You've prepped for this -- lacing your sneakers, putting your ear buds in -- and now you're ready for a jog. Your cardiovascular system's eager for a workout. After all, any aerobic exercise makes its day. And any extra weight living on your hips is soon to be evicted as you burn excess calories. But your glutes, cellulite-rippled thighs and saggy calves -- will your jog tighten them up as well?
Is It In the Genes?
Genetics play an important part in how you look: whether you have brown or red hair, are tall or short, or are prone to being thin or plump. However, just because you're genetically predisposed to being heavy or having a flat, pancake butt doesn't mean you have to stay this way. Getting active and making changes -- i.e. eating healthier and jogging -- can turn the tables in your favor. As you jog, you burn flabby thigh and glute fat, and tone the underlying lean muscle. But if you're not genetically predisposed to having Jennifer Lopez's bodacious glutes, or Beyonce's taut legs, then prepare to work for it.
You'll need to be creative with you jog to tone your lower body. Jogging, an ideal aerobic activity, can increase your cardiovascular fitness. It will also rid your thighs and butt of unwanted fat, revealing lean muscle. Tone these muscles by doing interval training, or mixing short bursts of high-intensity exercise in with your routine. According to the American Council on Exercise, interval training can be based on speed or time. To tone your glutes to your calves, add hill intervals to your interval jogs.
Vary your jogging routine to build a toned lower body. Find steps, slopes and hills to increase the incline and boost muscle power. Chris Johnson, fitness director at the Michigan Atlantic Club, says adding an incline to your jog will work your quads, ankles and glutes. Add sloped or hilly locations to your interval jog. Even a set of steps will do in a pinch. Adding weights during your jog can also tone your glutes, notes exercise physiologist Tom Holland. Lug a pair of lightweight dumbbells, holding them as you jog.
If you plan to tone with interval or weight-assisted jogs, make sure to warm up first. Start with a series of jumping jacks or jogging in place -- enough to get your heart pumping. Once you have warmed up, do a series of hip, hamstrings and quads stretches to help with your jog. Don't push interval or weight-assisted jogs too fast, though. Keep dumbbells light -- below five pounds unless you're used to running with weights. And allow your body a day to rest between jogs.
Having studied at two top Midwestern universities, Catherine Field holds degrees in professional writing and patient safety. Writing since 2000, Field has worked with regional newspapers while publishing fiction online. She conducts medical communication research at a Midwestern medical institution and is slated to write a book based on her research findings.