If you’re trying to tighten up your butt and upper quads, you’re not alone. This area is a problematic spot for women, and there’s no single cure to change things overnight. According to celebrity trainer Anna Kaiser, increasing the intensity of your cardio and strength-training program is a great start. Anna’s other piece of advice? “Put down the fork. No one needs to be eating five bowls of pasta a week and think that they’re going to get rid of [fat] if they’re doing 500 leg raises. It’s just not going to happen.”
So stick to a healthy eating plan, add plenty of cardio to your workout routine, and try out these helpful exercises to help you feel more confident the next time you slip into something slinky.
If these beginner step-ups are too simple for you, consider an intermediate or advanced variation:
- Find a step or a bench that, when you place your foot squarely on it, your knee is at a 90-degree angle or larger.
- Step up 20 times leading with the right foot, then the left, bringing both feet completely onto the bench.
- To return to the starting position, lead with the right foot to step down to the floor, then the left, until ending with both feet on the ground.
- Switch legs and start stepping with the left foot for 20 steps.
Side Lunge to Curtsy
If lunges are new to you, don’t add dumbbells to this exercise until you are comfortable with the leg positions:
- Holding a five- to 10-pound weight in your left hand, side lunge to the right bringing your left hand to your right foot. Lower your booty as much as possible. Keep your toes pointed forward and your right knee bent to no more than 90 degrees.
- Push off gently with your right foot and come into a curtsy position with your right leg crossing behind your left as you press your weight overhead. Keep your hips square and your curtsy tight. Both feet should be pointed forward. This completes one rep.
- Repeat by stepping immediately into a side lunge from the curtsy.
- Once you have completed 15 reps, switch sides. Do three sets total.
Elbow Plank With Donkey Kick
Help lift that booty (and tone your core) with this elbow plank variation:
- Begin in an elbow plank with elbows directly under shoulders, abs engaged toward the spine. Don’t let the pelvis sag down or pop up.
- Lift left leg off the ground, bending your knee so the sole of your foot is toward the ceiling. Keep pelvis square to the floor. Don’t let your pelvis twist.
- Press your left heel toward the ceiling as high as you can without moving your pelvis or lower back. The motion will not be huge but rather concentrated on the booty and hamstring.
- Lower the bent leg slightly, and repeat for a total of eight to 10 repetitions. Then switch sides.
- Do two sets on each leg.
Plank Booty Leg Lifts
These plank booty leg lifts work out your tush and the back of your thighs at the same time:
- Lie on your belly on an exercise ball, and walk your hands out so the ball is underneath your shins. Your hands should be underneath your shoulders.
- Draw your navel toward your spine to engage your abs, which will help keep your spine straight and your body stabilized.
- Lift your left leg up into the air, and then slowly lower it back toward the ball, but don’t let it touch. This counts as one repetition. Keep your pelvis level throughout your reps.
- Complete three sets of 10 to 12 reps with the left leg, and then repeat with the right.
Celebrity trainers recommend the sumo squat (also known by the feminine name plié squat) for its bottom-lifting and leg-shaping benefits:
- Stand with legs wide and toes pointed outward slightly.
- Bend down until your knees are over your ankles, then straighten your legs. This completes one rep.
- Complete three sets of 15 reps.
Side Saddle Leg Lifts
Those familiar with barre exercises will love these side saddle leg lifts that can be done anywhere:
- Start on your side with your legs extended, flexing both feet. Place your top hand on the ground in front of your abs and your supporting arm under your head. Make sure your bottom leg stays extended for the whole duration of the series.
- Keeping the energy reaching out through your flexed heels, lift your top leg up about six to eight inches from the floor. From here, make tiny pulses upward 20 times. Holding your leg at the highest point of your lift, draw one-inch circles with your heel for 20 reps.
- Keeping your top leg lifted, bend and straighten your knee. Do this 20 times while not letting your thigh lower as you press through the heel to lengthen your top leg to the straightened position. For an even greater burn, finish this series with lifts in a bigger range of motion, taking the foot all the way toward the ceiling and back down, 10-20 times.
This pose may be considered a gentler inversion in a more rigorous yoga practice, but it’s an amazing tool to tone up the outer thighs and your glutes:
- Begin lying flat on your back with your arms along the sides of your body, with your palms facing down. Bend your knees, placing your heels as close as you can to your bum.
- With your palms and feet pressing firmly into the ground, lift your hips up. Keep your palms on the mat or clasp your hands together below your pelvis, extending through your arms. Or you can also bend your elbows and rest your hands on your lower back. If your feet are close enough, you can also hold your ankles.
- Stay here for 10 deep breaths, lifting your hips up as high as you can.
- Try three to five rounds of the pose, holding for 10 breaths each time.