There are actually two types of fat that accumulate on your waist and thighs. Visceral fat, which accumulates around your waist, is actually worse for your health, but subcutaneous fat, which gathers under the skin, particularly on your hips and thighs, is harder to lose. Both types look equally bad in bathing suits. Although exercises won't cause you to lose fat from a specific area, they will firm the underlying muscles and improve your appearance.
Because your body breaks down muscles during exercise and builds stronger muscles during recovery, allow 48 hours between strength-training sessions. Choose exercises or resistances that allow you to do no more than 15 repetitions for hip exercises and 20 for abdominals. Extra repetitions at low intensity are ineffective.
The main long muscle that runs along the front of your abdominal area is known as the rectus abdominis. It is not divided into two separate parts, lower and upper abdominals, although you may feel exercises that also activate the hip flexors more in the lower part of the muscle. According to the American Council on Exercise, the three best exercises for the rectus abdominis are the bicycle maneuver, captain's chair and exercise ball crunches.
Exercises for the Obliques
The internal and external obliques are muscles running along the sides of your abdomen that you use to twist and bend sideways. According to the American Council on Exercise, the best exercises for these muscles are the captain's chair, bicycle maneuver and reverse crunch. Dumbbell side bends, broomstick side bends and any situps or crunches with twists also target the obliques.
If your gluteus maximus no longer fits into your largest jeans, it's time to start exercising your glutes or buying new jeans. Front and back lunges, squats, deadlifts and leg presses all work the glutes. Hold dumbbells while doing lunges for a more intense workout.
The hip adductors run along the outside of your thighs, just under the area where women may develop saddlebags. Tone these muscles with side leg lifts, side lunges or a hip or thigh adductor machine at the gym.
- MayoClinic.com: Belly Fat in Women: Taking — and Keeping — It Off
- American Council on Exercise: Why is the Concept of Spot Reduction Considered a Myth?
- BodyBuilding.com: You Can't Spot Reduce
- ExRx.net: Fat Loss & Weight Training Myths
- ExRx.net: Hip Exercise Menu
- American Council on Exercise: American Council on Exercise (ACE)-sponsored Study Reveals Best and Worst Abdominal Exercises
- ExRx.net: Obliques
- ExRx.net: Waist Exercise Menu
Carol Poster began writing professionally in 1974. Her articles have appeared in "Outdoor Woman," "Paddler," "Ski Magazine," "Women's Sports & Fitness," "Dance News," "Show Business," "The Athenian," "PC Resource" and "Utah Holiday," among other publications. Poster holds an M.F.A. in creative writing from Eastern Washington University, as well as a Ph.D. in English from the University of Missouri.