Your legs have a huge amount of muscle in them. There's everything from your quads and hamstrings to your abductors, adductors and even your calf muscles lower down. Getting what you want from them is hard though, and if you’re looking to boost definition as a whole, you need to be doing some serious work. That’s where these exercises come in.

We’ve already looked at how to tone up your thigh and upper leg muscles (here), but to build leg muscle as a whole and really boost that leg definition to the next level, you need some more advanced exercises, like these.


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How Definition Works

Muscle definition or tone from a general perspective, is having reasonable muscle mass and relatively low body fat levels so that you can really see the shape of your muscle structure. That's it in a nutshell. If you want to improve your muscle definition, you need to work on both of these points. That comes from diet, and of course, from exercises like these.

The awesome thing about these leg toning exercises in particular, however, is that they’re all heavy hitters. That means that not only can you lift a lot of weight doing them, but you can really help yourself tone up too. The complex exercises mean you burn a lot of calories in and out of the workout, and you’re using up calories to build muscle at the same time. It’s an awesome win-win for toning up.

(For more information about the principle of toning up, click here.)

The Leg Toning Exercises

So, moving on to the stars of the show, you need to be using the best exercises if you really want the best results. All leg exercises serve different purposes, after all. These just happen to be some of the best for cutting calorie sand building muscle at the same time, and they can all be done both with and without weights. That's a big factor to remember.

Squats

Squats are an awesome way to use pretty much every muscle in your legs at some point or another, and that makes it a great exercise to boost leg definition. You’re working a tonne of different muscles, and if you add weights to the equation, you can move some serious weight. That only pushes things further.

One awesome thing about using squats for leg definition, though is that there are so many different ways that you can do it, and that makes life much easier than other exercises do. You can do bodyweight, single-leg, weighted, machine squats, whatever you like. (Check out these 14 variations for some ideas.)

Lunges

Lunges are another big compound exercise that helps your leg definition, with most of the work coming from your hamstrings and quads (perfect for toning). The best way to go about them is to try reverse lunges first of all (and with proper form) but mix things up for the best results.

Like squats too, there are a lot of different ways to do them, and they all make you work different muscles. That is a huge part of what makes them such an incredible exercise. Forward and back lunges mean that you're really hitting your upper legs. Lateral or side lunges get your hips, inner and outer thighs. Weighted lunges or lunges with passes mean you hit everything even harder and engage your core muscles too to help you balance. There's something for everything.

Calf Raises

A lot of leg definition is associated with a more defined bum or thighs, but it's not a good idea to forget about your calf muscles in your leg workout if you want proper definition. It's never a good thing to miss out a muscle because it's not something you really look at. (Training for appearance is fine if that's what you want, but that doesn't excuse bad training!)

Calf raises have a lot of variation of their own too, which is something people are quick to forget. You have to option to choose what kind of weight you choose to use, as well as how you position yourself with the selected weight. That sounds way more complex than it actually is. Basically, you can sit, stand, or even put yourself at a deficit to get an even bigger muscle contraction, by lowing further than flat. (That's usually by being on a step).

Glute Bridges

Your glutes are the biggest muscle in the human body, by volume at least, and that’s more than enough of a reason to make sure that you’re working them to their fullest extent. The last thing that you need to do is undertrain such a huge muscle. Glute bridges are one of the best exercises that you can do to make the most of them, and with pretty much any weight equipment too.

The easiest way for you to do is by laying flat on an exercise mat and placing a barbell over you, before thrusting your hips forwards gradually to move the weight. The longer you hold, the better the contraction should be, and thus the better the exercise will be for toning your legs.

Step-Ups

Step-ups are one of the more functional exercises on the list, and they're awesome for hitting all of your upper leg muscles again. They kind of bridge the gap between squats and lunges to give you one awesome exercise, so they’re worth doing in the same leg workout where you can do.

As far as leg toning exercises go, these are awesome, and again, they offer you some optional extras. Using something like weighted bags, kettlebells or dumbbells means that you can take things to the next level, and work your forearms and traps while you're exercising as well. The more muscles you use, the more calories you burn, so remember that. These are leg toning exercises for a reason!

Hamstring Curl

The last thing we’ll go for is much less conventional, but it’s an awesome way to hit your hamstrings alone. They aren’t always worked as much as they should be with the more compound exercises on the list, so they’re a great way to finish off. With that being said, they do need you to have an exercise ball to be able to do them correctly.

The idea behind them is that you're essentially using your hamstrings to pull the ball toward you. On top of that, you need to balance yourself while you do it too. In other words, it's great for your legs and your core and still helps with that all-important calorie burn while you’re doing it.

All of these exercises are a great addition to your existing workouts, or if you want to change the game completely, use them all in the same workout and see how you find it. If you can manage it once a week, you’re onto a winner.

Remember though, as we said above, you need to be dieting correctly if you want to see results. You can't out-train a bad diet, and toning is especially dependant on it.


man doing lunges

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If you experience dizziness, nausea, chest pain, or any other abnormal symptoms, stop the workout at once and consult a physician or doctor immediately.