Along with flat abs, many women desire strong, sexy legs. Unfortunately, the upper leg is a common problem area for excess fat. Upper leg exercises can tone and strengthen, but won't do much for weight loss. If you want to look great in skinny jeans or shorts, you've got to do cardiovascular exercise along with upper leg exercises.
Myth of Spot Reduction
Common sense would suggest that to lose weight in a specific area, you need to exercise that area. Here's the reality, though, from the American Council on Exercise: spot reduction just doesn't work. The good news is that your body is more efficient than that. By doing fat-burning exercises, regardless of what area you're targeting, you will lose weight -- as long as you're not canceling out the results with your diet.
The best way to burn fat and lose weight is through cardiovascular exercise. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests 150 to 300 minutes per week of aerobic exercise. Any exercise that gets your heart pumping will burn fat, but running, hiking, bicycling and plyometrics also tone and strengthen the upper legs. They're fun, too.
Build Muscle, Burn Fat
Upper leg exercises alone won't get rid of that jiggly thigh, but they can build muscle which increases fat burn. More leg muscle doesn't just reduce fat in the legs, but throughout the body as well. For an all-over toned body, you'll want to do weight training that targets other areas of the body besides the legs, such as the abs, back and arms.
The American Council on Exercise says that squats are tops for toning the legs and glutes. Do the basic squat by standing with your legs shoulder-width apart, then bend your knees and push your hips back as if you're sitting down. Straighten the legs and hips to return to the start position. Do at least two sets of 12 to 15 squats twice a week. As you get stronger, hold dumbbells in each hand to increase resistance.
Hip Adduction and Abduction
If you're like a lot of women, the inner and outer thighs are your most troublesome area. You can get rid of inner thigh rubbing by doing the side-lying hip adduction. Lie on your side with your hips stacked, but your bottom leg slightly forward of the top leg. Using your inner thigh muscle, lift the lower leg up and down for two sets of 12 to 15 repetitions. Turn over to repeat on the other side. Target the saddle bag area of the outer thigh through side lying hip abduction. Lie on your side with your hips and legs stacked. Lift the top leg up and down, without letting your hips tip back. Do two sets of 12 to 15 repetitions, then turn over to repeat on the other side.
- American Council on Exercise: Why is the Concept of Spot Reduction Considered a Myth?
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: How Much Exercise Do Adults Need?
- MayoClinic.com: Metabolism and Weight Loss: How You Burn Calories
- American Council on Exercise: Glutes to the Max
- ExRx.net: Squat
- American Council on Exercise: Side Lying Hip Adduction
- American Council on Exercise: Side Lying Hip Abduction
Leslie Truex has been telecommuting and freelancing since 1994. She wrote the "The Work-At-Home Success Bible" and is a career/business and writing instructor at Piedmont Virginia Community College. Truex has a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Willamette University and a Master of Social Work from California State University-Sacramento. She has been an Aerobics and Fitness Association of America certified fitness instructor since 2001.