Many women tend to store excess weight in their lower half, which makes fat deposits on the hips a common "trouble zone." Like any excess body fat, bulges on your hips should respond to lifestyle changes that lower your fat levels, such as cutting your calorie intake and upping your activity levels. However, some hip bulges might actually be a completely normal part of your anatomy, and the excess pounds won't go away as a result of diet and exercise.
Cut Calories to Lower Body Fat
If your hip bulge comes from carrying excess weight, you can reduce its size by lowering your overall body fat levels. Keep in mind that fat loss comes from all over your body -- you can't specifically lose a hip bulge -- and that your "trouble zones," where you tend to store fat, often hold onto stubborn fat the longest. Regardless, lowering your overall body fat levels will slim and smooth any fat bulges on your hips, too.
Most women should aim to cut their calorie intake to 500 calories less than they need to maintain their weight each daily, which allows for 1 pound of fat loss weekly. For example, a 27-year-old woman who is 5 feet, 3 inches tall, weighs 135 pounds, and lives a sedentary lifestyle needs about 1,900 calories to maintain her weight, so she should cut her calorie intake to 1,400 calories daily to lose a pound a week.
If you're very active, and have a higher calorie burn, you may be able to cut 1,000 calories and go for 2 pounds of fat lost per week. For example, that same 27-year-old woman would burn about 2,680 calories if she's active for more than an hour each day. In that case, she could cut her calorie intake to 1,680 calories per day to lose 2 pounds weekly.
Use an online calculator to estimate your calorie needs; then use your calorie burn estimate to decide how many calories to cut daily for weight loss. Make sure you eat 1,200 calories daily, no matter what -- or 1,800 calories for men -- to ensure you meet your nutritional needs and keep your metabolism revving.
Increase Your Fat Burn With Cardio
Increasing your activity levels helps you burn more calories throughout the day and accelerates fat loss, which can help melt away any excess fat on your hips. The more vigorous your exercise, the more calories and fat you'll burn. A 125-pound person will torch 300 calories in a 30-minute high-impact step aerobics class, for example, but just 210 calories in a low-impact step aerobics class. Work out at a rate that feels challenging; you should be able to get out a few words at a time when you're working out, but not carry on a conversation.
Most methods of cardio work the muscles in your lower body, but you should include variety to challenge the muscles in your hips from multiple angles. Try alternating the treadmill, for example, with skiing machines, step mills, and step or boxing classes to work your hips and butt while you burn calories.
Tone Up Your Hips
Most strength training doesn't burn a ton of calories, so it won't directly burn hip fat, but it can tighten and tone your hips to reduce bulges. Untoned muscle can look flabby, even if it's not actually fat, and strength training maintains some tension in your muscles so you look fitter.
If you're new to strength training, start with body-weight exercises to challenge your lower body, like step-ups, body-weight back and side lunges, squats and body-weight single-leg Romanian deadlifts. Once you've mastered these moves, accelerate your results by adding weights -- such as dumbbells or deadlifts -- to build up your hip muscles. And fine-tune your results with smaller isolated hip exercises; lying side leg lifts, glute kickbacks and Pilates clam exercises all target the muscles around your hips to help you achieve a tighter appearance.
Hip Bulges vs. "Hip Dips"
While models in retouched photos often appear to have perfectly smooth hips, it's actually normal to have a slight bump -- sometimes called a "hip dip" -- where your hip bone meets your femur, the large bone in your thigh. Hip bulges caused by your hipbones are more visible in some body types than in others; if you have a more athletic build and a slim figure, your hip dip will be more visible than a woman with a curvier figure who carries excess weight in her hips. If the "bulge" in your hips doesn't look like excess fat tissue, it's likely caused by your bone structure and can't be changed with diet and exercise. In that case, simply strive to live the healthiest lifestyle that makes you happy; you'll look and feel great, which is more important than focusing on a small bump on your hips.