If only there were some magic exercise move to shave the extra padding from your thighs and butt. The woeful truth is that no activity plucks fat from any part of your body. What exercise can do, however, is incinerate calories to help you bring down your body-fat percentage to trim you down all over. In addition, targeted resistance moves will build lean muscle mass on your glutes, hamstrings and adductors, creating shape and lift in your lower body.
You lose fat when your body burns it for energy. Up that burn with cardio, which uses plenty of -- you guessed it, energy. Double down on the benefit by choosing activities that engage thigh and buttock muscles while torching calories. Running is a terrific option, obliterating 465 calories in 30 minutes if you weigh 155 pounds and run at 7.6 miles per hour. Jumping rope is another great option, burning 372 calories in 30 minutes at the same weight. Other solid choices include cycling and playing basketball.
Resistance training builds lean muscle mass, which helps in two ways: it adds definition and raises your resting metabolic rate, since muscle requires more energy to maintain than fat. Most resistance moves that work your butt also work your thighs. Try Supermans, lunges, squats, step-ups and glute bridges, adding hand weights to the standing exercises if desired. Perform 12 repetitions of each exercise, take a breather, and then perform a second set.
Play it safe by starting a new workout routine slowly. If you have any existing injuries or illnesses, get the go-ahead from your doctor first. Always warm up and cool down with five to 10 minutes of light activity such as walking, and only stretch with warm muscles. Drink plenty of water, and sip on a sports drink to replace electrolytes if your session lasts longer than 90 minutes. Pay attention to your body; if something feels off, that's a signal to stop.
You need to burn 3,500 calories to shed a single pound of fat, which won't happen if you replace all of the calories you burn with food. Calorie intake actually matters even more than physical activity when you're trying to lose weight. Start tracking calories in and calories out, consuming 500 fewer calories than you burn every day to lose a pound each week. Losing more than two pounds in a week results in muscle and water loss, making it more difficult to sustain a healthy weight in the long term.
- Harvard Health Publications: Calories Burned in 30 Minutes for People of Three Different Weights
- American College of Sports Medicine: Metabolism is Modifiable with the Right Lifestyle Changes
- American Council on Exercise: Butt & Hip Exercises
- HelpGuide.org: How to Lose Weight and Keep it Off
- 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.