Sculpt Your Legs

10 great exercises for strong, toned legs.

Many women fear lower-body strength exercises, thinking they’ll add excessive bulk to their legs. But this fear is unwarranted. It’s the male hormone testosterone that leads to muscle bulk, and women typically don’t have enough testosterone to build big muscles. Women can, however, build toned, defined leg muscles through a combination of squats, lunges, and calf raises. It’s important to include a variety of leg exercises as each targets different parts of the leg: the butt, quads, hamstrings, calves, and thighs.

Want to love your legs? Tired of the flab and lack of tone? Add the following exercises to your routine three non-consecutive days of the week. The only equipment you’ll need is a chair, small-weight dumbbell, and a stair. As you do each exercise, remember to breathe. Perform 15 to 20 reps of each exercise for each leg, and aim for two to three sets, resting 30 seconds between sets.

It’s not really a shorter skirt. I just have longer legs. – Anna Kournikova

Split Squat (Butt and Quads)

To do a split squat, place a chair about two feet behind you. Put you hands on your hips, bend your right leg behind you and place the top of your right foot on the seat of the chair. Squat down with your left leg till it reaches a 90-degree angle, keeping your knee over your ankle. Switch legs. Repeat.

Pistol Squat (Butt and Quads)

The pistol squat requires balance, but is a good workout. Place feet hip-width apart, stand up straight, bend your elbows and keep your fists in front of your chest. Flex your right foot and slowly lift it forward and up. Standing on only your left leg, squat down on your left leg until your knee is bent to 90 degrees, while lifting your right leg up to hip level. If you’re not able to lift your right leg this high, keep it closer to the floor. Swap legs and repeat.

Sissy Squat (Calves, Hamstrings, and Quads)

Though it has a funny name, the sissy squat is a serious leg workout. Place your feet hip-width apart and hold a chair at your side with your right hand. Lift up onto your toes, bend your knees at 90-degrees, keep your abs tight, and lean your torso back to a 45-degree angle. Your body should make a straight line from your shoulders down to your knees. Straighten your body and repeat.

Goblet Squat (Hamstrings, Inner Thighs, Quads, and Butt)

You’ll need a single dumbbell for this squat. Stand with your feet placed wide, toes pointed out. Take a low-weight dumbbell with both hands and hold it vertically in front of your chest. Bend your elbows to the side. Squat down until your knees reach a 90-degree angle. To make it more challenging, jump as you stand back up.

Lunges: Three Ways (Quads, Inner Thighs, Hamstrings, and Butt)

Stand straight and clasp your hands by your chest. Lunge forward on the right leg, bending the right knee down to 90-degrees. Return to standing and switch legs.

Stand straight and lunge your right leg out to the right while keeping your toes faced forward. Bend your right knee down to 90-degrees. Return to standing and switch legs.

Stand straight and lunge your right leg backward until your left leg is a 90-degree angle. Return to standing and switch legs.

Calf Raises: Three Ways (Calves)

You’ll need a stair step to do a calf raise. Stand on a step with your heels off the edge of the step. Place you hands on your hips and turn your toes in. Lift your heels up, and then lower them below the stair level. Repeat.

Next, instead of facing your toes inward, turn them outward at 45 degrees. Lift up and down on the edge of the stair.

Lastly, stand on one leg only. Bend the other behind you and lower and raise your body with the power of one calf muscle. Switch.

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