Exactly How To Sculpt Toned, Sexy Legs Without Bulk

by | Aug 25, 2017 | Workouts

Photography by Supreeya Chantalao/Freepik

Spring is on its way and, with it, shorts and mini skirts. 

Hooray for bare legs and open shoes! But if the thought of exposing your lower limbs fills you with dread – even post shavathon and heavy-duty moisturiser – use these tips to tone your legs without getting bulky.

“I take a slightly different approach with my female clients when it comes to leg training,” says Natasha Deley, a biokineticist at Planet Fitness Platinum in Sandton. “After all, most women don’t want ‘big legs.’ The second a female client can’t fit into her jeans because her quads grew too much, I have hell to pay!”

Work Your Back Side

To avoid this, Deley places more emphasis on training the posterior chain – the muscles down the back side of your body, like your hamstrings (back of the thighs) and glutes (your butt). “I still add squats to the workout, but I have female clients take a wider stance and make sure they get a proper hip-hinge pattern,” says Deley. The trick is learning to sit back during the descent with your hips, rather than starting the movement by bending your knees. When you lead with the knees, it puts more emphasis on your quads – the muscles at the front of your thighs – which will make them bigger and your legs look bulkier (rugby thighs). Leading with your hips keeps the size at the back, where you want it – hellooo, boo-tay!

Want more? Try the 15-minute Shorter-Shorts Workout

Tweak Your Moves

Of course, you don’t want to neglect the front of your legs entirely. You just want them looking toned, rather than huge. “To target the quads, I emphasise hip-dominant exercise variations, like reverse or lateral lunges, instead of forward lunges and step-ups,” says Deley. Another tip she uses: Leaning slightly forward in a regular lunge makes a big difference because it targets the glutes and hamstrings more. An upright posture with vertical shins puts more emphasis on the quads.

Want more? Tone your legs the fun way with ice skating

Four Moves To Sculpt Your Legs

Ready to get in on that mini-skirt action? Add these moves, demonstrated by Deley, to your leg-day routine.

1/ Reverse Lunge With Hip Lift

Targets: Hips, butt, hamstrings, quads Do: 10 on one leg, then 10 on the other leg


 2/ Lateral Squat With Hip Lift
Targets: Hips, butt, hamstrings, quads Do: 10 one side, then 10 on the other

 3/ Forward Lunge
Targets: Hips, butt, hamstrings, quads Do: 10 one side, then 10 on the other or alternate legs for 10 each side

 4/ Sumo Squat
Targets: Hips, butt, hamstrings, quads Do: 10 (weight optional)

Looking for more leg day inspiration? Mapule Ndhlovu’s killer leg workout is the ultimate way to reshape your butt and thighs. 

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