High intensity leg workout to improve leg strength and burn fat

High intensity interval workouts (HIIT) follow the basic principle of short bursts of effort alternating with recovery periods. You can read a full explanation of HIIT workouts, the different formats they can have, their benefits and their risks here. This high intensity leg workout uses effort intervals of 40 seconds, mixed with recovery intervals of 20 seconds.

high intensity leg workout

Safety and warming up

It’s very important to warm up properly when you do high intensity exercise. Failing to prepare your muscles and joints before doing fast, high impact moves has a high risk of injury. You can read more about warm ups here and see a suitable warm up routine here.

Please also read these general safety guidelines.

High intensity leg workout – the exercises

Recovery – side steps

Side steps

This is what you will do in your recovery intervals.

Starting with feet together, take 2 wide steps to the side and then back again.

High intensity exercises

#1 Jacks

Jumping jack

  • Stand with your feet together and arms by your side. Jump your legs wide as you take your arms over your head.
  • Lower your arms as you jump your feet back together.

#2 Jump squats

High intensity leg workout - jump squat

  • Start in a squat position, with your arms down by your sides.
  • Swing your arms up over your head as you push your toes off the ground and jump up.
  • Come back down onto the floor in the starting position and repeat.

#3 Side leaps

High intensity leg workout - side leaps

  • Start by standing with your feet close together.
  • Raise your right knee, then jump sideways to the right, leading with your right leg.
  • Follow through with your left leg, bringing your left foot close to your right.
  • Now lift your left knee and repeat to the left.

#4 High kicks

Keeping your right leg straight, lift it as high as you can in front, at the same time as lifting your left foot in a hop. Lower your right leg to bring your right foot to the floor, then hop with your right foot as you lift your left leg up in front. Continue to alternate, making sure that you keep your body upright (don’t bend forwards).

  • Keeping your right leg straight, lift it as high as you can in front, at the same time as lifting your left foot in a hop.
  • Lower your right leg to bring your right foot to the floor, then hop with your right foot as you lift your left leg up in front.
  • Continue to alternate, making sure that you keep your body upright (don’t bend forwards).

#5 Arabesque hops

Arabesque hop

  • Stand with your feet slightly apart.
  • Take one leg behind your body, with your toes on the floor and both knees slightly bent.
  • Flex your knees a little more and then hop with your front leg as you kick your back leg out behind.
  • As you land on your front leg, touch your back foot to the floor again and repeat.

#6 V steps with jump back

High intensity leg workout - V step

  • Start by standing with your feet together.
  • Step forwards, right leg first, taking your feet wide and bending your knees.
  • Take 2 small jumps back to your starting position, bringing your feet back together on the first jump.
  • Repeat, leading with your left leg.
  • Arm action:  just let your arms swing comfortably, as in running.

#7 Mountain climbers

Mountain climber

  • Get into an all-4s position on the floor.  Make sure your hands are directly below your shoulders.
  • Take your legs out behind, keeping your back slightly curved.
  • Now bring one knee at a time in towards your arms.

#8 Side shuffles

High intensity leg workout - side shuffle

  • Take two quick steps to the right.
  • Your arms should be bent at your side. After the second step, reach your right arm down towards your right foot.
  • Stop when you’re hand is about a foot (30cm) from the floor and straighten back up.
  • Repeat on the left.

Cooling down

After the final high intensity interval, do the recovery side steps until your heart rate has returned to normal.

How to do the workout

Do each exercise for 40 seconds. With the arabesque hop, do 20 seconds on one leg, then swap. After each 40 second interval, do the side steps for 20 seconds to recover. For a 20 minute workout, do the full set of exercises twice, plus warm up and cool down.  You can get a printable of the exercises by entering your e-mail in the box below.

High intensity leg workout

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