Tonal Leg Workout (How to build strong and pain-free legs)


Strong legs, big glutes, and no back pain. Today I will explain if Tonal is good for legs, and if so, which exercises should you pick based on your fitness goals. I’m also gonna give you some old-school leg workouts that you can plug into your training program to keep your workouts fresh and challenging.

As a whole, Tonal is good for legs because it has over 45 different leg exercises that target glutes, hamstrings, quads, and hips. It uses up to 200lbs digital resistance, and if combined with Dynamic Modes like burnout mode, eccentric mode, and chains, it can help you fatigue the muscles and induce muscle growth.

I will also touch on what exercises you cannot do on Tonal and share a few tricks that can change how you train your lower body, whenever you want to make your legs great again, or for the first time.

Tonal Leg Workout

As a whole, you can do leg workouts with Tonal that includes general lower body strength sessions, as well as a specific muscle-oriented workout where you focus on one muscle at a time (e.g. glutes).

You can also do a combination of leg workouts with stretching, mobility, and yoga to help you either improve your recovery or focus on strengthening your knees.

What I love about the Tonal leg workouts is they all give you the chance to use Dynamic Modes, which not only makes the workout more fun but also more challenging.

Of course, the type of workout you choose should be based on your preferences, fitness goals, and personal abilities. For example, people who have bad knees should not do the same leg workout as trained athletes (obviously).

How Does Tonal Work Your Legs?

In general, the Tonal work your legs in multiple ways that include a full-body workout, Bro split (also called bodybuilding split), PPL (push-pull-legs) split, and upper-lower split. The type of workout you choose should be based on your experience, personal preferences, and fitness goals.

  • Full-body workout – You can train legs with Tonal using a full-body workout where you cover all major muscle groups in one gym session. For example, in one workout you will work not only on your legs but also on the chest, back, and shoulders.

This type of workout is typically used by beginners, physique athletes, and powerlifters who want to build strength, but don’t want to put an extra amount of muscle mass. The resistance is high with a low to moderate rep range.

  • Bro split – Some of the Tonal leg workouts last for 40 to 60 minutes where you spend the whole session training only legs. This is typical bodybuilding split training where you target one major muscle group per day.

A great example of this leg workout would be a Tonal Leg Day, where you do 5 to 6 leg exercises once per week. This type of leg training is good for advanced lifters, bodybuilders, and people who want to build a lot of muscle.

  • Push-pull-legs – You can train your legs on Tonal with PPL (push-pull-legs) routine. Push/pull/legs work by dividing your training days into separate push days (exercises on chest, shoulders, triceps), pull days (back and biceps), and legs (all lower-body muscles).

This type of workout is very popular because it allows for a high frequency (typically twice per week for each day) with enough rest days for recovery.

  • Upper/lower split – Upper lower split is another popular split training program that allows for separate wokrouts for two days – upper body and lower body. This training method is good for intermediate people, as well as athletes and runners who need to implement strength training into their regular field workouts.

Are Tonal Leg Workouts Important?

In short, Tonal leg wokrouts are important to develop a well-rounded physique, reduce lower back pain and improve posture. Plus, regular leg training help to develop strength not only in the lower body but also in the upper body.

This last part is very important.

Studies have shown that “training programs focused on lower-body muscle hypertrophy and maximal strength can stimulate greater strength and power gains in the upper body” (Bartolomei et al. 2018).

This happens due to acute testosterone response (which affects the whole body, not just the legs).

Immediately after a leg workout (assuming you used optimal load and intensity) there is an acute spike in the levels of anabolic hormones like testosterone, IGF-1, and growth hormone. The good news is that these temporary hormonal changes have a positive effect not only on the legs but on the whole body.

(Which is one of the reasons why you should never skip training your legs).

Another reason why a Tonal leg workout is important is it helps to correct slumped sitting posture caused by our less-than-perfect lifestyle.

