Having extra fat is something that most people deal with at some point in their lives. The hips and thighs are an especially common “problem area” for many. Some people are more prone to accumulating fat in their lower bodies than others which can be frustrating and hard to deal with. Unfortunately, factors like one’s metabolism, genetics, hormones, and environment influence where and how much weight a person may gain. Although it is not easy to change these factors, there are things that can be done to burn fat and maintain a healthy weight. Targeted lower body exercises are a great place to start.
Targeted Fat Loss
While exercise will help you lose weight, you cannot spot reduce. It is impossible to target fat loss specifically in your lower body, or in any other part of the body. The best way to reduce fat in your lower legs is by losing weight all over. Cardio workouts such as running and swimming can help you lose fat in general, while toning exercises convert fat to muscle tissue. Together, these exercises will give you a healthier body inside and out. Some effective leg toning exercises include squats, wall sits, step ups, jump squats, burpees, walking lunges, and glute bridges.
Most people do squats to strengthen their quads, hamstrings, and glutes, but the exercise does even more. When you squat you also use your core, back muscles, and calves for stability. As a result, the exercise is engaging for the entire body and can help you effectively build muscle and tone your legs. To do a squat, begin with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Keep your back straight, push your hips back, and bend your knees. As your lower your body, make sure that your core is engaged and that your knees stay behind your toes. Then stop once your thighs are parallel to the floor and return to the starting position. Squats are great on their own but can be even more effective with weights. For a more intense workout, try holding a barbell or weighted bar as you squat. This will strengthen your entire body and bring you one step closer to slimmer legs.
2. Wall Sits
Wall sits are a no-nonsense lower body exercise. The best part is that there is no impact or excessive movement involved. All you need is a wall, yourself, and endurance. Begin by standing with your feet shoulder width apart and your back against a wall, then slowly slide down the wall until your legs are bent at a 90-degree angle. Your thighs should be parallel to the ground and feet should be firmly planted for stability. Hold the position for 30- 60 seconds then rest.
3. Steps ups
Step ups are another simple yet effective leg toning workout that you can do almost anywhere. To do this exercise you only need a set of steps or a steady platform, and weights if you want to make the exercise more challenging. Begin by placing one foot on the platform, then press your weight onto your heel and straighten your leg. Bring your other foot up so that you are standing on the platform before stepping down to return to the starting position. Do the same on the opposite leg to complete one rep. For more of a challenge, try picking up the pace. This will tone your legs and get your heart racing for a cardio and toning workout session all in one.
4. Jump Squats
Like regular squats, jump squats are a great exercise for you lower body, especially your quads. However, jump squats are a little more challenging and can be a unique cardio exercise. Start by standing with your feet shoulder width apart. As with a regular squat, you should keep your back straight, engage your core and squat until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Then instead of standing, jump up as hard as you can. Land as softly as possible, then repeat. While this exercise is very effective, it’s important to have the proper form to avoid injury. Make sure that you jump with your entire foot, not just your toes. Also, keep your back straight as you squat. Landing softly will reduce the impact on your joints and keeps your core engaged. This will keep you safe and ensure you get the full benefits of this exercise without straining your body.
Burpees are among the most challenging, yet effective exercises out there. It’s convenient since you don’t need any equipment and it works your entire body. Begin by standing with your feet shoulder width apart. Next, squat until your hands touch the floor, then push both of your feet back into a push up position. Reverse the movement and when you are standing jump as high as you can to complete the rep, landing softly as you come back down. For a more intense exercise, try adding a push up before bringing your feet up behind your hands
6. Walking Lunges
Walking lunges are very similar to a regular forward lunge. Walking lunges engage the glutes, quads, and hamstrings just like a basic lunge. However, walking lunges also challenge your balance and core strength. This is because as you ‘walk’ forward you have to engage your abdominal muscles and hip flexors to stay steady. This lunge variation is great for people who want to get all the benefits of a regular with a little more intensity. Begin by standing with your feet together, then step forward with one leg and bend both legs to a 90-degree angle. Your leading thigh should be parallel to the ground and your back knee should nearly be touching the floor. Next, bring your back leg in and straighten your legs until you are standing again. Repeat this on the other leg to complete one rep.
7. Glute Bridges
The glutes can be hard to target. Often times when people try to do exercises that target the glutes, other muscle groups like the quads take over since they are either stronger or easier to engage. So, if you are looking for an exercise specifically for your glutes try a glute bridge. Begin by lying with your back flat on the floor and your knees bent. Keep your feet shoulder width apart as your raise your chest and hips from the ground. Squeeze your glutes together when your hips are fully raised and hold the position for a second. Next, slowly lower your body to the ground and repeat. As always, form is important. Make sure that your back remains straight throughout the exercise and that you don’t rest on the ground when you lower your body. This will reduce the strain on your body and your chances of injury while giving you the full benefits of this exercise.
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