Eager to whip your your belly, butt and thighs into tip-top shape? The right workouts will sculpt and tone these areas for a more flattering physique. However, there's one thing exercising won't do -- spot reduce. No moves will melt flab from any specific body part. To lose fat, add a sensible eating plan to your exercise routine. The Mayo Clinic recommends reducing intake to 1,200 calories per day, and choosing nutrient-dense foods like fruits, veggies, whole grains and lean proteins over sweets and fast food.
Cardio is the core of a solid weight-loss or fitness plan. Not only does it blast away more calories than any other form of exercise, but it does wonders for your heart and lungs. Perform 300 minutes of moderate cardio or 150 minutes of intense cardio per week. During moderate cardio, you can hold a conversation but not sing; during intense cardio, it's hard to say more than a few words at a time. Choose exercises that focus on your lower body for optimal belly, butt and thigh toning. Jogging and walking up and down stairs are two great options.
Resistance training can include weights, but it doesn't have to -- nature gave you everything you need for a great workout. Shred your abs with V-ups, Supermans and crunches. Build your butt and thighs with lunges, squats and step-ups. Engage in resistance training three days per week, allowing a full day of rest in between each workout. And don't forget your other body parts -- you risk imbalance if you neglect any major muscle group in your routine. You can perform resistance training on the same days as your cardio if you prefer.
If traditional resistance training leaves you yawning, give yoga a shot. The more intense styles, like Bikram and Ashtanga, offer a full-body strength workout while increasing flexibility and fighting stress. And that stress-relief thing may even help you shrink your belly. Under stress, your body produces the hormone cortisol, which is linked to higher levels of visceral fat that surrounds your abdominal organs, expanding your waistline.
You may be thinking more about your reflection in the mirror than long-term health benefits, but working out does much more than sculpt your body -- it also helps combat chronic conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and depression. Exercising also reduces your risk of osteoporosis, arthritis, stroke and some types of cancer. It can even improve your mood and elevate self-esteem. Basically, life can be a whole lot better with exercise than without it.
Nina K. is a Los Angeles-based journalist who has been published by USAToday.com, Fitday.com, Healthy Living Magazine, Organic Authority and numerous other print and web publications. She has a philosophy degree from the University of Colorado and a journalism certificate from UCLA.