No matter how long you spend on a treadmill or the different machines you use for your legs, you’re still not happy with the way you think your thighs look in pants or how they jiggle when you walk. While aerobic activity and weighted leg lifts can help strengthen your thighs, standing side leg raises are one of the best ways you can target and tone that part of your body, and you don’t need a gym membership to do it.
Standing Side Leg Raises
All you need for standing side leg raises is a chair. Stand behind and hold onto the back of the chair. Bend your right leg slightly to keep it from locking and root that foot into the ground. Next, extend your left leg out to the side and lift it as high as you can. The slower you lift your leg, the better the exercise can target your thighs. Hold your leg in place for between five and 10 seconds before lowering it and repeating with your other leg. You may also find variations of standing side leg raises in yoga and Pilates classes.
As with other types of exercise, overdoing standing side leg raises isn’t going to help your thighs any more than slowly intensifying the exercise over time. Trainers at Calorie Counter, an online guide to safely burn calories, lose weight, strengthen and tone, recommend doing one set of between five and 10 raises four times a week for two weeks. During the next two weeks, increase to between 10 and 20 reps. Aim to ramp up to between 20 and 30 reps after four weeks. Wearing ankle weights can also help intensify the workout.
Your thigh is made up of several muscles, most of which help you walk, balance and lift. Standing side leg raises can help strengthen these muscles and help shape your legs, meaning this exercise will benefit more than just your thighs. When you raise your leg, you should feel the inside of your thigh lengthen. This lengthening, or stretch, results from the work your thighs perform to lift your leg and keep it up. Along with standing side leg raises, you can strengthen your thighs by incorporating lunges into your workout and through some types of cardiovascular activity, like riding a bicycle.
Standing side leg raises can help increase your lean muscle mass, and the more lean muscle mass you have, the more toned your overall physique should be. But exercise alone isn’t enough to tone. You need to lose weight as well, which means using more calories than you consume. As you lose weight, your body will naturally shape itself around your growing muscle mass, resulting in a toned physique.
William Henderson has been writing for newspapers, magazines and journals for more than 15 years. He served as editor of the "New England Blade" and is a former contributor to "The Advocate." His work has also appeared on The Good Men Project, Life By Me and The Huffington Post.