Building strong and shapely legs, abs, arms and butt muscles will not only make you feel more awesome in the gym, but you’ll feel more confident when you’re out on the town. There are plenty of great exercises that help you shape and tone all these areas. When it comes to choosing the exercises best for you, focus on movements that target and recruit multiple muscle groups at once.
Combining all of the exercises below into one workout will help you burn additional fat and sculpt the lean shapely muscle you want.
Shapely, Lovely Legs
When it comes to toning and building a lovely pair of legs, there are two exercises you want to focus on: goblet squats and dumbbell step-ups. Both of these exercises target your quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes and calves.
1. Goblet Squat
HOW TO DO IT: To perform goblet squats, hold a dumbbell at chest height with your hands under one end like you were holding a chalice. Your forearms should be parallel and your feet at shoulder-width distance. Make sure to maintain your weight through your heels.
Descend into a squat position as if sitting in a chair, keeping your back straight and chest upright. From the bottom of the squat, push through your heels, standing up to the starting position. Repeat for three to four sets of 10 reps.
2. Step Up
HOW TO DO IT: Step-ups are an excellent way to not only build strength in your legs and glutes, but you can use them to add in a fun change of pace to your cardio routine. Use either your bodyweight or a pair of light dumbbells -- start with 5 to 10 pounds.
You'll also need bench or a small 6- to 8-inch step to perform this exercise. Place one foot on the bench or step. Push through your elevated foot, extending your hip and knee, and place your second foot on the step or bench. Step back down, returning to your starting position. Once you've completed all 10 to 12 reps for your first leg, switch and perform on the opposite leg.
To make this a cardio-style exercise, set the timer on your phone for 2 to 4 minutes and perform step-ups until the timer ends. Just as you would if you were walking up a long flight of stairs.
Build a Bootylicious Butt
When it comes to building a toned and shapely booty, hip thrusts are one of the best exercises you can perform.
The hip thrust is executed like the glute bridge, the only difference is that your back is elevated. This increases your range of motion which engages more of your glute muscles.
As long as you have a bench or a sturdy chair, hip thrusts can be performed anywhere. Start with the body-weight version then add challenges such as single leg hip thrusts or weight via dumbbells or barbells.
1. Hip Thrust
HOW TO DO IT: Sit in front of a bench or chair. The edge of the chair/bench should be against your shoulder blades. Lean back against the bench so that your shoulder blades and head are now on top of the bench/chair.
Begin the exercise by driving through your feet, extending your hips vertically into the air. At the top of the movement, squeeze your glutes and pause for a moment. Slowly lower your hips back to the starting position.
Keep your knees pressed out towards the wall while thrusting up. This will activate more of your glute muscles.
When it comes to building toned and firm arms, weight machines, dumbbells and your own body weight will do.
Incline push-ups on a bench are not only a great way to strengthen your chest, but if you move your hands closer together on the bench you’ll target more of your triceps at the back of your arms. You can, of course, perform everyone’s favorite dumbbell biceps curl for your biceps, but you can also build strength and tone your arms and back at the same time with supinated lat pull-downs.
HOW TO DO IT: Sit down at the lat pull-down machine and grab the bar with a double underhand grip. Pull the bar down to your chest, but no lower than your collarbones. Slow extend your arms back overhead, back to the starting position. Perform three to four sets of 10 reps of this exercise.
Abs of Steel
When it comes to building a set of rock hard abs, the traditional crunch isn’t always the best weapon of choice. According to a study conducted by The American Council of Exercise, there are actually a few exercises you can perform that recruit more muscles in your abs than the standard crunch. Bicycle crunches, hanging leg raises, reverse crunches, and the vertical leg crunch are among some of the exercises that recruit more muscles than the standard crunch.
If you enjoy crunches but have noticed some low back discomfort while doing them, give the stability ball crunch a try. ACE noted that it provides more activation for your abs than regular crunches, too.
1. Stability Ball Crunch
HOW TO DO IT: Sit on top of an exercise ball. Then slowly walk forward, keeping your butt/back on the on the ball. Lie back on the ball until your shoulders and head are slightly hanging off; keep your knees and hips bent.
Flex your waist and upper body as you would doing a crunch on the ground. Once you feel your abs contract, slowly return to the starting position. Perform three sets of 10 to 12 reps.