The Ultimate Lower Body Toning Workout for Women
Sometimes the lower body can be the last frontier when it comes to toning, especially for women. Many women tend to hold more body fat in the area, and that can make things frustrating unless you follow a good lower body toning workout. It’s easy to do, too, if you’re willing to follow a simple plan that includes a lot of bodyweight exercises rounded out with some basic resistance training on equipment.
What Makes Up the Lower Body?
The “lower body” is usually considered the leg area, which is comprised of the quadriceps in the front, hamstrings in the back, your glutes (buttocks), and your calves. Additionally, many folks will throw in abdominals. Lower back exercises can be in the mix as well, depending on your overall program and goals.
Why You Should Use a Toning Routine for a Sexy Lower Body
If you do nothing, over time, your body will lose muscle tissue and slowly replace it with body fat. This natural process of aging and losing muscle is called sarcopenia. But, this does not have to be part of your story! You can prevent this loss of muscle by using a good toning workout routine to keep your lower body strong and shapely.
Using weights (or some form of resistance) can help you build muscle tissue, which is metabolically active. That means the tissue requires calories to maintain the status quo. So, following that logic, you can see that the more muscle you build, the more calories your body will need.
What is a Toning Workout Routine?
How is toning different from all other forms of resistance training? Well, technically, it’s not all that different. You can “tone” with pretty much any form of resistance training, provided your repetitions are high enough and you use enough volume for the targeted muscle(s). You’ll also want to keep your pace high and relatively intense so you can burn extra calories and get the aerobic benefits of a toning workout as well as the muscle-building advantages.
Lastly, use movements that involve large and multiple muscle groups (like squats). These are called “compound” movements and will give you a bigger bang for your exercise buck.
Try This Ultimate Lower Body Toning Workout
Don’t neglect your warm-up. You always want to work muscles that are warm and pliable, not cold and stiff. Try walking for 10 minutes or using the elliptical, a stationary bike, or a rower to get the blood pumping.
For this ultimate lower body toning workout, you want to develop long, smooth, shapely muscle (versus bulky muscle). To accomplish this look, you should aim for 20 – 25 repetitions of most exercises for every set you do. Work your way up to two sets per exercise and go through the entire workout twice a week. Your focus for lower body toning exercises should be mostly on compound movements.
Technically, all you would really have to do is squats or walking lunges to nicely tone your lower body. But, if you’re interested in a little more variety, try a combo of the following exercises:
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1. Body Squats
Start by standing with your legs about hip-width (or a bit more) apart. You can point your toes slightly outward, but make sure your knees track over your ankles and toes as you squat down. (Always make sure your knees align with your toes when bending). Bring your hands together in front of your chest and as you bend at the knees, push your hips back (like you’re about to sit in a chair). Look straight ahead and keep your torso mostly upright as you go down into the squat position. Keep squatting down until you can’t go lower. Then, push back up through your heels to move your body back up to a standing position. Do 20 repetitions.
2. Walking Lunges
These, along with body squats, should be a staple in your lower body toning workout routine. Stand and bring your hands together in front of you (they will help with balance). Start by taking a giant step forward with your right leg. Bend your knee while keeping your torso upright and allowing your back leg to straighten as you move into the lunge position. Push through your right heel to propel your body forward and back up to the starting position. Immediately proceed with the left leg and repeat the motion. Keep moving forward with giant lunging steps until you’ve done 10 steps on each side. Rest and repeat.
3. Glute Bridges
Here is another exercise that can be done with your body weight to start. Work your way up to using weight or try a glute machine at your fitness center. Begin by lying on your back on a mat. Bend your knees, keeping your feet flat on the floor, arms by your sides. Lift your hips up off the mat and press upward until you are able to fully squeeze your glute muscles. Hold and release, moving your hips back to the floor. Repeat 20 – 25 times.
4. Hack Squat
This machine has you standing to start with the weight placed on your shoulders, your back against a pad. Slowly bend at the knees to lower your body until your knees are fully bent and then push back up through your heels until your legs are straight. Repeat.
5. Leg Press
This is also a great compound exercise that you can use to work your entire lower body. Get into the leg press machine, lying back with your upper body on the pad. Place your feet in a somewhat wide high stance on the platform. Slowly lower the weight toward your chest until your knees are fully bent. Push the weight back up while straightening your legs. Repeat.
6. Calf Raises
Your calves will get worked during other exercises but if you want to hit them directly, grab a dumbbell in each hand and stand on the floor, a stair, or a platform. If possible, slide your feet back so your heels are hanging just off the edge. Next, lower your body so your heels drop below the edge of the platform. Feel a good stretch through your calves and then push up until you’re on your toes. Repeat.
Why a Healthy Diet is Key to Toning
You can tone your muscles all day with vigorous workouts, but you won’t be able to show off that hard-earned shape if it’s covered by a thick layer of body fat. If you really want to get the most from your lower body toning workout and you’d like to see that elusive shape and slight definition, you’ll have to monitor what you eat.
Keep it relatively clean, most of the time, meaning eat healthy whole foods and plenty of quality proteins. Get enough protein so your body has the fuel it needs to build the sexy muscle mass you need to add in order to tone. Add in a few healthy fats to round out your diet.
The ultimate toning workout routine is a great way to work your entire lower body, but if you don’t have access to gym equipment, don’t worry. You can literally tone up just by doing multiple sets of body squats, walking lunges, and glute bridges. And, if all else fails and nothing else is doable yet, just walk. Walking is the easiest, most effective way to tone your lower body with the least amount of effort.