This article provides some advice on toning bums, tums and thighs. For each exercise start with 10 repetitions, then repeat the circuit as many times as you feel comfortable. As you get fitter and stronger, perform more reps each time, moving to 20, then 30.
Single arm crunchies
Start as with normal crunchies lying on the floor with knees bent and hips width apart. Engage your abs, keep your neck and head in line with your spine, avoiding any curvature. Place your right hand behind your head and rest your left hand on your thigh.
Lift both shoulders off the floor while sliding your hand along your thigh to your knee. Hold, then return to the floor. Do not pull on your head. Switch hands and repeat. Aim to do 20 reps in total (10 on each side, alternating after each one).
The idea is that rather than performing the more common straight crunch your twist slightly to work one side of the stomach and then the other.
Knee Push Ups
Push ups are a great exercise, they strengthen your arms, shoulders and back as well as the chest. They will not make you look bulky! Performing knee push ups makes the exercise easier so that you should be able to perform 10 repeats. With your palms flat on the floor and fingers facing forwards lower your chest to the floor, keeping your back straight. The push yourself up. If your knees hurt try kneeling on a towel for better comfort.
Inner thigh raises
The legs hold our biggest muscles, and exercising the legs is key to toning the thighs and buttocks.
These are done by laying down on your side with your legs straight and one foot resting on top of the other. Start on your right side.
Support your head with your right arm and place your left hand in front of your chest. Contract your abs and then move your left (top) leg so that it is pointing away from you, still on the floor.
With your right leg straight, lift it upwards off the floor. You should be able to lift it 10-15cm (4-6 inches) comfortable. Hold the lift for a few breaths and the relax, lowing the leg, but do not touch the floor. Repeat, ensuring that your foot does not touch the floor during the exercising. Perform 10-20 reps before rolling on to your left side to do the same with your left leg.
Squats are one of the best exercises, both for building strength and toning. Athletes, footballers, dancers and martial artists all perform squats to build strength and muscle. These are key to toning up the thighs and bottom.
Squats work the largest muscles of the body, the glutes, which are the muscles that form the shape of the bum. They also work the thighs and hips too.
To perform a squat simply stand with your feet shoulder width apart and your toes pointing forward or slightly to the side. Then bend at the knees and keeping your back straight lower your body downwards as if you are about to sit down. Make sure that your bodyweight is kept to the rear and that your knees do not extend further forward than your toes.
Squat down as far as is comfortable, aim to squat so that your thighs are parallel to the floor. It may take some practice to go this low.
If you struggle to squat low enough you can assist yourself by holding on to the back of a chair with arms stretched out. Face a chair away from you and then as you squat support yourself and aid yourself when push to come up again.
4 Alternative Legs, Bums and Tums Toning Workouts
There are so many ways to get fit and tone the body, but which are best? One school of thought that is certainly proving to be effective is that variety is the best method. If you can perform 4 different workouts each week then you will lose more fat and build more muscle than if you repeat the same one over and over.
Before we start exercising for weight loss we must know why we are exercising. Although you burn calories while exercising, the biggest advantage comes from building new muscle tissue. Muscles are very demanding in terms of energy, so to grow and maintain muscle you need more energy. Muscles therefore increase your metabolism and make you burn fat quicker.
This is why when we are talking about weight loss we always advise you to do full body workouts. It is not worth just exercising the abdominals because you want to increase total muscle mass as quick as possible to help burn more fat. To do this you need to perform compound movements (movements which utilise several different muscles groups at the same time) and also work the largest muscles in the body. This means legs, glutes, back and chest.
Do not worry about muscle – you will not bulk up or look all veiny like Angelina Jolie. The aim is to look healthy, athletic and curvy. Muscle provides curves, glutes are the main muscle of the bottom, and to get a good shape you need to work the muscle rather than rely on fat deposits. Muscle is fit as well as sexy! So lets look at our 4 workouts.
Exercise Workout Number 1
We start with the weight training. You can perform these exercises using free weights and a weight lifting bench or by using machines. Dumbbells and barbells are both allowed.
- Squats. Squats are possibly the most important exercise that you will do. To perform them properly you stand with your feet just over shoulder width apart and then squat down until your legs are almost parallel to the floor before returning to stand upright. Always look forward when squatting and not down, this helps maintain correct spinal alignment. Perform 3 sets of 10 squats with a weight that is challenging.
- Reverse Lunges. These involve standing up straight, usually while holding a dumbbell in each hand. Step backwards with one foot and sing your weight downwards, bending the front knee. Then return and repeat on the other leg. Again, 3 sets of 10 is best to start with.
- Bench Press. Bench presses work the chest. Do not worry, they are not going to make you look like a bodybuilder, and they will not burn off all your fat either. But they will help your muscles shape and support your chest. Use a solid flat bench and with dumbbells or a barbell press the weight directly upwards from your chest until your arms are straight. Many gyms have chest press machines that you sit upright on and perform the same movement.
