Answered by Suzanna Markstein on Monday, June 1, 2009
You're probably tired of hearing that you can't spot reduce, but no matter how toned an area is, if there's a layer of fat over it, you won't be able to see the muscle underneath. So Leigh Crews, Reebok Master Trainer, suggests a two-punch approach to smoothing saddlebags, which combines cardiovascular exercise (for overall fat burning) and weight training (for targeting specific muscles in your hips). Do an hour of cardio five or six times a week, recommends Crews. (If you're a beginner exerciser, start with at least 20 minutes of cardiovascular exercise three times a week.) Work at as high an intensity as you can maintain without getting short of breath, in the range of 60 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate. For resistance training, Crews suggests doing compound exercises like squats and lunges. "People don't realize they're working the hip area when they're doing squats and lunges. But the inner and outer thigh are the stabilizer muscles," she explains. Start with two sets of 8 to 12 repetitions for each exercise, using enough weight so that you can't do more than 12 reps. Once that's easy, add more weight or reps. And remember: Always give yourself 48 hours between resistance workouts to allow your muscles to recover.