The butt and thighs are common problem areas for many people, with fat storage often accumulating here. This fat can be difficult to get rid of, but a workout featuring moderate- to high-intensity cardio and targeted muscle-building exercises will get you results. With proven effective cardio and strength-training exercises, you can lose those layers of body fat and build the muscle underneath, creating a tight, toned body.
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Learn More About Your Muscles
The outer thighs are made up of the abductor muscle group, which includes four muscles: the gluteus medius, gluteus minimus, sartorius and tensor fasciae latae. The buttocks are made up primarily of the gluteus maximus muscles, which are the outermost muscles and the largest muscles in the entire body.
Cardio is King
Without cardio, you won't shed enough body fat to reveal the muscle you're working so hard to build up underneath. You can't spot reduce from one particular area, such as the butt or thighs, but you can lose fat from all over your body with full-body cardio activities such as jumping rope, jumping jacks, rowing, burpees or running on the treadmill. Aim to include at least three to four 30- to 45-minute sessions of cardio during the week.
Do a Backward Lunge
The barbell rear lunge is one of the most effective exercises for the buttocks and outer thighs. Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart, your back straight, holding onto a barbell so it rests against the back of your shoulders. Take a step back with your left leg, lunging down until your left knee is nearly touching the floor. Hold for a moment, then push yourself back up to a standing position. Repeat, this time with your opposite leg to complete one rep. Continue for a total of three sets of 12 reps.
Dumbbell Squat Gets Big Results
To tone your legs and butt, the squat is good enough on its own, but you get even bigger muscle gains when you use dumbbells during the exercise. This increases the resistance, making your body work harder so you gain muscle faster. Stand with your feet about hip-width apart, toes pointed slightly outward. Squat down without arching your back, continuing until your thighs are just past parallel to the floor. Try not to extend your knees past your toes to maintain proper form. Use the strength of your legs to push yourself back up to complete one rep. Do three sets of 12 reps.
Step it Up a Notch
The dumbbell step-up is an effective exercise to work the abductor muscles. It also works the buttocks muscles, making it an ideal exercise to include in your workout. Start in a standing position, feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, in front of a step or platform. Keep your arms straight down at your sides, a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing in. Step up onto the platform with your right foot then your left, then step back down starting with your left foot. Do 20 reps, then do another 20 reps using your opposite foot as your lead foot.
Lie Down to Tone the Abductors
The dumbbell lying hip abduction exercise is an isolated exercise, targeting the abductor muscle group. Lie flat on your side so your body forms a straight line, one leg on top of the other. Rest your head on your lower arm and engage your core to give yourself more stability. Move your bottom leg slightly behind your top leg, bending it at the knee just slightly. Rest your top arm flat along your side with a dumbbell in your hand so the weight is resting against the side of your thigh. Lift your top leg up toward the ceiling, moving it as far away from your other leg as possible. Keep the weight pressed against the same spot on your leg during the movement. Lower your leg back down to complete one rep. Repeat for 20 reps, then switch sides for another 20 reps.
Keep Safety in Mind
It's always a good idea to consult with your doctor before starting any new exercise program. Exercising with weights can be risky, especially if you're handling more weight than you can manage. Use a weight that is challenging but doesn't make you strain, and only increase the amount of weight when you can complete a set of 12 reps of any exercise without impairing your form. Do your strength-training workout three to four times a week, and try to work your upper and lower body on alternating days, so your muscles get rest in between workouts.