Exercise Band Workouts for Your Hips and Thighs

The hips and thighs are difficult to slim and trim, second only to trimming belly fat. You can squat, lunge and extend and still have not get the results you want. Adding an elastic exercise band to your workout might be just the thing that helps improve your workout. Adding extra resistance to your exercise routine improves the effectiveness of your workout. To burn fat, you have to reduce your calories and do aerobic exercise, such as running, jogging, swimming or bicycling.  Do strength training exercises to improve your muscle tone and to add lean muscle mass while strengthening your muscles.

You can find exercise bands in most sporting goods stores or even at your local gym.  They are generally inexpensive, compared to other exercise equipment, and come in a variety of strengths. Beginners should start using bands that offer the least resistance and gradually move to more resistant bands as your strength increases. You can find bands that have handles or no handles. You can attach them to a door frame or a permanent wall anchor. Circular bands that wrap around your ankles or thighs are great for working your lower body while leaving your hands free.

Wrap a circular band around your ankles and lie down on the floor to do band leg extensions. Lie on your back with your legs extended. Squeeze your abs and lift one leg straight up toward the ceiling, stretching the band as you lift your leg. Hold for 2 to 3 seconds and then lower your leg back to the floor. Do 10 to 15 repetitions on each side. As your legs grow stronger, hold the lift up to 10 seconds or do more repetitions. Increase the resistance or the number of repetitions when you can do 12 repetitions without experiencing muscle failure.

Increase the effectiveness of your regular set of squats by adding a medium resistance exercise band. You can use two bands, one secured to each leg, or stand on one long band and hold each end in your hands. Move to your squat position and hold the handles of the exercise band with your palms up (or wrap the band around your hands) until there is slight tension on the bands. Push yourself up from the squat but keep your hands about waist level with your elbows bent and your palms upward. This exercise will not only add resistance to your lower body workout, it is also a great way to strengthen your arms and shoulders. Do 10 to 15 repetitions and then rest for one minute before doing another set of 10 to 15 squats.

Have a seat for this next exercise that will work your inner and outer thighs. Sit in a sturdy chair without arms and wrap an exercise band around your legs just above your knees. Keep your feet flat on the floor and your back straight. Spread your knees apart pushing against the resistance band. Hold the position for 2 seconds and then relax. Repeat for 10 to 12 repetitions.

Is Weight Training For You?

Maybe you watch people at the gym, huffing, puffing, grunting and sweating at the weight machines or free weights and think, “No way I want to do that!” You’re not sure you would benefit from lifting weights, especially since you have no desire to look like a body builder.

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You can benefit from lifting weights even if you do it only a couple of times each week. Weight training can help improve your muscle tone, build lean muscle mass and help you lose weight. No matter how old or young you are, weight training is good for you.

As we age, we lose muscle mass. Lost muscle will be replaced by flabby fat if you don’t do something to rebuild lost muscle. Muscle tissue requires more energy to function than other tissues, therefore it uses more calories. Your metabolism will increase slightly as you gain muscle and burn fat. Increased muscle mass also means your endurance will improve. You will be able to work your muscles harder for a longer period of time. Weight training stresses your muscles causing them to adapt, which makes them grow stronger.

Start with a weight that you can lift, but tires your muscles after 10 to 12 repetitions. Beginners should start with one set of 8 to 10 repetitions of any lifting exercise. You should be barely able to lift the weight on the last repetition.  When you can do 12 repetitions without fatigue, increase the weight by adding 2 to 5 pounds.

Learn proper lifting technique before you grab the dumbbells. A fitness trainer can help you learn the correct way to lift so that you enjoy the benefits of weight training while reducing your risk of injury. Don’t forget to warm-up before lifting. Do some light exercise, such as brisk walking or calisthenics.

Rest one full day between weight training workouts. Your muscles need at least one full day to repair and recover. You can work your core, legs and thighs one day, and then your arms, chest, shoulders and upper back on the next day. Your workout can be as long as you feel comfortable exercising. You can exercise for 15 minutes, 20 minutes or longer. Adjust your workout to suit your strength, overall level of fitness and your time schedule.

