Toning muscles in the legs is something that many people aspire for. After all, there is nothing more attractive than shapely legs. However, there is more to just the aesthetic appeal of muscular legs. Strong limbs help to support you entire body properly, and help to support proper posture. Below are five basic leg toning exercises that should be a part of everyone’s weight training regimen.
Squats are a very basic lower body exercise that incorporates many muscles at once. This activity strengthens the quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteals and calf muscles, as well as other smaller muscle groups. If you were extremely short on time, this is one lower body exercise that should not be eliminated – in fact, you could probably get away with just this one exercise.
To perform squats properly, start with feet shoulder-width apart. Make sure you do not lock your legs at the knees. You can perform squats with dumbbells at the side, a barbell across your back, or even rubber exercise bands.
Slowly lower your body for a count of four until your legs are bent to a 90 degree angle. Don’t go any further than this as you can hurt your knees. Keep your back straight. Slowly return to starting position for a count of two to four. Repeat about 8-10 times, for about three sets.
The leg press works the hamstrings and quadricep muscles. Generally, you’ll need a leg press machine to perform this exercise. Experiment with the weight to make sure you are able to press at least five or six times – and to prevent yourself from not being able to press the weight away from your body!
Begin by having your knees bent between 70 to 90 degrees. Slowly press the weight away from your body until your legs are straight. Make sure not to lock your knees. Slowly bring the weight back towards your body. Perform about 8-10 reps, for about three sets.
Leg extensions help to strengthen the quadricep muscles. This is an exercise that can be performed on a machine, or with ankle weights. To perform leg extensions, you begin by sitting upright. Slowly bring your feet up towards the ceiling by straightening your legs, making sure not to lock your knees. Slowly bring your feet back down to starting position. Perform 8-10 reps, for 3 sets.
This lower body exercise works the hamstrings. Again, this can be performed on a machine, or with ankle weights or rubber exercise bands. Begin by laying on your stomach with your legs straight out behind you. Slowly bend your knees and bring your heels in towards your bottom. Slowly bring your feet back to starting position by straightening your legs again. Perform 8-10 reps three times each.
This lower body exercise builds the calf muscles. It can be performed either by standing or sitting. If you don’t have access to heavy weights, or a calf machine, then the best way to do this exercise is by standing on the edge of a step. Slowly lower your heels so they go below the step, then slowly raise your heels up and flex your calves tightly. Repeat this about 10 times, for three sets.
Keep your legs tight and toned by focusing on these basic lower body exercises.