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5 Best Strength Workouts for Women To Get Toned Legs

Try these simple workouts to transform your thighs, calves, and booty!
FACT CHECKED BY Alexa Mellardo

Having toned legs is a surefire sign that your overall body is fit and athletic. But if you rely only on cardio for your lower half—jogging, walking, hiking, etc.—your results will come slowly. Instead, you should combine your conditioning work with strength training—using weights (or even your own body weight) to build muscle, slash fat, and transform your lower body. That's where we come in with these five strength workouts for women to get toned legs.

Resistance training will add far more definition to your quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves than doing traditional cardio. That way, you can perfectly shape the muscle. In this article, we'll share five of the best lower-body workouts to get lean and toned legs. They're safe, smart, and proven to get incredible results.

Even better, we'll use proven exercises that are simple to do so they're perfect for any strength or experience level. Do one of these lower body workouts two to three times per week, max. (Remember: You need rest to let your muscles recover and get stronger.) For extra credit, make sure you eat a healthy diet, and you will see your legs transform.

Keep reading for the five best strength workouts for women to get toned legs. And when you're finished, be sure to check out 10 Easy Kettlebell Exercises for Women To Melt Belly Flab.

Workout #1

A1) Hip Thrusts (Sets: 5, Reps: 8, Rest: 60s)

illustration of barbell hip thrust, strength workouts for women to get toned legs
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The first of these strength workouts for women to get toned legs kicks off with the hip thrust. Lie with your shoulders on a bench, your body perpendicular to a bench, and your feet on the floor. Rest a barbell with weight plates on your hips—and use a thick pad to cushion the barbell on your hips—and drive your hips to full extension. Push through your heels, and squeeze your glutes at the top. Lower the barbell back to the ground, and repeat.

A2) Romanian Deadlifts (Sets: 5, Reps: 5, Rest: 60s)

barbell deadlift, strength workouts for women to get toned legs
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Start with your feet hip-width apart while holding a barbell in your hands at the front of your hips. Push your hips backward, keep your back neutral, and descend until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings. Drive through your heels, and return to the start position.

A3) SHELC (Sets: 5, Reps: 8, Rest: 60s)

Lie on your back with your feet on the top of a stability ball. Start by squeezing your glutes and extending your hips. Then, curl your feet underneath your knees while keeping your hips extended and maintaining a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. Remember: Every inch you curl your feet is another inch your hips need to rise.

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Workout #2

A1) Dumbbell Reverse Lunges (Sets: 5, Reps: 8 each leg, Rest: 60s)

Take a long step back—long enough so that your knees make two 90-degree angles at the bottom—and pull yourself back up with your forward leg.

A2) Single-Leg Romanian Deadlifts (Sets: 5, Reps: 8 each leg, Rest: 60s)

illustration of single-leg romanian deadlift, strength workouts for women to get toned legs
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With dumbbells in your hand, slowly bend forward, and pull one leg behind. Once the weights are below your knees, drive back up, and squeeze with your glute. Don't twist your hips to the side—keep them square and facing forward.

A3) Lateral Heidens (Sets: 5, Reps: 3 each side, Rest: 60s)

Start in an athletic position. Jump as far and as high as you can toward one side (perpendicular to you), and softly land on that leg in a controlled manner. Pause briefly, and repeat in the opposite direction. Repeat.

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Workout #3: Bodyweight

A1) Lateral Squats (Sets: 4, Reps: 6 each leg, Rest: 60s)

woman doing lateral lunges, strength workouts for women to get toned legs
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Start with a very wide stance and your feet straight. Sit back into one hip, and push that knee out. Repeat on the other side.

A2) Hip-Thigh Extensions (Sets: 4 Reps: 10 each leg, Rest: 60s)

Lie on your back, bend one knee so that it makes a 90-degree angle, and stick the other leg straight out. With your bent leg, squeeze your glute, push through your heel, push your hips up, and keep your hips level as you rise. Keep your straight leg extended throughout the exercise, and keep it in line with your torso.

