Have you always wanted to strengthen your legs without using expansive exercise leg machine? Do you want a lifted rounder fuller butt? I’ve collected for you the best exercises for shaping your legs, your thighs and your butt and the best part is, you don’t need any workout machine but yourself to hit a whole range of lower body muscles. Another benefit of doing these exercise is that they may help you to prevent painful leg cramps.
Did you know that the leg muscles are some of the strongest and largest in the body and form a significant portion of a person’s mass? And no wonder why – the leg muscles support and balance your body. These muscles move the bones to create movement such as standing, walking, running, jumping and similar activities.
There are many muscles in the leg and they are broken into two groups: the upper leg muscles and the lower leg muscles. The upper and lower leg muscles can be further divided into front (anterior) and back (posterior) leg muscles.
Upper leg muscles – The primary front leg muscles are also called the thigh muscles which are responsible for extending or straightening the leg. The muscles at the back of the upper leg are often called the hamstrings, which are responsible for flexing or bending the leg. Sometimes the glutes(gluteus maximus), or “butt” muscles, running from the pelvis to the upper thigh are also considered leg muscles.
Lower leg muscles – At the front of the lower leg there are the shin muscles which are responsible for bending the foot upwards at the ankle and for sideways flexion and extension of the foot at the ankle. At the back of the lower leg there are the calf muscles which pull up the heel and extend the foot during walking and running.
These muscles can create incredible power while constantly adjusting our balance, and therefore it is important to give them the prime focus to create powerful and toned leg muscles. So lets have a look at these leg exercises:
Lunges are excellent exercise for strengthening and toning the thighs and the butt. Stand with your right leg forward and left leg back. Then slowly bend the knees until both legs are nearly at right angles. Then push back up to starting position. Don’t forget to keep your back straight and don’t let your knees extend over your toes. Perform 1 set for each leg, 15-20 repetitions.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your hands stretched forward for extra balance. Now bend your knees and lower yourself – your knees should be nearly at a 90 degree angle and your thighs are parallel to the floor (see illustration). Don’t forget to keep your back straight and don’t let your knees extend over your toes. Then get up back to starting position. Perform 2 sets of 15-20 repetition.
3. One-leg squats
If you master the regular squats, then move to the next level. Stand while you hold your arms straight out in front of your body at shoulder level (hands are parallel to the floor). Lift your right leg off the floor(A) and then lower your body as far as you can (B). Hold for a second and then push your body back to the starting position. Repeat several times for each leg.
4. Heel Pulses
This exercise works the thighs, hips, and glutes. Stand while you hold the back of a chair with one hand. Place your feet so your toes are apart and heels stay pressed together. Bend your knees and lower your hips while you lift your heels a few inches off the floor (see illustration). You will feel that your quads are working intensely. Pulse up and down. Perform 3 sets of 10-15 pulses.
5. Glutes Leg Lift
Hold the back of a chair, your right leg on the floor while your left leg slightly bent (see illustration). Then lift you bent leg behind you towards the ceiling, swinging it up and down. After repeating this movement several times, instead of lifting the bent leg behind you, now move it to the side and swing up and down. Repeat several times and switch legs. Perform 2 sets for each leg.
Lie with your back on a mat. Your arms are by your sides and your palms facing down. Lift your left foot while pointing with your toes towards the ceiling. Then rotate the leg slightly outward as if you trace a circle on the ceiling. Move your whole leg but don’t move your hips. Rotate several times times in a clockwise direction and then repeat in a counter-clockwise direction. Then switch legs and do the same for the other leg. When this exercise becomes too easy, try writing out the alphabet with each leg
7. Leg swinging
This exercise targets the butt, quads, and hamstrings. Then slightly lift your left foot behind you, your knee points slightly to left (A). Then lift your bent leg diagonally behind you towards the right side and swing your leg up and down (B) (from A to B and back to A). Perform 2 sets for each leg with 15-20 repetitions.
8. Carving curtsy
This exercise works the abs, obliques, butt, inner thighs, quads, and hamstrings. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Then pull your left leg back with your foot toward the right side, while bending both knees 90 degrees. Bend your left arm forward and right arm back (A). This is your starting position. Now swing your rear leg while standing on the right leg so you bring the left knee out to the side at hip level and touching left hand on left knee (B). Then quickly return to starting position (A). Repeat 15-20 times and switch sides. Perform 2 sets for each side.
9. Lunge Hover
This exercise works both the legs and butt. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and then place your right foot back, while lowering your body with the left knee bent over the ankle. Bring your arms over your head so they continue from the waist (A). Lower the chest forward toward the thighs as your arms reach forward. Lift the right leg while straightening the left leg (B). Hold for a few seconds before returning to the starting position (A). Repeat several times and switch legs.
10. Downward Split
Start with all your legs and hands on the floor and straighten your legs while lifting your hips and butt into the air. Push your hands and feet into the ground and relax the head between your arms. Then lift one leg as high as you can while keeping it straight with your foot flexed (see illustration). Lower the leg down, and repeat on the other side. Repeat 20-30 times (10-15 for each side).