You may be surprised to learn that some of the best leg workouts for women are not exercises aimed at toning the leg muscles alone, but those that work the entire body. A good example of this is the exercise an elliptical machine provides.
Always popular, elliptical machines are now the exercise equipment of choice for many people in a variety of age groups. This is because they deliver a low-impact workout that tones and shapes the entire body, including the legs, and the workouts can be customized to suit the fitness level of the individual.
The best leg workouts for women don’t always involve exercise machines, though. Depending upon your level of fitness and goals, you may find that hiking or walking will give you the results you want.
What are Some Good Leg Workouts for Women?
Low-impact exercise is ideal when it comes to choosing good leg workouts for women, and also men. This is even more of a consideration for anyone who is carrying excess weight or rehabilitating from an injury. The reason for this is that joint stress can result from high-impact exercise. Joint stress can cause pain that limits our ability to exercise. It can also lead to injury. If the injury is bad enough, it can be extremely difficult to exercise at all. In such a situation, it will be impossible for you to reach your fitness goals in the short term.
Some of the best leg workouts for women are those that work the various areas of the leg in sequence, targeting and shaping all of the muscle groups and promoting calorie burn. This type of workout can, however, take time.
Walking, running, using a StairMaster and biking or spinning are all good leg workouts for women because they benefit the entire leg, with the one movement working all of the muscle groups. Having used a StairMaster Gauntlet Stepmill, I can’t recommend it highly enough. If I had the funds and space I wouldn’t hesitate to buy one. An affordable and compact alternative that has helped me to tone my legs and butt is the Maxi Climber. (Click the previous links to read my StairMaster and Maxi Climber reviews.)
Some leg workouts for women use devices such as balance boards, stepping platforms and even agility hoops and ladders. While all of these are great for toning and shaping, the latter two, in particular, provide enough cardio to raise calorie burn into an effective fat loss range.
What are Some Other Good Exercises to Tone Legs?
If your goal is not weight loss, but muscle toning, some of the best exercises to tone legs involve the use of weights.
Many females avoid weight lifting because of the old myth that women who lift weights develop a bulked-up masculine physique. The reality is, an enormous amount of dedication and effort over a long period would need to be put in for a woman to develop muscles to that extent. Competitive bodybuilders lift massive weights. They also follow a very strict diet which is high in protein and very low in fat and carbs to enable them to lower their BMI so that their muscles appear more pronounced.
If you decide to give weights a try, and I highly recommend you do, start with light weights. If you’d like more muscle definition, gradually progress to heavier weights.
Some of the very best exercises to tone legs incorporate lifting and pushing motions involving weights and resistance. The perfect piece of equipment for this is a weight bench. With a weight bench, along with your legs, you will be able to tone your upper body and core, for a total body workout.
What are the Best Leg Workouts for Women to do at Home?
Some of the best leg workouts for women to do at home use body weight for resistance.
Here are 3 at home leg workouts for women that don’t require any equipment:
1. Leg lifts – These are exactly what they sound like. Lie flat on the floor and alternate lifting one leg into the air, keeping the leg straight, your lower back on the floor and your abs pulled in.
This exercise also works the abs.
2. Squats – Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and squat down, swinging your arms straight up and out in front of you to help you keep your balance. Depending on whether you keep your toes pointed straight ahead or turned out, you will work different areas of your thighs, glutes, and calves.
To make the exercise harder, rise onto the balls of your feet as you lower your hips towards the floor.
3. Calf raises – Stand with one foot on the edge of a stair riser with your heel is hanging over the edge. Holding onto the handrail for balance, lift your other foot into the air and slowly raise and lower yourself onto the ball of your foot. Allow your heel to dip below the level of the riser, and lower your heel as far as it will go.
* If you don’t have access to a step, perform the exercise standing on a couple of stacked telephone books or anything stable of a similar height, pressing the palm of your hand against a wall for balance.
What are Some Good Exercises to Lose Thigh Fat?
There are many good exercises to lose thigh fat, and again a lot of these focus on the use of weights. Some women are reluctant to lift weights, not only because they are worried about becoming too bulky, but also because they think weightlifting will make them gain weight. This is not true. While muscle is heavier than fat, it isn’t by much. Any slight weight gain will be more than made up for by the fact that people with muscle burn calories more efficiently than those with a lot of fat.
Some other good exercises to lose thigh fat are those that work the entire leg (as mentioned above) and also provide cardio. Examples include working out on a spinning cycle, a stationary bicycle, a Stairmaster, or an elliptical machine.
Leg Exercises for People with Bad Knees and Hips
If you have bad hips or knees, working out may not only not be easy, it may also be uncomfortable or even painful. The reality is that you have to keep moving the affected joints through a full range of motion to keep your mobility from deteriorating and eventually compromising your ability to walk freely.
One of the best leg exercises for bad knees and hips is Pilates. Not only is Pilates gentle and low-impact, it is strengthening, it increases flexibility, mobility, and balance, and it improves muscle tone.
Another of the most effective leg exercises for bad knees and hips is a modified squat, in which you don’t go any lower than just far enough to feel a small stress on the muscle above your kneecaps. When you have reached this position, very slowly shift your weight from foot to foot while pushing your hands from one side to the other, turning slightly at the hips.
Simple and low-impact, the above exercise is effective due to it strengthening the muscles as it stretches the tendons and ligaments. This allows for greater mobility, without putting a lot of stress on any part of the leg.
Final Thoughts on the Best Leg Workouts for Women
The key to a good leg workout for women is to focus on exercises that don’t target only one muscle group but work the entire leg in a balanced fashion. Your method of doing this is entirely up to you.
Whether you choose to walk, use exercise equipment or weights to achieve your goal or a combination of these, is not important. What is important is consistency and a commitment to sticking with your exercise plan.
While exercise alone will improve muscle tone, for the best result cardio workouts should also be performed regularly. Cardio exercise will burn extra calories, reduce your body fat and also provide many other health benefits.
Cutting back on your food intake if you are overweight will also help to reduce your body fat and better highlight the muscle-tone obtained from regular workouts.
I hope you found this article on the best leg workouts for women informative and that it helps you achieve your fitness goal.