dumbbells in front of you with your palms facing you. Bend forward at the waist until your back is about parallel to the floor. To do calf raises, set your feet to shoulder-width and hold a pair of dumbbells by your sides. Lift your heels up by pushing off the balls of your feet.
Volume for Toning
For the leg toning workout to be effective, each of the exercises needs to be done for multiple sets. Complete three sets of each exercise, with each set consisting of 10 to 12 repetitions. Give your muscles about 60 to 90 seconds of rest between the sets and exercises.
With your workouts consisting of 15 sets, your leg muscles are going to be fatigued and overloaded following your workouts. The time between your workouts is when your muscles recover, heal and build tone. If you don’t give them enough time, you’ll be limiting your toning benefits. To ensure they’re fully recovered, give them two days of rest between. Do your workouts twice a week, such as on Mondays and Thursdays.
Kim Nunley has been screenwriting and working as an online health and fitness writer since 2005. She’s had multiple short screenplays produced and her feature scripts have placed at the Austin Film Festival. Prior to writing full-time, she worked as a strength coach, athletic coach and college instructor. She holds a master's degree in kinesiology from California State University, Fullerton.