If you are prone to gaining weight around your hips, fat can start to drop to the sides, making cellulite more apparent and creating what we call “saddlebags.” The first step to getting rid of those unwanted pockets of fat is reducing overall body fat with a healthy low-carb, low-sugar diet. Strengthening the specific muscles in that area will also greatly reduce saddlebags and smooth out the upper, outer thighs. If you change the shape of the muscles underneath, the outward appearance of your hips and thighs will also change. The following exercises will target the outer thighs while recruiting surrounding muscles like the glutes and hamstrings, which are all connected in creating a more toned hip area.
1. Butterfly Bridges– Lie down on your back and with your legs bent and feet on the floor. Let your knees fall to the sides so that the outside edges of your feet on now on the ground. If your lower back is lifting off the floor, then your knees have fallen too far to the ground. Bring the knees up to a height where you can maintain a navel to spine engagement. Squeeze your glutes as you press your hips up to the sky in this turned out position. Slowly lower back down. Do 20 reps.
2. Side Half Plank Leg Lifts– Get into a side plank position on one forearm with the bottom knee bent and top leg straight. Place your top hand either on your hip or behind your head. For more support, you can place it on the ground in front of you. Keep the top foot flexed in parallel as you lift your leg up and down 10 times. Do two sets and then switch sides.
3. Leg Circles Kneeling– Kneel on the ground. Lean over to one side as you place that hand on the ground and straighten the opposite leg. Your free hand is either behind your head or on your hip. Your body weight should stay centered over the supporting knee. Lift your straight leg up to hip height, being careful not to arch your back. Pull your abs in and circle the leg 10 times clockwise and 10 times counter clockwise. Bring your leg back down into a kneeling position and lean over to the other side to switch legs.
4. Pretzel– Sit on the floor with one leg bent in front and the other bent behind you. Place your hands on the floor in front of you. Lift your back leg up without changing the shape of your leg. You may need to lean more forward to get the leg off the ground. It will only lift a few inches. Pulse it up and down 10 times and then move it side to side 10 times. Switch your legs and repeat on the other side.
5. Clamshell– Lie down on one side of your body with your legs bent. Stack your knees on top of each other. Flex your feet and lift your heels off the ground, lifting the bottom shin off the ground. Keep your heels glued together as you squeeze the glute of the top leg to lift the top knee towards the sky. Do this without changing the alignment of your hips so that there is resistance when you open the leg. Slowly close the top knee back down. Do 20 on each side.
Follow this routine at least 3 times a week along with a healthy diet and you’ll be flaunting those short shorts just in time for summer!
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Video: Crystal Chin