The different types of leg exercises include cycling, jumping, step climbing, lifts, lunges and stretches. Some of these may be done with weights or in water to add further challenge and fitness benefits to the exercises. Stretches and lunges are good warm-up leg exercises to start a workout as they can help prevent injury to the legs.
Gentle warm-up leg stretches can be done by standing on one foot and stretching out the ankle by pointing the toes. The ankle can be rotated softly before the leg is stretched right to the thigh. Shaking the leg after stretching can help relax the muscles. The entire stretching and shaking procedure should be repeated on the other leg.
Lunges are leg exercises that stretch the inner part of the legs from the thigh to the ankle. The exerciser stands straight with his or her legs together and toes pointed forward. After turning the whole body either left or right except for one foot that remains forward, a large sideways step is taken that creates the lunge. Holding the position causes the leg stretch to be felt. The lunges should be alternated on each leg.
Leg lifts are usually done lying down on an exercise mat or other firmly padded surface. The body should be on its side with the legs straight and together before the top leg is lifted upwards. Lowering the leg slowly can create a toning effect. A popular variation of this lifting exercise to help tone the legs involves placing the foot of one leg in front of the knee of the other before raising and lowering the bottom limb. The same number of repetitions should be done on each side when doing any leg exercises.
Step climbing works out the legs while providing cardiovascular benefits for the heart. A single or double step exercise piece can be purchased for use indoors or outdoors. When the small step apparatus is mastered, step climbing a flight of stairs can provide a more challenging workout. Jumping is another one of the high impact leg exercises. Jumping on a trampoline can be a fun way to work out the legs while burning calories and getting the heart pumping.
Cycling is a less intense leg exercise that can be done in different ways. For instance, other than riding a bicycle outdoors or a stationary exercise bike indoors, cycling leg exercises can be done on a floor mat. The exerciser's body should be stretched out facing up with the hands behind the head. Using the elbows for some leverage, the hips can be raised up so that the legs are in the air. Moving the legs in circular motions creates the cycling effect.