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Can Flabby Legs Be Toned?

by
author image Andrea Cespedes
Andrea Cespedes is a professionally trained chef who has focused studies in nutrition. With more than 20 years of experience in the fitness industry, she coaches cycling and running and teaches Pilates and yoga. She is an American Council on Exercise-certified personal trainer, RYT-200 and has degrees from Princeton and Columbia University.
Can Flabby Legs Be Toned?
Can Flabby Legs Be Toned? Photo Credit: yacobchuk/iStock/GettyImages

Don't just dream of getting tight, toned thighs that slide into skinny jeans and look sexy in a pair of shorts—make them a reality. You can achieve this by reducing the flab on your legs and increasing definition in the muscles.

Simple cardio, especially intense sessions, serve double-duty in helping your legs shrink down and firm up. Add in a few resistance-training sessions per week to build muscle, and you'll find that your leaner thighs have less jiggle and flab

If you're new to exercise, aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity cardio on most days of the week. Walking on an incline makes for a perfect option as you'll burn more calories than you might on a flat road and it makes your legs work a little harder to create muscle.

Read More: Leg Day Workout

Interval Training

After you've been exercising for several weeks, kick up your cardio to challenge your legs, heart and metabolism even more. Interval workouts help burn fat better than steady-paced sessions, shows research published in the Journal of Obesity in 2012.

An interval cardio workout that burns fat and builds leg muscle involves sprint-like work. On a track or treadmill, warm up for 5 to 10 minutes and then alternate 30 to 45 seconds of very fast running with a minute or two of easy effort. Do this combination for 20 to 30 minutes and cool down. If running isn't for you, do a similar effort on an indoor bike or elliptical trainer.

Resistance Training for Flabby Legs

Resistance training develops defined leg muscle that will be revealed once you lose some fat. Hit the weights at two or three workouts per week on alternating days. Even though your legs are the focus, still challenge your upper body to keep yourself in balance — a set or two of curls, rows, push-ups and kickbacks at two workouts per week will do.

The type of equipment you use for leg-toning is less important than actually doing the workouts. Weight machines provide you support and can be good for beginners who need to keep tabs on their form. Visit the leg press, leg curl, calf raise and hip extension and aim for one to three sets of 12 to 15 repetitions.

Workouts using free weights, including barbells and dumbbells, challenge your thighs and stabilizing muscles as you execute moves such as squats, lunges, hip hinges/deadlifts and step ups.

These compound exercises use multiple joints and challenge the most muscle, resulting in more strength, definition and balance. Compound moves also stimulate your metabolism more so you burn a greater number of calories during each workout, bringing you closer to your goal of less flabby, toned legs.

Read More: Leg Muscle Building Exercises

Full Disclosure About Spot Reduction

An excess of fat causes your thighs to be flabby. Fat itself can't be toned, but it can be lost. While it's not possible to target your legs directly for fat loss, it is possible to embark on a total-body weight-loss program that will result in some fat loss in this trouble area. Combine the exercises above with a healthy fat-loss meal plan.

Fill half your plate with fresh, leafy vegetables at each meal. Add a palm-sized portion of lean protein, such as flank steak or chicken breast, and a handful of whole grains. Eat this at three to four meals per day and you've got a plan that helps slim you down. Of course, avoid the sugary snacks, alcohol and processed fats between meals, too.

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