The Ultimate Legs, Bums and Tums Workout

Perfect bum and waistThis 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

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.

42 Comments
  1. I have a high stomach and find it so hard to lose weight here, I eat healthy and walk daily, please advice….I’m 5ft3″ and weigh 9stones…I’d like to lose a stone and tone up….

  2. Hi Mary. Really for you diet is the key for now. You need to try to reduce your sugar intake as much as possible, cut out high GI carbohydrates (all breads, biscuits, cakes etc) and many medium too. Get a majority of your carbs from nutritious vegetables (many colours).

    For exercise, a combination of intensive cardio and weight training (on different days ideally). By intensive cardio we mean that you have to workout hard, for short intervals (can be 20 seconds to 60 seconds) you workout as hard as possible, with 100% effort. Then slow down and recover, then repeat.

    Do this, and also start some weight training, and the toning will come naturally. First, fat loss (diet) and fat burning (exercise).

  3. hi, I’m just wanting some help on how to tone my bum and thighs I’m of slim-med built just want to know the best and fast way to getting results

  4. Hi Rebecca, you cannot really beat squats and lunges. Just perform as many as you can of each then stretch afterwards. Simple, yet very effective.

  5. This is a great workout, and certainly the right way to go about getting into shape. Although diet is important, all too often women obsess about it too much and neglect the basics, like doing squats and exercising hard to get fit. Women want to look “fit” without being FIT.

  6. I gave birth 6 months ago and am finding it hard to lose the baby weight. I have always been a size 10/12, but since having my son I am a 12/14. My problem areas are my tummy, hips and bum. I don’t have time to exercise or the energy to diet. I am 5’5″ and weigh 10lbs 10oz.

    Thanks

  7. Hi Victoria. The only way you are going to lose your baby fat is through diet and exercise. I am sure that you do have time for exercise, and the energy to diet. For exercise all you need is about 20-30 minutes a day. This can be in the evening after your baby is asleep. As for diet, a healthy natural diet is key. If you eat a healthy diet with no sugar, no processed food, no junk food, no soda etc. then you will probably have more energy than you do now.

    If you are willing to commit to a diet a exercise plan I can provide some more information. There is also a free weight loss eBook here that you can download that provides some good introductory nutrition and fitness advice.

  8. i love this, im very skinny but the excess skin i has has no muscle or tone, so if i do this every night hopefully i will get some results xx

  9. HI just wanted to know how many calories you lose doing these exercises if anything,i do the btt in my local gym as a group class and need to input it in my fitness pal but not sure what to enter it as. Is it strength or cardiovascular and what is the description of what is done and how many repeats

  10. It is difficult to say with any accuracy. Probably around 150 Calories for the 15 minutes, but that is a real estimate. These are mostly anaerobic exercises, so strength exercise.

  11. Hi, I don’t need to lose any weight (5’6″ and 54kg and 48 years old), but do need to tone my tummy, bum and thighs. These exercises sound ideal, but you don’t give any indication of how often they should be done. Every day, every other day, twice a week?? Which is ideal for simply toning, as I don’t need to lose weight?

  12. hi im a slim/med build and want to build as much muscle on my glutes as i can do you reccomend ths class for me ? x

  13. Hi, yeah, these classes, or classes that focus on these exercises will help you. To build glutes the main exercises to do are squats though and you can do these at home. Just start performing squats, both bodyweight squats and weighted squats.

  14. i have a small upper body but i really want to lose my bum and thighs, i wear a uk 8/10 (8 in most cases) top and 10/12 bottom. I really want to know how to lose my bum fast and how many times i should do the squats in a week.

  15. Hi Lara, if you goal is to make your bum smaller then more cardio to burn off fat is probably best. However, this may affect upper body too. Squats will build up your glutes and without fat reduction could make your bum seem larger. Really you need to focus on being healthy and working on your fitness and do some strength training, then let nature take care of how the body fat is distributed.

  16. hi :) i am 14 years old and i am quite happy with my body but i think the only thing i would like to change about it is my HIPS, THIGHS, and BUM ! it is summer in australia and im too scared to wear my bikini because of these problem areas on my body, i need urgent help ! i don’t need to loose weight nessisarily, just TONE these areas. could you please suggest ways that i could get rid of my flabby hips, thighs, and bum.. and transform them into an ideal shape ?? thankyouu :) x

  17. Hi Katherine, really you need to take regular exercise. A combo of running and bodyweight exercises really will sort out those areas. Fitness is the key and squats and lunges should be your main exercises.

