To tone up and slim down your legs, work out all the major muscles: the quads on the front of the thigh, the hamstrings that run along the back of the upper leg, the adductors of the inner thighs and the calves of the lower leg. (See reference 1) This group of exercises targets the whole leg and adapts to beginning exercisers or advanced, as well as male or female.
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Quads and Calves
The squat remains a classic exercise that targets the major quadriceps muscle of the thighs as well as the calves. Beginners start with no weights, and more advanced exercisers add dumbbells or even a barbell to increase intensity. Stand with your feet slightly wider than you hips and lower yourself into a squatting position with your thighs parallel to the floor. Your weight shifts to your heel as you lower your body, so that your knees don't bend too far forward past your toes. Keep that back straight and stabilized by the core muscles of your abdomen and lower back. Heels stay on the floor as you return to starting position and repeat. (see reference 2) Do 15-20 repetitions. (see reference 4)
Try standing hamstrings curls for a workout that can be done at home or the gym. At the gym, use the cable pulleys for resistance, but at home, use a circular resistance band that can loop around your ankle and anchor to a stable object in front of you. Stand with your feet at hip-width, then bend the banded leg at the knee, raising your foot behind you toward your buttocks. Thighs and hips remain stationary throughout the movement, with back straight. Consider pausing with your foot slightly lifted at the beginning of the repetition to get your balance before continuing with the full range of motion. (See reference 3) Do 15-20 repetitions. (See reference 4)
Try the ballerina squat to tone your inner thighs, or the adductor muscles. The name may be feminine, but guys benefit from this exercise, too. Start with your feet wider than your shoulders, and turn your toes out at a 45-degree angle to make sure you target the inner thigh muscles. Bend your left knee and shift your weight to the left, straightening the right leg and keeping your feet in place throughout the movement. Hold for a couple of seconds before returning to starting position and repeating the steps on the other side to complete one full repetition. Do 8-10 repetitions. (See reference 4)
Triple Muscle Power Move
Shape up your quads, hamstrings and adductors at once with this power move, the three-way lunge. Start with your feet hip-width apart, and perform lunges in three different directions on each leg, bending the knee to a 90-degree angle in the front and side directions, and slightly less than 90 degrees to the rear. Start by lunging forward with the left leg, then return to starting position. Then lunge to the left and back, returning to starting position between each direction. Repeat the series on the right leg to complete one full repetition, doing 15-20 repetitions. (See reference 5)