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FITNESS
By Mike Mauney

Hips and Thighs,
Oh My, Oh My!

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Nothing substitutes for leg lunges when toning up
the upper leg areas.

"Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!" Does this classic lament from The Wizard of Oz sound familiar? How about this one: Hips and thighs and thighs, oh my! One of the most common body-image problems that many women share is associated with hips and thighs. Just like Dorothy in her travels down the Yellow Brick Road in search of the Wizard of Oz, many women also travel down a similar road looking for a "Wizard of Fitness." They search for a magical way to eliminate their problem areas, be they thick thighs, saddlebags, sagging hips, or whatever you want to call them.

The difference between Dorothy's imaginary Land of Oz and real life is that there are no magic tricks — no simple clicking of the heels, no closing your eyes and wishing hard will rid you of problems associated with hips and thighs. The only true way to reshape these troublesome parts of the female physique is by faithfully following a long-term program combining cardiovascular training, good nutrition habits, and muscle-toning exercises.

You must first decide to be 100 percent committed to all three areas of the program (cardio, nutrition, and muscle toning) and not just the area that you enjoy doing the most. Effectiveness is severely reduced when even one aspect of the program is ignored.

For the cardiovascular portion of your program, you must train a minimum of three to four times a week with a minimum of 20 to 30 minutes per session. To find your target heart rate for burning body fat, subtract your age from the number 220, then multiply by 60 to 70 percent. For example, here's how a 25-year-old would figure it: 220 - 25 (age) = 195 x .70 = 136.5. Thus, this person's training target heart rate would be 136.5 beats per minute.

For the nutritional part of your program, you will need to reduce the amount of fat in your diet. Replace red meat with white meat, such as chicken and turkey breast. Stop eating fried foods and start eating foods that are baked, broiled, or grilled. Replace cakes, candy, cookies, and the like with fruit, rice cakes, and fat-free yogurt. Start eating five to six small meals per day instead of the normal three large meals per day.

For the muscle-toning portion of your program, there are many different exercises that will help reduce and tighten your hips and thighs. I believe the single best exercise for toning hips and thighs are leg lunges. The leg lunge works the entire area of your thighs (front and back) and hips. You will also feel it working your calves. If you are pushed for time and cannot complete all of your regular exercise routines, make sure that you always do your leg lunges.

Like Dorothy's journey through Oz, the road to trimmer upper legs can be long and difficult. But by following this three-prong approach and sticking with it, you will eventually reach the end of the body-image rainbow: firmer, trimmer hips and tighter, thinner thighs.

Step 1 fitness photo

Step 2 fitness photo

Wendy Baxley, Mrs. South Carolina United States 2002, demonstrates the proper form when doing leg lunges to tone up hips and thighs.

Taking the Lunge

1. In the standing position place your hands on your waist or hold a dumbbell in each hand and let the dumbbells hang down by your outer thighs.

2. Look straight ahead.

3. Keep your back as straight as possible at all times.

4. Step out with your right leg, bend and lower your left knee to within one inch of the floor.

5. Rise up and return to your standing position.

6. Step out with your left leg, then bend and lower your right knee to within one inch of the floor.

7. Rise up and return to the standing position.

8. Repeat Steps 4-7 until you have completed 12-15 repetitions for both legs. This comprises one set.

9. Complete 3 to 4 sets three times a week (every other day).

Mike Mauney, owner of Body Design By Mike fitness center in North Carolina, is a Personal Fitness Trainer certified by the National Federation of Professional Trainers. Mike specializes in Personal Fitness Training for women of all ages. For twelve years he has been training dancers, models, cheerleaders, pageant and swimsuit contestants of all ages and competition levels (local, state, national, and international). His daughter Michelle Mauney was Miss North Carolina USA 1995. Some of Mike's training credits includes the following: Carrie Stroup, Miss World representative 2001, Chelsea Cooley, National Titleholder, Janice Ward, Mrs. United States 1999, Vanessa Minnillo, swimsuit winner and Miss Teen USA 1998, and Michelle Warren, 1st runner-up Miss America Pageant 1998.

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