One of the most common questions from my female clients is: “What do I have to do to tone up my legs?” The truth is reps and sets will play a slight role in toning muscle throughout the leg, however there are a few very effective exercises that safely and effectively tone your legs muscles. Keep reading, you might be surprised.
#1 Best leg exercise to tone your legs – The Dead Lift
Most women want their glutes toned or “lifted”. There’s no doubt, the Dead Lift is the best exercise to tone the glutes and backside of the legs. As an added bonus, the dead lift also is the most functional exercise you can do; meaning that the strength and tone you build will actually correlate to better performance in sports, outdoor activities, and your overall health and wellness.
- Start with a Kettlebell between your legs. Take a hip width stance with the balls of your feet inline with the handle on the Kettlebell. Think of sitting back with your hips as far as you can until your hands reach the handle
- Take a firm grip with both hands on the handle, pull your shoulders back, and stand up driving your heels into the ground and squeezing your glutes at the top of the motion
- Don’t pause, slowly sit back into position and repeat. Your lower back should remain arched and shoulders pulled back tight
#2 Best leg exercise to tone your legs – The Dumbbell Reverse Lunge
Lunges are a great lower body exercise that helps with ankle, leg, and hip stability. More importantly the Reverse Lunge stresses the posterior chain much more than a normal forward or lateral lunge, targeting primarily the glutes and hamstrings.
- To start, try the motion with just your bodyweight in order to get your form down
- Take a hip width stance with both legs, take a large step backwards with one foot, bend your back knee making sure the front lower leg remains vertical
- Once you have you’re technique down grab a pair of relatively heavy dumbbells and repeat the motion again
- Squeeze your glutes as you finish the exercise and repeat. You should feel a pull in the back of your front leg as you stand up from the reverse lunge.
- Try doing one side at a time until you get used to the exercise then move to alternating reverse lunges to make it slightly more challenging
# 3 Best leg exercise to tone your legs – Stability Ball Leg Curls
The Stability Ball Leg Curl is a great exercise to target the back of your legs.
- Grab a stability ball and lay on your back with your knees at a 90 degree angle and ankles on top of the ball
- Squeeze your glutes and lift your hips off the ground. Keep your glutes squeezed tight, hold your hips off the ground and roll the ball toward your butt and back to perform the rep
- If that’s too challenging start with a simple hip lift and work your way toward the leg curl
All 3 of these exercises purposely target the backside of your body. Most of us think some combination of step-ups with a light dumbbell curl or shoulder press is the most effective way to a better body. The problem lies in the fact that exercises such as step-ups target the quadriceps (thigh), which is naturally the lower body’s largest muscle group. Continuing to work the quads leads to “feeling like my legs are big” as well as dysfunction in the hips, legs and ankles.
There are plenty of other great lower body exercises to perform, but I chose these because of their low risk to high benefit ratio as well as the quick results and performance gains they yield. Give them a try and let me know what you think!
Chris Abbott is a personal trainer and owner of Total Fitness and Health. For more information, visit www.TotalfitnessandHealth.net “Like” personal trainer la on Facebook, or follow me @chris_abbott1.
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