As you grow older, it becomes hard to balance and have stability in your joints if you’re not engaging in leg toning workouts. You start losing muscle mass, strength, and function over time. Furthermore, if you’re physically inactive, you’ll lose 3 to 5 percent of muscle mass each decade after age 30.
Thankfully, you can still score your strongest legs ever with the help of leg toning workouts. Strong legs help you support your body better and make you more attractive. Also, they are less susceptible to injuries.
The best part? You don’t need fancy and expensive gym equipment to fire up those leg muscles. You can do that right at home.
Ready to get strong? Here are the best at-home leg toning workout moves for women.
1. Bodyweight Squats
The squat is often referred to as the king of all exercises. It’s an amazing way to tone your legs. Not only does it help you build lean muscle, but it also works your abs, butt, and hips. Also, if you’re suffering from back pain, it’s a great option as it doesn’t strain your back when done right. To do a squat:
- Stand straight with your feet shoulder-width apart and toes slightly turned out.
- Bend at the knees until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
- Pause for a moment and push yourself back to your original position.
For extra support, consider doing this near a wall. Aim for 3 sets of 15 reps twice or thrice a week.
2. Forward Lunges
When it comes to strength training, lunges are one of the most popular choices. It strengthens your legs while improving mobility and stability. Lunges also sculpt your butt and abs. What’s more, it can also help improve your posture. In order to do forward lunges properly:
- Stand tall holding a dumbbell in each hand with your feet hip-width apart.
- Take a big step forward with your right leg and lower your body into a lunge until both knees are bent 90 degrees.
- If possible, lightly touch the floor with your left knee.
- Push off on your front foot to bring yourself to the starting position.
- Repeat on the other side.
Aim for 3 sets of 12-15 reps on each leg. You can also do it without dumbbells if you’re just getting started.
3. Single-Leg Deadlift
Single-leg deadlifts targets all the major muscles, such as hamstrings, glutes, and even your core. It develops strength, balance, and stability. Another advantage of doing single-leg deadlifts is that it improves mobility through the legs and hips. To do a single-leg deadlift:
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
- Hold a dumbbell in each hand with palms facing the front of your thighs.
- Lean forward and shift your weight on the left leg with your right leg extended slightly behind you.
- Lift your extended right leg until your body is parallel to the floor, arms hanging down.
- Slowly return to the starting position.
- Repeat and switch legs after doing all the reps.
Do 3 sets of 15-20 reps with a 60 second break in between. If you’re new to this, you can also do it without weights.
4. Jumping Jacks
Jumping jacks are an excellent leg toning workout move. They work your quadriceps, glutes, and hips. According to one study, they may also improve bone density. Additionally, this exercise also increases strength and agility. Here’s how you do jumping jacks:
- Stand straight with your legs together and arms to your sides.
- Jump into the air and spread your legs slightly beyond shoulder-width apart while your arms stretch over your head.
- Jump back quickly, bringing yourself to the starting position.
Start with 3 sets of 10 or more repetitions of jumping jacks.
5. Single-Leg Calf Raise
The single-leg calf raise strengthens both your lower legs and helps improve balance on one foot. This is important because it can improve sports performance and prevent injuries. Furthermore, it can also help prevent the onset of knee pain. Finally, it may also increase the size of your calves. To do a single-leg calf raise:
- Stand upright with your feet hip-width apart and arms on your hips.
- Bend your left knee and bring it hip-level.
- Lift your right heel off the ground and balance on the ball of your foot.
- Pause for a moment and lower your heel.
- Repeat and then switch sides.
Do 3 sets of 15-20 reps on each leg. Consider adding weight to make it more difficult.
6. Side Lunges
This leg toning workout move targets the sides of the glutes and quadricep muscles. It’s also a great exercise for tight hips and groin. Needless to say, it strengthens both your legs and boosts stability. To execute a side lunge the right way:
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hands clasped in front of your chest.
- Take a big step out to the right and lower your right knee until it is bent 90 degrees while pushing your butt back.
