Lean mean leg workout + HIIT Blitz

Hi friends! How’s your week treating ya? We’re about to take Caro to the vet (she has a stomach thing going on),

Caroline  1 of 1 3

but in the meantime,

how bout a little leg and cardio workout?

I say “little” but watch out… it’s a doozy.

Lean and mean

To set up this workout, I used a suggested format from the NASM textbook I’ve been drilling into my brain: warmup, intense cardio, strength circuit, less intense cardio and cool down/stretch. I like the facts that it incorporates the HIIT and Steady method that I love so dearly (an awesome fat burning tool!) in addition to a quick-paced strength session.

Lean leg


(Talk to a doc before making any fitness changes. Honor your body and modify as needed.)

-For your initial foam rolling sesh, make sure to pay attention to the muscles you’ll be using. Focus on rolling out your calves, quads and hamstrings. Warm up with 5 minutes of easy/moderate cardio. For foam rolling tips, check out this post.

HIIT intervals: 20 minutes of your favorite HIIT ratio. 1:1 is my personal favorite, so a combo I’ll suggest is 1 minute HARD, 1 minute easy for the first 10 minutes, then switching over (if you’d like) to 30 seconds HARD, 30 easy for the next 10

-Lean leg workout moves:

Bodyweight squats with a side kick

Walking lunges (tips for lunges; make sure to watch that front knee and make sure it doesn’t extend past your toes while you walk and lunge. Plant yourself first, then sink straight down instead of forward)

Plie squat deadlifts

Plie  1 of 1

Lateral lunge to lunge jumps

Calf raises: you can do these on a machine at the gym, or at home while holding dumbbells. Keeping your body entirely straight with good posture, raise up onto your toes. Lower down, but not all the way (keeping some resistance). Repeat.

-Steady state: moderate cardio, maintaining the same pace the entire time.

-Cool down (easy, slooooow cardio), static stretching (hold the stretch for each muscle group you worked) and foam roll it out. Ahhhhhhh!


Even if you’re not following the March workout plan, please let me know what you think if you give it a try!

Have a happy Thursday!



What are your plans for this weekend and St. Patrick’s Day? Ours are kind of up in the air, but I know I’ll be making my favorite cocktail- I’ll be sure to post the recipe soon!

New on the Family page: My baby kisses everyone

Heads up: In July, Google is retiring Google reader, a fantastic resource for checking favorite blogs. If you’re looking for a substitute, I’ve heard great things about Feedly! As always, thank you so much for reading and hanging out with me over here <3


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  1. Brittany @ Kitchen::Candid on March 14, 2013 at 10:23 am

    All I could think of when I read this post is that meme: Friends don’t let friends skip leg day. 🙂 Thanks for not letting us skip leg day Gina!!

    • Fitnessista on March 14, 2013 at 10:24 am

      hahah anytime! 🙂

  2. Jessica on March 14, 2013 at 10:29 am

    This looks brutal. But I was always taught strength should be first, then cardio. Your thoughts?

    • Fitnessista on March 14, 2013 at 10:35 am

      it depends on your goals. generally if your goal is muscle gain, cardio first; if it’s fat loss, strength first. at the same time, whatever goes first, you’ll be able to put more energy into it. for this workout, you’ll be able to KILL the intervals and reap the benefits of the fat loss from that (higher afterburn) throughout the day.

      • Rachel on March 14, 2013 at 11:44 am

        Hi Gina,

        I love your site and have been reading for a while. I’m currently attaining my Personal Trainer Cert through ACE and it actually supports the opposite. I usually reccommend cardio then weights if goal is to lose weight. This link explains why:

        Still, I totally agree that both weights & strength training are necessary to achieve optimal levels of fitness and health.

        Also, I’ve been loving the way you format the workouts on the blog! Makes them more appealing and easier to understand with the pics!

        Have a great one!

        • Fitnessista on March 14, 2013 at 12:07 pm

          that’s interesting- i’ve been taught the opposite and also found that it works best for me. in the end, it’s all a matter of calories in vs. calories out and your own personal preference, though!

