Want to improve the view above your knees? If you aim to tone your thighs, hips and rear, then you're in need of some powerful resistance training moves. Keep in mind that these exercises will only build lean muscle mass, not reduce fat. So if wiggle and jiggle is your concern, you need a multifaceted approach that centers around your diet. Losing weight at a fast yet safe rate requires reducing total calorie intake -- preferably down to 1,200 a day, according to the Mayo Clinic.
When it comes to building lean muscle mass, resistance training reigns. Target your hamstrings, glutes, quads and adductors with moves like lunges, squats, step-ups and inverted flyers. Start with one set of 12 repetitions per exercise, working up to two sets as you grow stronger. When the moves become easy with body weight alone, start holding a dumbbell in each hand. Perform resistance exercises three times a week, skipping a day between workouts to allow muscles time to rest.
Isometrics are resistance training moves, and can help you strengthen muscles faster. To perform isometrics, you simply hold your muscles still. You don't need any special moves; just pause for about 10 seconds at the bottom of your squat or lunge. If you have access to a barbell, try isometric deadlifts, pausing at the lowest position. These are tough, so reduce the number of reps to seven per set, allowing up to two minutes to rest in between sets.
Don't forget your recommended dose of cardio, which is at least 150 minutes of moderate activity per week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Cardio burns mega calories for faster fat loss and will also tone your upper legs if you choose the right exercises. Go for a brisk walk, jog or jump rope to target those muscles. Jogging and jumping rope count as vigorous activity rather than just moderate activity, so you can get away with just 75 minutes per week of these. Spread your routine out over most days of the week, exercising at least 10 minutes at a time.
You may be in a hurry to tone up, but take it easy when starting a workout routine. Pumping your muscles too hard at first can lead to overuse and strains, so begin at a gentle level and slowly work up. Invest in a quality pair of shoes and appropriate workout attire, and have water handy throughout your routine. Never force yourself to exercise when you feel sick or exhausted, and listen to your body; dizziness or discomfort during your workout means it's quitting time.
- MayoClinic.com: Fewer Calories, Healthy Food Best Weight-Loss Plan
- American Council on Exercise: Inner and Outer Leg Exercises
- Stack.com: Exercise of the Week: Isometric Deadlift
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: How Much Physical Activity do Adults Need?
- Harvard Health Publications: 10 Tips for Exercising Safely
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.