Shape and tone of the butt, thighs and legs are a source of constant discontent for many women—but they don’t have to be. If you’re looking for some improved shape and tone around the upper legs and butt, below are some handy exercises to try.
Important – If you’re specifically looking to lose weight from a given area of your body, it’s important to understand that “spot reduction” (losing weight from one region of the body) is a myth. With very few exceptions to the rule, where you lose weight from first is completely out of your control.
The bottom line though is this… If you are looking to lose weight from a certain area, eating well and regular exercise are the clear sustainable paths to weight loss and the weight will eventually come off from your problem areas.
HOWEVER, that’s not to say that you should not do specific, targeted exercises to any area you want to improve the shape and tone of. As you’re losing weight (or if you have already lost weight), performing specific exercises that target a certain muscle group will absolutely help with improving shape and tone.
With that in mind, here are 10 exercises to help you with improving the shape and tone of yoru butt, thighs and legs:
- Chair squat
If you’re working out for the first time a chair squat is a great way to start. Start with your back to the chair you’re going to use and your feet hip-width apart. Keep your weight centered on your heels and draw your abs in and lean forward with your upper body, bending at the hips. Lean your butt towards the chair and pause right above the chair in an almost-sitting position. Straighten up slowly, keeping your core engaged.
- Pivoting curtsy lunge
You want to start this one like you’re about to do a regular lunge, bending both knees to create a wide stance. Use your legs to push yourself up slightly and lower yourself back into the full lunge as if you were making small curtsies from a lunging position. Do this 10-15 times, then straighten up, turn and move into a lunge with your other foot in front.
- Skater lunge
Start with your arms down at your sides and your feet hip width apart. Step backwards with your left foot and cross your left leg diagonally behind your right leg. As you move your left leg extend your right arm straight out to the side. Stretch your left arm so your wrist settles on your right hip. Tense your muscles and hop as far to the left as possible (you should be aiming for 2 feet), then return to the beginning stance. Repeat with the other leg. Do this with each leg 15-20 times.
- The lean
Once again you want to start with your arms down at your sides and your feet hip width apart. Step backwards diagonally with your left foot, creating a moderate lunge stance. Bend from your hip towards the side your left foot is stretched out on, reaching your left arm down towards your calf and your right arm up towards the ceiling. Hold for a few seconds and return to the starting position to complete your rep. Do this 10 times on the left side and then 10 times on the right side.
- Jump Squat
This is one of the most intense exercises on the list but it’s also one of the best ways to really work out your largest leg muscles. Start with your feet shoulder width apart and lower yourself into a squat, going about two thirds of the way down. Once you’re two thirds of the way down to regular squat height jump into the air, straightening up as you jump. Go into the next squat as soon as you land. Do this 10-20 times to really strengthen your legs.
- Hip Bridge
You’ll want a good exercise mat to lie on for this one. Start on your back with your knees bent upwards. Dig your heels into the floor and lift your toes in towards your shins. Lift your butt until your back forms a straight line with your thighs. Hold the position for 15 seconds before returning to your starting position. This is one rep. You should do at least 12 reps per workout for best effect.
Somewhere between a squat and a lunge, this exercise uses dumbbells to really strengthen your leg muscles. Start with a dumbbell in each hand and your left foot forward in a wide stance. Lower yourself into a miniature lunge by bending both knees. Your left knee should never go past your ankle; your right knee should almost touch the floor. Do this 10 times with each leg.
- Single Leg Lift and Row
If you’re looking to improve your overall fitness you will love this exercise. It works out your back and core muscles as well as your leg muscles by combining your body weight with a pair of dumbbells. Start with a 5-10 kilogram dumbbell in your right hand and keep both hands at your sides. Lean forward and raise your right leg into the air until it is at hip level. As you lean forward you should bring the weight towards the ground, pulling it back up to hip level once your right leg reaches hip level. Hold for 15 seconds and slowly lower yourself back into the starting position. Do this with each leg at least 10 times for best effect.
- Downward Dog Split
Yoga in general is pretty good for toning the legs and this move is one of the best. Start on the ground on all fours and slowly lift your chest off the ground by straightening up your arms and legs. Pushing your hands into the ground, lift one of your legs until it forms a straight line with your chest. Hold it there for at least 10 seconds. Lower your leg but don’t move back into the starting position. Raise your other leg and hold for 10 seconds. You want to do this at least 10 times with each leg.
- Chair Twist
This excellent exercise has a somewhat deceptive title as there is no equipment involved (you might want an exercise mat to stand comfortably on). Begin standing straight up, feet together. Push your hips back by bending your knees, making sure your knees don’t go past your toes. Keep going until your thighs are almost parallel with the floor, then raise your arms forward and then up. Then turn your torso towards the right side, bending your arms so your left elbow touches your right knee. Hold this position for 15 seconds and then start again, twisting your torso to the other side. Do this 15-20 times on each side.
Getting the body you’ve always dreamed of does require hard work but with these exercises it is only a matter of time before you will have magnificently toned legs.