It’s no secret that we women tend to be a bit harsh when it comes to the size of our thighs. In fact, it’s one of the body regions we seem to complain about most, right up there with our bellies.
In general, when women put on weight, it’s mostly in our hips and lower body — opposed to men, who tend to accumulate extra weight in their upper body — according to James O. Hill, Ph.D., executive director of the Anschutz Health and Wellness Center at the University of Colorado and author of State of Slim. “It comes off in different places, too,” says Hill, noting that where you lose weight often depends on where your body stores fat, and it also has to do with genetics.
“The more weight you lose, the more you’re likely going to lose it from the specific place you want,” adds Hill.
So, without any further ado, here are seven great leg-shaping moves to do — and the best part is they all require zero equipment.
1. Chair pose
Chair pose is the perfect move for workout newbies and seasoned pros alike. All you need to reap the benefits of this pose is an imaginary chair and some engagement in your glutes.
How to do it: Begin standing straight up, feet hip-width apart. While keeping your weight centered on your heels, engage your abdomen as you hinge forward at the waist, lowering your bottom backwards and towards the ground as if you were about to sit down in a chair.
From here, extend your arms up towards the sky and hold for four to six breaths. Return back to standing while keeping the core engaged and then repeat until you’ve completed three sets of 10-15 reps.
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2. Reverse lunges
Regular lunges are great, but to kick it up a notch, try putting those bad boys in reverse. The unknown movement pattern of reverse lunges gives your lower body a nice challenge, while also strengthening your core by testing your balance.
How to do it: Begin by standing tall with your hands at your hips or overhead, which can be more challenging. From here, with control, take a large step backwards with your left leg, staying on the ball of your back foot. As you bend your back knee, hover over the ground and simultaneously bend your front knee as well so that it is positioned directly over your ankle. Return back to standing by pressing your right heel into the floor and carefully bringing your left leg forward to complete one repetition. Continue by alternating legs until you complete 20 reps.
3. Skater lunge
Skater lunges target the quads, hamstrings and glutes — making it one heck of a workout move.
How to do it: Begin standing tall with feet shoulder-width apart and your arms at your sides. With control, take a large step backwards with your left leg, crossing it diagonally behind the right leg, as you bring your left finger tips to the floor and swing your right arm back behind you. Hop about two feet to the left and come back to the beginning stance. Repeat with the opposite leg to complete one repetition. Do three sets of 20 reps.
4. Plié squat
There’s a reason ballerinas always have the best buns (and, no, I’m not just talking about the ones on their heads). This move is similar to a ballet plié and so are its results — as it tightens the glutes, hips and thighs.
How to do it: Standing tall, open your legs so they’re a little more than hip-width apart, turning out your feet to the opposite sides of the room. Pressing your heels into the ground, bend your knees and lower your hips so they are parallel with your knees. Continue this motion, raising up and down as you engage your core and tighten your glutes. Do three sets of 10-15 pulses each.
5. Warrior III
This next move is sure to test your balance, but your thighs (and booty) will thank you for it. Not only does Warrior III tone your legs, but it also gives your core a great little workout too.
How to do it: Begin by standing straight up, feet hip-width apart. Take a step forward with your right foot as you engage your core and slowly lift your left leg back and up behind you. As your leg lifts, extend your arms out in front of you and lower your torso down towards the ground, creating one straight line from hand to foot. Hold here for six to eight breaths and then slowly lower your back foot, return to the starting position and repeat on the other side, completing one rep. Do three sets of 5-10 reps.
6. Down Dog split
If you’re serious about lengthening and strengthening, Down Dog split is the move for you!
How to do it: Beginning in a Downward-Facing Dog position, take a deep inhale in, pressing your palms firmly into the ground and aiming your chest towards your upper thighs. As you exhale, raise your left leg back and up behind you, flexing through your foot and trying to keep both your hips angled towards the ground. Lower the leg back down to the starting position and repeat on the other side, completing one rep. Aim for three sets of five to eight reps each.
7. Forward fold
The key to getting lean is staying limber — and this move helps do just that. Standing Forward Bend not only works the quad muscles, but it also helps fight cellulite.
How to do it: Stand with feet together, or about hip-width apart. Keeping a slight bend in your knees, begin to hinge forward, letting your head and body weight take over as you lower your fingers/hands down toward the ground. Keeping the quads engaged and hips centered over the knees, begin to straighten the legs (making sure not to lock out your knees) as much as possible. Hold here as you take six to eight slow, deep breaths.
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