- Keep your left leg straight during the process.
- Push back and return to the starting position.
Shoot for 10-12 reps and switch sides. Aim for 3 sets on each leg.
7. Plank Leg Lifts
Plank leg lifts work your butt and upper legs. With this exercise, you’ll also be able to get the benefits of a regular plank, meaning it will tone your whole body. It trains your core, glutes, and shoulders. Even better? It also trims body fat and improves posture. To do a plank leg lift:
- Begin in a low plank position with your body straight and weight on your forearms.
- Tighten your abs and raise your right leg, pausing for a moment.
- Lower your right leg and do the same with your left leg.
Do 2-3 sets of 15 reps. Brace your abs and glutes during the process.
8. Glute Bridge
The glute bridge makes one of the best leg toning workouts for beginners. It sculpts your legs and improves hip mobility. If done correctly, it also enhances core stability. This exercise is also safe for people with chronic back pain. To do a glute bridge:
- Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Place your arms at your sides.
- Squeeze your abs and glutes.
- Raise your hips off the floor until your shoulder, hips, and knees are in a straight line.
- Pause for a few seconds and return to the starting position.
Shoot for 2 sets of 10-12 reps. Do this 2-3 times a week. You can also wrap a resistance band around your thighs to challenge your endurance.
If you’re looking to strengthen your thighs, step-ups are an excellent choice. It targets the quadricep muscle that helps protect the knee. What’s more, it also improves balance and stability. You can do step-ups anywhere. All you have to do is find a bench, chair or any raised platform. To do a step-up properly:
- Begin standing facing a step.
- Place your right foot on the step and left foot on the floor.
- Press through your right heel and bring the left foot up until your left knee forms a 90-degree angle.
- Hold this position for a moment and then return to the starting position.
- Repeat and switch legs.
Aim for 3 sets of 12-15 reps on each side. To make it harder, hold dumbbells in your hands.
10. Dumbbell Good Morning
Dumbbell good mornings mainly target the hamstrings, but they also improve hip and back strength. You’ll also be able to develop stronger glutes with this exercise. Overall, it’s a great exercise for toning your legs. To perform this exercise:
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent while holding a dumbbell in each hand at shoulder level.
- Hinge forward at your hips, and lower your torso until it is parallel to the floor.
- Hold this position for 4-5 seconds and return to your original position.
Aim for 3 sets of 12-15 reps.
There are so many benefits of having well-toned legs. Stronger legs not only look good, but they also give you greater independence as you age. Therefore, it’s important to take good care of them.
In addition to exercise, you should also consider exfoliation and moisturization to keep your legs smooth, healthy, and firm. Always remember that strong legs are important if you want to live a healthy and active life. So, start working those leg muscles today, and you’ll thank yourself later.
More Tips on Strengthening Your Legs
Burnout at work is an issue that most people who suffer from it, suffer unknowingly.
Have you ever felt that you can’t start an assignment, have an immense urge to Netflix binge, or couldn’t get yourself to wake up on time even though you have a lot on your plate? The cause for these might be burnout.
According to Deloitte’s report, “many companies may not be doing enough to minimize burnout.” This is to say that the responsibility is not only on the employee. According to that report, nearly 70 percent of professionals feel their employers are not doing enough to prevent or alleviate burnout within their organization, and they definitely should.
Too many companies don’t invest enough in creating a positive environment. One out of five (21%) said that their company does not offer any programs or initiatives to prevent or alleviate burnout. It is the culture, not the fancy well-being programs that would probably do the best work.
This is a significant problem for individuals and companies, and it’s also an issue on a macro level. A Stanford University research found that more than 120,000 deaths per year, and approximately 5%–8% of annual healthcare costs, are associated with the way U.S. companies manage their workforces.
It is both the employee and the employer’s responsibility—and the latter can certainly take more responsibility.
In this article, I’ll guide you on how to know if you suffer from burnout and, more importantly, what you can do about it.
Table of Contents
Who Are Prone to Burning Out?
