It’s almost unbelievable to think that spring is just around the corner. And right after that comes summer — everyone’s favorite time of year. So what does this mean? You only have a few months to get your legs ready for the beach. Luckily for you, we have a terrific list of 23 of the best exercises to get your legs toned, lean and sexy.
Wall Sit: Lean your back against a wall, making sure that your whole back is touching the wall. Your feet should be about two feet from the wall and shoulder-width apart. Slowly slide your back down the wall until your thighs are parallel to the ground and your legs are at a 90-degree angle. Keep your weight in the heels and make sure your knees are behind your toes. You should be able to tap your toes. Keep your back flat against the wall. Lift your right leg for 30 seconds, then switch and lift your left leg for 30 seconds.
Standing Fire Hydrant with Training Ball: Stand directly behind a sturdy chair and place your fingertips lightly on the back of it with abs in tight. Place a soft ball in the crook of your knee. Lift your left knee up and out until it is the same level as your hip, keeping your knee bent, foot flexed and a tight “grip” on the ball. Lower to start position. Repeat this movement for 30 seconds, switch legs and perform the movement on the opposite leg for another 30 seconds.
Crossover Step Up: Start with your feet hip-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand, and stand with your left side next to the step. Cross your right leg over your left leg and place it on the step. Press your right foot into the bench and push your body up until both legs are straight. Lower your body back down to the starting position. Repeat the same sequence as many times as you can for 30 seconds then switch and begin stepping up and crossing over with your left leg for another 30 seconds.
Leaning Lunge Combo: Hold a dumbbell in each hand and take a wide step out with the right leg and lower yourself into a lunge position. Keep your back straight, your chest up and your front leg bent at a 90-degree angle. Push off with the back leg (weight in your heel), while straightening the front leg. Slowly balance yourself on one leg, lowering the dumbbells and chest toward the ground. Be sure to keep the abs in tight and the back straight. From this position, return back to standing position and repeat the whole movement stepping out into a lunge with your left leg. Repeat for 60 seconds, alternating legs each time.
Walking Lunges: Start with feet hip-width apart, arms at your sides with dumbbells in hand and palms facing in. Lunge forward with your left foot, bending the knee at a 90-degree angle and lowering until your right knee almost touches the ground. Be sure to step the left foot out far enough to prevent your knee from extending over the toe. Pushing into left heel, rise up to standing position and walk your right foot out to a lunge. Quickly alternate legs and repeat the walking forward lunging motion for 60 seconds.
One-Leg Squat: Stand straight up with your arms extended in front of you, palms down. Lift your right leg and try to keep it as straight and tight as possible throughout the exercise. Bend your left leg and lower down into a squat as far as you can while keeping the weight in your heel and your back straight. Pause for a few seconds at the bottom of your move and then return to a standing position. Alternate legs for 60 seconds. It helps to pick a focal point and engage your core for proper balance.
Tiptoe Squat: Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, toes turned out with hands on your hips. Rise up onto your toes and squat down until your thighs are parallel to the floor keeping your chest up and shoulders back. Pop yourself back up to your starting position while remaining on your tip toes. Perform this move for 60 seconds.
Weighted Leg Circles: Place ankle weights on both ankles. Lie on your right side and prop yourself up with your right arm with your shoulder directly over your elbow. Stack your legs on top of each other. Lift your left leg and draw large forward circles for 30 seconds. Switch sides and perform the exercise on your other leg for another 30 seconds.
Squat Step with Resistance Band: Begin by standing with your feet a little closer than shoulder-width apart. Securely loop a resistance band around both feet. Drop your butt back into a squat, focusing the weight in the heels, keeping the abs pulled in tight and your chest up. Side step quickly in a controlled motion back and forth as many times as possible in 60 seconds.
Hamstring Ball Tuck: Lie on your back with your legs straight. Place your feet together on top of a stability ball so that your heels are resting on the ball and your toes point towards the ceiling. Rest your hands at your sides with palms down. Tighten your core and lift your butt off the floor. Try to keep your back as straight as possible. Slowly roll the ball in towards your butt. Your feet will end up flat on top of the ball. Slowly roll the ball back to the start position. Perform this move as many times as you can for 60 seconds.
Dumbbell Deadlift: Begin by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and with an overhand grip on a dumbbell in each hand. Without allowing your lower back to round, stand up with the dumbbell. Fully extend the hips and then lower the dumbbells back to the floor. Do this as many times as possible for 60 seconds.
