Dump the Saddlebags

Photo Credit: Bill Branson, National Cancer Institute PD
Saddlebags are those pouches of fat that accumulate on the outer thighs. Women are particularly susceptible to fat deposits on the thighs. The best ways to dump the saddlebags are to eat nutritious, low-fat foods and exercise. Cardiovascular exercises, such as swimming, running, brisk walking or jogging and bicycling, help burn fat. There are also some exercises that you can do right at home to help burn away the saddlebags. When you exercise to get rid of hip and thigh fat, you can lose weight overall while building muscle. 
Do some step-ups on a low step stool or a step  aerobics stool. Stand in front of the stool with your arms relaxed at your side. Step up onto the stool leading with your right foot and then bring your left foot up beside your right foot. Step down onto the floor with your right foot and follow with your left. Repeat 10 to 15 times and then switch to leading with your left foot. Add some extra calorie burning to your step-ups by holding a 5 pound dumbbell in each hand. If you don’t have a set of dumbbells, hold a 1/2 gallon container of water in each hand. Use a container with a sturdy handle. 
Side leg raises work the muscles of your thighs, buttocks and abdomen. Hold the back of a sturdy chair and stand up straight. Place your feet about hip-width apart. Drop your shoulders and stretch your spine upward. Lift your right leg upward in front of your body. Keep your leg as straight as you can and then stretch your right leg out to the right of your body. Hold this position for 2 to 3 seconds and then slowly return your leg back to the floor. Do 15 repetitions with each leg. 
Lie on your left side with your left leg on top of your right leg. Rest your left forearm on the floor to support your upper body and place your right hand on the floor in front of your torso. Squeeze your abdominal muscles and lift your right leg straight up toward the ceiling. Keep your upper body straight. Hold your leg up for 5 seconds and return to the start position. Repeat 20 times on each side. 
Squats are great for the abs, hips and thighs. Stand up straight with your feet flat on the floor, about hip-width apart. Place your hands comfortably on your hips. Bend your knees to lower your body to a sitting position. Keep your back straight to avoid bending forward. Push your body back upright using your legs. Repeat this exercise 10 to 15 times. 

Pilates to Firm Your Buttocks and Thighs

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Doing Pilates exercises is a good way to firm up your body and improve your strength and endurance. Pilates exercises focuses on controlled movements and breathing. This type of exercise improves core strength for stability and strength. Pilates exercises can also firm and tone all the muscles of your body including difficult areas like the thighs and buttocks. You need only a mat or carpeted floor to perform many Pilates exercises to firm and tone your lower body and legs. 
The thighs tend to be a problem area, especially for women. Thigh lifts can help firm up the inner thighs that are especially difficult to exercise. To do thigh lifts, lie down on the floor or on an exercise mat on one side. Support your upper body with your elbow and prop your head up with your hand. Keep your elbow under your shoulder and stretch your body out straight. If you lie down on your right side, your left leg will be on top. Bring your left leg in front of your hips and place your foot on the floor. Grasp your left ankle with your free (left) hand. Breathe in and tighten your abdominal muscles, while simultaneously lifting your right leg a few inches off the floor. Hold the position for 5 seconds. Exhale as you lower your right leg back to the floor. Do 10 repetitions and then switch sides.
Do side thigh lifts from the same starting position, except extend your arm above your head and rest your head on your arm. Stretch your body out in a straight line with one leg on top of the other. If you begin on your left side, you place your right hand on the floor in front of your chest for support. Inhale, squeeze your abdominal muscles and the lift both legs off the floor a few inches. Keep your legs together and hold the position for 5 seconds. Exhale and then lower your legs back to the floor. Do 10 repetitions on each side. 

Pelvic curls will help tone your hips, buttocks and thighs. To do pelvic curls, lie on your back and bend your knees. Place your feet flat on the floor with your feet about hip-width apart. Place your palms on the floor on each side of your body for stability. Exhale as you tighten your abdominal muscles and pull your belly button toward your spine. Inhale and slowly lift your pelvis and buttocks off the floor by curling your body upward from the tailbone and lifting with your legs. Keep your feet, shoulders and palms flat on the floor. Hold the position for 5 seconds. Exhale as you roll your body back to the floor. Repeat this exercise 10 times. 

Stronger, Trimmer Inner Thighs

Photo Credit: Exey Panteleev CC-BY-2.0
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. 

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.

2 Great Exercises for Slimmer Hips and Thighs

Photo Credit: Mauritsvink Public Domain
It can be difficult to lose fat and build muscle in your hips and thighs. You can lose fat, firm and tone your muscles with a whole body exercise regime, but you may need to do a little extra work by spot training to slim your legs and hips. The hips, thighs and stomach area tend to store more fat than any other part of your body. Two great exercises that can help burn more fat, tone and strengthen hips and thighs include dumbbell step-ups and dumbbell squats. Don’t start a new exercise program until you see your doctor and get a complete physical. A personal fitness trainer can help you stay motivated and offer instruction on how to perform exercises to get maximum benefit and avoid injury. 
Step-ups require an exercise step block and a set of dumbbells. Start with a low block and gradually increase the height of the step as you gain strength and stamina. Start by standing in front of the step block with your feet apart about hip-width. Hold a 2 to 5 pound dumbbell in each hand in an overhand grasp with your palms facing inward. Drop your shoulders, squeeze your shoulder blades and stand up tall and straight. Step up on the block with your right foot. Keep your body straight and push your body up with your left foot. Place your left foot next to your right foot on the step block platform. Shift your weight to your right foot and step backwards off the step block with your left foot. Place your left foot firmly on the floor and then bring your right foot back to the floor in the start position. Alternate legs and repeat the exercise. Try to do 10 repetitions leading with your right foot and then alternating and leading with your left foot for 10 more repetitions. Increase the number of repetitions and add a heavier dumbbell as your gain strength and endurance. 
Dumbbell squats help tone and firm your arms as you exercise your hips and thighs. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold a 2 to 5 pound dumbbell in each hand. Grasp the dumbbells in an overhand hold with our palms facing your thighs. Squeeze your abdominal muscles and inhale. Raise the dumbbells to your chest until they rest on the front of your shoulders. Lift your chest and squeeze your shoulder blades together so that you are standing tall. Slowly lower your body in a sitting position from the hips. You may need to shift your weight to you heels to maintain your balance. Try to bend your hips and knees at the same time for a smooth downward motion. Keep your feet planted firmly on the floor. Stop lowering your body when your heels begin to lift off the floor. Exhale and smoothly push your body back to the upright position using your feet. Try to do 5 to 10 squats. Increase the number of repetitions and add more weight when your strength and endurance increase.