Toned legs are a hallmark of fitness, so it is no wonder that they are on most people’s list of body goals. In this post, we are going to look at the benefits of using a cross trainer for toning your legs. We will also consider whether other cardio machines offer a comparable workout, as well as what else you can do to train your legs. Finally, we will invite you to assess your body’s natural shape against your leg goals, to check that you are being realistic in your aims.
Why use a cross-trainer?
A cross trainer, also known as an elliptical, trains the lower body in a manner similar to running. During use, the legs must push the pedals forwards and backwards. This engages the quads, the hamstrings and the glutes. The machine allows you to adjust the resistance level to make the exercise more challenging or you can push yourself to go faster – or both! With regular use, the muscles will become stronger and more defined, leading to more shapely legs. However, this is not the only way that a cross-trainer tones the legs; it also delivers a fat-busting workout.
While there is certainly nothing wrong with having some body fat – indeed, it is vital for our health and wellbeing that we do – carrying more than you need will soften out your figure and obscure the contours of your muscles. This is why all good body training programmes carry an emphasis on reducing body fat, alongside toning exercises, so that the results are more prominent. A cross trainer is excellent in this regard. In a 30-minute session, a 125lb person will burn 270 calories, a 155lb person will burn 324 calories, and a 185lb person will burn 378 calories. If you train a few times a week and combine this with a calorie-controlled diet, you will start to see results within a few weeks.
Is a cross-trainer the only way?
A cross trainer is by no means the only cardio machine that will tone your legs and bum. Other good options include a treadmill and an exercise bike. A cross trainer has an edge over these machines though because, unlike a treadmill, it is a low impact exercise. This means that your joints will not be stressed during use, which is a well-known hazard of running. If you have knee problems or are overweight, then it is important to avoid high impact exercises. While using an exercise bike is also low impact activity, it does not offer any upper body training. A cross trainer, on the other hand, engages the arms and the core through the push and pull movement of the handles.
This is not to say that a cross trainer is the only thing you should be doing to tone your legs. While you can increase the resistance on the machine to challenge your muscles, resulting in greater endurance power, cross trainers are limited in their ability to build bulk muscle because this requires much heavier loads. To develop this, you need to strength train using weights. Examples of exercises that will develop the quads, hamstrings and glutes include weighted squats, weighted lunges, goblet squats, and lateral lunges.
Tips for getting the most out of your machine
If you decide to start using a cross-trainer to tone your legs, here are some tips for getting the most out of your machine:
- Do short sessions on a low resistance level at first, until your body builds up strength and stamina. There is no shame in a 10-minute session.
- Always begin your session with a warmup.
- Alternate between increasing the resistance and increasing your speed to challenge. yourself and get more out of your session.
- Plan your workout using a HIIT structure, pushing yourself for 2 minutes at a time with active recovery breaks.
- Push the limits of your comfort zone during your final 5 minutes.
- Stretch immediately after finishing your session and again the next day.
Assessing your goals
When setting yourself any body goal, you should always check that you are working towards something that is achievable and suitable for your frame. Everyone can tone their legs, but your natural shape will determine how your legs end up looking. If you have a slight frame and are tall, then you will likely develop an athletic look, like a runner. If you are broad and have a solid build, then your legs may never look skinny-slim. Instead, you probably will lean towards the strong and sculpted aesthetic.
Your gender will also play a role. Women often carry weight in their thigh and bum areas because their hormones affect fat distribution. This is not to say that weight loss and toning will not have an effect; rather, it will only refine your existing shape. Whatever this is, embrace it and concentrate on becoming the best version of yourself.