Exercises for Toning Your Hips and Abs

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Toned hips and abdominals are desired by many, but do require some work to achieve, especially if you're female and tend to store fat in your lower body. In addition to a healthy diet, cardio and strength training can help reduce excess fat, and the latter can also add definition to your problem areas. All that's needed is a commitment on your part.

Cardio and Strength Training

No matter how many exercises you do to strengthen your abdominals and the muscles surrounding hips, if you have excess body fat, you'll never see definition, because your muscles will be hidden under the fat. The American Heart Association suggests losing weight by doing 30 to 60 minutes of cardio on most days of the week, and strength training on two days. Cardio can include jogging, bicycling or swimming, while strength training should target your large muscle groups. Combined with a reduced-calorie diet, this can result in a daily deficit of 500 calories and weight loss of one pound a week.

Core-Strengthening Exercises

In addition to adding muscle tone, strengthening the muscles that stabilize your midsection can also improve your posture, prevent injuries, ease daily activities and enhance the effectiveness of abdominal exercises. Core strengtheners can include the floor bridge, during which you're face up on the floor with your knees bent. You then raise your hips, aligning your body from your knees to your shoulders, before slowly lowering back down. Front and side planks, during which you hold your body straight as a plank while either facing the floor or on one side, also engage your core muscles including your abs and hips.

Crunch Your Abs

Abdominal exercises that work your abs through different planes of motion can effectively tone your tummy. These exercises are often done face up on the floor and require you to crunch your ribs toward your pelvis or your pelvis toward your ribs. Some examples include traditional crunches, V-ups, lying toe touches and reverse crunches. They all mainly work the rectus abdominis at the front of your waistline. Bicycle crunches, during which you bring one elbow to the opposite knee, bring a twisting motion into the equation and engage the obliques at the sides of your waistline.

Leg Raise Exercises

Leg raises effectively work your butt, hips, and inner and outer thighs. You can do them by lying on your side on the floor with your legs stacked. You then raise your upper leg 45 degrees and lower it back down. You can do this same exercise while standing upright and raising one leg out to your side and then slowly lowering it back down. Doing the exercise while standing upright also forces you to engage your abs to stabilize your body. By wearing ankle weights or using a resistance band, you can make the exercise more challenging as you get stronger.