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How to Tone and Shape Your Butt and Legs

You do dozens of squats, lunges, leg extensions, side lifts, and a lot of other leg and buttock exercises every day, but you still don’t see results? Maybe you just need to lightly adjust your training schedule and diet. Strengthening alone is often not enough to change physique. In today’s article, we will introduce you to the individual steps that are important on your journey to sculpted buttocks and toned legs. Thanks to these practical tips, you will find out what to focus on for visible results.

Shapely buttocks and toned legs. What’s really important?

Your buttocks and thighs won’t just shape themselves due to the fact that you torment them with hundreds of squats. This will tighten and strengthen the muscles, but under a smaller or larger layer of fat, your efforts may not be visible. Therefore, in many cases you need to lose weight overall. On the other hand, some women already have a low body fat percentage and losing more weight would be more harmful. In this case, it is advisable to focus on healthy weight gain and muscle building. The key to beautiful curves in this case are muscles and healthy amounts of body fat.

Unfortunately, when losing weight, we cannot choose which part of the body the fat will disappear from first. The genes we inherited from our parents play a large role in this. In addition, other factors such as hormones and overall lifestyle come into play. Some lose fat first from their thighs and buttocks, for others it may disappear from their hands, and others may lose centimetres at the waist. Targeted weight loss in the buttock or abdominal area cannot be simply programmed by you. Even though genetics often don’t play entirely to your advantage, don’t let that put you off. Don’t worry, by gradually changing your diet, training schedule and regeneration you will successfully reach your goal. [1-2]

If you’re wondering what exercise and a healthy diet will bring to your life, read our article How Does Your Mind and Body Change When You Start Exercising and Eating Healthily?

How to sculpt your buttocks and thighs?

What should your diet look like if your goal is shaping your buttocks and thighs?

The most important factor that often determines the success of weight loss or healthy weight gain is caloric intake. When your goal is to lose weight, you need to be in a calorie deficit. You can do this by taking in less energy from your diet and drinks than you expend during the day.

Let’s take the example of Jane, who decided she wanted to lose weight. She longs to see her hard work at the gym. Jane discovered that she burns approximately 2,500 kcal per day. In her energy and nutrient intake calculator, she then calculated that for weight loss she should have about 2000 kcal a day. This creates a calorie deficit of 500 kcal, which her body replenishes from energy reserves (deposited fat), and she begins to lose weight gradually.

If Jane, on the other hand, wanted to gain muscle, she should go into a caloric surplus. She would also determine the energy intake value for healthy weight gain from a calculator that would recommend her to increase her intake to about 2,750 kcal when expending 2500 kcal. She would eat an extra 250 calories, which her body could use to grow muscle. [3]

Having found out how many calories, proteins, carbohydrates and fats she should eat to achieve her goal, Jane can well move on to diet planning. She can use the app that calculates caloric value and nutrient content after entering the food and its amount. The diet will thus be based on the varied sources of all macronutrients. It knows very well that all three are important.

What sort of diet should you have when shaping your buttocks and thighs?

Protein will help protect and build muscle mass while better managing the calorie deficit because it has the highest satiating capacity. Carbohydrates provide energy for training and everyday functioning, and fats in turn help maintain a balanced hormonal environment. It’s also very clear that pastries don’t make you fat, gluten doesn’t seal the gut, and fruit can be eaten in the afternoon. Everything is subject to caloric intake.

When planning your diet, do not forget variety, alternating different fruits and vegetables and following other principles of a healthy diet. Most importantly, you must like the food. So, the meal plan also needs to be adapted to your tastes. You’re not going to eat cod and potatoes every day if you hate it just because your work friend lost twenty kilos.

Like Jane, forget all the detoxes and extreme diets that often pointlessly ban gluten, carbohydrates or dairy products. These may entice you with quick results, but you must also expect a number of negative effects. These typically include inability to maintain it long-term, unnecessary starvation, fatigue and difficulty in managing day-to-day life. You’re better off relying on a regular diet with slight adjustments to achieve your set goals.    [4-5]

If you’re looking for guidance and practical tips on how to manage your calorie deficit, you shouldn’t miss our article Calorie Deficit: How To Lose Weight and Have A Life?