- Shoulder Press. This helps to tone the shoulders and also triceps that help with under arm fat and “chicken wings”. Sit upright and press a bar (or dumbbells straight overhead).
- Curls. You can either curl dumbbells or a barbell. Excellent exercise for building stronger arms, not only will you look fitter and healthier but you will be able to carry your shopping and kids with ease!
- Calf Raises. These help build shapely lower legs. Just stand on a step with your heels off the step and lift your bodyweight up and the lower again. Repeat 20 times. You can hold weights if you need to.
- Pull Downs. These work he back, another major muscle group. A strong back helps to give your body an elegant structure and improves posture. Simple sit on a pull down bench and pull the weight towards your chest. You can instead do pull ups (modified of assisted).
Exercise Workout Number 2
The second workout is a traditional bodyweight circuit training workout to help increase muscular endurance and cardiovascular fitness. It also burns a lot of fat.
- Bodyweight squats. Same motion as the weighted ones, but with just bodyweight. Aim to complete 100 squats in a session. Either all at once or in any number of sets.
- Star Jumps. Classic old school gym exercise that gets your heart thumping and tones and strengthens your legs. The lateral movement of the legs helps to build stabilising muscles that will help you in other exercises.
- Skipping. Skipping is something that only school girls and boxers do, which is odd as it is such a great exercise, everyone should learn to skip. A great fat burning cardio workout.
- Burpees. They sound odd, but are very effective. From a standing upright position, you squat down to touch the floor, then kick your legs backwards, perform 1 push up, then hop your feet forward again to under your body, then explosively jump upwards with your arms in the air. Land on floor, and repeat. Excellent fun, burns a lot of fat and tones the muscles of the legs, core, and arms.
- Push Ups. Often a hard exercise, so “quarter push ups” are allowed which are when you support your body on your knees instead of your feet. Try to perform up to 50 in a session. Building up push up strength will really help to tone muscle and burn fat.
- Crunches. The classic abs exercise – although alone they will not get you a flat stomach, you still need to do them to tone the stomach.
Exercise Workout Number 3
High intensity interval training workout. This workout involves performing high intensity intervals, which just means sprinting then slowing down to recover and then sprinting again. You can perform them on exercise bikes, elliptical machines, treadmills (although harder), rowing machines, while out running or swimming.
Short workouts with multiple intervals have been shown to be very effective at improving fitness and burning fat.
Warm up for a few minutes first, and then perform a 30 second sprint. At the end of the 30 seconds slow down to work at a gentle recovery pace for 60 seconds, then as soon as the recovery minute is finished perform another sprint.
Using a machine is easier as it can either be programmed or will have a clock. It is harder to perform this type of training while running. If you are outside you need an interval timer to beep at you for each stage. If you are on a treadmill you have to be careful to not go too fast that you can no longer control the machine! Ellipticals, bikes and rowers are really the best options.
Exercise Workout Number 4
Endurance training. Even though intensive workouts are best for fitness and weight loss, longer sessions are still important. Walking is actually a very good option, so walk for 45-60 minutes at a time to build up stamina and muscular endurance.
So there you go, 4 types of exercise to do each week that will get you fit, tone your muscles and burn fat. Hop to it!
Warming up and cooling down
It is important that you perform a warm up and a cool down before and after your main exercises. A warm up ensures that blood is flowing to your muscles and that your ligaments and tendons are ready for some work. This is a good time to do your cardio workout – a gentle job for 10-15 minutes is a good way to warm up.
The cool down is best done with stretching. Stretching helps your body to become more flexible and this reduces risk of injury from exercise. Also when you can move through a greater motion you can work yourself harder, such as squatting lower or running with a longer stride.
Ideally by the time you have finished your cool-down your heart rate should have returned to normal and you are no longer sweating heavily.
Web Sources and Resources
These sites and articles provide more information on the options we discuss above. The research papers provide evidence to support our workout ideas.
- “The ultimate legs, bums and tums workout“, by Jacqui Ripley, iVillage
- Advice and instruction on exercising thighs: www.exrx.net/Lists/ExList/ThighWt.html
- Which is best? spinning…or bums, tums and thighs?! - NetMums.com
- “11 At-Home Exercises For Women – Save Time And Money” by Angelique Millis. Bodybuilding.com
- “Reduction in intra-abdominal adipose tissue after strength training in older women” by M. S. Treuth, G. R. Hunter, T. Kekes-Szabo, R. L. Weinsier, M. I. Goran, and L. Berland. Journal of Applied Physiology April 1995 vol. 78 no. 41425-1431. Abstract: jap.physiology.org/content/78/4/1425.short
- “Effects of Sit Up Exercise Training on Adipose Cell Size and Adiposity” by Frank Katch. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, v55 n3 p242-47 Sep 1984. Abstract: www.getcited.org/pub/103341727
- “Impact of exercise intensity on body fatness and skeletal muscle metabolism” by Angelo Tremblay, Jean-Aimé Simoneau, Claude Bouchard. Metabolism Volume 43, Issue 7, July 1994, Pages 814-818. Abstract: www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0026049594902593