Are you wondering what workout would include the best cardio for legs? Are you over 40 and want some effective ways to build muscles for lean legs? Maybe you are hoping that you can incorporate a cardio workout during your leg day. No worries my friends! We’ve rounded up 3 fun cardio workouts, that will get your heart rate up & will have you on your way to tone sculpted legs.
This post is all about the best cardio for legs.
What cardio should I do on leg day?
Alrighty friends it’s story-time. I remember being 18 and going to the YMCA, heading straight to the stair climbers, and for 30 minutes going gang-busters on that stair stepper. And this was my fitness routine every.single.day. for an entire summer! Was this a great leg workout & intense cardio? ABSOLUTELY! Was this fun? Hell no. And now that I’m over 40, I need workouts, especially leg workouts that are not just effective, but also a great use of my time!
Most of us think of leg days filled with lower body muscle-building exercises such as squats and lunges. And while that is true, I started incorporating cardio workouts (and no not an intense cardio session including a 30-minute run, ) into my leg days and saw amazing results. TBH, you can choose a variety of cardio for your leg day. While you could spend hours on the stationary bike, elliptical machine, or rowing machine, if you combine any traditional cardio exercise with strength training you can have an effective workout, burn fat, gain leg strength, and have such a fun workout for leg day!
Why is cardio important on leg days?
One of the benefits of cardio is fat loss! As we age, it can be a little bit more difficult for us women to lean out. One thing to keep in mind about fat loss is you have to be in a calorie deficit and you need to have more muscle than fat. Great news friends!
All of the workouts in this article are going to get your heart rate up and also focus on all the muscle groups in the legs. Let’s talk about the best cardio for legs.
1. Best cardio for legs: workout #1
Skinny legs workout
20 walking lunges
PRO TIPS to get the most out of the workout:
- Keep the 100m between 20-25 seconds
- For the lunges, make sure you are walking forward, keeping your hips and shoulders square, chest lifted and weight in the front heel (not over your toe.)
Need more of a challenge?
- Make it 20 rounds
- Add dumbbells for the walking lunges
- To incorporate your upper body and abs; hold your dumbbells on your shoulders!
This workout is a great option if you want to want some running but not an entire workout routine that consists of running. This is a great workout for building strong glutes!
Let’s chat about a few reasons this workout is amazing!
- You don’t need a gym, you can pretty much do this anywhere. I’ve done this workout when traveling at a park near my hotel, outside a high school track, and inside a gym with a treadmill! So, there goes any excuse you have for missing a workout on leg day! HAHAHA!
- Lunges are one of the best exercises you can do for your legs and this workout is one that is a bodyweight-only workout! Another benefit, we have a great way to get your heart rate up, but it doesn’t hurt your lungs because you have an opportunity to catch your breath during the lunges!
- One thing you should know about that workout…it did make me so sore the next day! The delayed onset muscle soreness (D.O.M.S.) from this workout was REAL!!! You might want to grab a foam roller and spend some time rolling your quads, glutes, and calves after the workout and that evening!
What cardio is best for losing thigh fat?
Ha! Great question my friends. In my 12 years as a CrossFit coach, I get this question all the time. The answer isn’t always one people want to hear. 🙁 You have to do more than cardio to tone your thighs.
While you could spend hours on the elliptical machine or spin bike, you just will not see the same results you would if you just added some weights. This, I know from experience friends. I used to run marathons, hours and hours of running a week. My legs did not lean out and tone up until I started squatting, lunging…really until I added weights into my workout plan.
I promise, especially as we get older, you absolutely have to think about some sort of weight if you want to tone your thighs. Weights are great for building muscles. And, a common misconception, especially among females is that muscles = bulky! That is SO NOT TRUE! Muscles = lean, tone body.
Now, one of the very best ways to target specific leg muscles would be machines. If you go into most gyms and you will see machines that are body part specific. You can use machines such as the leg curl machine if you wanted to target specific muscles.
Back to the original question, let’s discuss a great cardio workout that will target your legs and thighs.
If you want a fantastic workout that will work the major muscles in your leg as well as improve your cardiovascular fitness try this!
2. Best cardio for legs: Workout 2
HIIT Workout -let’s lose thigh fat
25 back squats
400m incline walk (aim for an incline of 10% or find a steep hill)
PRO TIPS to get the most out of this workout:
- Pick a weight for the back squats that is challenging but that you can complete the reps in 2- 3 sets
- Set a time to finish the back squats (an example would be less than 2 minutes)
- Set a time to finish the incline walk (an example would be less than 4 minutes)
Need more of a challenge?
