Toning your legs is a fantastic way to increase your overall level of fitness and health, and the great thing is that it is easier to do than you probably think it is. Some of the largest muscles in your body are located in your legs, and targeting these muscles will let you quickly burn off excess fat. Here are 10 things that you can try to get the legs you want:
Jogging is one of the best ways to burn calories and tone your muscles at the same time. It tops the list of most calorie-burning sport activities. It is a cardiovascular exercise that will provide your legs with many of the same benefits as strength training. Jogging actively engages your calves, hamstrings, gluteal muscles, and quadriceps, essentially targeting your legs as a whole.
If you decide to enhance your legs by jogging, you should know certain tips. First of all, find a pair of shoes, which corresponds to the type of activity. Visit a store that is specialized in jogging equipment and consult a specialist. Secondly, you should always warm your muscles before running. This way, you will avoid luxation and sore muscles. When you make a point of jogging, do it every day regardless of your busy schedule and tiredness. It’s of crucial importance to develop a habit of jogging every day. You can train either indoors or outside. If you choose the last option, consider inviting a friend to join you.
Remember, you should love what you do. Emotional aspect isn’t less important that physical. Just be proud of your strong will-power and desire to be better.
Walking offers many of the same benefits as jogging, but does so with less exertion and less pressure on your knees, so this is a great choice if you’re dealing with some knee trouble. Another great thing about walking is that, while jogging will definitely burn up those calories, walking is slightly better at keeping your heartbeat in a fat-burning zone.
If your legs are strong, you can combine the activities: 20 minutes of jogging and 10 minutes of walking and vice versa. However, don’t cherish the illusion that you can enjoy walking if you are too busy to dedicate time to any other sport activity. Just like jogging or any other exercise, walking includes certain safety rules. Firstly, choose the area that is equipped with walking paths. If there is nothing of a kind, head to the nearest park or green zone. It will be even more useful and effective: unpolluted fresh air will surely benefit to your skin and body. Always put on bright colors in order to be visible to drivers, runners and other people. Wearing reflective clothes in the evening is a must! Remember what your mom has always told you? Look both ways when you cross the street! If you are a loud music-lover, make sure you can hear the cars and bikes outside. It’s extremely important for your safety and I hope you understand that.
Looking specifically to tone up those quads and glutes? You can use squats to target the muscles in your thighs and your butt. To do a squat properly, you need to start with your legs about shoulder width apart. Bend your knees and focus on holding your weight by using your thighs rather than by putting pressure on your knees. My couch always tells me to imagine as if I’m trying to sit down on an invisible chair.
When done properly, your knees should never creep out past your toes during a squat. In fact, there are different types of squats. One of the most difficult ways to do squats is body weight jump squat. Place your hands at the back of your head and stretch your elbows. Try to jump as high as possible and squat at once you land. The exercise may seem childish to you, but trust me, at the beginning you will hardly accomplish 10 times! This exercise will help tone your calves and front and back of thighs.
Watch your breathing: inhale with your nose and exhale with your mouse. Breathe deep. When you feel the slightest signs of burning pain in your lunges, take a short break. If you want to strengthen your butt, give a try to pistol squats. No, you don’t have to jump. Just raise your leg and hold it in parallel with the floor when you are down. Balance is the main trick here. Try braced squats with barbells or dumbbells to achieve your fitness goal faster.
Step-ups are another effective and easy glute and quad exercise. All you need is a raised, flat surface that you can step up on to. An exercise bench is great if you have one, but you can definitely improvise with household items. Start by placing one foot on the bench, and then, with your arms by your sides, transfer your weight, straighten the leg, and step all the way up. Alternate the leg each time you step up. Try to do it for about 50 times with 3 or 4 sets. But if you are the beginner, start with only one set of 30 times. Use barbells and dumbbells to intensify your workout.
Breathing is a crucial part of this activity. However, opinions differ as for when you should inhale and exhale. I suggest you to find your own comfortable pace and way of breathing. Another way to make the exercise more useful is by pushing your second leg when you are up. It won’t be too hard even for the beginner. However, be careful with this exercise if you have any knee problems since it produces great pressure on your knees and may cause serious injuries.
Lunges also target your glutes and quads, and are a good way to target your hams as well. Start by having both feet close together, and then step forward with one leg until your knee reaches a 90 degree angle, making sure that you keep your back straight. Hold your position for a few counts and then bring your leg back. Even though this exercise seems to be very simple, there are a few common mistakes that you can make when performing lunges. The first, most frequent mistake is the distance between your legs. The distance is different for each person since we have various height, legs and feeling of comfort. It’s very easy to damage your knee-cup due to the unbalanced position. Look at the mirror to make sure there is a 90 degree angle between your legs.
