Whether you’d like to feel more confident in shorts or a skirt or are aiming to improve your overall body composition, you may be looking for ways to tone your legs.
While there’s no such thing as a rapid spot treatment that can specifically target your legs, you can develop a routine that gets rid of overall excess body fat.
Choosing exercises that help to tone your leg muscles can make them appear more fit, too.
First things first: It’s normal and healthy to have body fat. People of average weight with a penis have about 18 to 25 percent body fat, while people of average weight with a vagina have 25 to 31 percent body fat.
Body fat is often distributed evenly, but you may have more fat in certain areas than others. This is usually due to your genes.
Leg fat may be comprised of different types of fat cells, including:
- Subcutaneous fat: most common in the thighs and located right beneath the skin
- Intramuscular fat: fat dispersed within the muscle itself, much like the marbling seen in meat
Here are 3 ways to reduce body fat and help tone your legs.
The first step to burning overall body fat is aerobic exercise. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends doing 150 minutes of aerobic activity each week.
Whether you walk, swim, or cycle, it’s important to choose a type of exercise you can complete at a moderate intensity to get your heart rate up and maximize calorie burn.
One of the best aerobic exercises for the legs is cycling. The low intensity is especially helpful for beginners, and it doesn’t strain your knees. Cycling also increases muscle endurance in the following areas of the body:
If you’re not up for a cycling class, you might consider investing in a home exercise bike. Better yet, hop on a bike and head outdoors for some stress-blasting fresh air.
Losing fat alone can leave you with less toned legs, so you’ll need to invest some time in strengthening your muscles.
Weights and rowing machines are effective tools for leg-strengthening exercises, but you can work on leg muscles just as effectively without any special equipment.
Lunges are among the most comprehensive leg workouts, as they tone the quads and hamstrings, along with the inner thighs and buttocks.
Follow these steps for an effective lunge:
- Stand up straight. Place your hands on your hips for extra balance, if needed.
- Step your right leg forward and left leg back, and bend your right leg at the knee, creating a 90-degree angle.
- To prevent injury, ensure your right knee doesn’t extend past your ankle.
- Press your weight down into your heels.
- Press back up to your starting position.
- Complete your desired number of repetitions, and then switch legs.
Other at-home strengthening exercises include:
Exercise is the most effective way to tone your leg muscles, but you also need to harness the power of a calorie deficit to lose body fat.
Reducing your calorie intake is the first step to take, as your body will naturally utilize excess fat as its next energy source. Think of the calories you eat as a budget, and try to stay within or under your budget most days of the week.
Just be sure not to make your calorie deficit too extreme. Consult your healthcare provider for some help to determine your calorie needs, especially if you have any underlying medical conditions.
Remember, leg transformation takes time.
Many diet companies and exercise moguls promise quick leg transformations with their programs. As with any weight loss endeavor, getting the legs you want requires time and consistency.
Losing body fat in general and focusing on exercises that tone your legs can make them look slimmer.
Patience goes a long way toward building a leaner, stronger foundation for your body.