Getting a pair of shapely legs requires a dedicated exercise program and a healthy diet. Although you cannot spot-reduce fat loss from the body, overall weight loss will slim down the legs along with the rest of the body. Strength-training exercises will tone up leg muscles, including the calves, to show off well-defined muscles. Slim down and shape up legs just in time for bikini season with a variety of workouts.
Pilates is a conditioning program that will strengthen and stretch your legs and calves. Exercises help to correct muscular imbalances that may have led to overdeveloped thigh muscles and skinny calves, or vice versa. Pilates postures tone the butt, thighs and hip muscles, while stretching exercises help to lengthen the legs to give a streamlined, leaner appearance. Try specific Pilates leg exercises such as leg lifts, clam shells, double leg kicks, side kicks and inner thigh lifts three to four times per week.
Use your body weight for a leg and calf workout. Your body weight serves as resistance in place of free weights to help gain muscle mass and strength. Contracting the leg muscles against your own weight will not only tone up your legs, but it can also be done from the comfort of your own home. Try leg exercises such as squats, lunges, leg lifts, calf raises and kneeling hip extensions three to four times a week to develop the lower body. Aim to do 10 to 15 repetitions of each exercise for a total of three sets.
A stability ball provides an unstable surface for leg workouts. This increases the difficulty of exercises and strengthens the legs. Ball exercises also target the core region, including the abdominals, for an all-over fit physique. Try doing stability ball leg exercises at home or at the gym such as bridging, leg lifts and knee tucks. Do a knee tucks exercise by kneeling in front of a ball with hands on the surface. Start to walk your hands forward on the floor until your shins are resting on the ball. Your hands should be directly underneath your shoulders in a pushup position. Keep you abdominals engaged as you bend your knees to roll the ball in toward your chest. Pause for a second before returning to the start position. Repeat 10 to 15 times for a total of three sets.
Cardiovascular exercise such as running will slim down thick, bulky legs and tone up muscles. Cardio burns off calories and raises the metabolic rate for weight loss. The repetitive contraction of muscles over an extended period of time will develop tight muscles including the quadriceps, hamstrings and calves. Target thighs and calves in particular with hill-training intervals. Pick a medium-length hill to run up and repeat 10 times preceded and followed with a warm-up and cool-down, respectively.
- ACE: Lower Leg Exercises
- SM&OC: The Sports Medicine and Orthopaedics Center: Rehabilitation Exercises For Ankle, Foot And Lower Leg Injuries
- Pilates Body In Motion; Alycea Ungaro
Jennifer Andrews specializes in writing about health, wellness and nutrition. Andrews has a Master of Science in physical therapy from the University of Alberta as well as a bachelor's degree in kinesiology. She teaches yoga and pilates and is a recent graduate of the Institute of Integrative Nutrition.