Sunday, March 11, 2012

Slim Your Hips and Thighs

4 exercises to reduce cellulite and build strong, smooth legs

Many women tell me that every stray calorie seems to migrate to their hips and thighs. This is not a figment of their imaginations.

Before menopause, many women's bodies store excess fat predominantly in this area, creating what's come to be known as the "pear-shaped" body. For thousands of years, fat storage in these areas greatly helped cave-dwelling women survive during times of drought and famine. And women who could easily store fat in their hips and thighs tended to be able to give birth and feed a baby during a drought—during pregnancy and breastfeeding, the body needs as many as 1,000 extra calories a day—thus passing on their thigh-fat-storing genetics to future generations.

This is one reason why thigh fat is so difficult to get rid of. Genes left over from your cave-dwelling ancestors cause hormones and enzymes in your body to direct every extra calorie into waiting fat cells in your hips and thighs. For example, your levels of the female sex hormone estrogen may be a tad higher than other women whose bodies don't store excess fat in these areas (or as much of it).

But there are ways to coax these fat cells in your thighs to release their contents, and to coax your muscle cells into burning it up! So don't despair.

Move 1: Seated Pillow Squeeze
(works on inner thighs)



Sit on a sturdy chair (one without wheels). Rest your feet on the floor with your knees bent at 90-degree angles. Place a pillow between your thighs. Exhale as you squeeze the pillow between your thighs, as if you were trying to squeeze the stuffing out of the pillow. Hold for 1 minute as you breathe normally. Release and proceed to Move 2.

Move 2: Seated Hand Push
(works outer thighs and hips)



Sit on a sturdy chair. Rest your feet on the floor with your knees bent at 90-degree angles. Place your palms on the outsides of your knees. While keeping your palms and arms stationary, push your knees outward against your palms, as if you were trying to*push your palms away. At the same time, press inward with your hands, preventing your thighs from pushing them outward. Hold this isometric contraction for 1 minute, breathing normally. Release and proceed to Move 3.

Move 3: Seated Leg Raise
(works fronts of the thighs)



Sit on a sturdy chair. Rest your feet on the floor with your knees bent at 90-degree angles. Rest your hands on the chair at your sides. Exhale as you lift and extend your right leg. Hold for 30 seconds as you breathe normally. Then inhale as you lower your right leg and exhale as you repeat with your left leg. Hold for 30 seconds while breathing normally. Release and proceed to Move 4.

Move 4: Seated Bridge
(works the backs of the thigh and rear end)



Sit on the edge of a sturdy chair. Rest your feet on the floor with your knees bent at 90-degree angles. Rest your palms on the chair at your sides. Exhale as you lift your hips, allowing your palms and feet to support your body weight. Continue to lift your hips until your body resembles the shape of a bridge. Hold for 20 to 60 seconds while breathing normally. Release and return to Move 1. Repeat Moves 1-4 once more, and you're done.