Summer is quickly approaching which is all the more reason to start doing exercises to shape up your lower body. Warmer weather means more outdoor activities, less clothes to cover up areas of insecurities, and the annual reminder that working out should have be a yearlong priority. If you are just now coming out of winter hibernation and are trying to shape up for the sunny days ahead, you are in the same boat as many of the women I know. Lucky for you though, you won’t be going at it without help. Read on to discover seven exercises to shape up your lower body that if done with dedication and paired with a healthy diet, are guaranteed to build a strong and shapely lower body.
1. Glutes: Bridges
I can’t talk about exercises to shape up your lower body without focusing a good deal of time on the main attraction – the glutes. My favorite exercise to lift, shape, and tone the glutes is bridges. Start by laying down on your back with your knees up and your feet positioned parallel under your knees. Keeping your upper body relaxed and your stomach drawn in, raise your hips until your upper body forms a straight diagonal line to your knees. Lower your hips back down till they are just off the floor. Repeat this move doing 5 sets of 8 reps with a 30 second break between each set.
2. Glutes & Quads: Plié Squats
Do you want strong, toned legs like a dancer? Stand with your legs slightly further than shoulder-width and feet slightly turned out. Keeping your back straight and shoulders relaxed, squat down until you are sitting at a 90 degree angle. Raise back up, pushing through your heels and squeezing your glutes to stabilize yourself. Repeat this move doing 5 sets of 8 reps with a 30 second break between each set.
3. Quads: Rocket Jumps
This exercise is great for targeting the quadriceps and also providing some bonus cardio. Begin standing with your feet shoulder width apart. Squat down halfway and then jump up as high as possible, fully extend your entire body as you do. Land with soft knees, absorbing the impact through your legs. Do 10 of these with no rests in-between.
4. Hamstrings: Split Squats
Being in a standing position. Jump into a split leg position, with one leg forward and one leg back, bending at the front knee while lowering your hips slightly as you do so. Immediately reverse direction, standing back up to the starting position. Repeat this move doing 3 sets of 5 reps on each leg with a 30 second break between each set.
5. Abductors: Windmills
Targeting the abductors will help slim and strengthen the outer thigh/ hip area. Begin by laying down on your back with your arms extended out to the sides and your legs straight. Lift one leg straight up and quickly cross it over your body to the opposite side, attempting to touch the ground near your hand. Lift the leg back up and return it to the starting position. Repeat with the opposite leg. Continuing alternating legs doing 4 sets of 8 reps with a 30 second break between each set.
6. Adductors: Side Leg Raises
Adductors are the muscles of your inner thigh. Shape them up with side leg raises by standing next to a chair or a wall that can act as a support to steady yourself Stand on one leg. Pick a standing leg a shift your weight onto it. Keeping your other leg straight, raise out to the side and swing it back down with control crossing over your standing leg. Pause and repeated the movement 15 times before switching standing legs.
7. Calves: Standing Calf Raises
Often overlooked, the strong calf muscles not only balance the lower body aesthetically but also physically. To build up strong, lean calf muscles begin standing in an upright position with proper posture. With your feet parallel to your shoulders, raise up on the balls of your feet, pause, and lower back down. Repeat this move doing 4 sets of 8 reps with a 30 second break between each set.
Obtaining long, lean leg muscles and a toned tush requires two things: cardio to lose fat, and resistance training to build muscle. Strive for 2-3 leg workout days a week following these exercise sets. Follow this with 30 minutes of cardio on the off days. Make the seventh day a complete rest day to allow your body time to heal itself. This workout takes dedication and proper nutrition to see optimal results, but the reward of a healthy body and a strong, shapely lower body is worth it! Are you up for the challenge? Keep us posted about your results in the comments!