They carry us to and fro, this we learned at a very young age. But as we grow older, our legs do, too. From the quadriceps to the hamstrings and everything in between, walking isn’t always the best way to tone and tighten your two sticks. Sure, walking burns calories and keeps your legs, well…moving, but if you want legs that make short shorts and fancy shoes proud, or legs that carry you comfortably every time you put one foot in front of the other, you’ll have to work at them a bit. And check your diet, but we’ll talk about the “work” part today. Lucky for you, some of the best leg exercises can be done within the comforts of your own home. No fancy gym membership required.
Behold, 5 ways to tone your legs at home:
Quite possibly one of the best and most efficient exercises out there! Stand with your feet hip-width apart, toes pointed forward. Keep your weight in your heels and your chest up as you lower your hips toward the ground. Never let your knees cross your toes! Down and up, down and up! Try 12 repetitions, do it twice. (And if you’ve got a set of weights, feel free to hold onto them when the going gets easy. Try holding one in front of your chest, and bring your elbows to your knees as you squat.) More advanced squatters can try jump squats (or a combination of the two).
2) Walking Lunges
Another classic. Start with your feet together, step forward with your right foot and loweryour hips toward the ground as you bend your knees 45 degrees…90 if you can. Stand up, then step forward with your left foot. Repeat, completing 12 steps with each foot.
Lie on your back with your heels on a chair, knees should be bent to 90 degrees. With your hands at your side, contract your glutes (bum) and hamstrings (back of your legs) as you lift your hips up toward the ceiling. Lower and repeat. Too easy? Place an exercise band across your hips like a seat belt, but keep your hands on the ground as you push your hips up into the band. Or, find a heavy book and hold in across your pelvis. Either way, try 2 sets of 12 repetitions.
4) Leg Abductions
Let’s not forget about those hips! Stand with your left side to the back of a chair. Hold for balance, then slowly lift your right leg up and forward—keep your leg straight and toes pointed forward, contract your muscles as you lift and lower. This targets the hips. Once you complete all of your repetitions (12?), do the same out to the side while maintaining that leg straight/toes forward position. Switch sides.
5) Calf Presses
Can’t ignore the muscles at the end of your legs now, can we? They look oh-so good in heels! Stand on the edge of a step, lift and lower. That’s it! As the challenge lessens, shift to working just one leg at a time. Or come off the step and press, starting with your heels together. And then start with your toes together.