The next mistake you can make is to lean too forward. It also causes excessive load on your knee-cup and involves dislocations. If you cannot see your supporting knee when performing lunges, there’s a problem. Remember, your back, head and supporting leg should create one straight line.
6. Walking lunges
Walking lunges are essentially the same as regular lunges. The difference is that instead of bringing your leading leg back after the lunge is completed, you step forward with your other leg instead, briefly straightening both legs out. Although walking lunges are one of the best and easiest leg toning exercises, it’s important to perform it correctly. Once you learn the right way to do walking lunges, you can increase the intensity by adding weights like dumbbells or kettlebells. With a few reps, you will tone not only your thighs, but your butt as well.
7. Heel lifts
We’ve gone through several exercises that target your upper legs, but what about your lower legs? Heel lifts are very useful for targeting ankles and calves. To do them, you need to start in a sitting position with your back straight and both feet on the floor. Lift the heel of one of your feet while keeping your toes on the ground. Hold for a count of 5 or so and then repeat for your other foot.
To enhance the result, try to accomplish the exercise in a standing position. Use chair or any stable surface to keep balance. Since this is a very simple activity, you’d better do several sets of 40-50 repetitions.
There are some crucial mistakes that can stop you from reaching your fitness goal. Usually, people try to do this exercise as fast as possible in order to move to the more effective exercise, as they think. But, heel lifts must be done slowly. Count to five to recognize the endurance of the lifting. Yeah, it’s quite difficult, I know it! The second mistake concerns the height. Don’t try to stand up on your toes like a ballerina on her pointers! It won’t benefit to your muscles but can cause breaks and injuries.
No list of leg-toning methods would be complete without the tried and true method of cycling. I’m really in love with this activity since it’s such a fun! Either get out on some biking trails or use a stationary bike at the gym or in the comfort of your own home. Cycling mainly targets your thighs and your butt, but will definitely help to tone up your calves as well. When you’re cycling outside make sure you remember all the rules I mentioned as for walking, such as bright clothes, proper attention while crossing the road, appropriate paths and moderate loudness of your iPod.
Adjust your bike to suit you. Make sure there is a proper seat height and it’s absolutely comfortable. It’s very important for a woman’s health! Consult the assistant to choose a high-quality bike and it will serve you for many years. When riding, always stay hydrated. Water is the only helper when we exercise. It improves metabolism, transports nutrients to where they’re needed and helps detoxify your body.
More: 21 Best Butt Exercises
9. Leg extensions
Leg extensions are another simple exercise that you can do while sitting in a chair. Simply sit down with your back straight, lift both legs up, and hold them up for a few seconds at a time. If you’re working for long hours at your desk staring at a computer screen, then you can take a break to do this every half an hour or so.
You can also accomplish this exercise in a gym, using a leg extension machine. This will be much more beneficial to your legs. It’s one of my favorite exercises to do in a gym since it helps me tone my legs with little effort. Give it a try and you will notice striking results after the third session. Sit on the machine with your back tightly pressed against the chair back. Keep your arms twisted behind the chair or on the special props. When it comes to leg extensions, it’s important to keep the slow pace. When I started doing this exercise I could hardly complete 5 repetitions. Now I can accomplish 3 sets of 20 repetitions. This leg toning exercise isn’t as difficult as you might think!
10. Eat well
Finally, you’ll see quicker and more noticeable results from any of these leg-toning methods if you change your eating habits along with your workout routine. Make healthier choices, stay away from fried foods, increase your intake of fruits and veggies, and all of your efforts will be worth it. Start your day with a healthy breakfast, though you should start your day with a breakfast each day. This way, you will avoid sluggish and lightheaded feelings throughout the day. Juice and bananas, whole grain bread and cereal, milk and yogurt are all great options! Never work out before eating your first meal of the day, though. It’s the surest way to upset stomach and cause gastric ulcer. If you exercise in the morning, try to get up earlier in order to have breakfast at least an hour before going to the gym.
Stick to a routine and you’ll see results in no time! The great thing about being able to choose between so many different exercises is that you can mix up your routine in order to keep yourself from getting bored. Laziness and boredom are the number 1 killers of exercise routines, so do something different every day and not only will you get the toned legs you desire, but you’ll have fun getting them as well.