If you think that hundreds of squats and lunges are going to result in slim, toned legs, you're in for an unpleasant surprise. Reducing fat from your legs requires that you take an approach that focuses on your entire body. When your body fat reduces, so will that jiggling, excess fat that's covering your leg muscles. For optimal results, makeover your diet, exercise routine and lifestyle.
It's All About the Calories
To slim your legs and reduce fat, lose no more than two pounds per week by creating a daily caloric deficit of 1,000 calories. Although it might be tempting to severely cut calories to see quick results, drastic measures are hard to maintain in the long run. They can slow your metabolism, make you feel deprived and sluggish, and the weight you lose is often muscle tissue and water weight. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, two pounds per week is healthy to manage and work into your lifestyle.
Skip the Sugar
Part of your daily caloric deficit comes from dietary changes. Instead of eating high-calorie foods that contain a lot of sugar, and saturated and trans fats, emphasize low-calorie foods. Replace processed foods like cookies, doughnuts, and candy, with healthier fare, such as fruits, whole grains, veggies, low-fat dairy and lean protein. Eat from smaller plates so you consume fewer calories, and establish a diet that doesn't feel restrictive so you can make it part of your new healthy lifestyle.
Feel the Burn
Cardiovascular exercise burns calories and contributes to weight loss. For optimal results, the CDC recommends doing 300 minutes of moderate cardio per week. Perform leg-intense cardio, such as climbing stairs, cycling or running, to really focus on your legs. Incorporate high-intensity intervals into some days to maximize fat burn. During this type of training, you go back and forth between a one-minute, vigorous pace and a two-minute moderate, easy-to-maintain pace. It burns calories for up to 24 hours after finishing your workout.
Pump Iron Like Mike
Targeted training on at least two, non-consecutive days of the week can strengthen and tone your muscles. In addition to working your arms, hips, abs, shoulders and chest, perform leg-strengthening exercises, such as squats, lunges, lying side lifts and heel or calf raises, to add definition to your legs. Perform eight to 12 repetitions of each exercise and complete two or three sets. Use enough weight so you can't do another repetition after finishing a set.
- American Council on Exercise: Q: Why is the Concept of Spot Reduction Considered a Myth?
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Losing Weight
- Helpguide.org: Healthy Weight Loss & Dieting Tips
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: How Much Physical Activity Do Adults Need?
- Personal Trainer Today: Cardio & the Lower Body
- Shape: 8 Benefits of High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
- Columbia University: Go Ask Alice!: Leg Shaping Exercises