You might be interested in these products:

Strength training will round and tighten your buttocks and thighs

There’s nothing to worry about. Strength training doesn’t make you a professional bodybuilding competitor from one day to the next with biceps bigger than your boyfriend’s. On the contrary, it will help to shape the figure and get the sexy curves you desire. Therefore, it should have a place in the training schedule of each of you. It not only helps to build muscles in the buttocks and legs, but also promotes weight loss. Their ability to adapt to increased loads is behind muscle growth. We will show this again in the example of Jane, who already has a fine-tuned diet and now wants to train effectively.

Jane has been going to the gym for some time. She’s always had the same training and wonders why she doesn’t see the progress she did in the beginning. With that, she confides in a more experienced friend, who explains that she should adjust her training every once in a while. Her muscles have become accustomed to the same strain and number of repetitions, and they need a new impulse for further amplification. Jane follows her friend’s advice and in the next week lifts the load on squats and deadlifts by five kilos. In the next two weeks, she feels it’s getting easier for her, so she adds another 5kg weight plate on her barbell. After a while, instead of more weight, she increases the number of reps or instead of three she does four sets of one exercise. Thanks to these changes, she observes the growth in her strength, but also notices firmer buttocks and thighs. She enjoys training much more now and is still motivated to improve. Jane may thus have unknowingly begun to respect the principle of progressive overload, which is behind the shift in performance.

For every athlete, planned changes in training and increasing the load is individual. You should always remember about the correct technique of exercise and injury prevention. You can use this principle when using a barbell, kettlebell, suspension training set, or at home with resistance bands using your bodyweight. [6-7]

How to train your buttocks and legs?

The effects of strength training do not end when the gym door closes or the exercise mat is cleaned away after a home workout. Our body is still dealing with this hours later. It needs to restore mental and physical strength and repair muscles damaged by the exhausting training. The body is simply doing its best to prepare for the next training session. And that costs energy. This allows us to burn calories for several hours after exercise without having to do anything. You will appreciate this, especially when losing weight.

In addition, muscles use about four times more energy for their activity than fatty tissue. This means overall more energy output throughout the day and all activities, even when watching Netflix or reading the latest crime novel. [8-10]

Butt and leg workout. What are the best exercises?

Lower-body training should be done at least two times a week. Within it, you don’t have to do dozens of different leg and buttock exercises. A few basic ones are more than enough to strengthen the muscles of your butt, thighs and calves. Always watch for proper execution during exercise, or take advice from an experienced trainer. Effective buttock and leg exercises include various variants of squats such as classic barbell squats, Bulgarian, on one leg, goblet, on the multipress or squat with a jump.

Another effective exercise is a deadlift. There are many variations of this exercise, of which the most popular are classic deadlifts, Romanian or on one leg. If you work out at a gym, you can also include leg presses, leg extensions or butt kicks on a machine or cable exercises. Most of these exercises are complex, in which you also strengthen the core and engage the muscles of the whole body.

Other effective exercises to shape round and firm buttocks include lunges, hip thrusts, kettlebell swings and leg and butt exercises with a resistance band or TRX. As you can see, exercises on the lower half of the body are numerous. Now all you have to do is put them properly and meaningfully into a resulting workout.

Best buttock and leg exercises

Sample training plan for legs, butt and calves

Before workout, warm up and move your whole body, focusing on your hips and activating the muscles of the lower half of your body. At the end of the main part of the workout, add a cool-down phase (slow running or walking on the treadmill) if necessary, or stretch slightly.

`Select weight and accessories according to your options. The number of sets for each exercise is 3 – 5 and 8 – 12 reps. In case you exercise only with your own weight, you can easily bounce back from 10 to 20 reps.

Exercise

Training aid/load type

Primarily loaded muscles

Squatno load, with a jump, barbell squat, kettlebell squat or dumbbell squat (goblet squat)front of thighs and gluteal muscles
Hip thrustno load, barbell, dumbbell or powerbag on the pelvis, resistance band above the kneesback of thigh and gluteal muscles
Romanian deadliftbarbell, two dumbbells or no load (deadlift on one leg)back of thigh and gluteal muscles
Forward lungesno load, with a jump, barbell or powerbag on the shoulders, dumbbell or kettlebell in the handsfront of thighs and gluteal muscles
Heel raisesno load, barbell, dumbbell, on a machinecalf muscles

Find more inspiration legs and butt workout with a kettlebell in our article 8 of the Best Exercises With a Kettlebell for the Buttocks and Legs.

