Small Space Shape Up: Legs

By: Jessica Roberts

Here are 10 moves that are sure to tone up your legs! They take up little space, so you can do them anywhere: in your dorm room, in the office, or even in your closet. To make these moves more difficult, add resistance using weights or resistance bands if you have them. If you do not have any exercise equipment, try using cans of soup, heavy text books, or cases of pop. (But be careful!) Do this circuit twice, and you will have shapely thighs, hamstrings, calves, ankles, and a perky booty!

Move #1: Regular Squat

Stand with legs shoulder-width apart and knees directly over the heels. Bend and squat down to a sitting position, careful to keep the knees over the heels throughout the move. Keep the back and shoulders upright to protect your lower back. If using weights, place them on the shoulders, holding them for the entire move. Do 20 reps.


Photo by: Meagan Broucek

Move #2: Lunges

Begin standing with legs hip-width apart. Bring the left leg forward, and bend down to a 90 degree angle, keeping your knee behind your toes. Both legs should be bent at 90 degree angles. Repeat with the right leg. If using weights, hold them to your sides in each hand, or hold them on your shoulders. Do 10 each leg.


Photo by: Meagan Broucek

Move #3: Duck Squats (These will kill your quads!)

Start with feet about hip-width apart. Squat all the way down to the floor (or as low as you can). Come up halfway, but do not return to a standing position! Legs should remain at a 90 degree angle at the top of the move. Squat back down to the floor for the next rep. Weights are not needed to feel a deep burn, but if you want a challenge, go for it! Do 10 times.


Photo by: Meagan Broucek


Photo by: Meagan Broucek

Move #4: Curtsy Squats

From a standing position, bring your left leg behind you into a 90 degree angle. Bring the left foot behind the right knee, so both feet are in a straight line. Return to start, and repeat on the other side, bringing the right knee behind the left foot. Again, hold the weights at the sides or on the shoulders. Repeat 10 times on each leg.


Photo by: Meagan Broucek

Move #5: Calf Raises

Stand with feet hip-width apart. Lift up onto the toes, and hold for a couple seconds. Then return to the starting position. Weights will help make this exercise more difficult. Repeat 30 times.


Photo by: Meagan Broucek

Move #6: Side Lunges

Begin in a standing position. Step out wide with the left leg and squat down, keeping the back upright and the knee over the heel. Return to standing. Then, repeat with the right leg. If using weights, hold them on your shoulders. Do 10 each leg.


Photo by: Meagan Broucek

Move #7: Number Four Squats

While standing, place the left ankle on the right knee, in the shape of a ‘4.’ Then squat down (with left ankle still on the right knee). Return to standing position. Do 10 with the left leg lifted, and then repeat 10 reps with the right leg lifted. Since this is a single-legged squat, weights are not needed for this move to be challenging, but if you want even more of a burn, hold one weight with both hands in front of your chest.


Photo by: Meagan Broucek

Move #8: Plié Squats

Stand in a wide stance with the toes pointed outward. Squat down, keeping the toes pointed out to focus on the inner thigh. If using weights, hold them on your shoulders. For an extra challenge, do this move with your heels lifted off the ground. Repeat this move 20 times.


Photo by: Meagan Broucek


Photo by: Meagan Broucek

Move #9: Dead Lifts

This exercise is best when done with weights, but it is still a good move if you do not have any. Hold a weight in each hand with arms extended in front of your torso. With legs slightly wider than hip-width apart, reach down, bringing your weights (or hands) toward the floor. Keep your back straight, abs tight, and knees slightly bent to protect your back. Then, stand up to starting position. Repeat 15 times.

Photo by: Meagan Broucek

Photo by: Meagan Broucek

Move #10: Y-Squat 

Just like the first move of this series, get into a squat position. Instead of holding weights, bring both arms above the head, and extend them into a Y shape. This will also work your core. Keeping the arms overhead, lower into a squat, and return to starting position. Repeat 20 times.

Photo by: Meagan Broucek

Photo by: Meagan Broucek


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