Butts, Outer Thighs, and Saddlebags

I am not sure if it is a blessing or a curse that women have to bear children.  It has to be an incredible feeling to nourish and host a beautiful child within your body, but at the same time…ouch!  Another curse, at least in our current society, is the taboo of extra weight that women carry below the waist, which is thought to be for the benefit of carrying babies.  Many gals are busting their butts in order to minimize it, and often their efforts are misdirected.  Let me help get you on track.

First let’s talk about the anatomy. Many people perform hip abduction, which is kicking your legs to the side or spreading your legs, to target the outer thigh. However, the hip abductors are a group of muscles located at the side of your hips and butt, and exercising these muscles do little to none for the outer thigh.

There is not a sole “outer thigh” muscle, the quadriceps make up most of the thigh musculature, and while you can perform exercise that place a little added emphasis on the Vastus lateralis which is the outer portion of the quadriceps, I do not recommend it. A balance of strength must be maintained in all four quadriceps muscles to avoid painful knee problems.

My suggestion for hip or saddlebag area is a wide variety of exercises targeting the glutes and hip abductors. Although there are machines that try to isolate these muscles, I prefer hitting them in a more functional manner with ankle weights, rubber bands, or low cable stations, using a variety of hip angles to really tone and shape these critical muscles.  For a great gluteus medius from our TV program can be seen at:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fnsutr5uBwg

To target the thigh I prefer lunge or split squat variations. Both of these not only recruit the quadriceps muscle but also put a great deal of emphasis on toning your butt. In addition to really tightening up these muscles, these exercise also promote flexibility and balance, and at the same time can be modified to involve a great deal of core musculature. Proper form with these exercises is mandatory to avoid knee problems.  To see this exercise performed click the link below:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tlotDOOkoic

I cannot overly emphasize the importance of mixing up your exercises a great deal. This not only keeps your mind fresh but also hits the muscles from a variety of angles and prevents fitness plateaus. Learn the correct form of many exercises for each body part, and then mix them up continuously.

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