  3. Lauren on March 14, 2013 at 10:30 am

    This leg workout looks amazing!!! Perfect for summer. I did a butt load (no pun intended) of squats and lunges and plyometrics this morning and my quads are in agony. Can’t wait to try this one out

  4. Ashley @ Life and Fitness on March 14, 2013 at 10:32 am

    At first, I thought Caro was on a leash and I just got so excited for her! Hope she feels better after the vet and is able to join you guys on your walks soon.

    • Fitnessista on March 14, 2013 at 10:33 am

      nope, not yet! thank you- me too.

  5. Courtney @ Star Systemz on March 14, 2013 at 10:45 am

    Great workout! I am NASM cpt certified too. I Love the hiit/steady state combo :-). I hope Caro feels better. After my dogs are sick I feed them chicken, brown rice and spinach all mashed together. Its easy on the stomach and will make your baby one happy little doggie :-). Love + Shine Courtstar

  6. Kathleen@newversionofme on March 14, 2013 at 10:50 am

    Looks great! Can’t wait to try it. With my kiddos we set up a leprechaun trap and in the morning we do a scavenger hunt to find the gifts he leaves behind ( found it in Pinterest last year). Super fun!!

  7. Lisa on March 14, 2013 at 10:57 am

    This looks like a great workout!
    I’m so sad about Google reader retiring, but oh well! Time for something new I guess.
    Hope Caro feels better soon!

  8. Kim on March 14, 2013 at 10:58 am

    Looks like another great workout!! I love workouts that have some of everything (HIIT, strength, steady cardio) so this one will be fun!
    Hope it is nothing major with your dog.

  9. lisa on March 14, 2013 at 11:13 am

    I can’t wait to try this workout tonight. Thanks for the recommendation for feedly, I was wondering what I would do when I read google’s message about reader retiring. I follow so many blogs, there is no way I could visit each one individually every day!

    • Amber @ Busy, Bold, Blessed on March 14, 2013 at 11:43 am

      I’ve never heard of Feedly before, but I used Bloglovin’ and I think it’s great.

      • Michelle @ Eat Move Balance on March 14, 2013 at 11:49 am

        I’ve never heard of Feedly either, but have heard others say good things about bloglovin’. Thanks, Amber!

  10. sara @ fitcupcaker on March 14, 2013 at 11:15 am

    Is that your own gym?? IF so I am SOOO jealous!

  11. Brigid on March 14, 2013 at 11:45 am

    Looks like a great workout! I love the variety of the structure. I need to get dumbbells and a foam roller for home since I don’t belong to a gym currently. Should 45-60 minutes be enough time for all the components?

  12. Michelle @ Eat Move Balance on March 14, 2013 at 11:48 am

    As always, thanks for the comprehensive leg workout, Gina! Love that you do this, and share with us! 🙂

    I just read about Google Reader this morning. Brutal! Have you heard if bloglovin’ is any good? Another blogger recently mentioned it, and said they like it. I’ll have to look into Feedly . . . I have never heard of it.

  13. Allison @ Train Eat Repeat on March 14, 2013 at 11:52 am

    This weekend will be spent doing homework and preparing for a big exam. I don’t celebrate St. Patricks days.. i just don’t get it. But I will be drinking Starbucks green tea lattes! so if I must participate in something green, that will be it 😛

    and boo to the whole google reader thing, my bf told me last night!

  14. Danica @ It's Progression on March 14, 2013 at 11:55 am

    i just did legs this morning and did a lot of those same moves–I’m pinning this one for next time!
    My husband and I have never celebrated St. Patrick’s Day before, but I’m hoping to make some fun green food that day this year 🙂

  15. Nadja on March 14, 2013 at 11:56 am

    That workout looks great! Guess i’m gonna try it this weekend. Today was supposed to be lower body for me, but i suddenly felt the need to go running (and this doesn’t happen very often since i dislike running – but i’m working on it -) so made it a runday instead! I’ll probably try this workout on saturday, can’t wait!

  16. Amanda, RD- The Nutritionist Reviews on March 14, 2013 at 11:58 am

    Aww hope your puppy feels better!

