4 Leg-Toning Exercises You Have to Try
With summer providing ample opportunity to fully display your gams, trainer Stephanie Dale, formerly with Pilates ProWorks, has four easy tips for toning your legs and getting fit. Not a fan of heavy lifting and long workouts? Fear not! These moves are quick and simple, ensuring that your legs stay fit long after you ditch the shorts at the end of the summer.
[Editor’s note, 7/29/2016: An earlier version of this story stated Stephanie Dale was a trainer at Pilates ProWorks. It has been updated to reflect she is now with another company.]
1. Single-leg squat
Got a few minutes to kill waiting for the bus or between meetings? You guessed it. Stop, drop, and squat. Dale explains how to do it properly: “Standing on your right leg, bend your right knee as you hinge your chest forward making a flat back. As you lift your torso back upright, straighten your standing leg while bringing your left knee up towards your chest.”
2. Split jacks
Work some split jacks into your regular gym routine or your spare minutes during the workday. “Start in a 90-degree lunge position with both knees bent. Hop your back foot forward, thinking about skimming the heel to the floor before the toes, as you simultaneously hop your front foot back, landing in the same lunge, but with the opposite foot forward,” explains Dale. Repeat for 30-second intervals.
3. Single-leg bridges
Single-leg bridges blast your legs and glutes. “Lay on your back with knees bent, feet flat on the floor, and arms by sides. Extend one leg up to the sky,” says Dale. “Lift your butt off the floor slowly, articulating through your spine as you lift, and same as you lower. Repeat until you can’t.” Yes, until you actually can’t. None of that you-kinda-feel-like-quitting nonsense. You got this.
4. Sumo squat with elbow to knee
Channel your inner wrestler with sumo squats. Dale explains:
External rotation is aided by the glute max, as you find your sumo squat, slightly turn the toes out and make sure the toes and knees are always in the same direction. With your hands behind your head, push off your right foot as you bring the left knee towards your left elbow, landing softly back in your sumo squat. Repeat sequentially for two minutes.
In addition to the leg-toning moves above, Dale also suggests eating within 30 minutes of waking up to kick start your metabolism; trying to work out at the same time each day; acknowledging your stress levels and coping in healthy ways; and doing an at-home challenge like completing one exercise a day (like 100 squats a day, Monday through Friday).