Unless you're a sumo wrestler, having a set of thunder thighs is usually not ideal. If this is your "problem area," one way to fix it is to use a machine that gives it special focus. One option: the mini stepper -- something of the little sister to those giant stair stepper machines you see at your gym. Both a cardio and strength-training machine, the mini stepper can help you burn the calories you need to slim down, while at the same time building muscle in your butt and thighs.
Set a goal to burn a certain number of calories during each session. Toning your body involves burning calories and thus burning fat -- which you can only do by doing cardiovascular exercise. As both a cardiovascular and a strength-training machine, the mini stepper will help you burn calories as well as tone your muscles. To lose 1 pound of fat, you need to burn 3,500 more calories than you're consuming. If your mini stepper has a calorie counter, great -- it will give you a good estimate of your caloric burn. If not, estimate about 400 calories per hour of moderate effort.
Aim for at least three sessions a week -- or more to really ramp up your efforts. Three one-hour sessions a week may help you shave off a pound of fat after three weeks, though it's also important to start out slowly so you don't injure yourself. If you're not currently active, aim for 15 to 20 minutes at a time, and then add more time from week to week. The more times you use the mini stepper each week, the more calories you'll burn. Of course, shaving more calories through your diet will also help your cause.
Add intensity by increasing the resistance on the machine. Some mini steppers have a knob that allows you to increase the tension. The more tension, the harder the workout. The added resistance is what gives you a strength-training component that can help you build more muscle in your thighs.
Avoid leaning onto any handholds or stand that may come with your mini stepper. When you're holding onto a handle, you're not going to be using your legs as much -- and that can mean you won't get as far in your effort to tone your thighs, advises "Shape" magazine.
Step up and down as far as you can. This is another way to maximize your efforts on the mini stepper. If you're only taking small, shallow steps, you're not using the full range of motion of the machine -- and that means you're not going to burn as many calories or recruit as much of the muscle power in your legs.
Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.