Sleeker Thighs in One Month
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Fitness

Sleeker Thighs in One Month

Seven moves for sculpted, sexy legs, plus the best lower-body cardio and solutions for saddlebags and cellulite.

1. Roundhouse Kick/Squat

Forget complex weight machines and endless leg lifts. To sculpt sleek, sexy thighs, you need to move in a new direction, says Violet Zaki, group fitness instructor at Equinox Fitness Club in New York City. Explosive, multidimensional exercises target your inner and outer thighs, quads, and hamstrings in one dynamic shot. Zaki's workout is a fusion of martial arts, yoga, dance, and strength training that can be done anywhere -- no equipment required! These moves demand focus and balance, engaging your core as well as your thighs.

Do this routine three or four times a week (12 to 15 reps and two or three sets per exercise, except where indicated) and you'll see stronger, slimmer thighs in four weeks. Now that's a kick.

 
1. Roundhouse Kick/Squat

  • Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, knees soft.
  • Hold fists under chin, palms in and elbows near rib cage, shoulders relaxed.
  • Pivot 45 degrees to the right.
  • Extend left leg out to side, pointing toes to the floor.
  • Do a roundhouse kick: Lift left knee as high as you comfortably can, turning outer thigh to face ceiling.
  • Extend leg, then retract it, keeping toes pointed.

  • Lower leg and pivot back to start, so toes point forward.
  • Squat down, keeping knees aligned with ankles.
  • Switch legs and repeat.

2. Hip Extension with Circles

  • Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, shoulder blades squeezed together, hands on hips.
  • Keeping right leg straight, knee soft, lift left leg behind body, pointing toes, until you feel a contraction in your glutes (don't arch your back).
  • Draw a four-point clockwise circle with your left toes, then repeat the circle counterclockwise.
  • Do all reps on left leg, then switch sides and repeat.

3. Chair Pose/Back Lunge

  • Stand with legs and feet together.
  • Push hips back and squat as if you were sitting into a chair.
  • Keep knees over ankles, legs pressed together; extend both arms next to ears, keeping head in line with spine.
  • Hold for 5 counts.

  • Place hands on hips and step back with right leg into a lunge, keeping front knee aligned over ankle.
  • Hold for 5 counts.
  • Return to start and repeat from chair pose, switching legs as you lunge.
  • Do 5 reps per side.

4. Plie Squat with Lifted Heels

  • Stand with feet twice as wide as shoulder-width apart, toes and knees turned out, heels slightly lifted.
  • Extend arms out to sides at shoulder height, palms down.
  • Squat down, pushing hips back slightly and keeping knees over ankles.
  • Straighten legs, keeping knees soft and heels lifted; repeat.

5. Crescent Kick Over Chair

  • Stand an arm's length behind the back of a chair, fists under chin, shoulders relaxed, knees soft.
  • Raise your left knee and draw an arc with your left foot, kicking it over the chair from right to left.
  • Switch legs and repeat.

6. Warrior Pose/Tree Pose

  • Stand with feet together.
  • Lunge right leg behind you, turning right foot out 45 degrees.
  • Bend left knee 90 degrees.
  • Lift arms out to the sides to shoulder height, palms down.
  • Hold for 5 counts, gazing over front hand.

  • Raise arms overhead and bring palms together, then lower to chest.
  • Bring feet together and lift right knee to hip height, resting right heel on inside of left thigh; place hands on hips.
  • Hold for 10 slow counts.
  • Switch legs and repeat from start.
  • Do 5 reps per side.

7. Curtsy Squat/Lateral Lift

  • Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, hands on hips.
  • Cross right leg behind body and to the left so that inner thighs touch.
  • Bend left knee 90 degrees, toes pointing forward, then return to starting position.

  • Raise right leg out to the side as high as you can without shifting your hips; keep left leg straight and knee soft.
  • Return to starting position; switch sides and repeat.

Tame Your Toughest Trouble Zones

You can't spot-reduce, but you can fine-tune your workouts to target common thigh problems like saddlebags and cellulite. Here are three highly effective solutions from Pasadena trainer Keli Roberts.

The Problem: Saddlebags

The Solution: Kickboxing
Nothing burns calories like a barrage of side, roundhouse, and crescent kicks. Plus, these moves really blast the inner and outer thigh muscles.

The Problem: Cellulite

The Solution: Stairclimbing
Climbing steps -- real steps or the Stepmill (rolling staircase) -- is a killer way to burn fat and give your thighs that smooth, sculpted swoop. For best results, walk two steps at a time and add lunges, squats, and deadlifts after your climb.

The Problem: Chicken Legs

The Solution: Strength Training
Build muscle by working your thighs with several types of lunges: front, diagonal, side and pivoting. Hold a heavy set of dumbbells (enough to make you feel fatigued by the eighth or tenth rep). To balance your upper and lower leg muscles, do one-legged calf raises.

4 Lower-Body Cardio Sculpters

Burn calories and tone your thighs by making your favorite cardio workouts more leg intensive. "Focus on increasing resistance to work more of the leg muscles," says trainer Keli Roberts. Here are four ways to super-sculpt your thighs while blasting fat.

Hill Repeats

Find a hill that takes about 2 minutes to sprint up. Warm up for 10 to 15 minutes, then sprint or speed-walk up 5 to 10 times, walking down slowly to let your heart rate recover. (On the treadmill: Run or walk for 2 minutes at a 9 or 10 percent incline; lower to zero and walk for 3 to 4 minutes.)

Extended Climb on a Bike

Either on a Spinning bike or outdoors, pedal in the saddle with moderate to heavy resistance at 60 to 80 rpm for 15 to 20 minutes. Crank up to 80 to 90 rpm for 2 minutes at heavy resistance; recover at an easier resistance for 3 to 4 minutes. Do 5 to 8 times.

In-line Skate Intervals

Find a moderately steep hill that takes about 2 minutes to skate up, sprinting as hard as you can. Turn around at the top and carefully skate down. Repeat 5 to 10 times.

Stairclimbing Intervals

Warm up for 10 minutes, then go hard for 1 minute, walking 2 steps at a time or running. Recover for 1 minute at an easy pace. Repeat 5 to 10 times.

 

Originally published in Fitness magazine, July 2005.

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