Most of us have things we'd like to change about ourselves. Thinner thighs, bigger biceps, long and lean calves, six-pack abs. And while spot reduction isn't a reality (sorry!), there are things you can do to tone your trouble zones.
To lose weight, you can't do things at random. Instead, you need to create an effective, targeted workout plan to shape up your problem areas. If it's your waist, hips and thighs you're concerned with, you need to include plenty of cardio in your fitness plan, along with muscle-building resistance exercises to slim and sculpt your body. Lastly, don't forget to stick to a healthy eating plan, too, so you can start to see improvements in as little as a couple of weeks.
Lay the Groundwork for Success
Beyonce wasn't built in a day, and neither is your dream body. To lose weight in your waist, hips and thighs, you need to lose weight all over. How you lose that weight, however, depends on your genetics. It's possible that these areas will be the last to lose weight, but if you're consistent with these four steps, you will see results.
- Start With Cardio: Cardio, one of the most effective tools for weight loss, helps you blast away calories so you can lose body fat. Although you can't decide where you're going to lose that fat from (thank your genetics for that), jumping rope, jumping jacks, rowing, cycling and swimming target your lower body. And workouts like sprinting and HIIT are the most effective for torching fat all over.
- Lift Weights: Along with regular cardio, strength training helps you slim down and achieve a tighter, more defined physique. That way, you have muscle tone to show off once you shed fat. Start off with more basic lower-body exercises, like squats, lunges and step-ups. See the sections below for even more targeted exercises.
- Plan to Succeed: Planning your workout is essential to your success. Include at least four to five 30-minute cardio sessions per week — even if some days you're only taking a brisk walk or jog — to get your heart rate up and help burn fat. Do a strength-training workout at least three times a week that includes full-body exercises as well as ones that target your trouble zones.
- Watch What You Eat: No matter how much time you spend in the gym or how hard you work, you can't out-exercise a bad diet. You can sweat it out with cardio and weights, but you won't lose weight if you're not fueling your body properly. Choose fresh fruits and leafy green vegetables, legumes, nuts and healthy fats. Avoid an excess of processed and sugary foods, which can result in water retention and fat gain.
Target Your Trouble Zones
Yes, it's true that you can't spot reduce. But you can spot tone. What's the difference? Essentially, spot reducing means you're losing weight only from one area. Spot toning means you're focusing primarily on one specific muscle (or muscle group) during your workouts. While your strength training workouts should focus on your entire body, make sure to include these exercises into your routine, too, to see the results you want.
Whittle Your Waist
If your goals is a tinier, trimmer waist, incorporate some of these exercises into your strength-training routine:
- Side planks
- Side planks with a reach under
- Bicycle crunches
- Side crunches
- Twisting knee lift
- Side bends
- Hula hooping (come on, indulge your inner child and train your abs to stay contracted)
- Any of the other great moves yoga teach Tara Stiles points out in the above video
Slim Your Hips
For slimmer hips, you'll want to make sure your workouts feature at least a few of these exercises each week:
- Side-lying leg raise (or standing)
- Barbel hip thrust
- Side lunge
- Glute bridge
- Fire hydrant
- Lateral step-out squat
- Banded lateral walk
- Clamshell with resistance band
Thin Your Thighs
Give the above workout from the Tone It Up girls a shot or modify your current workout routine with some of these thigh-toning exercises:
- Plie squats
- Squat jumps
- Single-leg deadlift
- Warrior II
- Wall sits
- Stair stepper
- Speed skaters
Additional reporting from: Michelle Dawn
- ExRx.net: Fat Loss & Weight Training Myths
- American Council on Exercise: Strength Training 101
- ExRx.net: Thigh Exercises
- Effect of Abdominal Resistance Exercise on Abdominal Subcutaneous Fat of Obese Women: A Randomized Controlled Trial Using Ultrasound Imaging Assessments
- Thickness of Subcutaneous Fat and Activity of Underlying Muscles
- It is time to bust the myth of physical inactivity and obesity: you cannot outrun a bad diet
- ACE Fitness: So, You Want To Spot Reduce? Here’s How
- How To Lose Stubborn Fat: Belly, Butt, Hips & Thighs