 

Weight Training Won’t Bulk You Up – Unless You Want It To

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Stop running from the weight bench and put down those girly pink dumbbells! Weight exercises are good for you and won’t turn you into the Hulk. Weight exercises won’t make your muscles bulky unless your goal is to bulk up and build bulging biceps. Weight exercises will help tone and firm your muscles, increase your ability to burn fat and improve your bone health. So, grab some weights and get strong. There is a difference between weight training to get stronger and weight training to build bulky muscles. To get stronger without building big muscles, lift light weights for many repetitions, roughly 12 to 15 repetitions. Build bulky muscles by lifting heavier weights for fewer repetitions. By changing the way you work out when doing weight exercises, you can target different types of muscle fibers. Heavy weight with few repetitions targets your type II muscle fibers for bulk, while lighter weights with more repetitions targets your type I muscles fibers for muscular endurance.

Weight exercises benefit your body, even if you aren’t trying to build muscle. Lifting weights, doing bodyweight exercises, such as push-ups, and resistance exercises help reduce the risk and symptoms of chronic illness and disease, including osteoporosis, arthritis and diabetes. Strong muscles, especially in your back and core, help improve your balance to prevent falls. Post-menopausal women are at risk for weakened bones due to loss of bone mass. Weight training can help reduce bone loss and can even improve bone mass. Muscle tissue is very efficient at using glucose for fuel to help keep your blood sugar levels under control and reduce your risk of diabetes.

You will have to spend hours in the gym, take supplements and eat high protein diet if you want to build bulky muscles. It’s difficult for women to build huge muscles like men because women lack sufficient testosterone to build muscle mass. Your lack of testosterone along with your DNA determine how you build muscles. Mesomorphs, or muscular body types, are more likely to build bulky muscles than endomorphs, or those with rounder, curvy bodies. Ectomorph body types are slimmer and leaner than either mesomorphs or endomorphs. No matter what your body type, you will benefit from weight training by becoming stronger.

In addition to exercise, your nutrition and body type will help determine whether you build muscle and how big your muscles will grow. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (eatright.org), you should eat 1.4 to 1.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day when lifting weights if you want to build muscle. This amounts to up to 20 percent of your daily caloric intake. Eating more protein won’t build bigger muscles. Even if you don’t want bulky muscles, your body still needs protein to repair and build new muscle after a workout.

Fat-Fighting Foods

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Losing weight doesn’t mean you have to deprive yourself of tasty, nutritious foods. Many of the foods you love can help you lose weight or help you maintain your weight loss. Continue to exercise regularly and enjoy some of these fat fighting foods.
Protein is an essential nutrient for muscle health. It also helps to build other body tissues, produces enzymes and hormones and helps to regulate the biochemical processes in your body. You can get protein from animal and plant sources. Eggs are low in calories and loaded with essential protein and can be prepared in a variety of ways for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Eggs may contribute to cholesterol, so limit eggs to a couple of times each week. Nuts are another great source of protein. They are also high in fiber and omega-3 healthy fats. Nuts can be eaten plain as a snack or added to salads, breads and cereals for extra flavor. 

Lean meats and fish are a good way to get muscle-building protein in your diet. Protein helps you feel full longer so that you eat less. Red meat is usually higher in fat than chicken. If you eat red meat, trim all the fat off the meat prior to cooking. Skinless chicken breast is a very good choice with less fat than other meats. Extra lean steaks and roasts are good choices. Fish is a great source of protein and contains little fat. Fish, especially salmon, is also rich in heart-healthy omega-3 fats.
Vegetable protein is just as healthy for your body as meat protein. Beans are especially high in protein and fiber. Beans are low in calories and fat too. Quinoa, cracked wheat and brown rice are other great sources of vegetable protein. They can be prepared as a side dish, used in soups and in casseroles. In addition to protein, these high-protein foods also contain iron, zinc, vitamin E and the trace element selenium. Fruits like watermelon, pears, apples, grapes and yogurt and berries are also high in protein and other essential nutrients. 

Stronger, Trimmer Inner Thighs

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Short pants and skirts weather is here! Are you unhappy with the appearance of your inner thighs and want to trim and tone your muscles? It’s difficult to “spot train,” but you can “target” muscle groups with specific exercises. Do each of the following exercises for 20 to 30 repetitions each day to help trim and strengthen your inner thighs. 
Normal squats strengthen the upper thighs, calves, hamstrings, back and abdominal muscles. Take a wide stance when performing squats to strengthen and tone your inner thighs, too. Stand with your feet a couple of inches wider than your shoulder width. Point your toes outward. Keep your spine straight from the top of your head to your tailbone and slowly lower your body to a “sitting” position. Hold the position for 2 seconds and then push with your legs back to a standing position. Place your hands comfortably on your hips or hold on to a sturdy chair for balance, if necessary. Try to do this exercise without holding a chair for maximum effectiveness. Increase the effectiveness of squats by placing a ball between your legs. Hold the ball between your legs above your knees and squeeze it as your lower your body into the squat. 
Inner thigh pushes will really tighten up your inner thighs! Lie on the floor on your right side and support your upper body with  your right elbow and forearm on the floor. Stretch your right leg out straight. Bend your left knee and place your left foot on the floor in front of your right knee. Raise your right leg upward toward the ceiling. Lift until your feel your inner thigh begin to tighten and hold the position for 2 to 3 seconds, and then lower your leg to within 1 inch of the floor. Repeat with the other leg. 

