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Best Strength-Training Exercises for Toning Legs

If you are looking for strong, toned legs, then look no farther than strength-training exercises. Unlike cardio exercise, strength training has the ability to change the shape of your body by building your muscles and, thereby, giving your body curves. When it comes to toning and shaping your lower body, stick with the basic and most beneficial leg exercises.

Squats

Squats are a complete lower-body strength-training move that targets everything from your glutes to your quadriceps. Traditional weighted squats are an excellent way to transform your lower body, but there are many other variations of the squat that can be just as effective. Squats can be done with only your body weight or they can be done with almost any form of weight from dumbbells to medicine balls. Other variations of the squat include the sumo squat and the one-legged squat, both of which can be done with or without weights.

Lunges

Lunges are another lower-body strength-training move that can be done with or without weights. The lunge utilizes your glute muscles as well as your hamstrings and quadriceps. Variations of the lunge include walking lunges, side lunges, one-leg elevated lunges and jump lunges. While bodyweight lunges are still beneficial, adding weight to the exercise increases the benefits even more. Also, jump lunges help to shape the lower body and, because they are a jump exercise, raise your heart rate and increase your calorie burn as well.

Deadlifts

Deadlifts are known as a powerlifting move, but this strength-training move isn't just for the dedicated bodybuilder. Deadlifts are primarily a hamstring and glute exercise and mimic the real life action of bending over to pick something up, which is why it is a beneficial exercise for everyone. Deadlifts can be done with bent legs, straight legs or even balanced on one foot at a time.

Bench Step-Ups

A bench step-up exercise is simply stepping up onto something one foot at a time. This can be a bench, a step or a box. Bench step-ups mainly work the glutes, hamstrings and quadriceps, however the calves and abdominal muscles are also used as stabilizing muscles.This strength training exercise mimics walking up stairs, except that the exercise breaks down the movement so that the focus can be on one leg at a time. This exercise is easy on the knees and back and is a good exercise for either new exercisers or advanced because you can keep altering the height of the step and the weight that you lift.

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About the Author

Kaitlin Condon is a holistic health coach and certified physical fitness/wellness specialist. She is a contributing health writer for the teen magazine "Miabella," as well as several online publications.

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