  18. I am 21 years old, 5’9 and 62kg. My goal weight is 60kg and I want to tone my bum, stomach and thighs. Is there anything else I should be doing in addition to these exercises? I eat a reasonably healthy diet.

  19. Hi Sarah, you can also increase the cardio workouts that you do. More exercise burns more fat. For more toning, you could use weights too, such as weighted squats, lunges and deadlifts.

  20. Hi, I’m 13 and I have cellulite on my bum and stretch marks, it looks really gross, and a bit of cellulite on my upper thighs, they are not big but I don’t know haha, any way i can get rid of this, plus I realllyyy want to tone them!
    xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  21. Hi Cherry. Getting rid of cellulite is really a bit hit and miss. Healthy diet and regular exercise is the best approach though, and this will also help you to tone your thighs. Running, cycling, squats and lunges are your best exercises for that area.

  22. hi im 13.5 years old i weigh 45 kilos… my bum,thighs and tummy is really big but my arms and legs are just ok… what exercises should i do in order to loose 7 kilos.

  23. Hi Zac, the exercises here will get you fitter and stronger. However, at 45 kg you must be slim already. How tall are you? If you lose 7 kg you will be 38 kg, and unless you are much shorter than 150 cm you will probably be underweight. Focus on getting fit and active, and eat a healthy and balanced diet. You are at an age where you need to be eating good quality food to help your body to grow and develop.

  24. im 5fim not slim coz my thighs and tummy as well as the but are really big plz help me what exercise best fits my problem and how lonh should i do it. tnx

  25. im 5 ft tall the problem with me is my bum thighs and belly.pls give me the exercise that suiyes my conditoon tnx

  26. These exercises, with a healthy diet of 3 meals a day, fruits, vegetables, fish, meat, eggs and no junk food.

  27. Hi there, I’m 150cm tall and underweight. What exercises would you recommend for a weight gain of 8lbs and be fit and curvy at the same time???

  28. Hi Taylor, you need to start lifting weights really, this would be the fastest way to gain some healthy weight. But you need to change your diet and ensure that half of your diet is fruits, vegetables and wholegrains and the other half healthy proteins such as fish, chicken, eggs and lean meats.

  29. Hi there, i am overweight.But i recently started a master cleanse diet for a week now i have lost 10kg.. Bt am also exercising as well but i dont know how much cardio and toning i should do and how many times a week?????

  30. Hi Laura, ideally you should do around 45 minutes of exercise a day and mix up your workouts so some are cardio, some weight training, some bodyweight training.

  31. Hi, I would like to lose 11kg around my stomach, thighs and bottom. I have a lot of fat on my bottom and was wondering if there was a quick way to burn this. I eat reasonably healthy and go to a spin class once a week and to the gym 3 times a week for mostly cardio work! Thanks

  32. There is no “quick” way to burn fat really. You just need to reduce calories, eat mostly healthy foods and do regular exercise. This routine will work, combine it with running, cycling or swimming and you will burn fat and get fit faster.

  33. Hi there,

    I’m dieting at the moment and the weight is coming off very slowly, I am attending weight watchers and I eat a healthy balanced diet. I had a DVT which travelled to my Lung 9 months ago and my lung collapsed. As a result my fitness level has suffered. I’d like to get back into exercising but I’m afraid I will bulk up even more if I am not doing the correct exercises. Can you advise what is the best way to go. I would like to tone my upper arms, bum and thighs. Thank you.

  34. Hi Laura, you should not bulk up from doing these exercises. But if you are really concerned about adding some healthy and athletic muscle then running may be a better option, this may help to build up your cardiovascular strength again. For the top of your arms, you need to work the triceps, so chair dips (hold on to the from of a chair seat then lower yourself down in front of the chair, using just your arms). Push ups also work the arms, as well as shoulders and back.

  35. Hi. I have lost 4 stone over the past 2 years through improving my diet. I now have 1 stone to go and have started running every second day for half an hour at a time and doing yoga on alternate days. Would doing the first exercise rather than yoga help more. I only have 1/2 an hour to 45 mins first thing before kids and full time work become the priority. What do you recommend?

  36. Hi, I want to tone my tummy and legs obviously, however I want to tone my bum but make it bigger at same time.. will this type of workout do this or make it smaller?

  37. Hi Aimee, the bum is a combination of our largest muscle, the gluteus maximus (glutes) and fat. So to make it larger you need to build more muscle. Squats are the exercise for you. If you do not significantly reduce total body fat you will not tone down your bum.

  38. Hi I was just wondering in one workout do you do a combination of the 4 exercises or do you do them on separate days? And for how long? And how many reps?

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