People tend to feel very subconscious about extra weight around the butt or in the legs. This extra weight may make it difficult to fit into clothing or make tighter styles of jeans and other outfits look unflattering. People tend to avoid wearing bathing suits, dresses and shorts that allow their legs to show when they are self-conscious about the extra weight in these areas. Finding specific workouts that help to tone these areas can help you get the body shape you can feel more comfortable with so you do not feel as though you need to hide your body.
How to Find the Right Exercise to Tone the Lower Body
Before you can get started with toning your body you must consider your personal genetics. Determine your body shape so you can understand how your body is designed to look. Those that are apple shaped tend to carry more weight around their midsection. Pear shaped people tend to store more weight around their legs and butt. You will not be able to change your body shape so you will need to focus on losing weight in a way that will enhance your natural curves.
It is also important to treat yourself with respect while trying to lose weight. Instead of focusing on the attributes you do not have, it is important to focus on the positive things about your body. You may not be incredibly slender, but your lower body may be very strong and you may have a great physicality that contributes to your overall health. Focusing on the positive things about your body will help promote higher self-esteem so you can focus on being happy in your own skin rather than dragging yourself down. Constantly berating yourself will make it harder to meet your goals over time.
How to Create a Lower Body Exercise Routine
You will need to use a combination of weight training and cardio to lose weight on your lower body. Cardio is activities like walking, climbing, biking, spinning and others that are weight-bearing. You can use equipment like a rower, treadmill or elliptical if you so choose. The key is to find exercises that allow you to engage your glutes, hamstrings, calves and quads. You should get at least 5 cardio sessions in each week.
Strength training can be done with very little equipment if necessary. Dumbbells ranging from 3-15 pounds will be sufficient for most toning exercises. Perform your reps in front of a mirror so you can make sure you are following the proper form to get results. Choose exercises that will engage the core while working the butt, legs, hips and thighs. Perform weight training exercises 2-3 times each week.
If you have a disability or health condition that might impact your ability to exercise, talk with your doctor before you start your routine. Working with a professional trainer can also help you make sure you are picking exercises that will be effective and safe. All training sessions should be started with a 10 minute cardio warm up and finished with leg stretches for a cool down.
Understand that people have different fitness levels and may need to take on exercises at a different pace. You must stick to 2-3 weight training sessions a week to see results, but make sure you have a rest day between each session to allow for heal time. Make a point of keeping proper form to reduce your risk of injury. Working out with others can help you get feedback on your technique to help avoid this risk. Beginners may perform 8-12 reps of each exercise with light weights or none at all. Intermediate level exercisers can perform 1-2 sets with 8-12 reps each with light or medium weights. Advanced exercisers can do 2 sets with 8-12 reps with medium weights and then one rep of 6-10 reps with heavier weights.
How to Tone Your Legs and Butt
- Dumbbell Squats- Hold two dumbbells at your sides with the palms facing in and the feet shoulder width apart. Keep the head upright and the shoulders back while bending the knees, lowering the hips so your thighs are parallel to the floor. Do not let the knees extend beyond the toes and do not shift backward into the heels. Keep your abdomen tight to help keep you stable. As you rise back to the original position work to keep the back straight. Those that are having trouble balancing can place a 1-inch wood block or dumbbell plates against the heels.
- Dumbbell Lunges- Stand with the feet together and the toes pointed forward with a dumbbell in each hand. Keep the back straight, the chin up and your shoulders square. Make sure the toes remain facing straight forward throughout the exercise and do not lift the heels on the front foot. Place the right foot forward and bend your knees to lower the hips until your left knees is a few inches from the ground. Do not allow the knee to move forward but keep it straight over the ankle. Then push on the right leg to return yourself to your original position. Perform all necessary reps with your right leg, then switch to the left and do the same amount.
- Hip Extensions- Place yourself approximately 6 inches from the wall with both of your feet pointed forward around one foot apart. Place your palms on the wall even with your shoulders. Lift your right leg about a foot off the ground behind you working to keep your leg perfectly straight. Tighten the butt and hold your position for 5-10 seconds before returning to your original position then repeat with the left leg. Wearing an angle weight can help add resistance to this exercise. Avoid lifting the leg higher than one foot as this can put stress on your back. The goal is to strengthen and tighten your glutes more than increasing flexibility.
- Angled Calf Raises- Take a dumbbell in each hand and turn the palms facing inward while standing with the feet shoulder-width apart. Turn the toes out at a 45 degree angle while keeping the legs straight. Raise yourself up onto your toes as high as you can manage and hold this position for one count before lowering yourself back to the floor. Do not rotate the toes farther outward to avoid putting too much stress on the knees. Do not lock the knees but make sure there is not excessive movement in the knees either as this will prevent you from isolating the calves properly. Also avoid performing this exercise on carpeted areas as it may cause you to slip.
- Chair Squats- Place yourself in front of a chair with the feet hip-width apart. Tighten the abdomen to help keep your torso straight and bend the knees as though you were moving to sit in the chair. When the butt is just above the chair, stop and hold your position for 2-5 seconds and then return to your original position. During this time, keep the knees behind the toes and do not lean forward as this can throw off your balance. Those that would like to add more resistance can perform this move while holding weights. People that have damaged knees should not perform this exercise.
- Toe Taps- Lie on the floor with the arms down at your side. Lift the feet and bend the knees at a 90 degree angle so the thighs are perpendicular with the floor. Tap your right toe on the floor then the left, being careful to control each movement. Continue performing this motion for one minute, rest for 30 seconds and then repeat. Perform 2-3 sets of this exercise. If during this time you feel any back pain adjust and bring the toes down without trying to go all the way down to the floor.