Tone Lower Body
Individuals often define their personal fitness goals to include toning, reshaping, and losing weight from the lower portions of the body. One of the primary reasons most people cite for toning the lower body is physical appearance.
Most individuals do not feel comfortable (both physically and mentally) having excess fat on the buttocks, legs and thighs, and toning these areas can have a very positive effect on self-esteem, motivation and overall mental well-being.
While spot-specific exercise routines can be difficult, they do have the ability to promote the most efficient and visually apparent results. For this reason, you will want to regularly perform various exercises that specifically target the muscle groups of the lower body.
Toning, reducing inches and losing weight in the lower portion of the body can be very challenging for many individuals, as there are several factors that contribute to the bodily characteristics of each individual. For example, genetics, activity level, dietary habits and even hormonal factors all play a role in an individual's lower body characteristics.
This being said, setting fitness goals for the lower portions of the body should be centered around a solid fitness routine (both cardiovascular and strength training) and a nutritionally-balanced, calorie-conscious dietary regime.
Appropriate Fitness Routine for Lower Body Toning
A proper lower body fitness routine should include a variety of cardiovascular activities. Cardiovascular activities are designed to elevate an individual's heart rate to their target heart rate, and thereafter maintain that heart rate for a minimum of 20 consecutive minutes.
Cardiovascular exercises are an excellent way to burn calories and facilitate weight loss. When choosing cardiovascular activities, it is best to choose exercises that you enjoy or have always wanted to try. By doing so, the probability of performing the exercises on a regular basis will improve, and your motivation will remain at a higher level.
Examples of exercises that could be added to a cardiovascular exercise routine are running, brisk walking, swimming, biking, aerobics classes, various sports (i.e. basketball, tennis, soccer) and various cardiovascular equipment (i.e. treadmills, stair climbers, ellipticals).
In addition to a cardiovascular fitness routine, a strength training routine should be considered as well. There are several health and fitness benefits that are only derived from strength training.
For example, strength training increases an individual's metabolic rate (rate at which their body burns calories), maintains bone density and improves structural strength. As stated earlier, there are many factors that contribute to improving tone, reducing fat and increasing lean muscle mass in the buttocks, legs and hips.
Whenever you train muscles in your lower body, remember to work opposing muscles and keep your movements relatively controlled. Developing tone, reducing excess body fat and increasing lean muscle mass in stages is one of the most effective ways to achieve long-term fitness goals.
In other words, setting strength, body weight, body measurement and muscle density gain milestones on a 1 to 3 month interval is an excellent approach to maintaining your workout schedule, achieving your personal fitness goals and maintaining a high level of motivation.
General Facts About Spot Toning
Spot toning a specific area for weight loss is actually not possible: When an individual exercises, their body will lose weight everywhere. However, as your body continues to shed excess body fat, certain areas will begin to slow in the amount of fat they lose while other areas with a higher density of body fat will continue at their previous rate.
The body determines where fat is eliminated: As an individual begins to lose weight, their body will determine the location where it will utilize fat stores and convert them to energy. As such, you can't burn fat directly from your legs and buttocks simply by targeting those areas during exercise.
Prominent locations for the storage of fat: One of the first locations where noticeable gains in body fat can be seen is around the abdominals. Thereafter, body fat gains are typically observed in the thighs and hips.
Benefits of strength training: Strength training will increase an individual's metabolism, and hence the number of calories their body burns on a daily basis. In addition, strength training will tone the muscle that is being exercised and possibly even increase the lean muscle mass of the specific muscle.
When spot training a specific part of your body, remember that resistance counts for more than just the number of repetitions. Therefore, 15 repetitions with high resistance will be far more valuable than performing 30-50 repetitions with moderate to low resistance.
The number of fat cells in a body are predetermined: When an individual loses body fat, they are not eliminating fat cells. The only way to decrease the number of fat cells in a body is through liposuction. In reality, the density of fat cells decreases as an individual loses weight. This is due to the body utilizing the fat stored within the fat cell as energy. Conversely, when an individual gains weight, their body does not manufacture more fat cells. Instead, it enlarges the ones that already exist. This fact is beneficial to understanding how toning works.
Combine global and targeted exercises: Many exercises work the glutes (buttocks) as a secondary muscle group. For instance, while squats work the quadriceps (rectus femoris, vastus intermedius, vastus medialis and vastus lateralisas) as the primary muscle groups, they also work the glutes. Many exercises designed to work other lower body muscle groups also work the glutes as well. Combine these types of exercises with targeted gluteals exercises to achieve even quicker results.
Remember, fat loss is determined by the body and cannot be body area-specific. On the other hand, increasing lean muscle mass is more a function of stressing a particular muscle or muscle group through high-resistance exercises and protein intake.