Crossover Lunge: Stand straight with your feet facing forward. Step out and cross your lead foot in front of your back foot. This should look like a curtsy. Make sure your knee stays behind your toes. Pause in the lunge and then push yourself back to starting position. Repeat with alternating legs for 60 seconds.
Side Step Kick Out: Stand next to a step, bench or stool holding a pair of dumbbells at your sides and your feet shoulder-width apart. Step your left foot firmly onto the step, bench or stool lifting your right leg out to the side while raising your arms until they are at shoulder height. Repeat for 30 seconds and then change sides and repeat for another 30 seconds.
Reverse Lunge with Front Kick: Keeping your abs tight, step back with your right foot and lower into a reverse lunge. Shift the weight into your left foot. Push off your right foot and kick it up and out in front of you (like a kickboxing move). That’s one rep. Repeat on the other side, stepping back with your left leg in a lunge and front kicking your right leg.
Fire Hydrant: Start on all fours with a flat back. Keep your abs pulled in tight (belly button to spine). Lift your left knee up and out until it is the same level as your hip, keeping knee bent and foot flexed. Lower to start position. That’s one rep. Perform this move for 30 seconds on each leg.
Plie Squat Into a Side Kick: Stand with your feet a little wider than hip-width apart and turn your toes out. Lower into a squat, placing your hands on your hips. Stand up, shifting the weight into your left leg and lift your right leg off the floor. Kick your right leg out to the side, trying to get it parallel to the floor. Bring your leg back in and down, returning to the squat position. That’s one rep. Do as many as you can in 30 seconds, then repeat with your left leg for 30 seconds.
>> Read more: Plié Squat
Step Ups: Hold a dumbbell in each hand with arms at your sides. Stand in front of a bench or step and place your right foot firmly on the step. Your foot should be flat on the step. Press your right heel into the step and shoot your body up until your right leg is straight. Do not bring the left foot to the step. Let it hover above the step. You should be standing on your right leg alone. Lower your body back down until your left foot touches the floor. That’s one repetition. Do as many as step ups as you can in 60 seconds. Switch legs after every set.
Plie Squat: Assume a wide stance with your legs two to three feet apart, toes turned out. Place your hands on your hips. Push your hips back and lower your body until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Hold for a few seconds and then slowly push yourself back to the starting position. That’s one rep. Repeat for 10 reps.
Bench Squat: Begin standing with your feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart and about one foot out from a step stool, chair or bench. With your arms extended in front of you, keep the weight in your heels and lower into a deep squat position until your butt touches the bench. Once you reach the bench (without sitting down), explode back up out of the squat to standing position. Perform this move as many times as you can for 60 seconds.
Thigh Sweep: Begin with your feet shoulder-width apart with your right foot placed on a resistance band. Grasp the handle of the resistance band with both hands, holding it at waist-level. Lift your right foot up and out to your right side. Sweep your right foot across your front and across over your left leg. This is one rep. Repeat as many times as you can for 60 seconds.
Side Leg Lift: Grab a resistance band and lay down on your right side with your legs straight. Wrap the band around the front of leg, above the knee. Pull the left-side handle under your left leg and down to your right foot, placing the foot in the saddle, handle under your foot. Take the right-hand side handle and repeat. Lie on your right side with your legs straight and your left leg on top of your right. Use your right forearm as a kickstand, holding your upper body above the floor. Keeping your legs straight, raise your right leg as high as you can. Lower your leg back to the starting position. Lift as many times as you can on this side for 30 seconds. Switch to your left side and complete as many side leg raises with the band as possible for 30 seconds.
Elevated Split Squat with Dumbbells: Rest your left foot on a bench directly behind you, holding dumbbells at your sides with your palms facing each other. Keeping your abs tight and back straight, bend your right leg and lower your hips toward the floor until your front thigh is parallel to the ground. Press back up through the heel of your front leg to the starting position. Perform the exercise for 30 seconds and then switch legs and do the same thing for 30 seconds.
Squat Jumps: Stand with your legs a little wider than shoulder-width apart. Squat down, bending your knees and pushing your butt back as if you were sitting in a chair. Make sure your knees stay behind your toes. Explode up through the balls of your feet into a vertical leap with your legs fully extended. As you land softly, sink back into the squat position, keeping your knees softly bent. Never land with your legs still extended and do not fully lock your knees out. That is one rep. Do as many power squats as you can within 60 seconds.
Why are these some of the best moves for your legs? They all target different muscle groups including your quads, outer thighs, inner thighs, hamstrings and even your glutes (you certainly don’t want to forget about them). Not only will these exercises tone and tighten your legs, but also give them strength and definition. So get those gams ready so you can show them off in those short shorts and sexy swimwear!