Expert-Recommended Exercises for Slimming and Toning Thighs
Some women are born blessed with slim thighs. Then there are the rest of us that have to work hard to achieve results with thigh exercises. Read on for useful tips about leg exercises you can do to look your best in shorts...
Athletes make it look easy, but they didn’t roll out of bed one day looking fit and ready to tackle the world of professional sports. They train hard, and one benefit of their hard work is toned legs.
But you don’t need to spend tons of time at the gym to slim down your thighs. You’ll just need a bit of dedication. By following the thigh exercises described here, you’ll be on your way to slimmer legs in no time.
These leg exercises can be done at the gym or at home. Aim for three sets of 12 to 15 repetitions of each exercise.
If you’re working out at the gym, have a professional trainer show you how to use the equipment there. That way, you won’t risk injuring yourself by using the machines incorrectly.
A trainer can also measure body fat with a caliper every week; this will help you track your progress.
But don’t rely on the scale to see how you’re doing. That’s because muscle weighs more than fat, according to the Mayo Clinic.
So don’t worry if you gain a little weight. That’s to be expected – as long as it’s from your new muscles and not from eating donuts to reward yourself for how toned and slim your legs are looking now.
Gym Exercises for Your Legs
Always warm up your legs by doing something to warm up your muscles and prepare them for weight training. Walking on a treadmill or pedaling a stationary cycle for 10 minutes are great warm-up exercises.
1. Leg Press
Leg presses work both the front and back of your thighs, so they’re great exercises to start with.
Leg press machines come in different varieties. If you’re a beginner, start on a horizontal or seated leg press. It has an upright seat (like a regular chair) and is attached to a weight stack.
Here’s how it works:
- Place your feet shoulder-width apart on the crosspiece – the bar you rest your feet against to activate the weight resistance – with your toes pointing forward.
- Push until your legs are almost extended, but don’t lock your knees.
- Return the weight slowly until your knees are again at a 90-degree angle.
Release the safety bar and bend your knees so your thighs are perpendicular to your lower legs.
Do the number of reps your trainer advises, then re-secure the safety bar after completing a set of leg presses.
2. Leg Extension
The leg extension is a must for toning your thighs and it’s an easy exercise for beginners. But adding weight makes it plenty challenging even for body builders, ACE says.This exercise tones your quadriceps (“quads”), the muscles at the front of your thighs.
Here’s how the leg extension works:
- Sit on the leg extension machine with your knees bent.
- Place your ankles behind a padded bar connected to a weight stack.
- Extend your legs until they’re straight by lifting the padded bar with your legs. This engages your quads as the muscle flexes.
- Your quads are quite strong, so be sure to push yourself a little harder each time
Your quads are quite strong, so be sure to push yourself a little harder each time.
3. Leg Curl
A leg curl machine tones the back of your thighs, the hamstrings muscles.Leg curl machines come in various types: the seated leg curl, the standing leg curl and the lying leg curl.
The seated leg curl is good for people of any height, so it’s the best place to start. If your gym has all three machines, try them all out to see which you like best.
Here’s how the leg curl works:
- Sit on the leg curl machine with your legs straight out in front.
- Place your ankles over the padded bar, attached to a weight stack.
- Push your legs down instead of up to engage the hamstrings.
- Stretch your legs out between sets.
Home Exercises for Your Leg
4. Wall Squat
The easiest way to do a squat is to lean against the wall.
Here’s how a wall squat works:
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart about 2 feet away from the wall.
- Slide down until you’re in a sitting position, thighs parallel to the floor.
- Hold this position as long as you can, but aim for at least 20 seconds before rising back up
5. Traditional Squat
Squats can be done with or without weights, making them a perfect at-home exercise. These thigh exercises take only a few minutes and can work wonders when you’re trying to slim down your legs.
If this is your first time doing squats, you may want to stand in front of a mirror to check that you’re using the correct form, ACE advises.
Here’s how a squat works:
- Stand straight with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Inhale deeply and bend your legs slowly until your thighs are parallel to the floor (squat down as if you are about to sit in a chair).
- Keep your back and shoulders straight and stick out your butt as you squat.
- Exhale, keeping a slight bend in your knees.
- Come back up by straightening your legs.
You can squat with your arms straight out in front or while holding weights down at your side. If you don’t have dumbbells at home, use full plastic water bottles or cans of soup for a little added weight.