In a pair of shorts or a short skirt, tight, toned hamstrings and calves leave a lasting last impression. If you've put away shorts and mini-skirts because of excess fat or cellulite, it's time to get them out again. Strength-training exercises can help you shed fat and build lean muscle so you can confidently reveal your legs and make heads turn, coming or going.
1. Squat to Tippy Toe
Work your hamstrings, quads, glutes and calves in one single move.
HOW TO DO IT: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Keeping your chest up and shoulders back, bend your knees and squat down until your thighs are parallel or slightly below parallel with the floor. Press through your heels to stand back up, then rise up onto your toes as high as you can. Come back down and go right into your next rep.
Hold weight by placing a barbell across the backs of your shoulders or holding dumbbells at your shoulders.
2. Good Mornings
Good mornings are one of the most effective hamstring exercises. They also strengthen your glutes and lower back.
HOW TO DO IT: Using a squat rack, position a barbell across the backs of your shoulders. Step out from the rack and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Slightly bend your knees, and contract your abs, glutes and thighs. Begin to hinge forward at the hips, keeping your back flat. Come down until your torso is parallel with the floor, then squeeze your glutes and hamstrings and rise back to standing.
3. Hamstring Curl with Stability Ball
Even if you don't have access to gym equipment, you can isolate your hamstrings with a body weight curl.
HOW TO DO IT: Lie on your back with your heels resting on a stability ball and your arms extended at your side, palms down. Press into your heels and raise your butt and lower back off the ground. Using your hamstring strength, bend your knees and roll the ball in toward your butt as far as you can. Hold for a moment, then roll the ball back out. Keep your hips lifted, and repeat.
4. Single-Leg Calf Raise
This move isolates your calf muscles for a serious burn. You'll also get a nice stretch for the calf at the bottom of each rep.
HOW TO DO IT: Place your right foot on the edge of a step with the heel hanging off. Pick up your left foot and let it be passive while the right foot supports the weight of your body. Pressing into the ball of your right foot, lift up onto your toes as high as you can. Lower back down, allowing your right heel to drop below the step until you feel a stretch through the right calf. Repeat, then switch legs.
5. Goddess Squat
This yoga-inspired exercise tones your hamstrings, calves and glutes.
HOW TO DO IT: Take a wide stance with your feet about 4 feet apart. Turn your toes out and tuck your pelvis under. Unlike a regular squat, you want to keep your butt from sticking out in this exercise. Keeping your knees tracking over your toes and your torso erect, bend your knees and lower down as far as you can. Hold for several seconds and as you do so, try lifting one heel up and then the other. Alternate back and forth, and then try lifting both heels at the same time. Rise back up to standing and repeat.