With cardio, you lose weight and define developed muscles

Endurance activities, which are often referred to in fitness as cardio, complement strength training perfectly and in some form should be part of the training plan. Running, cycling, swimming and other types of cardio improve body condition, lung and heart function and, most importantly, promote weight loss. Thanks to the smaller amount of fat, the toned buttocks and thighs from strength training will stand out even more. [11–12]

You typically burn more calories during cardio than during the same amount of time you spend working out. You don’t have to imitate a marathon runner’s training plan right away. Just find an activity that will entertain you and do it two to four times a week for twenty to sixty minutes. 

The most popular forms of cardio include running, cycling or fast walking. Many people like dancing, roller skating or swimming. A great choice, however, is also higher intensity cardio, such as jumping rope or HIIT, which can be completed within twenty minutes. This will be especially appreciated by time -conscious people who need to get back to their obligations as quickly as possible after training. [13-14]

If you’re tempted to start with running but don’t know how, read our article How To Start Running? A Guide for Complete Beginners.

Cardio for buttock and thigh weight loss

Support your results with regeneration and suitable supplements

Muscles grow mainly when you’re at rest, that is why the need for sufficient regeneration is so often emphasized.

After exercise, you can support your regeneration with:

A cold shower or other form of cold water therapy or sauna also works well for some.

All these methods can help with reducing muscle soreness after training and improve blood flow. They also allow more nutrients and oxygen to reach the muscle cells effectively and the waste products of energy metabolism to be removed. [15]

You should definitely not skip days off in your training schedule. But that doesn’t mean that a day without training has to be spent lying on the couch watching television or refusing to go with a friend who wants to walk into town with you for coffee and saying: “Sorry, today is my rest day.” A rest day does not mean 100% commitment to the couch. You can easily stretch, walk in the park or finish a long put off household chore. [15]

Sleep is also an integral part of regeneration and the whole process of physique change. You should have a minimum of seven hours a day. Why it is important not only when losing weight, find out in our article Sleep: The Most Effective Energy Booster and Fat Burner.

Which supplements can support an athlete’s body and help change their physique?

For regeneration to take place as it should, our bodies need sufficient macronutrients (proteins, carbohydrates and fats) as well as micronutrients (vitamins, minerals). Thus, an athlete’s body typically has greater demands on their intake than those less physically active. The basis is a well-designed diet, which we can supplement and improve appropriately with selected supplements.

  • Whey or plant-based protein can help with optimal protein intake and improved regeneration. Its basic daily intake should be 1.4 – 2 g/kg body weight for those who undertake strength training. [16]
  • Creatine in turn helps build strength, and this allows you to exercise with more weight and it promotes muscle growth.
  • Magnesium promotes proper muscle function, which makes them less susceptible to cramping.
  • Iron helps to maintain proper metabolic function, and in addition ensures the transfer of oxygen to the muscles.
  • Vitamins B2, B3, B5 and B12, contribute to reducing fatigue and exhaustion. 
  • Vitamin C will help maintain normal immune function after demanding physical activity.  
  • Vitamin D and calcium contribute to the proper function of muscle and bone.
  • When losing weight, complex fat burners can help support your results even more. They contain substances that can help burn a little more energy at rest and even during training. [17-18]

If you are also interested in suitable supplements for endurance athletes, read our article The 11 Best Supplements for Running, Cycling and Other Endurance Sports.

Best dietary supplements for shaping your buttocks and thighs

Track your results not just by the number on the scales

In the whole process when changing your physique, you should remember to measure your progression. Even if your goal is firmer butt and legs, monitor progress of your whole figure. Preferably at the same time of day, ideally in the morning after waking, measure your waist, hip, buttocks and thighs once every two weeks. 

Add to that a weigh-in, maybe once a month. You can also monitor and compare the results with pictures. Take a photo at the beginning of your journey and then add another photo to your collection every once in a while (approximately every 2 – 4 weeks) in the same place and at the same time. Success isn’t just measured by how many kilos you’ve lost or gained in muscle. It’s also about the centimetres dropping, feeling better about yourself and more self-confidence. A number on the scales doesn’t have to mean it’s not going well. If you stick with the new plan long enough, I’m sure you’ll get great results.

An Effective Body Weight Butt and Leg Workout:

What should you remember?

