If there were a hip-whittling move that could take fat directly from your saddlebags, women would be lining up for miles to learn it. The truth, however, is that exercise does not trim fat straight from the hips or any other body part. The only way to slim down your pear shape is to reduce overall body fat, which is best accomplished with a combination of healthy eating and plenty of exercise. That said, you can tone your hip muscles with strength training for a firmer appearance.
To tone up your hips and bum, choose exercises that work your hip flexors, hip abductors and gluteus maximus. At home, perform lunges, squats, lying hip extensions, side bridge hip abductions and leg raises. Use hand weights with lunges and squats if you need added resistance. At the gym, try deadlifts, leg presses and selectorized hip abductions. Perform two sets of 12 reps for each exercise. Work your hips every other day, and be careful not to ignore your other muscle groups to avoid imbalance.
Although strength training won't remove fatty deposits from your hips, it will enhance weight loss efforts. For a 155-pound woman, the average weight session burns about 112 calories in 30 minutes. Strength training also builds muscle for a faster metabolism over time. You see, muscles require more energy to sustain than fat, so your body naturally expends more calories when you gain lean muscle mass.
You may not want to hear this, but when it comes to losing weight, what you eat is more important than how much you exercise. To shed a pound of fat, you must eat 3,500 fewer calories than you use. The healthiest way to meet weight-loss goals is to aim for a pound or two a week, meaning a 500- to 1,000-calorie daily deficit. Most women can successfully lose weight at 1,200 calories per day, but don't go below this number.
Strength training will help you build a leaner, stronger body, but if you aren't careful, you can easily injure yourself. Start out with a light routine and gradually add more reps and weight. Take a walk or jog for 10 minutes before you start to warm up your muscles and lubricate joints. Don't focus on a single exercise or group of exercises -- performing the same actions repeatedly can cause overuse injury over time. Skip the workout when you feel sick, and always keep hydrated.
- ExRx.net: Hip Exercise Menu
- Harvard Health Publications: Calories Burned in 30 Minutes for People of Three Different Weights
- ShapeFit.com: Basal Metabolic Rate - Learn How To Calculate & Find Your BMR
- HelpGuide.org: Healthy Weight Loss & Dieting Tips
- 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.