Exercises that tighten and tone your legs from butt to ankles and everything in between
September 05, 2014
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Sexy, slim legs
Want mini-skirt worthy legs? These moves will get you there in no time at all. Pick a few moves, or try them all to sculpt your butt, hamstrings, quads, thighs, and calves.
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This yoga move can tone your legs, and core too.
How to do it: Stand with the feet together, and lift up the left leg with a pointed toe, putting your body weight onto the standing, right leg. Continue to lift your leg and drop the head and torso so they form a straight horizontal line from head to toe with the arms at your sides. Engage your core and make sure the left thigh, hip, and toes are aligned. Remain facing down and keep your back as straight as possible. Ensure your right knee doesn't lock and center the weight on the middle of the foot. Hold for 5 breaths and then slowly return to standing.
Switch legs and repeat.
3 of 19Chris Fanning
This is a perfect move for beginners, and we're betting you're sitting on the only equipment you need as you read this. Hint: If you have a chair (and your glutes), you're good to go.
How to do it: Begin standing with your back to a chair, feet hip-width apart. While keeping your weight centered on your heels, draw in your abs and hinge forward at the hips slowly lowering your butt toward the chair. Pause right before you would sit down and return to standing while keeping the core engaged.
Do 3 sets of 10-15 reps.
4 of 19Chris Fanning
Pivoting Curtsy Lunge
How to do it: Standing with feet hip-width apart, step your right foot diagonally behind you and into a 7 o'clock position. Bend both knees so you're in a lunge stance. Lean your torso forward 30 degrees and pulse up and town 10-15 times. Straighten the body and pivot 180 degrees so your right foot comes to the front. Again, lower into a lunge.
Pulse up and down 10-15 times on each side to complete one set; do 3 sets.
5 of 19Jay Sullivan
Low Lunge Hover
This standing move works both the legs and butt.
How to do it: Stand with feet hip-width apart before stepping your right foot back, and lowering into lunge stance with the left knee over the ankle. Bring your arms over your head and hinge forward from the waist. Lower the chest forward toward the thighs as your arms reach forward. Lift the right leg while straightening the left. Hold for 3 breaths before returning to the starting lunge position.
Do 3 reps; switch legs and repeat.
6 of 19Jason Lee
This move works the quads, hamstrings, and glutes.
How to do it Begin with feet shoulder-width apart and the arms at your sides. Take a large step backwards with your left leg and cross it diagonally behind the right leg. Meanwhile, extend your right arm out to the side and swing the left arm across the hips. Hop about 2 feet to the left and come back to the beginning stance.
Repeat with the other leg; that's one set. Do 3 sets of 20 reps.
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This move works the inner thighs and begins with the same stance as the skater's lunge.
How to do it: Begin with feet shoulder-width apart and the arms down at your sides. Take a step diagonally back with the right foot. Then, bend sideways from the waist toward the side where your right leg is stretched out, and reach your right arm up and left arm down and back toward your right calf. Return arms to starting position to complete 1 rep.
Do 10 reps, then switch sides and repeat.
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This move targets the quads.
How to do it: While you stand facing a chair, raise your right leg, knee facing up, foot flexed and place your heel on the seat. Make sure not to lock your standing knee as you lift your right foot off the chair and straighten it out until you feel your quadriceps engage. Keeping your lifted leg in the air, bend the leg on the floor slightly and then straighten it again.
Do 10-15 reps, then switch sides and repeat for 1 full set; do 3 sets.
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How-to video: Standing Glute Toner
Want a leg-lift exercise to work your glutes? Of course you do. Watch this video to find out how to do it right.
Ready to work your quads and hamstrings? This move will really do the trick.
How to do it: Begin by standing with feet shoulder-width apart, arms at the sides. Lower the body into a squat, going two-thirds of the way down. Immediately jump straight up with your arms pointed up toward the ceiling. When you land, go right back into the next rep.
Do 3 sets of 20 reps each.
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This V-Position is similar to a ballet plié and just like that classic move, it works the thighs, hips, and glutes.