B1) Squats (Sets: 3, Reps: 10, Rest: 30s)

Stand shoulder-width apart with your toes slightly out. Lift your heels off the ground, balance your body weight on the balls of your feet, and maintain that position throughout the movement. Start the squat by sitting backward and spreading your knees apart. Descend below parallel while keeping your lower back flat. At the bottom, drive back up while keeping your knees apart and heels off the ground.

B2) Active Leg Lowering (Sets: 3, Reps: 6 each leg, Rest: 30s)

Start with your back on the floor. Curl your hips, and extend both legs straight up, 90 degrees to your body (or as close to 90 degrees as you can) while keeping your knees straight. Slowly lower one leg to the floor while keeping the other leg in place. Try to touch your heel to the floor without twisting your hips or bending your knees. Bring your leg back up, and repeat on the same leg until you complete all the reps. Then, switch legs.

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Workout #4

A1) Single-Leg Box Squats (Sets: 5, Reps: 6 each leg, Rest: 60s)

Start by facing away from a bench or box. Lift one leg, sit back on the bench, and come up without putting your other leg down. To make it harder, lower the bench.

A2) Step-ups (Sets: 5, Reps: 6 each leg, Rest: 30s)

illustration of step-ups, strength workouts for women to get toned legs
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Place one foot on a box or bench. Pull all your weight on that foot, and drive yourself up by pushing through your heel. Avoid pushing off with your bottom leg.

A3) Hip Flexor Stretch (Sets: 5, Reps: 20 seconds each leg, Rest: 0s)

Get on one knee with your feet inline and your knees making 90-degree angles. Squeeze the glute of your rear leg, push your hips forward, and feel a deep stretch through the front of your hips and quads. Switch sides.

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Workout #5: Kettlebells

A1) Goblet Squats (Sets: 4, Reps: 6, Rest: 60s)

kettlebell goblet squat
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The last of these strength workouts for women to get toned legs is all about working with kettlebells. Kettlebell goblet squats start by grabbing the kettlebell handle with both hands and holding it by your chest with your elbows underneath. Stand shoulder-width apart with your toes slightly out. Start the movement by sitting backward and spreading your knees apart. Descend below parallel while keeping your lower back flat. At the bottom, drive through your heels and keep your knees apart.

A2) Kettlebell Deadlifts (Sets: 4, Reps: 6, Rest: 60s)

kettlebell deadlift
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Stand shoulder-width apart with the kettlebell between your legs and the handle in line with the bony part of your ankles. Bend from hips, and grab the kettlebell with both hands. Before you lift, your shins should be vertical, your back should be almost parallel with the ground, and your lower back should be flat.

Squeeze the handle hard, pull your shoulders backward, and crush your armpits. Lift the kettlebell by pushing through the ground, not by pulling up. Stand tall, and squeeze your glutes at the top. On the way down, place the kettlebell at the same exact spot you lifted it from.

B1) Kettlebell Swings (Sets: 3, Reps: 10, Rest: 0s)

kettlebell swings
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Start in a deadlift position with the kettlebell a few feet in front of you. Then, hike the kettlebell back between your legs like a center in football and explosively drive your hips forward. Imagine propelling the kettlebell to a target in front of you. Keep your arms relaxed.

B2) Hip Flexor Stretch (Sets: 3, Reps: 20 seconds each leg, Rest: 0s)

Lower down to one knee with your feet lined up with each other and your knees forming 90-degree angles. Squeeze your rear leg's glute, press your hips forward, and feel the stretch at the front of your hips and quads. Repeat on the opposite side.

Anthony J. Yeung
Anthony J. Yeung, CSCS, is a fitness expert featured in Esquire, GQ, and Men’s Health and the founder of GroomBuilder, the destination for men who want to transform their bodies for their weddings. Join the free 5-day course to burn fat and build muscle for the big day! Read more about Anthony