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.
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
Crossover Reaches (5 pulses per side, 5 sets)
Setup: Lie on your back with your legs stretched straight up to the ceiling and hands stacked palm over palm behind your head.
Action: Lower one leg down to a 45-degree angle and reach across your body toward the pinky toe with the opposite arm. Pulse your body up five times. Repeat on the other side.
TIP: Pull your abdominals in and really twist your body to get the lower abs and obliques working.
Single-Leg Teaser (8 reps per leg)
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)
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
Bridge (10 reps per side)
Setup: Lie flat on your back, arms long by your sides. Your knees are bent and the feet are hip-distance apart. Your heels should almost touch your fingertips.
Action 1: Curl the hips up toward the ceiling, keeping your pelvis tucked under and your glutes engaged. Extend one leg toward the ceiling. Lower and lift your hips in little pulses and keep the hips even. Repeat 10 times. Switch sides and repeat.
Action 2: Cross one heel over your thigh, knee out to the side. Lift and lower the hips (engaging the glutes). Repeat 10 times. Switch legs.
TIP: Activate your backside and visualize your glutes doing the work here. Thinking about these muscles working does kick them on. Keep your abdominals engaged as well to prevent the lower back from arching or taking over.
Grasshopper Lifts (3 sets of 10 reps)
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
Inner-Thigh Tightener (20 reps)
Setup: Lie on your side with the legs slightly extended in front of your body. Your head should be resting in one hand with the other hand anchored in front of the abdominals.
Action 1: Lift the top leg just above hip height. Lift bottom leg up and lower back down. Repeat 20 times.
Action 2: Lift both legs up, keeping them tightly squeezed together. Lower both legs down. Repeat 20 times.
TIP: Try to get your leg up as high as possible, and take your time. It's not about speed, it's about form. This will not only tighten the inner thighs, but cinch the waist as well.
Outer-Thigh Sculpter (20 reps)
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.
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.