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Squats target nearly all muscle groups in the lower body.
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Toning is the process of increasing strength and firmness in a specific part of the body. Some people may have a number of areas they wish to tone, but the legs can be a good starting point if they're carrying extra weight or just aren't lean. The legs can benefit from various toning exercises, including resistance training and aerobic activity. While it can be difficult to tone large legs, the final results definitely are worth the effort.
When it comes to toning large legs, fat loss is a priority. "Yale Scientific" reports that cutting body fat in specific places is nearly impossible. Individuals who wish to tone large legs should focus on overall body fat loss; with time, you should see fat loss in the legs and a thinner, sleeker appearance. To promote fat loss, include at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity in your weekly exercise program. Aerobic exercise helps burn calories and aids in weight loss, both of which are essential for toning.
While aerobic exercise is key when it comes to cutting body fat, resistance training -- lifting weights -- helps build muscle mass, another necessity for toned legs. Squats are a useful exercise for those who want to build muscle mass in the lower body, as this move targets nearly all of the muscles in the legs. To perform squats, stand with your feet flat on the ground, hip-width apart. Keeping your core engaged and your chest lifted, slowly lower your buttocks toward the ground, stopping when your quadriceps are nearly parallel to the floor. Press your heels into the ground, and push your body back to its starting position.
Lunges also target a number of muscles in the lower body, including the quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteus maximus and calves, and they can help build muscle mass and tone large legs. Stand with your feet together, forming a straight line from your head to your ankles. Step forward with one foot, and shift your weight over the front heel. Slowly lower your rear knee toward the ground until it is only an inch or two above the floor. Use the muscles in your lower body to push your weight up to standing, and step back with the front foot, bringing both feet back together in their original position.
Additional Toning Recommendations
No matter which exercises you choose, they will be ineffective if not done correctly. The American Council on Exercise recommends performing two to three sets of six to 10 repetitions of the exercises to build greater muscle mass and improve tone. ACE also encourages exercisers to take adequate rest periods, of at least 30 seconds between sets, to achieve muscle growth and tone large legs.