5 Awesome Exercises For Women Wanting A Toned Lower Body

You’re five exercises away from the perfect lower body. Lean calves, sculpted thighs, and a bootylicious backside are completely achievable with a little hard work and sweat. You can either do these exercises with your body weight alone or add a pair of weights for an added challenge.

5 Hip Abduction/Adduction

Even though lunges and squats incorporate your hip muscles, hip abduction and adduction targets the muscles that will give you shapelier hips. Abduction is the movement away from the body, while adduction is the movement towards the center of the body. How to do hip abduction/adduction: These exercises can sometimes be done on the same machine or two separate machines depending on the manufacturer. For hip abductions, take a seat and select a weight that will challenge but not strain your muscles. Place the padded brace on the outside of your knee and start with your legs together. Push your legs apart using the muscles of your outer thighs and slowly release back to start. Hip adductions are the exact opposite. Sit with the weighted arms of the machine on the inside of your knees and start with your legs spread. Bring your legs together using the muscles of your inner thighs and slowly release to the starting position for one rep.

4 Step Ups

How to do step ups: Stand in front of a step or box or any other ledge that’s about knee height. Step up with your right leg and stand one-legged on the step without letting your knee lock. Let your left leg hang behind you until you bend your right knee and step down, transferring weight to your left leg. Once you’ve stepped down, repeat on your left leg.

3 Side Lunges

This lunge variation is perfect for working your hips and inner thighs. For a little more variety, try round-the-clock lunges: one forward lunge, one to the right, one backward, and one to the left as if your legs were the hands of a clock. How to do side lunges: Start with your feet together, and then step out to the right side, bending your right knee but keeping your left leg straight. Your weight should be primarily in your left leg, but don’t let your knee extend past your foot either to the front or to the right. Hold your arms one on each side of your leg. Push off your right leg and return to the start. Repeat the same thing on the left side. For an added challenge, hold a dumbbell in each hand.

2 Lunges

Just like squats, lunges are a pretty standard exercise, but for a good reason. They strengthen the hips, glutes, and thighs while engaging your core for balance. If you want a more advanced variation, do your lunges with your back leg propped up on a stair or ledge. How to do lunges: Start with your legs shoulder-distance apart, your back straight, and you hands at your side. Step forward on the right leg and bend both knees until they’re at a 90° angle. Your right knee shouldn’t extend over your toe and your left knee should hover just above the ground behind you. Engage your glutes and quads to straighten you legs and return to the starting position. Repeat the same thing on the left side.

1 Squats

Squats are hands down the best lower body exercise, because they work all major muscles groups while emphasizing core strength, balance, and flexibility. Try different variations to work slightly different muscles: front squats, sumo squats, plie squats, and single-leg squats. How to do squats: With your legs hip-distance apart, turn your toes out slightly and keep your upper body straight. Bend your knees and lower yourself as if you were sitting in an invisible chair. Go as low as you can without letting your knees go over your toes or collapse inward. Raise you arms out in front of you at shoulder level to help with balance. Keeping your back straight, raise yourself up to the starting position and lower you arms.

For a sexy, sculpted lower body, run through each of these exercises for three sets of 8-10 reps. And if there are any areas you really want to focus on, check out the lists of best exercises for quads, calves, and butt.

Rachel is a USC graduate who loves running, yoga, and writing about those two things. She’s worked for publications including Men’s Health, People.com, and Organic Spa Magazine, and recently helped produce several fitness apps with personal trainers and fitness instructors.

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