For starters, it is a good thing to know that you’re in good company. According to a Gallup poll, 23% (of 7,500 surveyed) expressed burnout more often than not. Additionally, 44% felt it sometimes. Nearly 50% of social entrepreneurs who attended the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in 2018 reported having struggled with burnout and depression at some point.
According to Statista (2017), 13% of adults reported having problems unwinding in the evenings and weekends. According to a Deloitte survey (consisting of 1,000 full-time U.S. employees), 77% of respondents said that they have experienced employee burnout at their current job.
Burnout is not only an issue of the spoiled first-world. Rather, it is a serious matter that must be taken care of appropriately. It affects so many people, and its impacts are just too significant to be ignored.
Some occupations are more prone to burnout, such as people who deeply care about their jobs more than others. According to the Harvard Business Review, “Passion-driven and caregiving roles such as doctors and nurses are some of the most susceptible to burnout.”
The consequences can have life or death ramifications as “suicide rates among caregivers are dramatically higher than that of the general public—40% higher for men and 130% higher for women”. It is also the case for teachers, non-profit workers, and leaders of all kinds.
Deloitte’s survey also found that 91% say that they have an unmanageable amount of stress or frustration. Heck, 83% even say that it can negatively impact their relationships. Millennials are slightly more impacted by burnout (84% of Gen Y vs. 77% in other generations).
What Is Burnout Syndrome?
So, what is it, exactly? Burnout was officially included in the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) and is an occupational phenomenon.
According to the World Health Organization, burnout includes three dimensions:
- Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion;
- Increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job;
- Reduced professional efficacy.
The 5 Stages of Burnout
At this point, you must have a clue if you’re at risk of burnout. There are different methods for understanding where you are on the burnout syndrome scale, and one of the most common ones is the “five stages method.”
1. Honeymoon Phase
As you may remember If you’ve gotten married, there’s always the honeymoon phase. You’re so happy and feel almost invincible. You love your spouse and at this stage, you’re very excited about everything. It’s the same when it comes to taking on a new job or role or starting a new business.
At first, most of the time, you’re hyper-motivated. Although you might be able to notice signs of potential future burnout, in most cases, you might ignore them. You’re highly productive, super motivated, creative, and accept (and take) responsibility.
The honeymoon phase is critical because if you plant the seeds of good mental health and coping strategies, you can stay at this phase for extended periods.
2. Onset of Stress
Let’s continue with the wedding metaphor. Now that you’re happily married for some time, you might start noticing certain issues with your spouse that you don’t like. You might have seen them before, but now they take up more space in your life.
You might be less optimistic and feel signs of stress or minor symptoms of physical or emotional fatigue at work. Your productivity reduces, and you think that your motivation is lower.
3. Chronic Stress
Let’s hope you don’t get there in your marriage, but unfortunately, some people get there. At this stage, your stress level is consistently high, and the other symptoms of stage 2 persist.
At this point, you start missing deadlines, your sleep quality is low, and you’re resentful and cynical. Your caffeine consumption might be higher, and you’re increasingly unsatisfied.
This is the point where you can’t go on unless there is a significant change in your workspace environment. You have a strong desire to move to another place, and clinical intervention is sometimes required.
You feel neglected, your physical symptoms are increasing, and you get to a place where your stomach hurts daily. You might obsess over problems in your life or work and, generally speaking, you should treat yourself.
5. Habitual Burnout
This is the phase in which burnout is embedded in your life. You might experience chest pains or difficulty breathing, outbursts of anger or apathy, and physical symptoms of chronic fatigue.
The Causes of Burnout
So, now that we know how to identify our stage of burnout, we can move on to tackling its leading causes. According to the Gallup survey, the top burnout reasons are:
- Getting unfair treatment at work – This is not always something that you can fully control. At the same time, you should remember that even if you’re not calling the shots, it doesn’t mean that you have to accept unfair treatment. The consequences mentioned above are just not worth it in most cases.
