After months of hiding beneath pants and opaque tights, your legs are nearly ready to come out and embrace the warm weather. Get them ready for their close-up with this all-over toning exercise plan, designed by Joan Price, author of The Anytime, Anywhere Exercise Book: 300+ Quick and Easy Exercises You Can Do Wherever You Want.
Do these four easy moves regularly to tone and strengthen your legs. Price's advice: Start doing 12 slow repetitions and work your way up to three sets of 12 as you get stronger. "Each repetition should take at least six seconds," she says. "And be aware of your knees. They should never go past your toes. That puts stress on the joint and means you're not actually working the muscle effectively."
4 Effective Leg Toning Exercises
Target: Upper front thigh muscles
How to do it: Start standing with your legs a little wider than hip width apart — abdominals pulled in, chest lifted. Lower your hips toward the floor as if you were trying to sit on a bench behind you. Bring your arms up parallel to the floor for balance and lean forward slightly (or hold on to a table or door frame for support). "Sit" down until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Hold the squat for a second before squeezing your glutes and slowly pressing yourself back up to a standing position. Rest five seconds before repeating. You can place a chair behind you for added safety and to limit the dip of your squat to the proper level.
Target: Inner thighs
How to do it: Start with your legs as wide apart as comfortable with your feet slightly turned out. Imagine a bench behind you and lower your hips back and toward the floor while squeezing your inner thighs and buttocks. Hold this position for a second before coming back up, concentrating on tightening your inner thighs as you stand.
Target: Calf muscles
How to do it: You can do this while standing on the floor or, for an added challenge, standing with your heels hanging off a stair or curb. Slowly roll your weight into the toes and the balls of the feet while lifting your heels. Make sure the movement is slow and controlled; don't bounce. Hold the lift for one second before shifting the weight back into your heels as you lower back to the floor.
Standing leg press
Target: Outer thigh and hip
How to do it: Feet should be no more than hip-width apart. Shift your weight onto the right leg and lift the left leg slightly off the floor. (Place your hand on the wall if you feel unsteady.) Lift your left leg out to the side to the count of four until you feel your hip contract. Hold the leg up for a second and then slowly lower the leg, resisting gravity the whole time. If you want added resistance, hold your hand against the outside of your leg and press against the lift as you raise your leg. Repeat the sequence with the opposite leg.
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