Postural adaptations (also called postural changes) is the way the body starts to adapt to the position that we spend the most time in. For example, prolonged sitting or physical inactivity leads to glutes inactivity (weakness) and reduced passive hip extension (source).

Studies have shown that “normal hip extension mobility is imperative for normal mechanical load distribution in the hip and for efficient metabolic demands in standing” (source).

Regular leg workouts on Tonal help to engage hip muscles more efficiently, which translates into less compensation in the lumbosacral region, therefore, better posture and less low back pain.

What Leg Exercises Can You Do On Tonal?

In general, you can do over 20 exercises with Tonal like barbell deadlifts, barbell squats, and lunges. You can also do over 25 assisted bodyweight leg exercises without a Tonal gym machine like squat jumps, Bulgarian split squats, and jump lunges.

Not only that.

Tonal’s adjustable arms can support every position and angle, which makes it perfect for both bilateral and unilateral leg exercises.

Can you do single-leg exercises on Tonal? Overall, you can do single leg exercises on Tonal. Unilateral leg workout helps to improve muscular imbalances, builds muscle, and allows you to train around the injury (which I will cover later). It also helps to improve core stability, improves posture, and helps with general athleticism.

Here is the list of what leg exercises you can do on Tonal.

  • Compound leg exercises – Tonal allows you to do almost all compound exercises that you can in the gym. These include deadlifts, squats, lunges, reverse lunges, glute bridges, and hip thrusts. It does not have an option for leg press.
  • Isolation leg exercises – Tonal cable machine allows you only for a handful of isolation leg exercises. These include calf raises and cable kickbacks. You cannot do leg curls or leg extensions with Tonal.
  • Unilateral leg exercises – Single leg exercises that you can do on Tonal include single-leg RDL, Bulgarian split squat, single-leg glute bridges, and resisted step-ups.
  • Bodyweight leg exercises – Tonal also has several assisted bodyweight exercises. These include bodyweight squats, bodyweight split squats, lunges, skater bounds, and high knees.

One of the best leg exercises you can do on Tonal are resisted lunges because is half muscle-builder and half metcon.

However, exercises on their own do not guarantee success. You need to be able to plug them into your weekly workout plan in a way that makes sense.

Tonal Leg Workout For Beginners

Tonal has over 70 leg workouts for beginners that include high-intensity, strength training, pilates, yoga, and mobility. Each workout is a mix of cable leg exercises like Pull Throughs, Resisted Glute Bridges, Squats, and Lunges, as well as core and bodyweight movements.

The difference between wokrouts for beginners and intermediate is that Tonal beginner workouts include fewer compound exercises with a heavy load and more assisted bodyweight moves. They also have fewer reps and sets. This helps to lower the training volume and reduce heart rate, so everyone can do it.

On the other hand, intermediate and advanced workouts do not have much core and bodyweight stuff. They also include Dynamic Modes, more reps, and sets, which significantly increase time under tension.

Which Tonal leg workout is best for beginners? As a whole, the best Tonal leg workout for beginners is doing a full-body split because it targets the leg muscles with heavy compound exercises multiple times per week while keeping the training volume low.

Here is an example.

Days of the weekTonal workoutsDuration
MondayMetabolic Strength with Brendon49 minutes
TuesdayCardio workout (Heart rate zone 2)30 minutes
WednesdayFoundations Of HIIT with Liz30 minutes
ThursdayRest day10 minutes
30 minutes
FridayStrength From The Ground Up with Liz37 minutes
SaturdayAerobic training (Heart rate zone 2)30 minutes
SundayRest and active recovery
Tonal leg workout for beginners

As you can see, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday you have a full-body workout. Each of these sessions includes:

  • 2 blocks of exercises (with 3 sets of each per block)
  • 3 exercises per block (6 exercises in a total workout)
  • 2-3 leg exercises in total

This Tonal full-body workout is good for beginners because it includes 6-9 leg exercises per week (which is sufficient to stimulate muscle growth). At the same time, every workout includes big compound moves like bench press, and rows, as well as some assisted lifts.

