Toned Legs in 30 Days

If you're like countless other women, getting toned legs is a major priority. Maybe you want to look stunning in a little party dress, or want the confidence to hit the beach wearing only a bikini. Whatever you're working toward, building shapely, lean legs is a must. The most effective way to do this, particularly in a short period of time such as 30 days, is through a combination of high intensity interval training and strength training.

Combining HIIT and Strength Training for Tone

Building toned legs doesn't have to be complicated or time-consuming. Combining high-intensity interval training sessions with regular strength training will build lean muscle for that defined look while burning off the fat stores that have prevented it in the past. HIIT is a type of training that requires short, intense bursts of activity, followed by brief periods of rest. Strength training involves using weights in order to build lean muscle. Both are highly effective methods for building tone. To get the most out of a leg-toning program, train four days a week. Do one major HIIT session and three strength sessions with short HIIT sessions after them.

HIIT Sessions

HIIT is extremely effective in building tone, as it is an anaerobic form of exercise and must draw on fat stores for fuel. It also activates the hormonal beta-androgen blockers in the lower body, which increases fat release from the thighs and buttocks. HIIT workouts can be as short as you like, but shouldn't exceed 20 minutes. For example, a short HIIT workout is a set of Tabata sprints. These take only four minutes, and are even more effective than going for a 30-minute run. Tabata sprints require 20 seconds of sprinting, followed by 10 seconds of rest, to be repeated eight times. Alternatively, a longer HIIT session might be done on a stationary bike or with a jump rope, rotating through sprint times of 30 seconds, 60 seconds and 90 seconds, with correlating rest times of 10 seconds, 20 seconds and 30 seconds. Do this for 20 minutes.

Strength Training

Strength training is incredibly effective for women. Training with heavy weights creates a surge of human growth hormone, which acts in women as testosterone does in men: It promotes lean muscle growth, fat loss and better recovery from training. The best exercises to focus on for building toned legs are squats, lunges (including walking lunges, reverse lunges and lateral lunges), split squats, deadlifts, calf raises, switch rows and kettlebell swings.

Squats, walking lunges and reverse lunges build the quads, while lateral lunges and split squats develop the gluteal muscles and hip adductors. Deadlifts focus on the hamstrings, and calf raises work your calves. Switch rows and kettlebell swings target all of them: your quads, hamstrings, hip adductors, gluteals and calves.

How to Build a Workout

Most good programs focus on four to six exercises per session. Each session should be made up of three or four sets of those selected exercises, with eight to 10 repetitions for each exercise. For example, you might do a four-set session, focusing on front squats, lateral lunges, Romanian deadlifts, single leg calf raises and weighted stepups. You would perform eight to 10 repetitions of each exercise, take a break, then repeat for the remaining three sets.

Choose weights appropriate to the number of reps you have selected. Also be careful to vary the exercises you choose across your three strength sessions each week, so as not to fatigue one muscle group too much. If you do three strength sessions followed by short HIIT circuits, and one longer HIIT session per week, you should see a massive improvement in the tone of your legs within 30 days.