- Workload – Another leading cause of stress according to dozens of interviews conducted before writing the article. According to Statista, in 2017, 39% of workers said a heavy workload was their leading cause of stress. We live in a busy work environment, and we will share some tips on how to manage that.
- Not knowing your role – While not something you can fully control, you can, and probably should, take action to better define it with your boss.
- Inadequate communication and support from your manager – Like the others above, you can’t fully control that, but as we’ll soon share, you can take action to be in better control.
- Time pressure – As mentioned, motivated, passionate workers are more in danger of experiencing burnout. One of the reasons is that they’re pressuring themselves to do more, sometimes at the expense of their mental health. We’ll address how to work on that as well.
How to Overcome a Burnout
After going over the stages of burnout and the leading causes of becoming burned out, it might be a good time to let you know that there is a lot you can do to fight it head-on.
However, let’s start with what you should not do. Burnout cannot be fixed by going on a vacation. It should be a long-term solution, implemented daily.
According to Clockify (2019), these are the popular ways to avoid burnout:
- Focus on your family life – 60% of adults said that stable family life is key to avoiding burnout. Maintaining meaningful relationships in your life is proven to reduce stress (instead of having many unmeaningful relationships).
- Exercising comes in second, with 58% reporting that jogging, running, or doing any exercise significantly relieves stress. Even a relatively short walk might improve your body’s resilience to stress.
- Seek professional advice – 55% say they would turn to a professional. There are online websites where you can speak with professionals at reduced costs.
Aside from the three most popular ways of avoiding burnout, you can also try the following:
1. Improve Time Management
Try understanding how you can use your time better and leave more time for relaxation. That’s easy to say (or write) but more challenging to implement. It would help if you started by prioritizing yourself. Understanding the connection between your values and your everyday tasks is a tremendous help. You can use proven methods to improve the relationship between your vision and goals to your daily life tasks’ lists. Check out the Horizons of Focus or V2MOM methods to get started.
2. Use the P.L.E.A.S.E. Method
The P.L.E.A.S.E. is a combination of things you should do to be at your best physically. It means Physical Illness (P.L.) prevention, Eat healthy (E), Avoid mood-altering drugs (A), Sleep well (S), and Exercise (E).
You don’t have to say yes to everything that comes across your way at work (or in other aspects of life). You’d be surprised how easy it can become once you start saying no. Some might even describe it as exhilarating.
4. Let Your Brain rest
Culturally, most of us are already wired to think that hard work is essential, and while that’s true in most cases, we sometimes forget that our brain needs to rest for it to recharge. Seven hours of sleep are essential (depending on your age). Meditation might be helpful, too.
5. Pay Attention to Positive Events
According to Therapistaid.com, we tend to focus on the bad things in our lives. However, by focusing on positive things, we can change our mindset. One way to practice this daily is by writing three good things about your life every morning or evening. It’s been scientifically proven that doing so for a few months can help rewire your brain.
6. Take Some “You” Time
A Netflix binge is not always good for you, but it might be in some cases. The better the leisure time is, the better you’ll feel in the long term. It’s usually better to read a book or start a new hobby that requires more cognitive skills than just lying on the couch. But as long as you feel good watching a movie, that might be a good start.
7. New Technologies Might Be Helpful
There are tons of self-help apps such as Fabulous, Headspace (meditation), Noom (diet and exercise), and others. They’re good to use, but you should also be careful not to run away from your problems only to watch social media for hours. It’s not real, and no one’s life is perfect (even if their Facebook or Instagram feeds might seem so). You should also be aware not to be in an “always-on” mindset.
Whether you’re at the first or the fifth stage of the burnout phases, the goal of this article is to show you that there are always ways to fight it. The first thing is self-awareness—knowing that there’s a problem. The second step is to decide what to do about it.
You can also consider using Lifehack’s community. You’re more than welcome to share your burnout story on our Facebook page.
Bonus: Rebound from Burnout in 8 Hours
Watch what you can do to rebound from burnout quickly in this episode of The Lifehack Show: