Looking to slim down your abs and lower body? A few simple strength-training moves at home can help you tone your tummy, thighs, hips and rear. However, no exercises can shave off fat; it takes a multipronged effort to lose inches. That's why a cardio routine and a sensible eating plan are also vital for attaining a svelte figure. You can't choose specific body areas to shrink with exercise, so make lifestyle changes to lose weight all over and then rely on resistance training for definition.
Resistance moves are the backbone of a muscle-building routine, and many are easy to do in your own home. Forward lunges and side lunges focus on thighs, while squats, glute bridges and glute kickbacks target your buttocks. For tummy toning, rely on Supermans, crunches and V-ups. For hips, try lying leg raises and body-weight hip abductions. All of these exercises work multiple muscles -- for example, squats engage hips, buttocks and thighs -- so you won't need to get through all of these in one shot to meet your needs.
Cardio can be as simple as it gets; all you need to do is walk, jog or run. Not only will cardio help tone your muscles, but the sustained activity boosts your heart and lung power for increased endurance. Cardio also rules when it comes to calorie burning, helping you shed fat faster. Jogging at the modest pace of 5 mph torches 606 calories per hour for a 160-pound person. Good thing, because it takes 3,500 calories to burn just 1 pound of fat.
So how much exercise do you need to trim down, tone muscles and stay healthy? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises performing moderate cardio for 150 to 300 minutes each week, or vigorous cardio 75 to 150 minutes per week. Brisk walking counts as moderate cardio, while jogging is vigorous. As for resistance training, the CDC recommends at least two weekly sessions -- but opt for three or four to maximize muscle building. Just don't train the same muscles two days in a row -- that spells overuse.
Don't hurt yourself out there; exercise involves risk, but you can help ensure safety by following some simple rules. Warm up your muscles for at least five minutes before you get serious with your workout. Have plenty of cold water on hand, and always dress in nonrestrictive garb. Don't push beyond your limits, and cease activity if you feel dizzy or fatigued. If you're outdoors in hot weather, reduce your workout intensity. If it's cold out, cover up to avoid chilling your muscles.
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.