Summertime and swimsuit season may be your arch-nemeses, but you're not fooling anyone in that oversize sweater dress. The only way to really hide your stomach, butt and thighs is to reduce their size for good. Unfortunately it's not possible to spot-reduce specific areas of the body, so you'll need to lose weight all over to reduce your trouble areas. The best way to bag the bulge and drop a pant size or two is to combine cardiovascular exercise that torches calories with strength-training exercises that build muscle and increase your metabolism. A healthy and well-balanced diet is also a must when embarking on a fat loss journey.
It might not seem like your idea of a good time, but running is a great way to reduce your stomach, butt and thighs. The cardiovascular aspect of it tears through calories, creating a nice little calorie deficit by the end of the week if you're dedicated to your workouts. Chances are good that this loss of calories will result in fat loss in those stubborn areas. Your glutes, quads and hamstrings will get a great workout as you run, resulting in improved muscle tone. Even though you don't directly use your stomach while running, it still works pretty hard during the workout. In fact, if you've ever done a long run, you've probably experienced some sore abs afterwards. Try to get a 30- to 60-minute run in three to five times a week but to avoid injury, start with a 10- to 20-minute run and progressively increase your time.
Kettlebell exercises, such as swings, are the best of both worlds -- they combine cardio with strength training for a calorie-blasting workout. Swings involve high intensity movements and strengthen your butt, thighs and stomach muscles. A few weeks of kettlebells and you'll have a noticeably tighter derriere and smaller stomach, and you may even be able to see some light between your thighs. To swing a kettlebell, set it on the floor, straddle it with a shoulder-width stance and squat to grab the handle with an overhand grip. Straighten your back, pull in your stomach, then swing the kettlebell slightly to the rear. Push through your heels to extend your knees and hips and propel the weight forward and up. Allow the weight to swing back down, then immediately swing it forward again. Aim for two to three sets of 10 to 20 reps, gradually increasing your reps as your strength and stamina improve.
Body Weight Exercises
You may be at odds with the size of your body, but you can actually use your weight to your advantage with body weight exercises. You can do these anywhere without any special equipment -- ideal for those who lack the time and dollars for a trip to the gym. Body weight exercises will tone muscle and, if done at a high intensity, burn fat, helping you to achieve your goals. Squat jumps, burpees, jumping lunges, jumping jacks and flutter kicks will target that extra cushion you're trying to lose. Pick three to five exercises, performing one right after the other. Do 10 to 20 reps of each exercise with less than 60 seconds of rest between each exercise. Repeat the exercise circuit two to three times.
Free Weight Exercises
There is a huge misconception that women who lift heavy weights build big and bulky muscles -- it takes an incredible amount of time and effort lifting, and following a very strict diet, for a woman to get big. This means that you can feel free to take advantage of the metabolism-boosting effects of strength training without the fear of looking like a man. Exercises that work your entire body will build lean muscle on your stomach, butt and thighs while sculpting great arms. Squats, thrusters, deadlifts and lunges are effective total-body options. To build muscle and burn fat, perform two to three sets of eight to 12 reps of each exercise three nonconsecutive days per week.
Jen Weir writes for several websites, specializing in the health and fitness field. She holds a Bachelor of Science in exercise science from Montana State University, is an NSCA-certified strength and conditioning specialist and maintains a personal trainer certification from the American College of Sports Medicine.