Tonal Leg Workout For Building Muscle

Overall, Tonal has over 30 leg workouts that are good for building muscle and strength. These are mainly full leg days where you do only lower body with the help of Dynamic Modes like Spotter, Chains, Burnout Mode and Eccentric.

Dynamic modes are the Tonal signature smart features and training methods that help to make the workouts more difficult. My favorite dynamic mode is the eccentric mode, which works similarly to eccentric training.

NOTE: I won’t cover here any details about the eccentric training. I’ve already covered that in my article “tonal eccentric mode“, which I recommend you read.

Which Tonal leg workout is best for building muscle? Overall, the best Tonal leg workout for building muscle is doing bro split (also called Split weight training) which involves separate exercises for each group of muscles. For example, one day is for the legs, one day for the chest, and one day for the back (usually 5 workouts a week).

This type of training split allows for maximizing training volume, especially if you’re already strong and big and you chase more gains.

Here is an example of a Tonal leg workout for building muscle.

Days of the weekTonal workout plan
MondayBack
TuesdayChest
WednesdayLegs
ThursdayShoulders/Calves
FridayBiceps/Triceps
SaturdayAerobic training (Heart rate zone 2)
SundayRest and active recovery
Tonal leg workout for building muscle

Some of the best Tonal leg wokrouts for building muscle include:

  • Strength with Trace
  • Strength with Woody
  • Strength with Paul
  • Strength with Allison
  • High-Powered Lower Body with Allison

What’s the hardest Tonal leg workout? As a whole, the hardest Tonal leg workout is a 52-minute advanced Lower Body Build class with coach Nicolette. This session incorporates exercises like deadlifts, squats, and pull-throughs with heavy load (70-90% of your 1RM) and low rep range, which is effective for building strength and muscle.

How Often Should You Train Legs On Tonal?

As a general rule, the number of leg workouts you should be doing on Tonal per week will depend on the type of workout you do, as well as your weekly training volume. For example, if you do a full-body split 3 times per week, then you can do 2 leg exercises per workout.

Can I workout legs everyday? Overall, you should not workout legs on Tonal every day because that can lead to overtraining, muscle fatigue, and increase your risk of injury. Instead, you can do legs on Tonal 3 to 4 days per week to reach the required training volume for muscle growth, as well as sufficient recovery time.

Here is an example of the Tonal leg workout using the full-body split routine.

Days of the weekExercises
MondayBarbell Back Squats
Cable Bench Press
Seated Row
Step Ups
Biceps Curl
WednesdayDeadlift
Overhead Press
Cable Chest Flyes
Side lunges
Triceps Extensions
FridayBend-Over Row
Barbell Front Squats
Seated Pull-Down
Lateral Shouder Raise
Tonal leg workout full body split

As you can see in the table above, you can do leg exercises with every training session, as long as you perform 1-2 leg exercises per day. In total that’s 5 leg exercises per week.

On the other hand, if you choose to do Bro split training, you can do one Tonal leg day per week.

See below.

Days of the weekExercises
Leg dayBarbell Back Squats
Barbell Front Squats
Deadlift
Step Ups
Side lunges
Tonal leg workout Bro split

As you can see, with one leg day per week, you can do the same exercises as with the full-body split but in one day.

HOWEVER.

The problem is that this routine is not suited for beginners. Here the muscles fatigue quickly so you won’t be able to use heavyweights on the last 3 exercises as you would do if you split these exercises throughout the week.

On the other hand, doing a full-body split allows you to do fewer leg exercises per day, but each time you can use significantly more weight, therefore, get better results.

For intermediate and advanced lifters, you can do up to 2 leg days per week on Tonal if your goal is to build a lot of muscle.

