5 Awesome Exercises That Will Give You Lean Legs

Want stems like Cameron Diaz? Or pins like Gwyneth Paltrow? Join the club. Having enviable gams is a year-round pursuit. From gym class moves to exercises you can do right at home, here’s how you can achieve long, lean legs you’ll be proud to show off.

1. Plié pulses

Dancers in white tutu synchronized dancing on stage

Working out like a ballerina will certainly give you the perfect legs. | iStock.com/abezikus

Dancers have some of the best legs on the planet because of moves like this. As a classic ballet exercise, the plié is a staple of barre warm-ups and is commonly integrated into larger-scale floor routines. After all, it’d be pretty impossible to perform any kind of jump, pirouette, or relevé without it.

To get into a plié, stand with your feet shoulder width apart, toes pointing out to the sides. Then, slowly sink your upper body down, bending at your knees while keeping your torso straight and head high toward the ceiling. Once you’re knees are over your feet, lift one heel off the floor, and pulse in this position for two sets of 16 on each side. For more of a challenge, Fitness recommends adding a third and fourth set, along with sinking lower to the floor, which will put you into a deeper plié. Not only will your quads, glutes, and calves feel the burn, but by targeting these areas specifically, your muscles will fatigue and show fast results.

2. Dumbbell split jump

dumbbell lunges

Your legs will feel the burn after just 10 of these. | iStock.com

Grab a pair of dumbbells and hold one in each hand with your arms down by your sides, palms facing in. With one foot in front of the other, begin in a staggered stance, and bend your knees so you’re in a split squat. With your upper body remaining erect, quickly switch directions and jump off the floor. Women’s Health suggests repeating the move, alternating back and forth with each repetition. This move will not only tone your legs, but will also test your balance and improve stability.

3. Side leg extension

Woman doing side leg raise

If you want to tone your butt this a great move to master. | iStock.com/Veles-Studio

For this move, Cosmopolitan recommends using a Thera-Band (or even a pair of tights), wrapping one end around each hand a few times. Begin by kneeling on your left knee, placing your left palm on the ground and extending your right hand straight toward the ceiling. Then, extend your right leg straight out to the side, keeping your toes pointed. Next, raise your right leg up toward the ceiling, keeping it straight. Slowly lower your right leg back down to the floor to complete one rep. You’ll feel your outer thigh engaging throughout the move, which also strengthens your glutes and quads.

4. Ski moguls

Lindsey Vonn on skis

Nothing is more intense on the legs than skiing. | Alain Grosclaude/Agence Zoom/Getty Images

If there’s one person who comes to mind when we talk about skiers with great legs, it’s Lindsey Vonn. Fewer sports put a person’s legs on higher alert than skiing, and nothing gives them a more grueling run for their money than terrain that’s sprinkled with moguls. All that bouncing, dodging, and weaving whips pretty much every muscle in your leg into shape, so why not incorporate the move into your workout routine?

Begin standing with your feet together. Squat down, swinging your arms behind you. Pop back up to the right, launching from your feet and swinging your arms in front of you, then land back in your starting position. Jump side to side as fast as you can for 30 seconds. Shape reminds you to land as lightly as possible, using your lower-body muscles to power the move and absorb the impact. In performing the ski mogul move, you’ll tone your legs while also getting your heart rate up.

5. Lunges

Woman doing lunges in a gym

There is a reason lunges are a tried and true staple. | iStock.com

You’re well aware of how lunges can help you get toned, and Prevention says you should be doing them like clockwork. Because you lose muscle as you age, it’s crucial to keep up with basic moves like this. From building balance to scorching cellulite, there’s a lunge for every leg. And the sky’s the limit. Step outside the box with these lunge variations that’ll really give your legs a workout they deserve.