To achieve well-shaped and toned legs, combine regular cardiovascular workouts with resistance exercises using specific upper and lower leg muscles such as the thighs (which include the hamstrings and quadriceps) and calves. This is where you get lucky: Lunges and squats are the ultimate lower body exercises, training every major muscle in the upper leg and calf as well as the muscle in your butt at once. In other words, a terrific time saver!
1. Lunges (for quadriceps, hamstrings, butt, hip flexors and calf muscles)
Stand with feet together; slowly lower body into a lunge position - step forward with the right leg and lower the left leg, keeping front knee and back knee at 90-degree angles. Keeping the weight in your heels, push back up (slowly!) to starting position. Never lock knees at the top and never let knee bend past toes. Keep torso tight and upright (don't hunch!).
2. Squats (for thighs, hips, butt, calves, shins and lower back)
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart; slowly lower body as though sitting in a chair until thighs are parallel to the ground. Keeping the weight in heels, push yourself up slowly until reaching starting position. Don’t let knees extend over toes; keep torso tight and erect.
3. Plié or Ballet Squat (for inner thighs, quadriceps and butt)
Stand with feet wider than shoulder-width apart, toes out at a comfortable angle. Bend knees and lower body towards the floor, keeping knees in line with toes and squeezing through heels when pushing back up. Don't lock knees at the top of movement; keep abs and back tight and straight.
For each exercise, aim for one to three sets of 10 repetitions, and rest for one minute between sets.
Buns, bum, backside, derrierre... whatever you call it, practically everybody wants a firm, shapely one. As discussed in the leg section, lunges and squats are super for your posterior, but this exercise also targets the muscles that extend your hips - the hip flexors.
Straight Leg Reverse Lift
On your hands and knees, straighten left leg, keeping right leg bent to support weight along with arms. Begin to lift leg towards the ceiling, contracting buttocks muscles at the same time. Hold at the top for one count. Lower leg and repeat. Switch sides.
Aim for one to three sets of 12 to 15 repetitions and rest for 1 minute between sets.