Whether you're planning on sporting your Daisy Dukes, want to look leaner in your skinny jeans or just want to show off sculpted and toned your legs, you'll want to be sure your gams are in tip-top shape. Strong is the new skinny, and this workout will tone, strengthen and tighten your leg muscles and make them the sexiest they've ever been. This workout is your legs' best friend, acting as your virtual four-inch heels and making your legs look longer and leaner. So what are you waiting for? Build shapely legs with the lean, sexy leg workout.
1. Dumbbell Step-Up
After a few reps of these, you'll also start to feel this burning the lungs — a double whammy!
HOW TO DO IT: Hold a dumbbell or kettlebell in each hand and stand in front of a bench with feet hip-width apart. Step one foot onto the bench so that your knee is at a 90-degree angle, then and stand up on the bench, driving the opposite knee into the air. Lower down with control and switch legs. Do three sets of eight on each leg.
2. Curtsy Lunge
If you're a beginner, you can do this move with no weight. But if you want to amp it up, hold a dumbbell or kettlebell in each hand while you do this move.
HOW TO DO IT: Stand with feet hip-width apart. Shift your weight to your left leg and step your right leg backward and past your standing leg to the left while still keeping your hips facing forward. (You'll look like you're curtsying.) Lunge down so that your left knee is at a 90-degree angle, then stand up. Do all reps on one side before switching legs. Do five sets of 15 reps.
Read more: 9 Fat-Torching Kettlebell Moves
3. Single-Arm Kettlebell Swing
The kettlebell swing might not look like much, but this exercise is one of the most effective lower-body exercises you can do with a kettlebell.
HOW TO DO IT: Stand with your feet a little wider than hip-width apart, holding one kettlebell in one hand. Slightly bend your knees and hinge at the hip as you bring the kettlebell back in between your legs. Extend your hips and explosively thrust forward as you swing the kettlebell up to eye level. Squeeze your glutes at the top and repeat. Do three sets of 12 reps.
4. Alternate-Leg Bound
Incorporating plyometrics into your workout is a great way to build your glutes and hamstrings as well as torch calories as your heart rate skyrockets.
HOW TO DO IT: Start by stepping forward with your left leg as though you were walking. As soon as your left foot hits the ground, bound off the left leg and drive the right knee up while powering your left arm forward. Similar to a running movement, you'll jump from one leg to the other. Do three sets of six to eight on each side.
Read more: 10 No-Gym Plyometric Moves for Explosive Strength
5. Goblet Squat
You might already have guessed that squats would make the list: It's one of the best exercises for all the muscles in your lower body. However, to keep things fresh, try this squat variation.
HOW TO DO IT: Hold a kettlebell in front of your chest with the handle facing down. Stand with your feet at about shoulder width. Send your glutes back as you lower down into a squat, keeping the knees wide to engage the glutes. Keep a flat back and strong core as you drive back up to standing. Do five sets of 12 to 15 reps.
Read more: 12 Essential Squat Variations to Try
6. Plie Pulse
Steal this move straight from a dancer's workout.
HOW TO DO IT: Stand with legs wider than hip width and feet pointed out to the sides. Squat down so that your knees are at 90-degree angles. Lift one heel up so that your weight is on the toe of your foot. Pulse your squat so that you are only moving a few degrees every time. Do three sets of 15 to 20 on each side.
Read more: 17 Exercises to Shape and Tone Your Booty
7. Lunge Jump
Lunges are the perfect exercise for toning your lower body. But introducing a jump to them adds an element of calorie-burning cardio.
HOW TO DO IT: Start with your feet hip-width apart. Step back with your right leg so that your left knee is at a 90-degree angle. Touch the ground next to your left foot with your right hand and jump up, driving your right knee and left arm into the air. Land in the same position you started. Complete all reps on one side before switching to the other. Do four sets of six on each side.
Read more: 22 New Lunges to Supercharge Leg Day
8. Good Morning
Rise and shine! Time to focus on those glutes and feel the burn.
HOW TO DO IT: Start by standing with an unloaded weight bar across your back and your legs hip-width apart. Bend your knees slightly and hinge forward at the hips while keeping a completely flat back. Engage your glutes and hamstrings as you slowly lower down until you feel like you cannot go any further. Engage your glutes and stand back up. Do three sets of eight reps.
9. Medicine-Ball Slam
This full-body, compound movement is a total-body burner, but it's especially beneficial to the legs.
HOW TO DO IT: Start with your feet at shoulder width and a medicine ball in your hands. Raise the medicine ball up above your head with force as you squat down, and then stand up as you powerfully slam the ball to the ground. Keep your back flat and your chest proud as you lower down to the ground. Pick up the ball and stand without bending at the waist. Do three sets of eight reps.
10. Stability-Ball Bulgarian Split Squat
Adding the stability ball to this move challenges your core strength and stability while also giving you a great lower-body workout.
HOW TO DO IT: Place one leg in front of you and one leg on a stability ball behind you. When you lower down, your front knee should be in line with your ankle, never passing over your front toe. With a kettlebell or dumbbell in each hand, slowly lower down into a lunge, sliding the stability ball back behind you. Squeeze the glutes as you push off your front leg back to standing. Do three sets of eight reps.
Read more: Total-Body Blast Stability-Ball Workout
11. Overhead Squat
End with one more squat variation for the ultimate lower-body burn.
HOW TO DO IT: Start with a barbell or dumbbell over your head with your feet wider than shoulder width. Send your glutes back as you squat down, keeping your core tight. With the bar overhead, hold the bar tightly with strong arms, making sure your armpits are facing forward (as opposed to turned in toward your body). Squeeze your glutes and keep your knees wide out to the side as you drive back up to standing. Do three sets of eight reps.
12. Single-Leg Kettlebell Deadlift
One of the absolute best exercises for your legs is the single-leg kettlebell (or dumbbell) deadlift. This exercise specifically targets your glutes and challenges your balance while isolating one side.
HOW TO DO IT: Start standing on your right leg, knee slightly bent, with a kettlebell in your left hand. Keep your left leg straight as you hinge at your hip and bend forward with a flat back. Keep your hips parallel to the floor as you lower down, feeling your hamstring engage as you rise back up to standing. Do three sets of 12 reps.
What Do YOU Think?
What are your favorite leg-toning moves? Which of these moves make the list, and what others would you add? What exercises do you do when you want to get your legs in shape fast? Do you incorporate cardio? Share your suggestions, stories and questions in the comments section below!
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