Giving your legs the best workouts often means using equipment. Simple running and walking can give you tone, and you can certainly do stretches with no equipment at all, but bulking up your muscles and giving your legs a bit of definition will be easier once you tap into the power of equipment. Some machines you can purchase for your home use, so you can pop out a few repetitions, but other machines are rather big and bulky, and there's no shame in borrowing the gym's machines for these workouts.
You might be accustomed to thinking of your hand weights as arm and shoulder tools only. If so, you're missing out on a great leg workout. By adding just a few pounds to some of your standard leg moves, you're increasing the work your muscles must do and you're likely to see great changes as a result. For example, you can bump up the difficulty in a standard lunge with two hand weights. You can also hold hand weights while you perform standard squats. If you don't already own hand weights, it's time to pick up a set. Small sets could cost less than $20, while more complete sets could cost in the $100 range.
A Swiss stability ball is also an excellent leg workout tool. This tool looks like a gigantic bubble; it should reach to your hips when fully inflated. To use a Swiss stability ball, lie over the ball with your hands and knees on the ground. While keeping your knee bent, slowly raise your leg and point your heel at the ceiling. You can also place the stability ball behind your back as you stand upright and perform a basic squat. Once again, this is an excellent leg exercise to pair with weights. Be prepared to pay about $20 for this tool but you can find it almost everywhere.
If you’re leg workouts fail because the weather is poor and you simply can't stand the thought of heading out for a run, consider investing in a low-tech, leg-happy jump rope. You can use this tool indoors, no matter the weather, and give your calves a great workout. Even grocery stores carry inexpensive ropes for your use.
When you're ready to take your leg workout to the next level, you simply must consider a leg press machine. Here, you can push away from your body with the large muscles in your legs, and if you do the exercise properly, you're not placing any extra pressure on your knees. In a similar vein, a leg extension machine can truly help you isolate your quadriceps muscle and help you bulk up the top part of your legs. You'll hop on the machine and pull up with your legs, and you can adjust the weight by small increments. A leg curl machine is an excellent companion to the extension machine, as you're working the opposite muscles and truly giving your legs a great workout. You'll use this machine to push up with your calves, which works out your long hamstring muscles. If you do choose to invest, keep in mind that all of these machines cost well over $1,000, but you can find them at Sears, sports stores and online with ease.