Any change in physique, whether it’s weight loss, healthy weight gain, or shaping up the butt and legs, needs a comprehensive approach. You just can’t do it without adjusting your diet, a training plan and overall lifestyle optimization. Adjust your diet depending on whether your goal is to lose weight or gain weight healthily. Then, as part of your workout, do squats and other effective exercises at least two times a week on the lower half of your body. Add a run or other form of cardio, and support everything with adequate rest and suitable supplementation. When everything falls into place nicely, sooner or later, you can expect to see great results.

Have you learnt anything new and beneficial? If so, don’t forget to share this article with your friends, who may also appreciate this advice. 

Sources:

[1] Myths and Misconceptions: Spot Reduction and Feeling the Burn– https://www.acefitness.org/education-and-resources/lifestyle/blog/3629/myths-and-misconceptions-spot-reduction-and-feeling-the-burn/

[2] Yale Scientific Magazine. Targeted Fat Loss: Myth or Reality? – https://www.yalescientific.org/2011/04/targeted-fat-loss-myth-or-reality/

[3] Hill, J. O., Wyatt, H. R., & Peters, J. C. Energy Balance and Obesity. https://doi.org/10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.111.087213]

[4] Oklahoma State University. The Health Risks of Fad Diets – https://extension.okstate.edu/fact-sheets/the-health-risk-of-fad-diets.html

[5] BDA. Fad diets. – https://www.bda.uk.com/resource/fad-diets.html

[6] Adams, A. Progressive Overload Explained: Grow Muscle & Strength Today.– https://blog.nasm.org/progressive-overload-explained

[7] Contreras, B. Do We Even Need to Lift? – https://bretcontreras.com/do-we-even-need-to-lift/

[8] ScienceDaily. Strength training can burn fat too, myth-busting study finds. – https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/09/210922121905.htm

[9] 7 Things to Know About Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC). – https://www.acefitness.org/education-and-resources/professional/expert-articles/5008/7-things-to-know-about-excess-post-exercise-oxygen-consumption-epoc/

[10] Resistance Training and EPOC. – https://www.unm.edu/~lkravitz/Article%20folder/epoc.html

[11] Willis, L. H., Slentz, C. A., Bateman, L. A., Shields, A. T., Piner, L. W., Bales, C. W., Houmard, J. A., & Kraus, W. E. Effects of aerobic and/or resistance training on body mass and fat mass in overweight or obese adults – https://doi.org/10.1152/japplphysiol.01370.2011

[12] Jamka, M., Mądry, E., Krzyżanowska-Jankowska, P., Skrypnik, D., Szulińska, M., Mądry, R., Lisowska, A., Batyrova, G., Duś-Żuchowska, M., Gotz-Więckowska, A., Bogdański, P., & Walkowiak, J. The effect of endurance and endurance-strength training on body composition and cardiometabolic markers in abdominally obese women: A randomised trial. – https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-90526-7

[13] ExRx.net: Aerobic Exercise Prescription Components. – https://exrx.net/Aerobic/AerobicComponents

[14] Aaptiv. What Types of Cardio Really Work? – https://aaptiv.com/magazine/types-of-cardio

[15] Dalleck, L. C. The Science of Post-Exercise Recovery. American Council on Exercise ACE.– https://acewebcontent.azureedge.net/SAP-Reports/Post-Exercise_Recovery_SAP_Reports.pdf

[16] Jäger, R., Kerksick, C. M., Campbell, B. I., Cribb, P. J., Wells, S. D., Skwiat, T. M., Purpura, M., Ziegenfuss, T. N., Ferrando, A. A., Arent, S. M., Smith-Ryan, A. E., Stout, J. R., Arciero, P. J., Ormsbee, M. J., Taylor, L. W., Wilborn, C. D., Kalman, D. S., Kreider, R. B., Willoughby, D. S., … Antonio, J. International Society of Sports Nutrition Position Stand: Protein and exercise. – https://doi.org/10.1186/s12970-017-0177-8

[17] The power of vitamins in athletics. Training & Conditioning. – https://training-conditioning.com/article/the-power-of-vitamins/

[18] Essential Nutrients for Endurance Athletes: 10 for the Road. – https://chiro.org/nutrition/FULL/Essential_Nutrients_for_Endurance_Athletes.shtml