What exercises will tone my legs?


Toning one's legs is very important. Proper exercises in which to do so is even more important. Exercises that work the total leg and add in the element of balance are great. Some examples are single leg squats, regular squats, and lunges. There are many variations of each of these exercises. Resistance can be added by holding dumb bells or a medicine ball, too. It is important to remember to pull in the navel when performing any exercises to allow for greater support of the low back. For toning, use a lighter weight or simply use your body's own weight, and perform a higher number of repetitions; 15-20 reps per set. Do two or three sets.

Check out this video of a Single Leg Squat.

[media id="DEV__4c7e72212a49f1_98895543" title="Single Leg Squat"]

Check out this video of a regular squat.

[media id="DEV__4c810b4dbf3d74_90489139" title="Dumbbell Squat Front View - M"]

This is a great video of a lunge variation.

I love the Split Squat and here’s how to execute it:

  • Elevate the back leg. The leg can be placed on an aerobic stepper or Swiss ball
  • With your weight on the front heel, lower your body straight down towards the floor.
  • Stop when your back knee is just above the floor.
  • Pause slightly at the bottom.
  • Then, pushing through the heel, return to the starting position.
Here’s a few tips
  • Do not rock your body back and forth onto the back heel.
  • Keeping the back heel raised up off the floor to helps put the weight on the front leg.
  • Be sure to breathe in as you lower your body and breathe out as you press your weight up. Do not hold your breath.
  • To help keep your balance, pick a spot on the wall in front of you and keep your eyes on that spot as your perform the exercise.
  • If you need additional help maintaining your balance, hold onto a chair or some other fixed object such as a wall.

One of my favorite leg exercises that will strengthen and tone your legs is walking lunges. What’s great about these is that you can do them anywhere. I like doing them across the backyard at the end of a walk or jog. I do them on the beach on vacation, across the gym holding dumbbells, around the house. They also get your heart rate up, so you get some cardiovascular benefit too.

A walking lunge is alternating single leg lunges, going forward. Basically, you are walking forward very slowly, taking very large steps and bending your knees a lot more than you would with regular walking. Keep your toes facing forward – if you tend to walk with your toes turning out or in, watch out for this. It’s very important to make sure your front knee doesn’t go too far forward while you are bending that knee. It should not go farther forward than the toes of that foot. If you are having trouble with this part, try taking a larger step so that your feet are farther apart, or thinking about lowering your body straight down when you bend your knees rather than moving forward. How much you bend your knees depends on you – as you get better at it, you can bend them more until your back knee almost touches the ground.

This exercise is also good for balance and working the stabilization muscles in your leg. Best of luck, and enjoy exercising!

Two great toning (or muscle conditioning) exercises for the legs are forward and side lunges with a balance. To perform the front lunge to balance, stand with your feet pointed straight ahead and placed shoulder-width apart. Holding a dumbbell in each hand, lift your chest, tuck in your chin and draw-in your belly button to tighten the abs. Next, contract your glutes and lunge forward, making sure to keep your legs in-line with your hips and do not let your front knee cross over the midline of your body. Bend your front and back knees approximately 90-degrees while keeping your front foot flat on the ground and the heel of your back foot lifted. Push off the middle of your front foot and straighten your front leg while bringing your back leg forward until its hip and knee are flexed to 90-degrees. Hold a balance position on the front leg for a few seconds and then return to the starting position. To do the side lunge to balance, stand with your feet pointed straight ahead, placed shoulder-width apart. Holding a dumbbell in each hand, lift your chest, tuck-in your chin and draw-in your belly button to tighten the abs. Next, contract your glutes and lunge sideways. Keep the lunge foot pointed straight ahead with the knee bent and directly in-line with the foot and hip. Your opposite leg should remain straight, making sure the foot stays flat on the ground. Lastly, push off of your bent leg and into a balanced standing position on the opposite leg. Perform 6 to 12 repetitions on each leg for each of the lunge exercises and repeat for a total of 1-3 sets.

Continue Learning about Leg Exercises

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.