Most of you going to the gym are training because you want to lose a little bit of weight and to tone up, especially those problem areas such as the bum and thighs. However, very few of you will know how to train the legs effectively to lift and tone these areas. Nor will many of you know the environmental and lifestyle factors that can cause fat storage on the hips and thighs.
Training the legs is an art and a science and first I’m going to lift the lid on some of the secrets that the fitness models use to have the perfectly tone thighs and round pert butt. Then I will talk about how to eat to drop fat in the dreaded saddle bag area.
When you are training your legs you need a periodised and progressive plan targeting different muscles of the legs such as the glutes, the quads, the hamstring and the calves. Your first stage of leg training should focus on unilateral exercises to correct any imbalances in tone and shape between the legs. This is perfect if you have one butt cheek that is slightly less pert than the other, or if the cut of the hamstrings isn’t quite right between sides. Start by focussing on one exercise for the quads and one for the hamstrings, like so:
A1. Dumbbell step up on 30cm box, 3 sets of 15-20 reps, tempo 1010, rest 60 seconds.
A2. Seated hamstring curl, 3 sets of 8-10 reps, tempo 40X0, rest 60 seconds.
(The tempo prescription 1010 means to execute the up movement in 1 second with no pause at the top and then the down movement in 1 second with no pause at the bottom. An X in the tempo prescription means you need to execute the movement as fast as possible with good form.)
Next you want to perform an exercise that focuses on developing tone throughout the entire quadriceps, whilst performing an exercise that develops the glutes and hamstring together. You might choose the following exercises:
B1. Dumbbell split squat 3 sets of 10-12 reps, tempo 3010, rest 60 seconds.
B2. Romanian dead lift with bar 3 sets of 10-12 reps, tempo 3010, rest 60 seconds.
Your final pair of exercises can target the calves and abdominals to help give your legs that slender look when you are in heels and to flatten your tummy. These exercises could include:
C1. Single leg calf raise 3 sets of 12-15 reps, tempo 2010, rest 60 seconds.
C2. Abs crunch 3 sets of 12 reps, tempo 2010, rest 60 seconds.
Hopefully you will now see that training these muscles will help, but there are no specific exercises that are going to burn the fat off the hips and thighs. Most people don’t realise that the deposition of fat in those areas is hormonally mediated. Basically the more oestrogen you have in your body (either in total – or unopposed by other hormones such as progesterone) – the more fat you will store on the lower body. This doesn’t need to be the oestrogen that your ovaries produce (as many menopausal women have saddle bags as well) but the oestrogen that is made in your fat cells and the oestrogen you come in to contact with through your environment.
The best way to lose fat off the bum and thighs is to eat a Palaeolithic style diet. The basic premise of this is so easy it’s insane. Before you eat a food ask yourself – “was this food around 10,000 years ago?” if you answer “yes” then eat it, if you answer “No” don’t eat it! For example was a chicken, nuts, carrots or an apple around 10,000 years ago – yes so eat them. Was a doughnut, snickers, pasta or bread and jam around 10,000 years ago – no so don’t eat them. Eating Paleo means you basically eat protein in the way of meat, fish, seafood or poultry with lots of vegetables and snack on nuts, seeds and fruits.
The liver’s job is to detoxify chemicals that we come into contact with, and it also has to detoxify steroid hormones such as oestrogen. The liver has 3 ways to do this – through methylation, glucuronidation and sulphation. So eat foods that provide you with a host of B vitamins (this is not grains – the best source of B vitamins is animal protein and vegetables), foods that contain sulphur (which is eggs, onions, leeks, garlic) and foods that contain glucuronic acid which is broccoli, apples and grapefruit.
There is another group of foods that are “super foods” for the liver packed full of indoles, sulphur and other nutrients that help oestrogen detoxification – cruciferous vegetables. These include broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, radishes and chard. Watercress is also particularly good and is packed full on these nutrients.
Another area where women constantly fall down with their diet is that they don’t eat enough protein. Women MUST eat enough protein, especially vegetarians, as liver detoxification is also determined by amino acids not just vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. Once again meat, fish, seafood and poultry provide amino acids – so doing things like juice fasts as a detox is a bad idea as juice does not contain any protein.
In this short article we’ve covered the main ways to get the toned, sculpted bottom often seen on the catwalk runways of Milan and Paris. As you can see there are no magic pills or secret workouts that bring about these results. Simply focus your workouts on the areas involved namely the bottom, thighs and hips while eating a clean diet of animal protein, fish, vegetables, fruit and nuts. If you’re new to any of this it may take a couple of months before you see substantial changes to your body but keep at it. If you’re doing a lot of these things but just need to tweak one or two key areas then your gorgeous glutes and the Rear of the Year award may be just around the corner.