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Strong and defined legs are a common goal for many people who exercise. However, my private weight loss clients are all women. Many of them ask me to help them find the best leg workouts for women that will give their legs that shapely look. Just as is the case for achieving toned arms, toning the legs is a direct result of both muscular strength and definition. As a certified personal trainer, I focus on fast and effective leg workouts that can help women achieve visible results, including looking great in heels.
Some of the major leg muscles include the quadriceps or “quads” (commonly known as the tops of the legs or thighs), the hamstrings (the backs of the upper legs), and the calves (made up of a few muscles in the back of the lower leg). Many times, leg exercises also work the glutes, which helps with balance. I recommend combining leg exercises with cardio a few times a week for a well-rounded workout that will build muscle and burn fat simultaneously. If you are also interested in getting rid of cellulite, Maryann Cellulite Hot Cream is a great option as you can pair it with your workout routine.
Conveniently, leg workouts for women can be done both in standings and with many modifications regardless of your fitness level. Below, I’ve included eight leg workouts for women that are sure to tone and tighten the fronts, backs, sides, and insides of your legs. You can repeat each exercise 10 times. Additionally, I recommend doing these exercises every other day for two weeks to get the best results!
Beginner / Modified Exercises
These leg exercises can be done one of two ways: standing and holding onto a bar for balance OR with the hands on the hips or out to the sides for less support, which makes the moves more challenging. Repeat all four of the exercises 10 times each we are going to explain. Then do a total of three rounds of all four exercises for a complete lower body workout!
Forward Leg Raises
Point the right leg out in front of you and squeeze the quads. You can feel your thigh tighten, meaning you’re doing this correctly! Then lift the leg as high as your hip and lower it back down. Repeat 10 times and then switch sides.
This exercise works the quads and muscles of the upper thigh while also helping to stabilize the patella. This stabilization exercise benefits both the kneecap and knee, which together aid in the enhanced balance!
Side Leg Raises
Point the right leg out to the right of you from your hip and squeeze your quads. Lift the leg as high as the hip to engage the outer thigh and glute. Then lower it back down. Repeat 10 times and then switch sides.
This exercise works the outer thigh as well as the gluteus medius, which is a muscle that’s part of the core of the body. Generally, this exercise helps build a well-rounded physique for both the leg and the glute. It also helps with balance and the overall muscle composition of the lower body, especially the leg.
Back Leg Raises
Point the right leg behind you and squeeze the quads. Pull the naval in towards the spine to ensure that your back does not arch during this movement. Lift the right leg halfway from the ground to your hip height and then lower it back down. Repeat 10 times and then switch sides.
This exercise targets the back of the legs and the gluteus maximus, which is the largest muscle of the glute. It also strengthens and tones the upper hamstring and back of the leg to improve hip mobility and function as well.
Stand with your feet as wide as your hips. Come up onto your tip toes to feel the backs of your lower legs engaged and then lower back down. Repeat 10 times.
This exercise is hugely beneficial for balance and also toe mobility, which might seem a bit odd. The toes tend to become stiff and immobile as time goes on without regular stretching or movement. By coming up onto the tip toes for this exercise, you’re strengthening the toes, various foot muscles and tendons, and also the lower legs and calves.
Intermediate / Advanced Exercises
These exercises put more pressure on the knee and ankle joints. However, they can also be modified to lower down only halfway instead of into the full exercise. Repeat all four of the exercises we are about to introduce 10 times each. Then do a total of three rounds of all four exercises for a complete lower body workout!
Start with your feet as wide as your hips. Pull the naval in towards the spine and then sit your glutes back as if you’re sitting in a chair. Press down through the heels to come back up to the standing position. Repeat this 10 times.
You should feel this in your quads (both on the way down and up) but also in your glutes (on the way up) when you squeeze to stand up. This total leg exercise works the fronts, backs, and sides of the legs all simultaneously. You can strengthen the lower body with this exercise but also burn more calories, speed up your metabolism, and increase balance.
Wide Leg Squat
Open the feet a little bit wider than the hips. Then bend the knees to lower the glutes back as if you’re sitting back in a chair. Press down through the heels to come back up to the standing position. Repeat this 10 times.
This exercise, although similar to the regular squat above, works the body differently. It helps increase mobility in the hips and hip flexors to improve forward, sideways, and backward motion of the hips.
Wide Leg Open Toe Squat
Open the feet a little bit wider than the hips and turn the toes out at an angle. This is the second position in ballet if you’re familiar with ballet. Keeping the back straight, bend the knees out to your sides to lower down into a squat. Keep the glutes reaching down towards the ground instead of backward as in the squat. Press down through the heels to come back up to a standing position and squeeze the glutes at the top. Repeat this 10 times.
This exercise works the core. If done properly, you would engage the inner thighs, outer thighs and hips, and abs. As the spine and glutes run straight up and down rather than reaching back, the core needs to tighten and flex to maintain the integrity of this exercise.
Wide Leg Open Toe Squat on Tip Toes
This is the same as the previous exercise, except now you will perform it up on your tip toes. As a result, your lower legs and calves will have to work hard! Bend the knees while keeping your heels off the ground and staying on your tiptoes. Then come up to a standing position (still on tip toes) by straightening the legs and squeezing the glutes at the top.
This exercise is especially good for balance by working the stabilizers of the lower body as well as the tendons and muscles of the feet, including those around the toes. It’s quite a challenge when performed correctly!
Need to work out other muscle groups? Download our free bodyweight exercise cheat sheet on 30 simple muscle-defining exercises.
Whether you start at a beginner or intermediate/advanced level, these total lower body routines will have your legs and glutes burning in no time. And especially if you have certain aesthetic goals in mind, these leg workouts for women are a great way to help you reach them. With that said, remember to listen to your body and always work at your own pace. What feels good for you today may change in a few days, so feel free to modify these exercises or routines as needed.
Here are a few hand-picked articles for you to read next:
- 10 Minute Full Body Workout for Women
- 8 Simple Fat-Burning and Toning Exercises for Women
- 8 Highly Effective Ab Workouts Using Just Your Body Weight
- 7 Best Arm Workouts for Women (At Home Alternatives Included)
Remember for our fellow Latinx readers, if you are also looking for more relevant content in Spanish please visit our Spanish site at ellatendencias.com.