In order to tone legs, an athlete must accomplish two things. First, he or she must reduce the amount of fat in the legs. Second, he or she must build the muscles of the legs. Both of these goals require a combination of different types of exercise.
To tone legs, the first key is to reduce the amount of fat in the legs. Contrary to what many athletes believe, exercises that target the legs do not specifically target the fat in the legs. When the body burns fat, it reduces the amount of fat throughout throughout the body, regardless of which parts of the body performed the exercise. For this reason, it is important not to overwork specific areas of the legs, because this will result in those areas growing from muscle development without necessarily reducing the amount of fat. This can result in the parts of the legs that most athletes want to reduce, such as the inner thighs, getting bigger rather than smaller.
For this reason, then, it is important to get a well-balanced workout in order to tone the legs. Even if an exercise does not directly target the legs, the fat that it burns will result in an overall reduction in body fat. This reduction in body fat will help to tone legs. Exercise routines that focus on total body fitness, such as Pilates and yoga, can be very effective for burning fat and thus helping to tone legs.
In addition to reducing body fat, it also is important to develop the leg muscles. This does require some focused leg exercises, but the emphasis should be on overall leg development, because targeting specific parts of the legs will be counterproductive. For this reason, then, the best leg exercises are compound exercises that will work multiple groups at the same time.
Fortunately, there are a variety of effective compound exercises for the legs. Squats are one effective compound exercise to tone legs, because they use the quadriceps, hamstrings, calves and even some of the muscles of the buttocks. Deadlifts offer similar benefits and thus also are a useful exercise.
One of the most common exercises to tone legs is the lunge. There are a number of different variations of lunge exercises, but all of them work multiple leg muscles. They also are effective because, if an athlete does not add weight to the exercise, he or she typically can perform a large number of them. So, lunges can provide a good way of developing the leg muscles while also providing the fat-burning cardiovascular exercise that is an important component of toning the legs.