How to do it: Stand holding the back of a chair with one hand. Place your feet in a V position, toes should be about 4 inches apart and heels stay pressed together. Bend your knees and lift the heels a few inches off the floor. Then, lower your hips until you feel your quads intensely working. Pulse up and down.
10-15 pulses up and down completes 1 set; do 3 sets.
12 of 19Chris Fanning
Lateral Lunge Side Kick
Up for a challenge? This move is challenging, but you can use lighter weights or do fewer reps until you get stronger.
How to do it: Stand with feet together, arms at the sides and with 5-to 10-pound dumbbells in each hand. Step the right foot out to the side and bend the left knee at a 90-degree angle to come into a side lunge. Push into your left foot and come to standing with the knees slightly bent. Immediately kick the left foot strongly out to the side (make sure it stays flexed). Return to starting position.
Do 3 sets of 12-15 reps and repeat on the opposite side.
13 of 19David Martinez
This move is a modified bridge and targets the glutes.
How to do it: Lie on your back with knees bent and facing up. Plant your heels into the floor and lift the toes toward the shins. Raise the buttocks off the ground until your back forms a straight line from the knees to the shoulders. Hold for 1 second before lowering down.
Repeat for 15 reps.
14 of 19David Martinez
This squat incorporates dumbbells and works to tone the thighs.
How to do it: With a 5-pound dumbbell in each hand at your sides, stand with the left foot forward and right foot back in a wide stance. Bend both knees keeping the left knee over your ankle, while lowering the right knee nearly to the floor. Return to standing.
Do 8-10 reps on each side.
15 of 19Tom Rafalovich
Single Leg Lift and Row
This move works more than just the legs; it targets the back, arms, and core in addition to the butt and hamstrings.
How to do it: Begin standing with your left foot in front of the right foot. Hold a 5- to 8-pound dumbbell in the right hand and keep both arms at your sides. Leaning forward, raise the right foot off the ground and bring it straight up to hip level. At the same time, bring the weight toward the ground and then raise it up to hip-level.
Do 12-15 reps on the right side before switching arms and legs to repeat on the left side.
16 of 19Chris Fanning
Standing Forward Bend
This move fights cellulite and works the quad muscles.
How to do it: Stand with feet hip-width apart and hinge forward at the hips. Keep your knees slightly bent, lay the chest on your upper thighs, and let your head fall forward toward the ground. Keep the quads engaged and slowly work to straighten the legs without locking the knees. Hips should stay centered over the feet.
Hold for 5-8 slow and deep breaths.
17 of 19Jay Sullivan
This move works the butt and legs, and though chair is in the title, no equipment or props are needed.
How to do it: Start by standing with feet together. Bend the knees and push the hips back, while making sure the knees stay behind the toes. Lower the thighs until they're almost parallel with the floor and raise the arms forward and up. Then, rotate the torso to the right side and place the left elbow on the outside of the right knee. Hold for 3 breaths and return to the starting position.
Repeat on the left side to complete one rep; do 3 reps.
18 of 19Jay Sullivan
Downward Dog Split
This yoga move is great for the legs.
How to do it: Begin on all fours on the ground. Take a deep breath, release and push into downward dog by straightening the legs and lifting your hips and butt into the air. Push your hands and feet into the ground and relax the head between your arms. Exhale and lift one leg as high as you can while keeping it straight with a flexed foot. Lower the leg down, and repeat on the other side.
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Knee Lift-Leg Kick Combo
This move is pretty challenging; if you can't complete the full amount of recommended reps feel free to do less and work your way up to completing the full set.
How to do it: Lie on your right side with the upper body supported by the right elbow and tricep, which should be flat on the mat at your side. Stack the legs and hip, and bend the knees. Lift the top bent leg, keeping it level, and then lower it. Straighten both legs and let them fall into a small split position (with one leg split over the other). Hover the bottom leg about 1-2 inches from the floor with knees facing forward. Return to starting position to complete one rep.