Run to tone your legs, lose weight and strengthen your core

Run to tone your legs, lose weight and strengthen your core
Run to tone your legs, lose weight and strengthen your core

Last update: 04 July, 2018

Most people exercise to improve their bodies internally and externally. Through improved mood or body confidence, and defined abs or toned legs. For people who want to tone their legs effectively, run regularly to see quick improvements.

Aerobic exercise, like biking or jumping, burns calories, develops cardiovascular capacity and makes you fit. Anaerobic exercises, like strength training, will tone, bulk-up muscles and reduce fat.

Going on a run is great because running gives you the benefits of both aerobic and anaerobic exercise. The aerobic nature of running will help you burn extra calories, which will result in dropping extra pounds. Running requires the body to exert itself at the muscular level, which tones legs and strengthens the abdomen and waist.

If your goal is to strengthen your legs and glutes through regular running, try to add these variations to workouts. You will certainly achieve stronger and firmer muscles. Hopefully, you will also realize that going for a run has changed from a dreaded workout to an enjoyable activity.

How do you tone your body by going on a run?

run best exercise

Running forces you to work your muscles, particularly your legs, to exhaustion. On a run, your leg muscles — including your quadriceps, hamstrings, calves and glutes — are working hard to propel you forward.

If your goal is to get a well-toned ‘beach body,’ you need to eliminate the excess fat that often covers muscle. How does running help you achieve that coveted beach body? Jogging 10 kilometers or for approximately 60 minutes, can burn around 600 calories for a person that weighs 75-80 kilos. If you maintain a 5 km per hour pace, you can burn up to 800 calories.

Burning off this many calories in one run will help you drop those extra kilos of pesky fat. Losing fat in your legs (which is very common to have), while strengthening them will bring out toned muscles.

Gradually incorporate hills into your runs

A way to get the toned look is to gradually increase the slope of the places you run. Whether you run on a treadmill or on the street, mix it up by incorporating some hill climbs or downhills.

Introducing ramps into your training will force your legs to work harder than normal. Your calves, thighs, hamstrings and glutes will gain strength faster than if you were consistently running on a flat surface. According to Mitchell Whaley, a physiologist at Ball State University, running uphill on a slope of around 2% increases calories burned. It also strengthens legs far more than running on a flat surface.

However, if you have any injuries such as,  ‘runner’s knee,’ you should focus on hill climbs with gentle slopes. Downhill slopes can worsen some injuries or cause pain. Always consult a sports or medical professional to double check if you should be running at all.

Modify your stride to tone your legs

tone legs running

If you always run with the same stride at a regular pace, you are going to use and abuse the same muscle groups. Combine your natural running stride with other variations, like brisk walking, zigzagging, high knees, jogging in place, or butt kicks. You will see better results and avoid over-use injuries when you run using different muscle groups.

Vary running surface

Always running on the same surface has similar (usually negative) effects on your body as does always running with the same form. Whenever possible, try to modify your route and run on various surfaces to see how they affect and improve your body.

Each terrain has benefits of how it tones your body and how it makes your body feel. Whether you like to run on sand, asphalt or trails, make sure to mix it up and try new terrains every few runs.

Introduce High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) or speed changes

If you run long distances at a moderate pace 2 or 3 times a week, you will see initial results. Eventually your body will get used to this type of moderate-impact exercise. But, by pushing your body to run harder and faster than normal, you will see improved muscle strength and faster weight loss.

If you want to incorporate speed into your run, here is an example plan. After giving yourself 10 or 15 minutes to warm-up, launch into a 1 minute series. Burst into a sprint during the first 20 seconds, and follow with 40 seconds of relaxed jogging. For best results, do this series several times during a long run.

To add difficulty to your run, bring some small weights along to carry while you run. This can help tone your leg muscles and your arm muscles at the same time, due to a heavier work load for the muscles. You can decide how much and how many weights to carry, and modify the weight based on your fitness goals and physical capacity.


This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.