Toning your legs can be daunting—so just take it a few inches at a time. These ultra-targeted exercises zero in on specific trouble zones, for proven results that will reward your efforts with lean, sculpted stems.
Zone: Outer Thighs
Tone up your thighs with the Penguin Shuffle which pulls the muscles of the outer thigh inward and sculpts and smoothes your curves.
(A) Grasping the ends of a resistance band in each hand, stand on the center of the band with your feet hip-width apart. There should be a few inches of band between your feet. Curl your hands up toward your shoulders.
(B) Keeping your arms curled, take one step to the right with your right foot until the band is taut. Then take one step in the same direction with your left foot. Continue sidestepping 6 to 8 times to the right, and then reverse direction and perform an equal number of steps to the left. Complete one set.
Beginners: Keep your arms down at your side as you sidestep.
Advanced: Step in a circle rather than to the side. Make sure you perform an equal number of steps moving clockwise and counterclockwise.
Zone: Inner Thighs
To firm up the inside of your thighs, try Sumo Squats. They will tone your inner thighs and, as a bonus, firm up your butt!
(A) Stand tall with your legs a few inches more than hip-width apart and your toes angled slightly outward. Round your arms in front of your chest and keep your fingertips touching.
(B) Squat low so that your butt drops below your knees. Do not allow your knees to move in front of your toes, and keep them slightly bent as you come back up to the start position. Perform 1 to 3 sets of 8 to 15 reps.
Beginners: Keep your butt level with your knees during the squat.
Advanced: Hold a dumbbell up at chest level, grasping the center of the bell with one end facing the floor.
To lift and firm your butt, try a Kneeling Leg Press, which was rated as a top bottom shaper in a study by the American Council on Exercise.
(A) Kneel on your elbows and knees so that your knees are directly under your hips and your elbows are directly under your shoulders. Tighten your abs as you align your spine and flex your right foot.
(B) Keeping your knee bent, lift your right leg upward until your knee is at hip height. Hold a moment as you tighten your butt muscles, then slowly lower your leg back to the start position. Perform 1 to 3 sets of 8 to 15 reps with each leg.
Beginners: Do this move while standing, holding on to the back of a chair for support.
Advanced: Do this move while squeezing a weight or tennis ball in the well of your knee.
The Plank is a must-do move for a flat abs. It is known for its superior ability to flatten the core and to leave no love handle untouched.
(A) Lie face-down on the floor, and then raise yourself up, balancing on your forearms and toes. Clasping your hands together, align your spine and pull your abs in so that your lower back does not sag.
(B) Hold the position for 10 to 60 seconds, focusing on keeping your torso straight. Perform 1 to 2 sets.
Beginners: Instead of balancing on your toes, balance on your thighs, just above your knees. Advanced: Alternate lifting your right and left feet off the floor. Lift until your heel is level with your hips.
Zone: Upper Body
Hips seem smaller and legs look longer when they are balanced with square shoulders and a slightly broader back. Row, row, row your way to a sculpted upper half with this One-Armed Row.
(A) Stand to the right of a chair or bench, holding a dumbbell in your right hand with your palm facing in. Bend forward from the hips, and place your left hand on top of the chair seat. Let your right arm hang down, and then pull in your abs and align the spine.
(B) Pull your right arm up until your elbow points to the ceiling and your hand brushes against your waist, squeezing your shoulder blades together as you lift. Lower the weight slowly and repeat. Perform 3 sets of 8 to 15 reps, and then repeat with your left arm.
Beginners: Do this move while you're sitting in a chair and leaning forward.
Advanced: Lift the weight up and out to the side in an arc. Your elbow should be level with your shoulder at the top of the movement.
Standing straight makes you look and feel better without much work. This Wall Roll-Up will give you the instant posture perk-up you need to pull off this trick. (It will chisel your core too.)
(A) Stand with your back against a wall, keeping your feet at a comfortable distance from the wall, heels together and toes apart. Pull in your abs and gently press your entire back, as well as your neck and shoulders, into the wall. Let your arms hang down at your sides.
(B) Drop your chin to your chest, and then peel your neck off the wall, followed by your shoulders, upper back, middle back and then lower back (in that order). Keep your tailbone and butt against the wall. Hang forward a moment, and then slowly reverse the movement, pressing your entire spine back onto the wall. Perform one set.
Beginners: Roll down to your middle back only.
Advanced: Do this move in slow motion, concentrating on the movement of each and every vertebra both on the way up and the on way down.
After a long day on stilts, relax your lower legs with this nice, elongating Calf Stretch.
(A) Stand tall with your feet together, facing a wall about two feet away from you. Pull in your abs and keep your back straight. Keeping your arms straight, push your palms against the wall and lean forward, pressing your weight down into your heels so that you feel a strong stretch through the back of your lower leg. Perform one set of this exercise.
(B) Hold for ten slow counts; relax for one minute and then repeat the stretch.
Beginners: Stretch one leg at a time; simply bend your other knee and hold your foot up as you stretch.
Advanced: Lean down and press your palms into the floor so that your body forms a V. Now press your weight into your heels.