Relieve Lower Back Pain With Exercise

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Low back pain may result from overuse of the muscles and ligaments. Injuries to the muscles and ligaments also causes low back pain. You can get some relief from mild to moderate low back pain with stretching exercises. See a doctor to rule out serious injury, like a compression fracture or injured disk, before trying exercise to relieve low back pain. After your doctor has given you the go-ahead, try some of these exercises to help with low back pain:
Hip wagging is an exercise that will help to gently stretch out your sore muscles and ligaments in the lower back. Get on the floor on your hands and knees. Keep your spine straight from the top of your head to your tail bone. Look at the floor and spread your fingers slightly. Align your hands under your shoulders for stability. Place your knees slightly apart, about 4 to 6 inches. Slowly move only your hips to the left as far as you can without experiencing pain. Bring your hips back to the center and then slowly move your hips to the right. Repeat this exercise 10 to 15 times. 
Hip extensions can follow the hip wagging exercise since you are already in the “all fours” position. Bring your right knee under your body toward your head as far as you can. Do not bring your chin toward your knee but continue looking at the floor. Next, stretch your right leg straight out behind your body. Keep your spine and your leg in a straight line parallel to the floor. Hold the stretch for about 5 seconds and repeat the exercise 10 to 15 times. Repeat this exercise with the left leg. 
Sit up straight on a sturdy dining-style chair that does not have armrests. Straighten your spin by dropping your shoulders down and back about 1 to 2 inches. Look straight ahead and rest your hands comfortably on your knees. Slowly curl your body forward beginning with your neck, then your upper back and finally with your lower back. Reach forward with your hands as you bend until your palms are touching the floor in front of your feet. Hold this stretch for about 5 seconds. Slowly roll your body back upright beginning at your lower back, upward to your middle back, your shoulders and then your neck. Try to perform this exercise in a smooth rolling motion. Repeat 10 times. 
Stretching your back muscles from side to side can help improve flexibility and reduce low back pain. Stand up straight and relax your arms at your sides. Place your feet about hip-width apart. Bend your upper body toward the right from the shoulder, down your side to your hip. Hold the stretch for 5 seconds and the slowly return to the start position. Pause for 2 seconds and then bend toward the left. Repeat this exercise 10 times on each side. 

For more information about low back pain and exercises, see:

No Equipment Thigh Strengthening Exercises

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Strong thighs are important for bearing the weight of your body, endurance and balance. Weak or under-developed thigh muscles may be susceptible to injury from exercise. You can strengthen your thighs without the need for equipment. Stretches and jumping exercises can help you strengthen your thighs. 
Kneeling thigh stretches are easy to perform, but don’t let the ease of this exercise fool you! It’s a powerful way to strengthen and tone your thigh muscles. Kneel on the floor or on an exercise mat for comfort. Keep your knees about hip-width apart. Your toes should be pointing at the wall behind you and your weight on your leg from your knees, down your shin and across the top of your foot. Stretch your torso up tall toward the ceiling and squeeze your abdominal muscles. Don’t drop your chin, but keep your head up looking straight ahead. When you are ready, shift your weight back and bring your hips toward your heels. Move your arms back and brace yourself by placing your fingertips on the floor on either side of your legs. Hold this position for 10 to 20 seconds and then return to the start position. Do 5 to 7 repetitions of this exercise. Increase the length of time you hold the position and the number of repetitions as your strength and endurance increase.  
Jump and reach to stretch your thigh muscles and increase flexibility. Begin by standing in an upright position with your legs hip-width apart and your arms relaxed at your side. Shift your weight back on your hips and lower yourself toward a sitting position, as in a squat. When you feel your heels lift off the floor, reach your arms upward toward the ceiling and push your body upward from your feet, through your legs and thighs in an explosive push toward the ceiling. The momentum of swinging your arms up with a simultaneous push upwards will help you reach high.