Body-weight exercises will work your thighs and abs without the bother and expense of exercise equipment. You don't need a home gym or a gym membership to whip your thighs and abdominal muscles into shape for bikini season. Body-weight exercises pit your own body against the force of gravity to provide resistance as you exercise. Gravity is free, and the results you will see are priceless.
You don't have to exercise every day for hours to firm and tone your thighs and abs. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise every week. This means you should do about 30 minutes of physical activity five days each week. If you don't want to exercise that often, you can do about 60 minutes of vigorous exercise three days each week. Strength training should also be part of your weekly workout routine. To firm and tone your muscles, including your thighs and abs, do strength training three days each week. Do eight to 10 repetitions of strength-training exercises. Allow up to 24 to 48 hours between strength-training workouts to allow your muscles to heal.
Squats are one of the easiest strength-training exercises to learn to do and one of the most effective for your thighs and abs. You don't need equipment to get an effective strength-training, muscle-toning workout doing just squats. This exercise targets your hips, thighs, glutes and abs. Keep your back straight when doing this exercise. Don't lean forward, but bring your body straight down as if you are going to sit on a chair. Once your thighs are parallel to the floor, hold the position for two to three seconds, and then stand straight up again. Do eight to 10 repetitions.
Crunches and Planks
The crunch is an effective exercise to help firm and tone your abs for that “six pack” look. Pay attention to your form when doing crunches. You can injure your back if you use improper form when doing crunches. Not everyone worships the crunch. The plank exercise has a lot of followers, too. For stronger, leaner abs and thigh-strengthening workouts, combine two sets of crunches with two sets of planks, alternating between the two.
Vertical Ab Exercises
You don't have a mat to use for your workout? This is not a problem. You can strengthen both your thighs and your core by doing standing exercises. Vertical exercises will target your hips and thighs to give you that lean and trim look, particularly around your waist. Typical standing ab exercises without equipment include the static plie oblique crunch, crossover bicycle crunches and standing toe touches. The vertical crossover bicycle crunch will train your entire abdominal area, especially your obliques. To perform this exercise, place your hands behind your head with elbows out to the sides and your feet positioned slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Slowly lift your left knee across your torso, while simultaneously bringing your right elbow toward your left knee. As you bring the elbow toward the knee, contract your abs, breathe out and then return to the start position. Do 10 to 12 repetitions on each side. Lunges are another good example of a vertical ab exercise that also works your thighs and butt. Try a lunge with a torso twist to also target the obliques.
- American College of Sports Medicine: Body Weight Exercise Movement Gains Momentum
- American College of Sports Medicine: ACSM Issues New Recommendations on Quantity and Quality of Exercise
- American Council on Exercise: Bodyweight Squat
- The Iron You: Crunches v. Planks: What's the Best for Your Abs?
- American College of Sports Medicine: Swap the Sit-Ups: Effective Vertical Core Exercises
Robin Reichert is a certified nutrition consultant, certified personal trainer and professional writer. She has been studying health and fitness issues for more than 10 years. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of San Francisco and a Master of Science in natural health from Clayton College.