Toned calves and thighs are not only great for appearances sake but also for practical purposes such as walking and climbing stairs -- the better shape your legs are in, the easier these tasks are to perform. Fortunately, you don't have to be a gym rat to have a toned lower body. There are several at-home exercises that will have your calves and thighs toned in no time.
The squat jump is a plyometric exercise that works to tone your calves, thighs and glutes. This exercise can be done anywhere in your home as long as you have about 3 feet of space all around you to keep from landing on anything. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and lower into a squat so your thighs are horizontal and your knees are bent to 90 degrees. From this position, explode upward as high as you can. Land back into the squat position and immediately repeat the exercise. Due to the eccentric nature of this exercise, muscle soreness can result, so perform only one to three sets of no more than 10 repetitions for the first few workouts.
Wall Sit with Calf Raise
This calf and thigh toning exercise will have your muscles burning with exhaustion after each workout. Place your back against a bare wall in your home. Carefully slide your back down the wall and adjust your feet so your waist and knees are bent to 90 degrees, your thighs are parallel with the floor and your feet are shoulder-width apart. Hold this position for one to two minutes. While maintaining the wall sit, flex your calves to lift your heels off the floor. Pause at the top of the movement then slowly lower them back to the floor. Continue to lift and lower your heels until your wall sit time is up. Repeat the entire exercise two to three times.
The walking lunge can be done with or without weight to tone your calves and thighs. For this exercise you will need at least 12 feet of open space -- a hallway or driveway are great options. Stand with your feet slightly apart. If you're holding weights, allow your arms to hang at your sides. If not, place your hands on top of your head. Pull your belly button into your spine, straighten your back and take a large step forward with your right leg. Transfer your weight onto your leg as you lunge into it. Continue down and forward until your thigh reaches horizontal and your knee is bent to 90 degrees. Press through your heel to pull your body forward and to the upright position. Take the next lunge step with your left leg. Continue to alternate legs until you have completed 10 to 15 lunges with each leg. Complete two to three sets.
The plie squat is an excellent at-home exercise for toning your thighs, particularly the troublesome inner thigh. This exercise can be performed solely with your own body weight or with added resistance from a dumbbell or kettlebell. Stand with your feet wider than shoulder-width with your toes pointed out. Stabilize and straighten your torso, then bend your hips and knees to lower into a squat. Continue down until your thighs are parallel with the floor and your knees are bent to 90 degrees. Squeeze your glutes and inner thighs to return to the standing position. Perform a heel raise at the top of the movement to work your calves into the movement. Complete two to three sets of eight to 12 repetitions.
Jen Weir writes for several websites, specializing in the health and fitness field. She holds a Bachelor of Science in exercise science from Montana State University, is an NSCA-certified strength and conditioning specialist and maintains a personal trainer certification from the American College of Sports Medicine.