Exercise routines that firm and shape the large leg muscles -- the quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes – are most effective when combining movements from strength training, Pilates and yoga. These exercises mold legs and thighs, leaving behind round bottoms and a slender, toned lower physique. Shapely legs and thighs have the power to make a pair of jeans pop and turn a mediocre outfit into a head-turner.
Fitness magazine writer, Lexi Walters, says squats are the best exercise for trim and toned thighs. You can do wall squats with your back directly against the wall or, as Walters suggests, with a stability ball for added difficulty. The exercise is the same, regardless of the method you choose. Stand with your head, shoulders, back and bottom firmly against the wall. If using a ball, your back and bottom will rest against it. Scoot down the wall, keeping your back flat as your body forms a chair-like position and stay there for 30 seconds. Slide up and repeat as desired.
Crisscross Stair Climbers
You will need a set of stairs for this exercise. Stand with the staircase at your right side, your right ankle flush with the top of the bottom stair. Making an overlapping, crisscross motion with your legs; bring your left leg over and onto the first step. Next, bring your right leg up putting it onto the second step. Continue up the stairs in the fashion until you reach the top. Do not perform the exercise movement on the way down, just walk normally. Repeat the exercise using the opposite the leg.
Tried and True Lunges
A thigh and leg workout routine is not complete without the traditional lunge. Variations abound, but nothing beats the golden standard for sculpting toned thighs and legs. Richard Cotton, chief exercise physiologist with ACE Fitness, claims lunges will get you shapelier legs, glutes and thighs without costly exercise equipment. In a press release for the American Council on Exercise, Cotton, along with a majority of the 36,000 ACE-fitness certified professionals polled, said lunges are an essential thigh and leg staple. Start by standing with your legs hip-width apart. Step out with your right foot and lower your bottom, being careful that your knee does not go over your toes. Slowly rise. Do eight repetitions before switching legs.
Sitting Ball Squeeze
Using a chair and a soft, medium-sized ball, the sitting ball squeeze targets the hard to tone inner thigh region. Sit down in a straight-back chair with the ball between your knees. With a relaxed upper body and your arms at your side, use your inner-thigh muscles to squeeze the ball. Use just enough pressure so that your thighs are holding the ball, not your knees. Begin with 10 squeezes and, as your thighs get stronger, aim for 30.
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