Always allow your muscles time to recover: It is important to always remember to allow your muscles the necessary time to recover before exercising them again. Virtually all muscle gains are obtained during rest, not during exercise. By not allowing your muscles the required time to recover, you will delay the achievement of your fitness goals and increase the risk of injury.
Exercises to Tone Your Lower Body
It is important to remember that to successfully tone the various areas of the lower body, cardiovascular and strength training exercises must be combined with a nutritious, healthy and low-fat diet. By doing so, each individual will not only increase the probability of achieving their optimum body weight, but also their personal fitness goals and overall good health as well. Remember, losing excess fat is the first step to toning a specific portion of the body. Finally, it is important to remember to exhale on the hard portion of each of the exercises listed below (concentric) and inhale on the easy portion of the exercise (eccentric).
Barbell Squats: Begin in a standing position with your feet shoulder-width apart. Hold a barbell in both hands behind your head, resting the barbell on the upper section of your shoulders. Choose a weight approximately equal to 50% to 75% of your maximum (intensity). Bend your knees so that you lower your body into a squatting position. Lower your body until the top of your thighs to the front of your shins creates a 90 degree angle. As you lower down into the squat position, remember to keep your back straight and your head up. Perform 5 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions per set.
Single Leg Extensions: Lie face-up on a bench with your knees hanging off the end of the bench and the bottoms of your feet on the floor. Your knees should be at right angles. Let your arms hang naturally towards the floor. Extend your left leg (straighten your knee) so that it is parallel with the floor. Return it to the starting position. After performing all repetitions on your left leg, repeat the exercise with the right leg. Perform 4 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions.
Lying Leg Curls: Begin this exercise by lying on your stomach on the leg curl machine. Grasp the hand grips with your hands and place both of your ankles under the leg pads. Pull both ankles towards your lower back and then slowly return them to the starting position. Perform 3 sets of 10 to 12 repetitions.
Standing Outer Leg Lifts: You may use a railing or chair to maintain your balance for this exercise. Begin in a standing position with your feet together. Keeping your leg straight, raise your left leg out to your side until it is parallel with the floor. Return your left leg to the starting position. After performing all of your repetitions with your left leg, repeat this exercise with your right leg. This exercise is designed to work the outer thigh and hip muscles. Perform 3 sets of 12 to 15 repetitions.
Walking Dumbbell Lunges: Begin in a standing position with your feet about shoulder-width apart. While holding a dumbbell in each hand, place your left leg in front of you and bend at the knee until your right knee is almost touching the floor. Just as in the squat, your left knee should not extend past your left toe. Push yourself back up with the leg extended to the front to begin walking forward. After performing all of the repetitions with your left leg, repeat this exercise with the right leg being the leg that is being placed in front. Perform 3 to 5 sets of 12 to 15 repetitions per leg.
Dumbbell Lunges: The only difference between this type of lunge and the previous lunge (walking dumbbell lunges) is that you push yourself back up to the starting position with your front leg. Begin in a standing position with your feet about shoulder-width apart. Place your left leg in front of you and bend at the knee until your right knee is almost touching the floor. Just as in the squat, your left knee should not extend past your left toes. Push off with your left leg so that you return to the starting position. After performing all repetitions with your left leg stepping forward, repeat this exercise with your right leg placed in front. Perform 3 to 5 sets of 12 to 15 repetitions per leg.
Leg Extensions: Begin this exercise by sitting in the leg extension machine and grip the hand grips with both hands. Place both feet behind the ankle pads. Extend your legs so that you fully straighten both legs. Return to the starting position and repeat until you have completed the necessary number of repetitions. Perform 5 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions.
Barbell Stiff Leg Dead Lifts: Grip a barbell with both hands, shoulder-width apart, and hold it in front of your thighs with your arms fully extended. While keeping your legs straight, bend at your waist as you lower the barbell towards your toes. Return to the starting position while keeping your back fairly straight and repeat. Perform 3 to 5 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions.
It is important to remember that in order to tone, reduce excess body fat, increase lean muscle tissue, and muscle density in your lower body, you must incorporate cardiovascular exercises and strength training exercises into your fitness routine along with a healthy and well-balanced diet.
In addition, regularly including a strength training routine that focuses on moderately heavy weights at a reasonably low level of repetitions will increase lean muscle mass, muscle density, physical strength, and the rate at which your body burns calories.
Spot training (exercising specific muscle groups) is an excellent form of strength training and is effective at toning, reducing fat and increasing muscle density. Combining and adding these three approaches to your daily lifestyle will allow you to more rapidly achieve your personal fitness goals.