There is no shortage of exercises you can do to help tone up your legs and improve your leg strength while building your cardio, but it can be tricky to find a type of cardio exercise that won’t also risk causing repetitive injuries and overuse injuries if you don’t follow a proper training regimen. Here are a few exercises you can switch between to help prevent overuse injuries. Remember to wear proper foot wear at all times, so that you protect your legs as much as possible.
1) Plyo – Tony Horton calls Plyometrics the mother of all p90X workouts and there is a good reason for that. Working Plyo is a great way to develop your cardio and leg strength, because you will be jumping, jumping and jumping. By the end you should feel exhausted and your body spent, but one hour of Plyo cannot be beat. You can find Plyo classes at local gyms, on DVD or online. My local gym calls their Plyo class ‘Alpine Ski Prep’, so if you cannot find a class at your gym ASK! You might be missing it.
2) Trampoline – I’ve said it here before, but I love my mini-trampoline as a workout tool, and it is a great way to build up your leg strength with somewhat less risk for injury, because the impact is softer. I call it my ‘poor man’s treadmill’ because I can pop in a movie and jump or run on the trampoline just like I would on a regular treadmill. And even better, my knees won’t complain about it later.
3) Speed Walking – I have a neighbor who speed walks. Before I met him, I only saw speed walking on the Olympics. It looks a bit bizarre, and let me tell you, he walks faster than I run. Speed walking is actually a great way to build your cardio and strengthen your legs. You need to be careful of your form so you don’ t hurt yourself, but otherwise it manages to target some of those leg muscles you don’t use that often and give you a good workout while doing so!
4) Stairs – squats-stairs – This is a killer combination I took with me from my soccer playing high school days. It hurts, but it is effective. First you will need some stairs, or if you have a high school or field nearby, the stands are the ideal place, but any steps will do. Run up to the top of the stairs and down again five times. While you are catching your breath, do a set of ten squats. Pause and repeat the squats, also five times. You can repeat this series if you can.