Here are some of the best ways to get lean, toned legs this summer. Remember to consult with a physiotherapist before attempting these exercises if you have any underlying or past leg injuries to make sure they will not result in further damage or put too much stress on the injury.
The great thing about most of these leg exercises is that you need very little equipment and they can be done almost anywhere, so there is no excuse not to add some into your daily routine.
This exercise is great for strengthening and toning the thighs.
Place a fitness ball between a wall and your lower back, standing with your feet shoulder width apart. Then slowly bend your knees and squat down five to ten inches, hold in place for three seconds, (or more if you want a challenge), and then return to the starting position.
Repeat this five times if you are a beginner or more if you are a more experienced exerciser.
As you find the squats easier to do, increase the number of reps and aim to do sets of about 12 reps with a 30 second rest interval in between.
Squat jumps take normal squats to a whole new level, targeting the butt, hips legs and thighs.
Simply stand with feet hip-width apart and move your hips and back down by bending your knees until you feel your heels lift from the floor.
Keep your back flat and use your arms to balance. Pause in this position for a moment and then explode upwards extending your hips, knees and ankles. Land as softly as possible on your mid-foot and push your hips back to absorb impact, with trunk slightly forward.
Make sure your abdominal muscles are engaged throughout the exercise to protect the spine and that knees do not lock on landing.
Single leg circles
A Pilates based exercise that tones legs without large impact that some leg exercises have.
Lie on your back with your arms by your sides, palm down.
Point your left foot to the ceiling and rotate foot outward slightly.
Trace a circle on the ceiling with your leg, making sure you keep your hips still and anchored to the floor but move your entire leg. Make five ceiling circles in one direction and then repeat in the other, then switch legs.
If this becomes too easy you can try writing the alphabet in the air.
This exercise strengthens hips and thighs and also has the benefit of being a good calorie burner.
Start standing with your feet together about hip-width apart and keep your back straight. Step forward into a lunge position with your thigh parallel to the floor, avoiding any tilting or swaying of the upper body and keeping your back braced and abdominal muscles engaged.
Straighten your back leg and swing it forward to become the leading leg in the next lunge. Continue for a specific distance or number of reps on each leg.
Single leg dead lift
This is great for toning the butt and strengthening the hamstrings.
Stand with feet hip-width apart with a dumbbell in each hand. The palms of your hands should be facing the front of your thighs. Bend forward at the hips to a 90 degree angle and lift your other leg behind you so it is parallel with the floor. Your arms should hang down by your sides and your whole body should be in line with the back leg. Return to the staring position and repeat, then switch legs.
Targeting the calves and shins, this exercise is a great way to strengthen the bottom part of the leg which is often overlooked.
Start about 12 inches away from a wall with your toes facing forward and place your hands on the wall in line with your shoulders. Rise up slowly onto your toes, keeping your knees straight and avoiding rotating of the feet. Your hands should also be used for support. Hold this position for a couple of seconds then slowly lower your heels back to the floor.
This is another version of the classic squat which targets the butt and quads.
Stand with feet hip-width apart with your elbows bent and hands formed into fists in front of your chest. Lift your right foot a few inches making sure it is flexed. Squat down, bending your left knee 90 degrees whilst lifting your other leg in front of you until it is level with your hips. Do 15 reps and then switch legs.
This is a low impact exercise which targets the butt and hamstrings.
Lie on your back on the floor with your arms by your sides and knees bent, with heels on the floor. Pull your heels towards your butt at the same time as lifting your hips of the floor so that your body forms a straight line from shoulders to knees and hold. Slide your legs back to the staring position and repeat.
Hint: You can do the exercise with the help of a ball as well (as in the picture).
Use your legs
Although weight bearing exercises are a good way to strengthen and tone legs, the best way to get lean legs is to use them. Cardio exercise will help to burn excess fat that is prone to accumulate on the butt and thighs of women and exercise like running and cycling will also help to build leg muscles.
Interval training, where you do a fast burst of exercise, followed by a recovery period burn more calories and strengthens difference muscles to more steady state exercise. This is a great way to get strong lean legs.