Do Your Legwork

Toning your legs has an upside: proven moves that pay off. We polled the best trainers in the business for their favorite ways to firm below the belt – and we compiled them into this fun-to-follow workout. We promise it will get the job done - no matter how distant the goal appears.

To do this routine all you need is a set of dumbbells, a deck of playing cards and a chair. Do 1 to 3 sets of each exercise, and aim for 12 repetitions per set. Rest 15 to 60 seconds between sets. If you do this workout at least twice a week, you'll be rewarded with a firmer butt and shapelier legs when it's time to hit the beach.

Butterfly Pliés
Designed by: Ellen Barrett, star of the new exercise video  Self Bikini Ready Fast! (Amazon.com)
The Payoff: Like all pliés, this move works the buttocks, hips and thighs. It also works your shoulders and arms and helps to perfect your posture.
The Setup: Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your arms in front of you, wrists crossed, palms facing in. Stand tall with feet wider than hip-width apart, toes angled outward and knees aligned with toes.
The Move: Bend your knees and lower your body until your thighs are parallel to the floor. As you stand back up to the starting position, raise your arms up overhead into a "V," palms facing forward.

Swing Lunge
Designed by: Kristin McGee, star trainer for Push customized exercise videos. (Push.tv)
The Payoff: This lunge is unbeatable for firming your hips and thighs fast, as well as toning core muscles and improving sense of balance.
The Setup: Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your arms at your sides and stand tall with your feet hip-width apart.
The Move: Do a "front lunge" by stepping your right foot a stride length forward and bending your knees until your right thigh is parallel to the floor and your left thigh is perpendicular to it. Next, press off the right foot to stand back up, but instead of stepping back to the start, bend your right knee up to hip height, hold a moment, and then step your right foot behind you into a "back lunge." Complete all reps with your right leg then repeat with the left.

Runner's Lunge
Designed by: Tamilee Webb, author of Defy Gravity Workout, Fair Winds Press, 2005. (TamileeWebb.com)
The Payoff: You will feel your butt, hips and thighs working overtime when you do this unique move. The core muscles of the lower back and abdominals also get into the act.
The Setup: Stand with your right side next to a chair and place your right hand on the seat. Crouch down into a low lunge with your right knee forward and your left leg extended behind you, heel lifted up and left hand on the floor for support.
The Move: Staying low, rock forward, bend your left knee and place your left foot directly behind your right heel. Rock back to the start. Complete all reps with your right leg then repeat with your left leg forward.

Skater's Lunge
Designed by: Grace DeSimone, director of group fitness, Plus One Fitness, New York City. (PlusOne.com)
The Payoff: This one hits the entire lower body with a real emphasis on the outer hips and thighs.
The Setup: Stand tall with feet hip-width apart.
The Move: "Skate" by stepping your right toe back behind you and across to the left as you extend your left arm up in front of you. Bend both knees a few inches, stand back up to the start, then "skate" to the left. Alternate left and right skates to complete all reps.

Pickup Lunges
Designed by: Kathy Kaehler, Today Show fitness expert and author of How to Get a Hollywood Body in Just 30 Minutes a Day, Broadway Books, 2005. (Amazon.com)
The Payoff: What's better than a lunge for shaping buns and thighs? Nothing! This one pushes you extra hard by challenging your balance and coordination.
The Setup: Hold 24 playing cards in your left hand, hold your arms at your sides and stand tall with your feet hip-width apart.
The Move: Step your right foot a stride length forward and bend both knees until your right thigh is parallel to the floor and your left thigh is perpendicular to it. As you lower yourself down, take a card with your right hand and carefully lean forward to place it on the floor near the outside of your right foot. Press off your right foot to stand back up to the start. Lay down a total of 12 cards to the right, then switch to left lunges and place the remaining cards near the outside of your left foot.

Hold Squat Tap

Designed by: Tom Holland, star of Tom Holland's Total Body Workout II (CollageVideo.com)
The Payoff: Squats are tops for sculpting the butt and thighs. Holding the squat position tones even the deepest, hardest to reach lower body muscles; the tapping tones and strengthens those oft-neglected calf and shin muscles.
The Setup: Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart.
The Move: Bend your knees until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Hold in this position and lift your toes 10 times. Stand back up to the start.

 

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