One of the best ways to get toned, shapely legs is by regularly performing lower-body strength-training exercises that target your quadriceps and hamstrings. Doing so will not only improve your physical appearance, but your energy levels and overall mobility as well. Exercises such as squats and lunges are highly efficient forms of lower-body training because they work the quads, hamstrings, buttocks and calves, all at the same time.
Perform dumbbell lunges. Stand upright with a dumbbell in each hand. Step approximately 2 feet forward with your left leg, keeping your right foot in place and lowering your torso down as you inhale. Pause once your right knee nearly touches the ground, then push down with your left heel to lift yourself back to the starting position while exhaling. Switch to the opposite leg and repeat the exercise.
Do dumbbell rear lunges. Stand upright with a dumbbell in each hand, just as in the previous exercise. Step approximately 2 feet backward with your right leg while inhaling, keeping your torso upright and bending at your knees to perform the motion. Pause once your left thigh is about parallel with the ground, then press down on the ball of your right foot to return to the starting position. Switch to stepping back with the left leg and repeat the exercise.
Perform barbell squats. Stand upright with a barbell resting on your shoulders and the bottom of your neck. Maintain the balance of the bar by gripping it with your palms facing forward. While inhaling and keeping your back straight and your head upright, lower your torso by bending at your hips and knees. Pause for a second once your thighs are approximately parallel with the ground, then press down on your heels to return to the initial position.
Do sit squats with no added resistance as a cool-down exercise. Stand upright with your feet approximately shoulder-width apart. Hold your arms in front of your body, parallel to the floor, with one hand over the other. Bend at your hips and knees while moving your hips back to lower your torso toward the ground. Pause once your thighs are almost parallel to the floor, then return to the starting position.
Complete three to five sets of eight to 10 repetitions for each exercise. Perform the whole workout at least two times per week. Increase the weight of the barbell and dumbbells as your lower-body strength improves, and substitute other types of lunges and squats every few weeks for variety and extra challenge.
- Consume a meal high in protein within one hour of each workout to maximize your muscular gains.
- Seek specific advice from your doctor before starting a strength-training program.
Kevin Richards has been a writer and editor since 2009, specializing in fitness, health and nutrition, as well as technology, finance and legal issues. He earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Michigan.