There are several ways to strengthen and shape your legs. Cardiovascular exercise is vital in order to shed the excess fat on your legs and body, but it will only build endurance in your legs, not strength. In order to build strong legs, you must incorporate at least a few strength training exercises into your workout regimen.
Running is one of the best cardiovascular workouts. Simply running three times a week for 30 minutes will improve the strength of your heart and lungs, while helping to reduce excess body fat. All it takes is a good structured and supportive shoe, loose fitting workout attire and a pavement or treadmill to begin running. While running works mostly on your cardiovascular health, it also helps to improve the endurance in your legs. The more often you run the stronger your legs will become, making each run a little easier.
Strength Training Benefits
Strength training helps to build lean muscle mass. Exercises such as the squat, lunges and deadlifts not only help you to achieve shapely and toned legs, but they also help you with daily activities such as squatting to pick up your children. Strength training also strengthens your bones, protecting you from osteoporosis and breaks as you age.
While strength training does build cardiovascular endurance, running is a far more superior option to improve cardio fitness. Running, however, does not provide the same benefits for strengthening your legs as weightlifting does. Running may help to tone your legs and build endurance, but strength training helps build leg muscles, giving you stronger legs overall. The lean muscle built through strength training also helps your body burn more calories at rest. Running burns more calories compared to strength training during the exercise -- but the lean muscle built during strength training is just as important for shedding calories.
Choosing The Right One For You
Both running and strength training are effective choices to help improve your overall health. Deciding which one is the best for strengthening and shaping your legs, however, comes down to what your goals are. Both types of exercises help to tone and shape the leg muscles, with one helping to build more endurance and the other focusing more on strength. Instead of choosing between either running or strength training, try to incorporate a little of both into your workout regimen. Including running and strength work will allow your legs to gain muscular endurance as well as strength.
Kaitlin Condon is a holistic health coach and certified physical fitness/wellness specialist. She is a contributing health writer for the teen magazine "Miabella," as well as several online publications.