Most women want lean legs. Exercises designed to give you long, lean muscles will make your legs appear thinner and more shapely. It is not possible, however, to spot-train to burn fat from only one part of the body, such as the legs. A well-rounded fitness routine that incorporates aerobics, strength and core training, and flexibility workouts can provide overall health benefits while targeting problem legs.
Strengthen and lengthen the thigh muscles by doing plyometric exercises. Plyometric exercise involves fast, explosive movements, such as jumping. Plyometric squats are a powerful version of the regular squat that will help burn fat while working out your thighs. Bend your knees at a 90-degree angle so that your thighs are parallel to the ground with your feet hip-width apart. Bend your elbows too and keep them close to your body. Jump upward and reach up with your arms at the same time. Land softly in a squat position with your knees bent. Land on the balls of your feet, then repeat this exercise eight to 10 times.
Pilates Leg Exercises
Pilates leg exercises stretch and tone your muscles without bulking them up. Pilates helps you achieve strong, long and lean muscles. Your muscles remain flexed during Pilates exercises, which contributes to increased flexibility. These simple exercises can be performed easily at home without special equipment. Some examples include kneeling side leg raises, which strengthen and lengthen the muscles on the outside of the thighs. Kneeling rear leg raises stretch and firm the hamstrings on the back of the thighs and firm up the glutes. Leg circles lengthen and strengthen all the muscles of your legs.
Incline Treadmill Walking
Walking on a treadmill not only works your legs, it's also an effective cardiovascular workout that improves the heart, lungs and circulation. Because walking is a weight-bearing exercise, it also helps to boost bone density and reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Aerobic exercises, such as walking, burn fat all over your body including your legs. Walk at a brisk, steady pace for five minutes to warm up. Gradually increase the incline of the treadmill one degree at a time and walk for one minute at each degree of incline for a total of 10 minutes. Then, for the next 10 minutes, continue walking and slowly lower the treadmill one degree at a time every minute until you reach a zero incline. Cool down by walking at a slow pace for five minutes. Total workout time is 30 minutes. Do the treadmill incline exercise three times each week.
Resistance bands help you achieve long, lean and strong leg muscles without creating bulky muscle mass. You can do exercises, such as leg circles, side lunges and resistance band squats at home or in the gym. Lie on your back and perform leg circles using a resistance band looped around the arch of one foot. Lift the leg with the resistance band looped over the foot and rotate your leg clockwise and then counter-clockwise five to eight times in each direction.
Robin Reichert is a certified nutrition consultant, certified personal trainer and professional writer. She has been studying health and fitness issues for more than 10 years. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of San Francisco and a Master of Science in natural health from Clayton College.