If you want to get those sleek, sexy, toned legs you've always wanted, start incorporating the best strength training exercises into your routine. By including a variety of the best exercises, including lunges, cable exercises and plyometrics, you will begin to see improved tone within a few weeks. These exercises will not only improve your muscle tone, they will also develop lower body strength.
For fantastic straight leg tone, use a cable pulley system. Start by attaching a low pulley around one ankle with the appropriate attachment. From there, you will complete four sets of 10 repetitions for four different exercises, each rotated 90 degrees from the previous position. Start by facing away from the pulley, and with a straight leg, pull the cable out in front of you. After 10 reps, turn 90 degrees, and pull the cable sideways. After completing all four angles, you will have worked the straight leg in every muscle in your thigh, making cable exercises some of the best you can do for leg toning.
Lunges develop great leg tone, and also work your butt. Start with 20 steps of forward walking lunges. Turn sideways, and do 10 lateral lunges on each side. Then complete 10 curtsy lunges on each leg by stepping back and crossing one leg behind the other leg and lunging. This combination of lunges will tone you from your hip to toes, but will not bulk you up because you haven't used any weight. Your behind will also appreciate the increased strength and tone that lunges create. Move through the entire range of motion and do not cut any movements short.
You cannot go wrong with squats. For women, squats work the butt, thighs, calves and hips. Proper form is key because you do not want to overemphasize any one muscle and create a muscular imbalance. During the squat, focus on moving your hips back as if sitting into a chair. Squat down as you as you can slowly, and then stand completely back up. Focus on squeezing your glutes and thighs to really increase your muscle tone. Try two sets of 15 squats, adding some weight if it is not difficult enough by holding dumbbells on your shoulders.
To jumpstart your toning efforts, include plyometric exercises into your workout. These jumping exercises will increase the elasticity of your muscles, giving them a tighter look. Start with 10 squat jumps, squatting down and then jumping into the air. To get the full effect, use your legs like springs when you land to absorb the landing. Also try lunge jumps, jumping into the air after lunging down. After a few weeks, you will feel the increased elasticity in your muscles.
Scotty Brunning is a Chicago-based health and fitness writer. Having worked with the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Cooper Fitness Center in Dallas, he has a plethora of fitness experience. He is an ACSM-certified health fitness specialist and a Cooper Institute master fitness specialist. Brunning holds a master's degree in health and fitness.