Ways to Slim Down Legs

Slimming down your legs involves cardiovascular exercise, to burn calories and fat, and strength training, to build muscle and tone. According to the textbook “Exercise Physiology: Energy, Nutrition and Human Performance,” the most efficient way to slim the legs is via exercises which combine cardio and strength training. Perform strength-training moves which use props or quick movements, which increase the heart rate — to burn fat — and build muscle simultaneously.

Stability Ball Knee Tucks

Stability ball knee tucks are designed to isolate the lower abdominals as well as the gluteals, quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves. Begin kneeling behind a large stability ball. Drape your torso over the ball and walk your hands out in front of you, until your body is in a plank position, with the ball resting underneath your ankles. Engage your abs, and bring your knees toward your chest, rolling the ball in, then extend the legs as you roll the ball away. “Stability ball knee tucks are a great workout for your legs,” says American College of Sports Medicine certified personal trainer Shelby Young. “They engage your legs in a way that’s different from other exercises, because they’re being asked to work with the core to balance the body, and they’re being strengthened each time you pull and push your knees in and away from your chest.”

Lateral Leg Lift

Lateral leg raises target the inner and outer thighs, and exercise the core. Begin by standing with your feet hip-width apart. With your hands on your hips, engage your core and lift your right leg straight out to the side, feeling the hip and thigh muscles contract. In one slow, controlled movement, lower your foot until the toes gently touch the floor and raise your leg again. “Lateral leg raises tighten the thighs and strengthen the hips,” says Young. “They’re a simple exercise but isolate a lot of large and small muscles in the legs. The stronger you get, the higher you’ll lift your leg and the more straight you will keep it.”

Dumbbell Squats

Dumbbell squats are designed to strengthen the legs through using the body’s own weight as resistance, but also increase the heart rate through the addition of dumbbells. Begin by standing with feet at hip width, holding a dumbbell in either hand. Bend your knees, stick your tailbone back as if you are sitting on a chair, and keep your spine straight without pitching forward. Engaging your legs, push yourself back to standing. “Squats are one of the most well-known exercises, and they’re also one of the most effective in working the legs,” says Young. “If you’re trying to slim your legs, use lighter weights but do more squats, which will get your heart pumping and burn more fat rather than bulking up your legs with muscle.”

About this Author

Sapna Pathak is a certified yoga instructor and diet and nutrition consultant and a sportswriter for the Boston Globe. She has won numerous awards for her reporting on both sports and on the health, diet and fitness industry. In 2004, she earned her double-bachelor’s in journalism and in exercise physiology and neurobiology.