- Instead of walking, you can run!
- Make this a 6 or 8-round workout
All right, let’s discuss why this workout is fantastic!
- You can 1000% feel your legs burning and the muscle-building pump is real! Incline walking is one of the most effective ways to target every muscle group in your legs. You can actually feel the front of your thighs burning during this workout which is a great thing!
- Also, walking is so good for us as we move into our 40s. It’s a low impact workout so there’s less stress to our joints but it’s still so great for using our leg muscles and walking uphill makes a great aerobic exercise which is good for overall weight loss.
It will be important when you are squatting that you have proper form here’s how:
- You want to make sure you are sending your hips and butt back and keeping your knees in line with the mid-foot but not over your toes. As you squat down, focus on using your glute muscles, and keep them engaged the entire range of motion.
- Also, make sure you don’t go up to a heavy weight until you’ve mastered your form. Once you have your form down, heavy squats can truly be one of the best weight training exercises for muscle growth. And, ladies that is how fat loss happens. More muscle = less fat.
Best cardio for slimming hips and thighs
If you have access to an indoor rower, this workout is a great choice for a low-impact workout that will develop those strong legs. Remember strong legs = lean legs!
3. Best cardio for legs Workout 3:
Rowing workout- Let’s tone legs and get rid of cellulite!
50 box step-ups (25 each leg)
PRO TIPS to get the most out of this workout:
- When rowing, use your heels and push through the pedals to really engage your legs. Make sure you are not just pulling with your arms!
- For the step-ups, firmly plant your heel on the box and step down slowly (this really engages your glutes, quads, and hamstrings).
Need more of a challenge?
- Change the step-ups to box jumps, but, that’s a lot of impact on your joints. If you choose this option, I would do so on a softbox, not a wooden one.
(If you are really comfortable with bracing your core, and your body is used to the volume of box jumps, then go for it! Otherwise, I’d stick to the box step-ups).
No access to an indoor rower? No worries!
- An alternative to this workout, if you don’t have a rower, would be to substitute it with a recumbent bike or a spin bike! (Cycle for 3-4 minutes at moderate intensity) Or, honestly, you could use any cardio machine as a sub – a ski erg or even run on a treadmill (I’d suggest you run 400m.)
No box? No problem.
- If you don’t have a box, you can use stairs for the step-ups or sub out for 50 calf raises.
FAQs about the best cardio on leg day:
Is cardio good for toning legs?
Yes, it can be. However, if you want to build muscle and sculpt your legs you want to consider the following:
Cardio in addition to weight training. Cardio is wonderful for burning calories and of course, to lose weight we need to be in a caloric deficit. Specifically, eating fewer calories than the amount you are burning. However, if you want a lean-tone look to your legs, you need to incorporate some sort of weight training such as squats, lunges, or step-ups. Some great cardio exercises to turn that flab into fab (HAHAHA) would include walking or running up an incline (see above).
What is the best cardio for slimming hips and thighs?
Great question! If you truly want lean hips and thighs you need to incorporate weight training in addition to your cardio exercises. While traditional cardio in the form of running, swimming, rowing, elliptical machines, or even spin bikes are fabulous for burning calories, if you really want to see lean legs, you have to add weights. Weights in addition to cardio will help you achieve slim hips and thighs because they will build muscle and when we add muscle we lose fat which gives us the appearance of lean, toned legs.
How can women over 40 tone legs & get rid of cellulite?
There are so many different factors to consider when wanting to get rid of cellulite. It is said that over 90% of women have cellulite! However, one way to lose body fat, and diminish the appearance of cellulite is to add some weights to your leg training days. I know I sound like a broken record friends, but it is true! The appearance of slim legs requires hard work, building muscle mass, and resistance training in addition to cardio workouts! Give the 3 workouts in this article a try and you’ll have a start as well as an idea of what it takes to build strong, lean legs. Lean legs = less cellulite. 🙂
While all three of these workouts will help you achieve lean, toned legs, the best cardio for legs is the one that you’ll stick with. Choose the routine that fits your lifestyle and make sure to focus on proper form to get the most out of each exercise. As with any new fitness regimen, start slowly and build up the intensity over time to avoid injury. Are you ready to sculpt some sexy legs? Let’s do this!
This post was all about the best cardio for legs