Share on Pinterest
Photographs by James Farrell

Strong legs help you walk, jump, and balance. They also support your body and let you enjoy everyday activities. If you want to tone your legs, follow these exercises and tips.

Share on Pinterest

1. Squats

The squat is one of the best exercises to tone legs. It also sculpts the butt, hips, and abs.

Squats are ideal if you have back problems. Since they’re done while standing up and without extra weight, they won’t strain the back.

For balance or extra support, perform your squats standing alongside a wall or next to a chair or the edge of a table with one hand on the object. Resist the urge to pull on it or push off from it.

2. Lunges

Lunges work your thighs, butt, and abs. This move uses both legs at the same time, making it a great exercise for strong legs.

3. Plank leg lifts

Regular planks target the upper body, core, and hips. You can add leg lifts to strengthen your butt and upper legs.

4. Single-leg deadlifts

The single-leg deadlift will sculpt your butt, hips, and upper legs. For balance, place your hands on a wall or chair.

5. Stability ball knee tucks

Doing knee tucks on a stability ball will tone legs fast. It works your calves, shins, and abs. For this exercise, you’ll need a stability ball that’s properly inflated.

6. Step-ups

Step-ups are like one-legged squats. The repetitive movement will work your thighs, hips, and butt.

You’ll need a knee-height plyometric box or raised platform. To limit stress on the knee, always step onto the center of the box.

7. Box jumps

You can also do box jumps on a plyometric box. This explosive workout is one of the best ways to tone your legs, butt, and core.

When you land on the box, drop your hips to absorb the force. Don’t lock your knees and quads. This can hurt your knees.

8. Speedskater jumps

Speedskater jumps, or lateral jumps, engage your leg muscles. This high-intensity move also improves your lunging power and ability.

Start with small jumps. Over time, you can try bigger jumps.

9. Resistance band leg presses

You can use a resistance band to mimic the movement of machine leg presses. This exercise targets your butt, quads, hamstrings, and calves.

To challenge yourself, use a thicker or shorter band.

10. Bridge

The bridge tones your hips, thighs, butt, and core. To make it harder, wrap a resistance band around your thighs.

Share on Pinterest

1. Downward-Facing Dog

The Downward-Facing Dog is a full-body stretch. It’s a standard yoga pose that strengthens the legs.

2. Seated toe touches

This exercise engages your thighs, calves, and shins. Reach as far as you can go, but don’t force it. You can deepen the stretch over time.

3. Chair Pose

The Chair Pose is a powerful yoga stretch. It works the hips, legs, and ankles, making it a great exercise to tone legs.

4. Warrior I

Another leg stretch is Warrior I. This full-body exercise works the butt, hips, and thighs.

Share on Pinterest

1. Walk more

Aerobic activity like walking is one of the best exercises to tone legs.

Walk whenever you can. Here are some tips:

As you get stronger, you can try jogging or running. Or you can keep adding in walking to more of your day and start walking up hills.

2. Indoor cycling

Indoor cycling, or spinning, is one of the fastest ways to tone your legs. It’s a high-intensity workout, but it’s easier on the joints than jogging or running.

Always adjust the bike as needed. This will prevent injuries and painful positions.

3. Hill sprints

Hill sprints put your legs to work. This powerful exercise will build muscle strength and improve your running stride.

To do hill sprints, find a steep hill. Do 4 to 6 sets of 10- to 20-second sprints. Take 3-minute breaks.

4. Dance

Dancing is a fun and fast way to tone your legs. You can take a class or follow videos at home. There are many types of dancing, including salsa, hip-hop, and line dancing. Choose your favorite!

Dancing also increases your heart rate, improves balance, and enhances your memory.

Look for organized dancing near you, like guided country line dancing, salsa classes, or aerobic dance. Or just turn on some music at home and move.

5. Jump rope

Jumping rope also sculpts your leg muscles. It works the calves while increasing your heart rate.

To start, jump rope for 20 seconds straight. Aim for 60 seconds over time.

Share on Pinterest

1. Pause and hold

When you do leg exercises, pause and contract your muscles. This contraction further engages the muscles, which helps maintain strength. You can do this with many types of moves, including squats and bridges.

2. Rest your legs

Don’t overwork your legs. This can slow down recovery and weaken muscle. Instead, let your legs rest. This will allow time for your muscles to repair and get stronger.

3. Use your nondominant leg

Occasionally, lead with your nondominant side. This is good to do when you walk or climb stairs. Otherwise, if you always lead with your dominant leg, you might develop muscular imbalances.

4. Use a foam roller

For optimal recovery, do foam roller exercises for the legs. It can loosen tight muscles and realign tissue. Using a foam roller also improves overall exercise performance.

Share on Pinterest

1. Stay hydrated

The body stores carbohydrates as glycogen. During exercise, it uses glycogen as energy. Poor hydration also speeds up glycogen use.

Low glycogen can lead to muscle fatigue and impaired performance.

To get the most out of your leg workout, stay hydrated. This is especially important on hot days.

2. Eat enough calories

Eating enough calories is key for building muscle. It provides energy and maintains strength in your legs and body.

Your caloric intake depends on your activity level and specific needs. You can talk to a dietitian or nutritionist to determine your recommended intake.

3. Eat a well-rounded diet

For maximum leg and body strength, eat a well-rounded diet. This includes adequate hydration and macronutrient intake.

After exercise, focus on carbohydrates and protein. Carbohydrates replenish muscle glycogen, while protein supports muscle repair.

4. Avoid added sugars

Foods with added sugar provide low-quality calories. This may contribute to unwanted weight gain in the legs.

Limit or avoid foods with added sugar. This includes sugar-sweetened drinks, breakfast cereals, and packaged snacks. Eat more unprocessed, whole foods instead.

Try these tips on a regular basis. With a consistent routine, your legs will become toned and strong.

1. Wear compression leggings

In between workouts, wear compression leggings. Doing so can improve circulation for some people by applying pressure on their legs. This promotes blood flow and supports muscle repair after doing exercises that tone legs.

2. Stand up often

Sitting all day can contribute to muscle loss and weakness in the legs.

To keep your legs strong, stand up every 20 to 40 minutes. You can also stretch or do exercises every 60 to 90 minutes.

3. Get enough sleep

Sleep is a major part of muscle recovery. During deep sleep, the body releases hormones that repair cells and tissue. Getting enough rest also supports optimal performance during leg workouts.