This Winter lasted a lot longer than we'd hoped. We get it. You need to hit those legs and get results — fast! You've probably already turned to the old standard cardio you usually do and maybe even amped it up a notch. Good thinking, but results are coming slowly, right? Running alone isn't going to make your legs look awesome, but knowing how to enhance your next cardio session with walking lunges, leaps, bounds, and side steps will. Here's the drill you'll hate at first but love for life when you see the results!
Let's get the bad news out of the way first: this is going to be intense! But with any bad news, there's also good news, and in this case, the good is actually great: do these drills and results will definitely follow. Let's get started.
Before you begin, ditch all ideas of low-intensity steady-state cardio. This still is composed of some intense minutes and some very focused and slow moments. The key actually is the variety and one more thing: doing a whole lot more than just running!
According to personal trainer Kendall Wood, CSCS, "Typical cardio does work your legs, but it isn't enough to truly build up lean muscle mass or shape your lower body into that shapely and superfit look." Wood advises the following plan with alternating minutes of "walking lunges, leaps, bounds, side steps, and sprints." By performing moves like lunges, you'll "activate muscle fibers in your quads and hamstrings far beyond a static run," Wood told POPSUGAR. "Alternating between sprints and steady jogs will fatigue your muscles, while side steps, leaps, and bounds will force stagnant muscles to grow," Wood concluded.
Here's the drill — literally. "Perform each of the tasks on this list for 60 seconds each with no more than a 30-second break between intervals," Wood said.
Step 1: Jog
This is your warmup, so don't use up all your energy here. Get your body moving and primed for the rest of the drill — you'll need it. Wood advises that if you don't want to actually jog, any light cardio machine will do here.
Step 2: Sprint
Time to go all out! Set a pace you can keep, but be sure to not hold back. This is a sprint, and you have to treat all 60 seconds with that same high level of intensity. Like with the jog, you can also do this on a cardio machine.
Step 3: Walking lunges
Lunges are a staple of any solid leg workout. From a standing position, take a step forward with your left leg and let your body follow, keeping your spine straight (no leaning forward) and leaving your right leg at the start position (with your right foot being balanced on your toes). Hold the position where your left hamstring is parallel to the ground for a one count and return to the starting position. Perform the same move with your right leg and alternate for the whole 60 seconds.
Step 4: Leaps and bounds
Jumping isn't an exact science. In fact, how you jump, leap, or bound is less important than the intensity that you do it for this particular plan. Be sure to have a lot of space available to you, and keep those jumps simple to start to save the impact on your ankles.
Step 5: Side steps
Much like with the previous step, how you sidestep isn't the biggest issue here. Form isn't as important with this as it would be with a lunge. However, you'll see the most impact on your legs if you do your side steps in as close to a squat position as you can. As Wood told us, "this will engage more muscles in your lower body and really force those dormant muscle fibers to wake up!"
Step 6: Sprint
You're almost home free, but this step could very well be the hardest of the entire drill. "At this point, your legs should feel like jelly," Wood said, "but if you push yourself on this last sprint of the drill, you'll be seeing your leaner legs faster than ever."
Step 7: Jog
Time to cool down, and not a moment too soon! Take this jog slow and easy, but be sure to keep a decent pace. This isn't a free 60 seconds, so be sure not to lose your focus.