5 Incredible No-Equipment Moves for Toned Legs
Want strong, lean, and toned legs but don’t have access to a gym or tons of equipment? No problem. Pilates and barre workouts use compound lower-body exercises that provide stability and mobility for the whole body, according to Andrea Rogers, founder of Xtend Barre and XB Pilates. Even better? You only need body weight to do these leg-toning movements!
Rogers picked out five no-equipment-needed exercises she considers her go-to moves for stronger, toned legs. Add these to your next at-home legs day. (Then try these moves for toned arms!)
1. First Position Leg Lifts
Benefits: This barre-inspired move works your adductor muscles on the inner thighs, and this position also helps recruit your glutes and core, Rogers says. By working on one leg at a time, you will not only improve overall balance but also build balanced strength.
- Stand with your heels together, toes pointed out, and place your hands on your hips.
- Reach your right leg straight out in front of you, pointing your toes so they’re lightly resting on the floor.
- Keeping your core tight and your left leg engaged, lift your right leg up as high as possible, then lower it slowly back down to the ground.
- Do 10 to 15 reps on both sides.
Benefits: This move works the back of the legs, glutes, and calves. It’s crucial to focus on the working leg (rather than the standing leg), Rogers says. Because your legs work in opposition, she notes, you’ll be sculpting both sides of the body simultaneously.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart with your hands on a barre or back of a chair for stability.
- Hinge forward to bring one leg up and back behind you, as if you’re making yourself into a “T” with a neutral spine.
- Slightly bend the knee of your standing leg so you’re not locking it out.
- Pulse your lifted leg up and down a few inches for one minute.
- Switch sides, and repeat.
Benefits: This belly-down move strengthens your back, tightens your glutes, and works your hamstrings, Rogers says.
- Lie in a prone (belly-down) position on a mat.
- Lift your torso up and rest your forearms on the mat, with your hands directly under your shoulders and your fists pressed together.
- Draw your bellybutton into your spine, press your pelvis into the mat, and keep your legs and feet parallel.
- From this position, inhale as you point your toes and bend your right knee to a 90-degree angle.
- Kick your right heel toward your glutes two times, forcefully exhaling with both pulses.
- Inhale as you lower your right leg to the mat and bend your left knee to a 90-degree angle.
- Kick your left heel toward your glutes two times, forcefully exhaling with both pulses.
- Repeat, alternating the legs, for 10 to 15 reps.
4. Standing Pulse
Benefits: This is a “basic” move for both Pilates and barre, but it’s anything but easy. Coming up on the balls of your feet will not only challenge your balance, Rogers says, but force all of your leg muscles to engage to keep you stable. Bonus: Your core and glutes will fire up, too.
- Stand with your feet parallel and together. Keep your knees soft and not locked out. You can have a chair or barre in front of or beside you for balance, with your hands resting on it gently.
- Bend your knees as if you’re about to sit in a chair, keeping your pelvis level and your spine neutral.
- Lift your heels and press into the balls of your feet.
- Keeping your heels lifted, pulse your body up and down an inch for 30 seconds.
5. Relevé Plié Squat
Benefits: Although this is a major strength builder for your legs, staying balanced on the balls of your feet will also engage your core in a major way, says Rogers. Your legs may feel “the shake,” especially if this is a new move for you, because you’re challenging your muscular endurance.
- Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, toes pointed out, and arms hanging in front of your body. To make this slightly easier, you can rest your hand on a barre for balance.
- Rise up onto the balls of your feet, so your heels lift high off the ground.
- Keeping your chest up, bend your knees until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
- Straighten your legs halfway, then lower again until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
- Continue pulsing up and down for one minute, staying high on the balls of your feet.
- If you’d like to increase the intensity, hold a dumbbell in each hand.