Shaping a sexy pair of stems starts at the gym. Performing a wide range of leg workouts that target the muscles in your legs from different angles will help them look good from different angles as well. Jumping lunges work your hamstrings, quadriceps, glutes and calves and get your heart rate racing to burn calories so your hard-earned muscle isn’t hidden under a layer of flab. While these and other plyometric exercises are considered some of the best leg exercises, they can cause stress or injury to your joints, particularly your knees, so master the basic lunge before jumping in.
Lift Something Heavy
Every day you lift at least 100 pounds when you perform basic movements such as standing up from a chair or climbing the stairs. All of that lifting keeps your butt and thighs looking lifted. But sometimes it’s not enough. Add two 10-pound dumbbells to these basic exercises to increase the challenge and your muscle tone: box step ups, squats and lunges. Perform each exercise until you reach muscle failure, which will likely occur around 15 to 20 repetitions.
Hands and Knees
Leg exercises performed on your hands and knees put a fire in your legs like you’ve never felt with squats and lunges. The American College of Sports Medicine observed that they’re twice as effective at isolating your glutes and hamstrings compared to traditional squats. However, given the relatively light weight, double the repetitions to 30 to 40. To begin, simply get on your hands and knees and lift one leg behind you, with your knee bent and the sole of your foot facing the ceiling. For a second set, try it with a straight leg and your toe turned out. Finally, lift your leg to the side, tapping the floor with your toe then bringing your knee in to meet the other knee.
You don’t have to specifically focus on your legs to make them look amazing. Even your basic cardio workout can keep them svelte and shapely. Take a quick glance at a runner’s legs and you’ll see why. If you’re looking for a little more definition, add elevation to your endurance exercise by hiking or stair climbing. Other endurance options that work your legs include swimming, cross-country skiing and cycling. For even better leg-slimming results, add high-intensity intervals your endurance workouts. A study published in the “International Journal of Obesity” in January 2008 found that women lost a greater percentage of fat from their legs with interval training than steady-state cardio exercise.
Jumping lunges are part of a larger group of exercises called plyometrics, which involve fully stretching a muscle before powerfully contracting it for an explosive movement. Proper form matters more in these exercises because you’re putting a significant amount of force behind each move. With jumping lunges, squat jumps or tuck jumps, keep your knees facing forward and do not let them cave in or out. Land first on your toes, then allow your heels to strike gently. Instead of doing one structured plyometric workout each week, incorporate plyo exercises into every workout to reduce the chance of injury and increase the calorie burn of every gym session.
Pamela Ellgen began writing in 2000 for "The Asian Reporter" newspaper. She is an award-winning journalist and writes on religion, culture, health and fitness. Ellgen graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in writing from Washington State University and is a certified personal trainer with the National Academy of Sports Medicine.