When I first started working out I really wanted to tone my legs as I have Mediterranean genetics and tend to store body fat in that area.
I wanted toned legs but I also wanted to be strong and be able to climb a set of stairs without experiencing a severe quad burn when I reached the top.
So I tested and tried a few different types of workouts and pretty much found out what works the best. Here are my top five tips if you are looking to strengthen and tone your legs.
Light weights are key! Let me tell you why. If on average you tend to store body fat in your thighs easily and they tend to be soft and jiggly then you need to go lighter on your legs. Heavier weights will increase the density of the muscle fibres making the thigh muscle bigger in size. If you tend to store fat in your legs then you know it's hard to get rid of this fat. Having a larger muscle with fat on top will make the overall size of your leg will appear bigger. That is why you need to lift light weights as this will tone the leg without the bulk.
OK here is something else that works well. Go for high reps! High reps are awesome for creating tone. I have found that doing body weight exercises such as squats and lunges with high reps gives great results. Wondering how much to do? I say go for 20-25 reps per exercise as long as you are doing little weight or just body weight. If that is too much for you right now then start with less and build up.
Stairs or Step Mill
Anything stepping up is awesome as it works the entire leg including the butt muscles. Now I am not talking about the Stair Master from 1985, rather I am talking about the Step Mill -- the big machine with stairs which move and you are actually climbing stairs. I have never seen anyone step off this thing with just a drop of sweat so when you go on it be prepared to be drenched in sweat. But I have seen lots of people get awesome results in terms of weight loss and tone from using this machine. If you don't have access to one of these machines that is OK, just find a set of stairs and climb them.
I am a little addicted to running as it gives me an endorphin high and awesome results. I also find that running has helped me slim down and tone my legs quite a bit. Here is something else -- incline! Step it up and you will see huge changes in your legs. Not only will the incline tone but it will also get rid of body fat. If you don't run but want to start then you can try a beginners run.
We walk forward and everything we do is going forward so the quads get quite a bit of action. The hamstrings unfortunately do not. That is why you need to work these muscles. For extra tone, if I do two quad exercises I will do three hamstring exercises. I have found that this works quite well in toning the back of your thighs especially if you sit all day long on your butt and if you tend to have cellulite back there.