Lunges strengthen and tone your legs.
Although often desired, toned, shapely legs require hard work to achieve, especially if you store excess fat in your lower half. Your exercise regimen should focus on burning calories and stimulating muscle tissue to reduce body fat. This can include targeted exercises to define the muscles in your legs, so that when the excess fat reduces, your muscle tone becomes visible.
Cardio and Strength-Training Exercise
A combination of cardio and strength training can efficiently burn calories and reshape your body including your legs. The Department of Health and Human Services suggests doing at least two strength-training sessions and 150 minutes of moderate cardio a week. Cardiovascular exercises can include jogging, swimming, bicycling, jumping rope or climbing stairs. Strength training can include compound exercises that target your large muscles. Examples include bench presses, lunges, squats, pushups and deadlifts.
Squats, Squats and More Squats
Squats mainly work your quadriceps, and also engage your inner thighs, hamstrings, glutes and calves. They're done by bending your knees, pushing your hips back and lowering down as if you're sitting on a chair. When your upper legs are parallel to the floor, return to an upright stance. For a greater challenge, squat while holding dumbbells or place a barbell on your shoulders behind or in front of your neck. For a lesser challenge, perform squats with your back against a wall or use a squat machine to help you maintain proper form.
Lunges are right up there with squats, because they also target the majority of the muscles in your legs. They're done by stepping forward with one foot, bending your knees and lowering your hips until your front knee is bent roughly at 90 degrees. Then push yourself back, bringing your feet together in an upright stance, and repeating the exercise with your other foot. Holding dumbbells during the exercise, walking while lunging, or placing one foot on a platform, can add variety and challenge to your routine.
Step-Up to Tone-Up
Although they look deceptively easy, step-ups effectively work your legs and butt. During this exercise you step on a platform with one foot, and follow this with your other foot. Then you step down with your leading foot, followed by your trailing foot. Alternate your legs, or finish one set before switching your leading leg. You can do this exercise using a sturdy bench or staircase. Holding dumbbells or raising one knee at the top of the exercise can make for a greater challenge.