The bad news is the bum and thighs are primary fat-storage areas for women. They are the hardest areas to lose fat from, so women wanting to tone their legs may need to incorporate more cardio activities.
The good news is your lower body is the easiest and quickest place to build calorie-burning lean muscle. You have over 200 muscles below the belt, including the largest muscle in your body — your gluteus maximus. So, it’s important to get up and get your lower body working in everything you do.
Those weight machines at the gym may look impressive, but they won’t help you build an impressive physique. You’ll burn more calories and work more muscles at once by doing a side lunge instead of using isolation equipment at the gym. During a side lunge requires lots of balance and stability and this means more your inner thigh muscles will be worked harder. As well as strengthening your knee ligaments, all the other muscles in your legs are being worked as well— quads, glutes, hamstrings and calves.
The more muscles worked, the more energy burned = leaner, stronger legs faster.
Exercises for Toned Legs
OK so there’s nothing new in the list below, but that’s because they really do work! The secret is to take each of the basic exercises a little further.
Most people know how to execute a basic squat. Squats are a great lower body exercise, but here are some tricks to enhance their effectiveness;
Make sure your glutes are fully engaged to get them working hard during your squats. Do a set of lying hip bridges before your squats to activate your rear, focusing on squeezing your backside during the bridge. Once your glutes are fully ‘activated’ then perform your set of squats for double the results.
At the end of every set, try to hold a contracted position at the bottom of a squat for as long as you can. This will help you get stronger through the toughest parts of the range of motion.
Take to the air with a power move. Begin with your feet shoulder width apart then squat down focusing on keeping your knees in line with your toes & just outside your ankles. Keeping your back flat, explode upwards through the back of your heels and into the air! Land as softly as you can with soft knees.
There are lots of different ways to do these and mixing them up is more effective as well as breaking boredom – the versions below are slightly more challenging.
The lunge is one of the best leg toning exercises, but this ballet-inspired lunge will shape those legs in half the time. Put one leg forward and one back, making sure both heels are on the ground. Lift both heels up off the floor and then lunge down. Do 10 small pulses (raising up and down a few inches in each direction) before switching legs. Be sure to keep your chest lifted and abs in and if you need frontal support, grab a chair. This short stance lunge ‘en releve’ (on the balls of the feet) will work the thighs, glutes, hamstrings and calves.
Balancing on one leg (you can see why this is called the Flamingo), lunge down as far as you can keeping your abs engaged. Kick your free leg back to activate those glutes. Repeat 15 times and switch sides!
Another ballet exercise! Well it’s no secret that ballet dancers (male and female) have extremely toned legs! The plie tones the inner & outer thighs and your glutes!
Start with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width and toes pointed out. Squat down keeping your knees in line with your toes and slightly outside of your ankles. Stand up tall kicking one leg out to the side and bringing it up, parallel with the ground. Drop back down into your plie squat and repeat for the opposite leg!
Outer and Inner Thigh Kick Stretch
Stand holding the back of a chair. Come up onto the ball of your left foot, and lift your right leg. Keeping your abs pulled in, bring your right leg across your body, in front of your left. Then, swing it back out to the right, keeping your toes flexed and your toes turned out.
Do 10 reps then switch legs – be sure to keep both hips facing forward at all times.
Rest, then do a second set.
Other top tips for toned legs
Wear a pedometer and set a daily goal of 10,000 steps. More daily activity can help you burn more calories and gets results faster without extra time at the gym. Even if you are desk-bound for most of the day – try and get up once every hour and walk around.
As well as thigh specific exercises, incorporate some HIIT. This will elevate the rate you are burning calories and increase lean muscle to give you the tone and definition you’re looking for.
If you have the opportunity, try walking on an uneven surface, such as sand at the beach, to add an extra challenge and fire up the balancing muscles in your lower body in a natural and effective way.
How Can BodyUK Help You Tone Up?
The BodyUK team understand that it isn’t always easy to know how to achieve your training goals and that’s why we’re here to help. We provide personal training for whatever your goals maybe. Our personal training is designed to fit around your daily schedule and we can even come to your home to train you, to make this as convenient as possible.
Alternatively, you may be interested in our outdoor fitness classes, which provide the opportunity to workout in a supportive group led by a certified instructor. We even offer a free taster session if you’d like to find out what outdoor fitness bootcamp is all about.
If you have any questions about BodyUK’s services or just want to find out more about how to achieve your goals, then you can email our Head Coach Jem [email protected]/impreza or call 0203 289 1915 for a confidential conversation.