Can I Tone My Legs & Thighs With a Treadmill?


When time constraints interfere with your ability to perform an aerobic and a lower body toning workout, treadmill training offers a viable compromise. Treadmill walking and running dynamically engage all of the leg and gluteal muscles. With a bit of creativity, it's possible to tweak your body position and treadmill incline to maximize the machine's toning benefits.

Fat Reduction

Reduced body fat is essential for a toned lower body. The treadmill, as an effective form of aerobic exercise, burns excess calories, thereby reducing excess fat and adding lean muscle mass. The American College of Sports Medicine advises people to perform 30 minutes of aerobic exercise on most days of the week. They recommend longer aerobic workouts for people who want to lose a considerable amount of weight. Begin your treadmill training session with 30 minutes of running or fast walking. Then, extend the session by performing slower treadmill exercises to tone your legs.

Hamstring Toner

Your hamstring bends or flexes your knee. Walking uphill increases knee flexion.Treadmill training on an incline therefore increases hamstring muscle activity. Diane Maitland, a personal trainer at Equinox Fitness in New York City, developed an incline treadmill training program that "Fitness" magazine featured in its June 2006 issue. During the first five minutes, walk or run with the machine set at a 3.5 percent incline. Increase to an 8 to 10 percent incline for the next two minutes, then drop down to a 4 to 6 percent incline. Go back to a 10 percent incline, and then drop to a 5 to 7 percent incline. Continue the intervals, setting a higher incline on each work phase and each recovery phase.

Abductor/Adductor Workout

The next time there's an enormous line for the abductor/adductor machine, hop on the treadmill and try this effective inner and outer thigh workout developed by Karon Karter, author of "The Ultimate Body Shaping Bible." Stand sideways on the treadmill, and set the speed for 1.8 to 2 mph. Step toward the console with your left foot, and bring your right foot in to meet it. Continue this pattern for one minute, then change sides. Increase the intensity by setting the treadmill at an incline. Increase inner thigh muscle activity by crossing the downhill foot in front of the other as you step to the side.

Lunge Walk

The treadmill lunge walk, developed by Steve Pfiester of Longevity Fitness in Florida, is a challenging leg workout that tones all of the muscles of your lower body. Set the treadmill at no incline and a slow speed. Stand on the machine and step forward with one foot. Keep your upper torso in an upright position as you bend both knees, lifting your rear heel. Straighten both legs and repeat, lunging forward with the opposite leg. Continue for one to two minutes.