Give your legs and tush a firm push in the right direction with these effective shaping exercises. For best results, do them after a cardio session or work them into your existing strength routine three or four days per week.
You’ll need: A set of dumbbells (5 to 15 lbs, depending on your fitness level) and a resistance loop (or resistance band tied in a small loop).
Adding a balance challenge to booty-shaping squats will keep your hips, glutes, and abs firing the entire time.
How to do it: Stand tall with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart. Keeping your chest lifted and maintaining a neutral spine, lower into a deep squat, reaching both arms to the floor (try to tap the ground if you can).
As you press up, shift your weight into your right leg as you bend your left knee and grab onto your shin with your left hand [as shown]. Hold for 1 count, release your leg, and return to start. That’s one rep. Do 20 reps total, alternating sides each time.
This traveling lunge targets your thighs, hips, and glutes, plus the reaching motion adds an extra core challenge.
How to do it: Stand tall with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, hands clasped behind your head.
Cross your right leg behind your left and lower into a curtsey lunge, reaching your right hand to the floor [as shown]. Quickly stand back up and return to start. That’s one rep. Do 20 reps total, alternating sides each time.
For a head-turning lower body, strengthening your backside is just as, if not more, important than your front. Deadlifts recruit the muscles in your hamstrings, glutes, and lower back.
How to do it: Grab a pair of dumbbells and stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, knees slightly bent. Hold the weights in front of your thighs, palms facing in. Maintaining a neutral spine, hinge forward from your hips, reaching the dumbbells to the ground, until your torso is almost parallel with the floor. Focus on using your glutes to raise your body halfway back up [as shown] and then return to full forward hinge again. That’s one rep. Repeat 20 times total.
What happens when you combine a sumo squat with a side lunge? You get triple the saddlebag-slimming power!
How to do it:
Stand with your feet together, holding dumbbells by your sides. Take a wide step out to your right and lower into a side lunge, reaching dumbbells on either side of right leg [as shown]. Bend your left knee and shift your weight into both legs, into a wide squat position, reaching the dumbbells to floor in front of you, then extend your right leg and shift your weight to the left, moving into a side lunge with your left leg.
Push off your left foot to bring your legs together and return to start. That’s one rep. Do 20 reps total, alternating sides each time.
How to do it:
Loop a resistance band around your ankles and lie on your right side, supporting your upper body with your right hand and forearm. Extend both legs out, feet flexed. Brace your abs in tight and lift your top leg up to hip height, rotating your leg to turn your toes down to the floor, keeping tension on the band. Lift your leg slightly higher than hip height, pushing against band, with heel rotated up to the ceiling. Return to hip height. Repeat 20 times quickly and then switch sides.
This move was recently named by the American Council on Exercise as one of the very best thigh toning exercises, but it also engages your abs (you’ll feel it the next day!).
How to do it: Loop a resistance band around your ankles and lie on your right side with your right arm extended on the floor, left hand in front of your body for support. Brace your abs in tight, bring your bottom leg slightly in front of your top leg (let the inside of your top foot rest on the ground), and lift your leg up to the ceiling, keeping your hips stacked. Maintain tension on the band at all times and pulse your bottom leg up and down quickly 20 times. Repeat on the other side.
By Jessica Smith