Tighter buns, thinner thighs: secrets to developing the body that you really want.
The secret, experts say, is to put aside workout myths and focus on the reality of weight training and cardio, which more specifically means that cardio can do more than bum fat, and you may be able to work your lower body more than two or three times a week. Popular exercises, such as squats and lunges, can be integrated into a total workout that improves your rear view and your attitude. And an increasing number of workout machines allow you to focus on desired areas.
The first thing to understand about focusing on certain body parts is that while it's not possible to spot-reduce, it is possible to spot-tight-en, spot-tone and reshape, says Cornell McClellan, owner of Naturally Fit, a personal training facility in Chicago. McClellan says that when you exercise, you burn fat througout the entire body.
"When we talk about reduce, we're generally talking about lowering body fat in a particular area, and you can't 'spot' that," he says. "If you regularly work one area of the body, you can spot-tighten and spot-tone and get greater definition and muscle tone in that area."
Fitness specialists say that you should focus on the total body and total health by eating healthy food and by doing aerobic activity. By increasing your cardio workout, you can burn more fat, including the extra padding on your buns and thighs. To add another dimension to your aerobic workout, choose exercises that use the leg muscles--bicycling, in-line skating, walking, running, stair-climbing and jumping rope. And if you belong to a gym, you can use machines to work your "problem areas."
The second thing to remember is that it is possible--given your lifestyle and overall health--to work on the lower body four or five times a week say Nakato Blair and Babidiye Robinson, twin sisters and owners of Atlanta's Double Impact Fitness Inc., who recommend Pilates with a form of strength training called freestyle weight training, a method that allows your muscles to tighten and tone without adding bulk. Freestyle incorporates a series of exercise combinations that work more than one muscle group at a time.
While some may be concerned with overtraining, Blair and Robinson say that we have only to look at professional dancers, ice skaters, football and hockey players to see examples of athletes working the same muscle groups every day without high injury rates. The same can be said of actors and entertainers who work hard to stay fit.
"Our business [weight training] started with men," Robinson says. "Women followed men to the gym and did the same thing. Then, they started building muscle and looking like men. A lot of people still have that same thought pattern when it comes to weight training."
ESSENTIAL EXERCISES FOR TIGHTER BUNS AND THINNER THIGHS
It is important to have the proper technique and to make sure that you're in good health before beginning any workout routine. Consult with your doctor and consult a personal trainer if you've never worked out before or have questions about your health.
Take your squats and lunges to the next level by adding different combinations, stances and resistance. Cornell McClellan of Chicago says that you can do three or four different types of squats and lunges to work different areas of the legs and buttocks. Do 1 to 3 sets of each exercise, 12 to 15 repetitions per set.
Stand with your legs shoulder-width apart and your feet parallel. Cross your arms in front of your chest or place them on your hips (use dumbbells to add more weight), inhale as you squat, stopping when your thighs are parallel to the floor. Keep your head up, back straight and exhale as you stand up.
To work a different muscle group, turn your feet slightly outward (a plie in ballet). You can also put a ball between your legs and then do the squat, which works the inner portion of the thigh. Or, you can put a belt around the legs and press outward slightly, which works the outer portion of the thigh. For split-leg squats, get into the lunge position and go straight up and down; this works the quads and hamstrings.
Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your hands on your hips. Square your shoulders and lift your chest. Keep your head up and step forward the length of your stride with your right leg. As your foot hits the floor, bend your knees until your right thigh is parallel to the floor and your left thigh is perpendicular to the floor. Press off the ball of your foot to stand up to the start. Alternate with left- and right-leg lunges. To work additional muscle groups, do different types of lunges in combination.
Start with a forward lunge with your right leg, then do a diagonal lunge to the right side, then diagonal lunge to the right rear, and finish with a straight reverse lunge. Then repeat the same forward, diagonal, diagonal reverse combo with the left leg. This repetition allow you to work around the entire rotator of the hip as well as work the entire leg.
If you have access to a gym, another way to and tone is to use the leg extension, leg curl and leg press machines to train your leg muscles. Do one or two sets of 10 to 15 repetitions.