If you aren’t happy with the way your legs are shaped at this point, some strength training can definitely change their overall shape. When you do weight lifting exercises what you’re doing is increasing the density and size of your muscles. Some people like to call this “toning”. Building the muscles in your legs provides your body with a great foundation and can help improve your performance when doing other exercises.
Leg exercises for women are important because like other exercises, they can create the look that you want as long as you do them regularly. For me, my legs are one of the easiest muscle groups to tone it seems and I always notice their results more quickly than other muscle groups. This will be different for everybody but I assure you that these exercises will give you leaner, stronger legs.
- Squats. The great thing about squats is that you don’t need any equipment at all. You simply stand up with your feet apart (shoulder-width is good) and then you squat down like you’re going to sit in a chair, then you explode back up to the standing position. Squats will mainly work your quadriceps, but they’ll also work your glutes and your hamstrings as well.
- Leg Extensions (Quads). This is another quadriceps exercise that I love. You’ll need a leg extension machine to perform this move. Begin by sitting down and placing the front of your lower legs under the padded portion of the leg extension machine. Perform the move by lifting your legs straight out from you and then slowly lower back down. You’ll really be able to feel it in your quadriceps which tells you the exercise is working.
- Lying Hamstring Curl with Exercise Ball (Hamstrings). The lying hamstring curl exercise was kind of awkward for me the first time I tried it and I didn’t think I was really accomplishing anything. I knew I was wrong by the end of my first set. To perform this move, lie down with your back to the floor and place your feet directly on top of an exercise ball. Elevate your hips and then curl the ball back into your body and then roll it back out. Keep your hips elevated throughout the set.
- Hamstring Curls on Machine (Hamstrings). This will require a leg curl machine. Simply lie down on your stomach and rest the padding of the leg portion of the machine on the backs of your lower legs. To perform the move curl your legs up and then slowly lower back down. Repeat for the desired number of reps.
- Calf Raises (Calves). If you want shapely calves, you’ll want to do this exercise. It’s really simple and you don’t need any equipment. Simply stand up straight and then raise yourself up onto your toes and then *slowly* lower your heels back down to the floor until they almost touch and then repeat. You should be doing anywhere from 15 to 25 reps for each set of this exercise.
- Lunges. I never ever used to do lunges but now they’re one of my favorite leg exercises. They’re one of my favorites because they’re so effective and you don’t need equipment. I never started to do lunges on a regular basis until I got my Step360. To me, lunges were just more fun on this thing. Now, I’ll do them anywhere. To perform a lunge step forward with one leg and lower your body until the thigh of your stepping leg is about parallel to the ground – making sure not to extend your knee past your toes. Step back into the starting position and do the same with the opposite leg.
- Deadlifts. I used to watch my husband do these things and think “yeah right”, I’m not doing those…now, I love them! My entire body will feel it after just a few hours – it really is a full body exercise. As with all exercises, it’s very important to make sure that you are using proper technique. Here’s a great video that demonstrates proper deadlift technique:
Home workouts to try:
New Rules of Lifting for Women: Lift Like a Man, Look Like a Goddess: This workout is actually a book and it’s a good one. I have it! I’ve also posted about the workouts a bit here on my blog. (I would definitely opt for the paperback version vs. the Kindle version)
The Body Sculpting Bible for Buns and Legs: Women’s Edition: This is a book as well and has detailed descriptions for each exercise and can be used by women regardless of current fitness level.
ChaLean Extreme by Chalene Johnson: This program has done amazing things for my legs – I’m completely thrilled. It’s easy to follow and Chalene is a great motivator who also encourages you to push yourself.
Training your quadriceps, hamstrings and calves with these leg exercises for women will get you the shapely legs you’re looking for. You don’t have to do ALL of these exercises in one workout, but these are all great exercises to help strengthen and build the major muscles in your legs. Remember to eat healthy too – the only way you’ll see muscle appear through the skin is if you have a low level of body fat.