Wondering how to get toned legs? These tips help you get the strong, toned legs you want —
and help banish the boredom of repetitive gym sessions.
Tired of the same old squat-and-leg-press routine at the gym? Workouts should be anything but boring! There’s more to getting strong legs than repeating the same exercises week to week. While keeping things consistent is key, you may want to think outside the box in order to get the strong legs you’re looking for. Make your next leg day leg-endary with these three tips!
Turn up the Incline
Next time you’re on the treadmill, plan out an interval workout that includes changing up the incline. The average treadmill goes up to a 15% incline. That means your workouts can be just as challenging as if you were hiking up the Rocky Mountains! Your glutes, hamstrings, quads, and calves have to work harder to adjust. Incline treadmill workouts also burn more calories than running on no incline. Here are two drills to get you started:
- On incline level 2, walk for two minutes at a brisk pace.
- Run for one minute.
- Walk for one minute, then increase back to that brisk pace.
- Increase to incline 4. Walk for two minutes at a brisk pace.
- Run for one minute.
- Walk for one minute back to that brisk pace.
- Incline 6, 8, 10…
- Run for one minute on incline level 0 at a fast or sprint-like pace.
- Switch to incline level 15. Run for one minute until you need to walk, but keep a fast walk pace.
- Go back to incline 0. Run for one minute at a fast or sprint-like pace.
- Take it up to incline 13. Run for one minute until you need to walk, but keep a fast walk pace.
- Keep alternating between sprinting at a 0% incline and running/walking from an incline of 15, 13, 11, 9…
Focus on Stability
Stability exercises require adding a bit of instability to your normal routine. Balance, agility, and coordination are things that we all could work more on. In fact, it’s things like a single leg squat or a lateral lunge that have lasting benefits to prevent injury, build endurance, and keep your body balanced. Here are a few examples:
Try this exercise with or without weight. First, balance on your right foot. Bend the left leg and reach it behind you. Keep your shoulders back and your core engaged. Now, bend the right knee into a squat position. Execute this squat as carefully as if you were trying to set down a full glass of water and then pick the same glass up. Repeat 15-25 times.
Lateral lunges are great for anyone needing more glute and outer thigh strength. Start with your feet together. Step your right foot out to the right-about three feet, and bend the knee into a lunge. Keep the left leg straight and your shoulders back. Push yourself back upright and bring your feet together. Complete 15-25 reps, adding weight if needed.
Grab a bench and have a seat! Separate your feet hip width on the ground and then straighten your left leg out in front of you. Without using your hands and while keeping your left leg straight, stand up. It’s harder than you think! Stand up and sit down 15-25 times with just the left heel on the ground. To increase the challenge, keep your left foot off the ground the whole time.
Plyometrics are a fantastic way to get stronger legs, boost metabolism, and even strengthen your bones. Use them in between other strength exercises to boost intensity.
Start with a basic squat jump. Separate your feet hip width or wider and bend the knees into a squat. Keep your abs drawn in and your knees behind you toes. Jump into the air, and then land softly back into a squat. Repeat 15-25 times.
Use a plyo box at the gym, or a sturdy bench. Make sure to clear the surrounding area just in case you slip. Jump onto the box or bench and land with soft knees. Step — don’t jump — back down to the floor. Repeat 10-25 times.
Start in a split squat or lunge stance with one foot in front of the other. Bend both knees so that your back knee hovers above the ground. Jump into the air and switch your legs mid-air so that you land with the opposite leg forward. 15-25 times.
Variety is key to any strength or cardiovascular workout. If you’re bored, your body has been bored for weeks! To keep building strength, build workouts that challenge you in different ways. Incline walking/running, stability exercises, and cardio blasts that incorporate plyometrics are the best ways to build stronger legs!
Lisa Payne is a freelance writer and editor specializing in health, fitness, and travel. She stems from a background in television, playwriting, and personal training. Always on the go, follow her on social media or check out her website at lisapaynefitness.com.