How many leg exercises should I do on leg day? Overall, you can do 4 to 6 leg exercises on Tonal on leg day together with some assisted core and stretching exercises. This helps to target all leg muscles, without overtraining. However, the number of leg exercises will depend on individual fitness levels.

If you choose to train your legs on Tonal more often (more leg days), I recommend having at least 2-3 days off in between to have enough time for the body to rest. During this time you can do a push/pull split or active recovery.

How Long Should Tonal Leg Workouts Be?

Tonal leg workouts should take anywhere from 20 to 60 minutes, depending on your training plan. You can divide your leg workouts that focus on different muscle groups in each session. For example, Monday you train quads, Wednesday glutes, and Friday hamstrings.

What I like about Tonal is it has several Quick Fit leg workouts that allow you do the training in as short as 10 minutes (kind of like a mini leg day). This is also a good option if you want to give some extra love to your legs.

For example, if your goal is to build saucy-looking glutes, I recommend adding this type of class into your weekly workout plan even 2-3 times per week.

Here is an example of how you can add Tonal Quick Fit leg workouts into your weekly workout routine.

Days of the weekTonal workoutsDuration
MondayFull Body Workout45-60 minutes
TuesdayQuick-Fit: For The Booty
Aerobic training (Heart rate zone 2)
15 minutes
30 minutes
WednesdayFull Body Workout45-60 minutes
ThursdayQuick-Fit: In And Out Glutes
Aerobic training (Heart rate zone 2)
10 minutes
30 minutes
FridayFull Body Workout45-60 minutes
SaturdayAerobic training (Heart rate zone 2)
Anaerobic Training (Heart rate zone 5)
30 minutes
30 minutes
SundayRest and active recovery
Tonal quick fit leg workouts with full-body split

As you can see, the above is an example of a Tonal workout that is focused on building your glutes. It includes strength training, as well as aerobic sessions (3 steady-state cardio and one HIIT cardio).

What Happens If You Don’t Train Legs on Tonal?

Do you need to train your legs? In short, yes.

If you don’t train your legs on Tonal it can lead to disproportion and muscle imbalance. Without regular leg training, muscle protein breakdown exceeds muscle protein synthesis, which leads to the progressive loss of skeletal muscle mass and strength.

See the graph below.

On the other hand, regular strength training is an effective way to flip this around. It stimulates muscle protein synthesis and preserves muscle mass.

The same goes for bone density.

Japanese study done on sarcopenia (loss of muscle mass due to aging) has shown that in patients with hip fractures, there is a higher occurrence of sarcopenia and a significant reduction of leg muscle mass (Hida et al. 2013).

The conclusion is that if you have poor skeletal muscle mass in your legs, your body becomes more prone to the risk of lessening bone density.

Can you get big on Tonal without training legs? Overall, you can get big on Tonal if you don’t train your legs, however, you won’t be able to develop optimal strength and muscle mass in other areas.

Compound leg exercises like squats and deadlifts induce high hormonal responses. This happens (in general) because you can use more resistance for squats than for, let’s say, cable kickback.

Using more weight redistributed means you get a better hypertrophic response (assuming that you train with resistance equivalent to 70-90% of your 1RM).

Conclusion

Tonal does have over 150 different leg workouts that range from short 10-minute classes to traditional 60 minutes Leg Day sessions.

The workouts are divided into beginner, intermediate and advanced, which differ based on the number of exercises, reps, and sets. Tonal also has the Free Lift option, where you can create your custom leg workouts.

As you can see, there are several ways Tonal can be used for legs, apart from the traditional “leg day”. I personally recommend doing a full-body split because you can hit muscle harder every time you train (70-90% of your 1RM for optimal strength growth).

Michal Sieroslawski

Michal is an exercise physiologist (MSc), nutrition coach, Ashtanga teacher, and fitness blogger. He shares his successes and failures to help busy men and women squash down 20, 50, or even 100 pounds of fat without leaving their home.

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