This leg workout is great for toning and shaping the entire leg from your butt down to your calves for gorgeous summer shorts-ready pins. Think Jennifer Lopez’s sexy sculpted legs for inspiration and get lunging.
For optimum results, pair the workout with some moderate leg-intense cardio like running, cycling or climbing stairs 3-5 times a week (the US-based CDC recommends 300 minutes a week for trimming). Cardiovascular exercise burns calories and can contribute to weight loss. Incorporate high-intensity intervals (HIIT) into some cardio workouts to maximise fat burn. These intervals help the body to burn calories long after finishing your workout. Get some tips on how to amp up your cardio session here.
THE LEG WORKOUT CIRCUIT
Perform this leg workout circuit of 7 exercises on at least two, non-consecutive days of the week to strengthen and tone your legs. Perform 12 to 15 repetitions of each exercise and complete two to three circuits, depending on your fitness level. One circuit should take no more than 15-20 minutes if you limit your rest time between exercises to a maximum of 30 seconds. Like most of our workouts, this is another pretty simple circuit that can be done anywhere.
If you’re not very fit, take it easy and give the weights and bands a skip until you’ve built some base strength and fitness. Listen to your body. Do not continue with any exercise if you feel any pain or discomfort.
Warm-up: 5 Minutes
Perform any light cardio warm-up for at least 5 minutes. Walk, jog on the spot, skip or dance about to elevate the heart rate and warm-up the muscles.
Reverse lunge with front kick
This is a great move to properly warm up the leg muscles. It’s also a wonderful dynamic stretch for both the hip flexors and the hamstrings, so it’s the perfect way to start your leg workout circuit.
Start by standing tall, feet slightly spread apart. Step back into a deep lunge with your left foot, bending both knees at a 90˚ angle. Your left knee should just about touch the floor. Make sure that your front knee is in line with your ankle. It shouldn’t extend beyond the foot in order to avoid unnecessary strain on the knees.
Press the right heel into the ground, activating the hamstring and butt, as you push off with your left foot, standing up on your right leg while kicking your left leg straight out in front. At the same time sweep your right arm forward to reach the toes of your extended left leg. Lower the left leg back into the lunge position. That’s one rep. Complete 12-15 reps on the left before swapping legs.
Hold a dumbbell in each hand, arms hanging at your sides. Using a box or bench, inhale then exhale as you step up with one foot and follow with the other so you’re standing on top the platform. Step back down with the same foot. Repeat, leading with the opposite foot. That’s one rep. Do 12-15 reps.
Exercise tip: Make sure you don’t lean forward but maintain an upright posture, with your head up and back straight, as pictured.
Lateral shuffle with squat (with band)
Place a band around your thighs and stand with your feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent (the band should be taut). Keeping the toes pointed forward and the band taut throughout, step your left foot out to the left side followed by your right. Don’t let the band slack. Take 3 steps, to the left and then drop down into a deep squat until your thighs are almost parallel to the floor. As with the lunges, make sure that your knees are in line with your ankles and don’t extend beyond your toes. Rise up, making sure to maintain a bend in the knees, and repeat to the right side. That’s one complete rep. Do 12-15 reps.
Squat tip: When you squat down, stick your butt out as if perching on the end of a chair. Engage the abs, keep your back straight and draw the shoulders back so you don’t slouch over.
Standing side- and diagonal kicks (with band)
Place a band around your thighs with your weight on your right leg. Raise your arms in front of you for stability. Extend the left leg to the side, toes pointed to the floor. Pulse your left leg upwards and then tap your toes lightly to the floor. Immediately, raise the same (left) leg out to the rear diagonal and lower to the floor to complete 1 rep. Repeat 12-15 times then swap legs.
Exercise tip: Keep your weight on your standing leg and avoid arching your back or leaning to one side (that’s cheating!). When you lift your leg to the rear diagonal, rotate it out from the hip slightly.
Weighted lateral lunges
Stand up straight with your feet hip width apart, and take one dumbbell in each hand with your arms hanging down at your sides, palms facing your thighs. Take a big step to your left. Keeping your left knee behind your left toes, bend your left leg until your thigh is nearly parallel to the ground. At the same time, bring the weights toward the ground to frame your left foot. Push up through the left heel to come back up to standing and bring both feet together. Then repeat on the opposite side to complete one rep. Do 12-15 reps.
Exercise tip: Make sure your weight is distributed towards the heels and not your toes. Engage the core and stick your butt out, keep your back straight and head up. Do not hunch your shoulders or round your back. Finally, remember the golden rule, do not let the knees extend over the toes of the lunging leg.
Inner thigh raises
Lie on the floor on your right side. Your body should be in a straight line, so that your head, shoulders and hips are all aligned. Prop up your upper body with your right elbow, which should be directly under your shoulder. Your weight should be on your hip and elbow. Bend your left leg and place it on the floor in front of you. Keeping your right leg straight and foot flexed, slowly raise your right leg off the floor. Pause at the top of the movement, hold, and slowly lower your leg back to the floor. Complete 20 reps then swap sides.
Trio of weighted calf raises
Basic (left): Stand tall with legs shoulder width apart and your toes pointing forward. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, letting them hang by your sides. Lift your heels off the ground and rise up onto your toes as high as you can, so that you’re standing on the balls of your feet and toes. Slowly lower your heels back to the floor. Do 15 reps. External Rotation (top right): Repeat the calf raises with your toes pointed outwards. Do 15 reps. Internal Rotation (bottom right): Repeat the calf raises with your toes pointed inwards. Do 15 reps.
Exercise tip: You can stand on the edge of step to provide a greater range of motion and make the exercise more challenging.
Repeat the entire leg workout circuit two or three times.
Always remember to stretch after a workout. Find a great lower body stretch routine to do after any leg workout here.
RELATED POSTS: Don’t miss our other workouts! We’ve got workouts to blast your booty, sculpt your shoulders and build beautiful arms. Or, for a great full body workout, try one of our swimming workouts.