Moves to Shrink Your Belly, Butt and Thighs

Tone "The Zone" with these 7 exercises.
Tone "The Zone" with these 7 exercises. (Image: Valorie Darling/LIVESTRONG.COM)

More often than not when I ask clients what their fitness goals are, they answer in the form of gesturing at a range on their bodies from about mid-thigh to mid-stomach. Well, I hear ya, girl! This is what I refer to as “The Zone” — that tricky area that has most people puzzling over how to tighten and shrink it. Personally, I have what you call a “pear shape,” so my inner and outer thighs, booty and lower abs have always been where I focus my efforts.

Keep in mind: Your body rocks no matter what shape you are.
Keep in mind: Your body rocks no matter what shape you are. (Image: Valorie Darling)

Having curves is beautiful, and I don’t think anyone should ever feel like they have to thin out their body to look sexy. That being said, there are some great exercises that are fan-frickin’-tastic for these particular body parts, so read on to see what I incorporate into my own workouts as well as my clients’ to tighten and tone “The Zone.”

Target Your Abdominals

This move will crush your core — in a good way.
This move will crush your core — in a good way. (Image: Valorie Darling)

Single-Leg Teaser (8 reps per leg)

Give your back a break and make the abs do the work.
Give your back a break and make the abs do the work. (Image: Valorie Darling)

Setup: Lie flat on your back and extend one leg up and out to 45 degrees. Bend your other leg at a 90-degree angle. Keep your knees together.

Action: Curl head and chest up, reaching arms toward toes. Curl all the way up, coming to a seated position. Round slowly down only to the bottom tip of shoulder blades, then come right back up. Switch legs.

TIP: Consciously engage the abdominals to make sure they are doing all the work. If you feel your lower back taking over, hold on gently behind your thighs instead of reaching for the toes.

Lower Lift (10 reps)

Keep the focus on your abs.
Keep the focus on your abs. (Image: Valorie Darling)

Setup: Lie flat on your back and extend your legs up toward the ceiling.

Action: First, curl your head and chest up, with your hands stacked palm over palm behind your head. Then lower your legs to 45 degrees. Tighten your abdominals and lift legs straight back up to 90 degrees. Repeat 10 times.

TIP: Focus on keeping a wrinkle in your shirt right at your sternum or bra strap. That will help you keep your abs engaged and maintain proper form.

Target Your Butt

These moves will sculpt a better butt.
These moves will sculpt a better butt. (Image: Valorie Darling)

Grasshopper Lifts (3 sets of 10 reps)

Use your glutes to lift your legs, not your back.
Use your glutes to lift your legs, not your back. (Image: Valorie Darling)

Setup: Lie flat on your stomach, hands stacked palm over palm under your forehead like a pillow.

Action: Separate legs as wide as your mat. Bend knees and bring toes together, keeping your knees apart. Lift your thighs up off the mat, engaging your glutes. Pulse your legs up toward the ceiling, without letting thighs touch the mat. Repeat 10 times. Take a quick breather between sets. Finish in an active rest pose or child’s pose to round out your back.

TIP: It’s not about arching up into this pose, so keep your abdominals pulled in toward your navel and the glutes actively squeezing to lift your legs.

Target Your Thighs

This move will target your inner thighs.
This move will target your inner thighs. (Image: Valorie Darling)

Outer-Thigh Sculpter (20 reps)

Jump up, jump up and get down!
Jump up, jump up and get down! (Image: Valorie Darling)

Setup: Stand with feet just wider than hip-distance apart with your hands on your hips.

Action 1: Bend the knees and jump high, landing in a deep plié squat. Repeat 20 times.

Keep your back tall and straight.
Keep your back tall and straight. (Image: Valorie Darling)

Action 2: Hold deep plié squat and pulse down 20 times.

TIP: Stand tall as if your back is against a wall. Engaging the abdominals is key to maintaining this length in the body and spine.

Incorporate these moves into your daily fitness routine at least three times a week. Remember, consistency is key! Committing to these moves will make a difference in your physical goals and help tighten this target zone.

Andrea Speir is the founder of the Speir Pilates studio in Santa Monica, California. She fuses classical Pilates with modern cardio and intense circuit training. Connect with Andrea on her website and on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

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