  17. Miranda @ Miranda Runs on March 14, 2013 at 12:11 pm

    Phew that looks super fun (and hard!). I’ll definitely be trying this out in the near future. 🙂

  18. Katie Brehmer on March 14, 2013 at 12:16 pm

    Hey lady,

    I have been eating clean for the last two months and following an exercise program, but recently have been having some gallbladder problems which limits with I eat. Basically any fresh greens, any nuts, basically it feels like anything heathy stirs the pot. I can, I found out, eat pretzels which brings me to my questions. Why do you never see pretzels on health blogs, is it because of the carb and that they don’t really do much for your body? Im trying to stay fit and not lost what I gained but am lost a what to eat now?

  19. Kelly @ Kelly the Culinarian on March 14, 2013 at 12:30 pm

    Here’s hoping the puppy feels better! I also feel major furmomma guilt when my dog is sick, because it’s not like he can tell me what’s wrong. I spoil him with pumpkin and bananas until he feels better, which makes me feel better, too.

  20. Tracy on March 14, 2013 at 1:12 pm

    I actually did a strength circuit very similar to this one this morning! I love the idea of preceding it with HIIT and following with steady state cardio though. I’ll definitely try that next workout for sure!

    Thanks, Gina! Have a great Wednesday!

  21. Beth on March 14, 2013 at 1:51 pm

    Oh, this looks so fun and terrifying! I might have to try it out this week if I’m feeling better.

  22. Anna on March 14, 2013 at 1:55 pm

    Thanks for the reader rec. I was so sad when I heard I google reader was headed out.

  23. Elizabeth M. on March 14, 2013 at 3:20 pm

    I hope Caro is feeling better!

  24. erica on March 14, 2013 at 5:31 pm

    hope caro is feeling better! my little pup had stomach issues last week…not fun 🙁

  25. Jenn on March 14, 2013 at 6:09 pm

    This is exactly what I’m in the mood for! Wasn’t sure what workout to do tonight and now I am set!

    • Fitnessista on March 14, 2013 at 8:11 pm

      let me know how it goes!!

      • Jenn on March 20, 2013 at 8:34 am

        Had so much ‘fun’ I did it again this morning. Now if I could just stop sweating…

  26. Meg on March 15, 2013 at 9:44 am

    I tried this workout last night – it was great! Really got me sweaty + my legs, hips and glutes are so sore today. It feels awesome though 🙂 And I used the foam roller for the first time. Loved it! Thanks for sharing this!

    PS This is my first time commenting. I love your blog. I’m a relatively new reader so I’m very excited to dig in to some of your past workout and recipes. Thank you for offering them!

    • Fitnessista on March 15, 2013 at 11:01 am

      whoo hoo!
      thank you so much for reading and saying hi 🙂

  27. Laura B on March 15, 2013 at 8:12 pm

    Did this workout today and it was great! I thought the hardest part was going back to cardio after doing strength. Added an ab burner too. I love your blog and find it so motivational! We have a similar healthy-eating philosophy too, although I’m a gluten and dairy lover. 🙂 I wrote about my health and fitness journey as a guest post for UjENA Swimwear’s blog this week: http://ujenausa.blogspot.com/2013/03/fitness-as-mom-spotlight-on-laura.html?m=1.

  28. Missy on March 16, 2013 at 7:12 am

    Did the Lean and Mean Leg Workout this morning before work. My legs, my butt, my core feel great. I love starting off the weekend with a killer workout!

  29. Jessie on March 17, 2013 at 9:49 am

    Thanks for such an intense leg workout. This will definitely make them burn afterwards. Just reading it I can tell I will be sore for a couple days. Also glad to see you mention the foam rollers, that thing is an incredible help for the muscles.

    Also, Caro is adorable, hope she is feeling better soon. 🙂

  30. Hayley @ Running on Pumpkin on April 26, 2013 at 2:12 pm

    Just did this whole workout and WHOOO that was hard! I did the strength workout before the HIIT and finishing up with the cardio was so rough since my legs felt like jello. Great workout though!

  31. Mackenzie on March 28, 2014 at 11:30 am

    Was looking for some inspiration on your Fitness page this morning and thought this workout sounded great… and it more than lived up to my expectations! Thanks for a fantastic workout and start to the weekend 🙂

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