Whether your style is high heels and high class, or jeans and T-shirt casual, the way clothes fit your body can cause heads to turn. For tight jeans and revealing bathing suits, especially, you want your thighs and derrière to be assets not roadblocks. Knowing the right exercises is the secret to getting a svelte lower body that will leave your thighs and butt trim and toned.
You'll need a 6- to 12-inch step or box. Stand 3 to 6 inches in front of the box with your feet at least hip-width apart. Tighten your stomach and straighten your torso, with your arms at your sides. Next, lower your hips toward the floor. Jump up on the box when you feel your heels begin to rise, using your arms in a forward swinging motion to propel you. Both feet should land as one unit with your stomach muscles still tight. Repeat this movement, jumping on and off the box for one minute. Try to only pause briefly between jumps to maximize this movement's cardio benefits.
Plyometric squats put a twist on the tried-and-true thigh-burning squat. Begin with your feet spread shoulder-width apart. Now move into the traditional squat by lowering your backside toward the floor until your knees form a 90-degree angle. Next, jump into the air making sure to return to that 90-degree squat. Maintain a straight back and a tight core to keep your center of gravity from shifting. Also, to protect your knees, avoid rough surfaces for this exercise and land gently. Do four sets of 12, resting for 15 seconds between each set.
An exercise that pulls double duty, mountain climbers are tough but resourceful. Assume an all-fours position and extend your legs back. Use your arms and the inactive leg for support during this move. Start with your right leg. Quickly bend the leg, bringing it underneath you until the knee meets your chest. Rapidly move the leg back and switch legs. Repeat this movement with the opposite leg, alternating between legs. Aim your knee toward its opposite shoulder to gain an added abdominal twist with this exercise.
Toe Squat With Overhead Reach
Toe squats with overhead reaches combine the better of two worlds: yoga and strength training. If you're familiar with the Chair pose, you can skip the first part of this step. If not, grab a dumbbell -- 2 to 5 pounds -- in each hand and stand with your feet together. Stretch your torso and tighten your core as you come onto your toes. Then lower your hips as if you were sitting in a chair and raise your arms over your head. In a half-squat position, begin lifting and lowering your bottom. Keep your arms above your head and your hands gripping the dumbbells. Do eight to 12 repetitions of lift and lowering movements.
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