Your legs are an incredibly important part of your body. They allow you to walk, help with your balance, and admittedly look great in leggings. So of course you want to work them out as effectively as possible!
But while you may think you can get all the workout you need with cardio like walking, running, and biking, it’s important to do strength exercises as well to help with stability and tone in not only your legs, but your glutes and lower back as well.
We all know starting a workout plan can be tricky, so we’ve come up with a plan you can do at home in 10 minutes per day, with some variations to increase difficulty (if that’s your thing!).
The Best Leg Exercises for Any Plan
These six exercises will build a strong foundation for your perfect leg workout. Read up about them below, or scroll to the bottom for our ten-minute plan. You can always add, remove and tweak for a plan that works best for you!
The squat is one of the best exercises to tone legs. It also sculpts the butt, hips, and abs. Squats are also ideal if you have back problems. Since they’re done while standing up and without extra weight, they won’t strain the back. For balance or extra support, perform your squats with one hand on a wall or chair for stability. Resist the urge to pull on it or push off from it. This can be leveled up with more difficulty as jump squats or as a goblet squat, which involves holding a weight during the squat for some extra resistance that you can build up as you progress.
Lunges work out the same muscle families as the squat, but laterally instead of vertically, which is important for well-rounded muscle development. The form for one rep is: Stand with feet hip-width apart, hands at sides. Take a big step to the right, then push hips back, bending right knee and lowering until right knee is bent to 90 degrees. Push back to an upright position, lifting your knee and pulling it into your chest. These can also be done by stepping forward(front squat) or backward(reverse squat) instead of to the side.
Start by lying on your back with knees bent, feet on the floor 2-10 inches from your butt. Brace your core, then press into heels and squeeze glutes to raise hips toward the ceiling while pushing upper back into the ground. Pause in this position. Return to start. For more difficulty and resistance, try placing a resistance band around your thighs and expand the band by pressing knees apart as you lift your hips.
Mountain Climbers/Twisted Mountain Climbers:
Start in a high plank position, wrists under shoulders, core engaged so your body forms a straight line from heels to ankles. Bring your right knee in toward your chest, then return to the starting position. Bring your left knee in toward your chest, then return to the starting position. Repeat. For a twisted mountain climber, bring your right knee in toward your left armpit, then return to starting position. Bring your left knee in toward your right armpit, then return to starting position. Repeat.
This plank variation is an excellent follow-up to climbers. Start in a forearm plank position with your elbows underneath your shoulders, feet about hips-width apart. Engage your core, squeeze your glutes, and make sure your neck is in line with your spine so that there is a straight line from your head to heels. Keeping your hips as level as possible, bend your right leg to bring your right knee as close as possible toward your right elbow. Pause, and then step back to the plank position. Repeat on your left side, bringing your left knee up to your left elbow. Continue alternating sides until all reps are complete.
For this lunge variation, start with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms down at your sides. Putting your weight into your right foot, step back and around with your left foot — almost as if you’re curtsying — allowing your arms to come up in front of you to a comfortable position. Ensure that your chest stays proud. Stop lunging when your right thigh is parallel to the ground. Begin to straighten your right leg, pushing up through your heel, and returning your left foot to the starting position. Repeat steps 1–3 for the desired number of reps, then switch legs.
A Simple 10-Minute Home Workout Plan
There is no excuse not to have beautiful legs with this focused 10-minute toning set. It’s quick and effective. Add weights to the exercise if you want more challenge. Repeat each exercise as many times as you can for 60 seconds:
- Side Lunges - 30 seconds each leg (can also add or substitute front or reverse lunges)
- Curtsey Lunges - 30 seconds each side
- Jump Squats
- Mountain Climbers or Twisted Mountain Climbers
- Spiderman Planks
- Glute Bridges
- Jump Squats or Goblet Squats
- Repeat the set, if desired, once you build your strength
Remember to stretch after your workout to maintain flexibility. Let us know how the 10-minute plan works to tone your legs and share your favorite variations!