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Women’s problem areas: Hips, thighs and glutes

Last week, we started our journey understanding the trinity of problem areas that prevent many women from having a firm and fit body. Having talked about the essentials of arm toning, we move on today to the lower body and different exercises that challenge hips, butt and thighs in a whole new way. Next week we will focus on the most troubling area of all, the waist, so stay tuned.

Some experts advise the use of props to add intensity to the moves–paper plates or weights–but you have to be careful. Stepping on paper plates require a great deal of balance and strength to keep you from falling and causing injury, so maybe you should keep the intense methods to a later stage of your workout when you are more confident.

As always, check with your doctor if you have injuries or medical issues and avoid exercise that causes pain or discomfort.

The Standing Side Kick targets inner thighs, glutes, quadriceps and outer hips. Keep your tummy in, and don’t lock your knees. Stand with feet hip-width apart and hands on hips. Slowly extend right leg to the side at hip height in three full counts. Be sure to keep inner thigh parallel to the floor. Hold for one count, then take three counts to lower to floor. Do this exercise 15 times, then switch sides.

The Side Jump targets inner thigns, glutes, hamstrings and outer hips. Standing with hands on hips, hop three feet to your left, landing on your left foot with left knee slightly bent. Bring your right foot down to the floor. Repeat to the right and continue alternating for a total of 15 on each side.

The Hip Raise targets hip flexors, outer hips, outer thighs and glutes. Rest your body face-up on the floor. Bend knees and keep your feet flat on the floor. Slowly lift hips and extend left leg, pointing toes toward the wall in front of you. Hold for one count, then move your left leg out to your left side at 90 degrees. Hold for one count and return to center before lowering. Do this ten times then switch sides, but be careful not to allow your spin to bend away from the floor.

Traveling Squat-Kick targets thighs, glutes and quadirceps. Be careful to keep your balance by pulling your abs in. Stand with hands on hips and kick your right leg in an arc across the front of your body before bringing your foot to the floor in a squat. Step your left foot next to the right and come to a stand. This can be done 15 times, before switching sides.

The Chair Squat works out glutes and lower back. Stand in front of a chair with feet hip-width apart, abs in and torso straight. Slowly bend your knees and lower and until your bottom almost touches the chair. Hold for two or three seconds. Now remember, this exercise is tricky and can be harmful if not done right. You need to keep your knees behind your toes, and not allow them to bend more than 90 degrees. Imagine you're trying to sit on that chair and use your abs muscles for balance. Repeat 12-16 times.

Finally, the Leg Raise targets outer thighs, glutes and hip flexors. Get on all-fours and keep your weight evenly balanced between hands and knees. Lift your left leg out to the side, keeping knee bent 90 degrees and inner thigh facing the floor. Kick your leg diagonally behind you, bringing your heel toward the ceiling. Return your left knee to the floor and repeat ten times; switch sides.

Always warm up with five to ten minutes of cardiovascular exercise and stretching, cool down with a long stretch and drink plenty of water. Adding this 20 minute workout to the previous upper body workout we talked about last week and some extra regular cardiovascular exercise will achieve best results.

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