Let’s face it – we all have trouble areas that are stubborn and the hardest to get in shape. Mine have always been the “saddle bags” on my outer thighs and even my inner thighs. Everyone is different, but I’ve found that working out consistently and keeping a clean diet has helped me a lot with improving these troublesome spots. Personally, sugar is what keeps the most weight on me, which lead me to cutting back to only one sweet on a cheat meal per week. There are certain foods that are an absolute must have in my diet to help boot my metabolism and fill me with energy. Let’s take a look at these foods and some leg burning workouts to help tone those trouble spots!
Coconut Oil – This is my go-to healthy fat, especially before my workout. The medium chain triglycerides that are found in coconut oil are easily digestible and absorbed intact into the liver directly for energy. Unlike normal fats, this energy can be released rapidly, which gives you a good boost before a workout. I’ve also found that adding coconut oil into my diet has helped cut my sugar cravings tremendously. Try my Bananas Foster Protein Shake for a pre or post workout meal and Baked Apples with Greek Yogurt to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Spinach – It’s so important to incorporate greens into your diet and spinach is one leafy green that’s high in vitamins A, K, D, and E. Spinach is also known for being a good source of omega 3 fatty acids, which are important in reducing inflammation throughout the body. Our Light Lemon Chicken over spinach is perfect for a salad, Spinach Dip, or even incorporate it into this energy boosting Coffee Protein Drink – I bet you won’t taste this difference!
Berries – Berries are a great way to get a natural source of antioxidants and fiber. Whether you choose strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, or raspberries, remember that fruits still contain sugar, so moderation is key. Try consuming berries with breakfast so your body has a longer time to process it, while your metabolism is higher. Having a natural sugar also won’t give you that “crashing” feeling that may occur from candy or other processed sweets. These coconut berry energy bars are a great go-to breakfast item.
For other foods that are essential to a healthy diet, check out Michelle’s 12 Perfect Foods and 1 Super Food Guide or our Top 5 Foods to Have for a “New Year, New You” Nutrition Plan. Now for our workouts – I’ll be covering leg press, plyometrics, and kickbacks, which are my three favorite. These will really give you a nice burn, while focusing on any trouble spots on your legs.
Leg Press – This is a great exercise that can target both your quads and hamstrings, which will help tighten up your legs as you build more muscle. For a traditional leg press working your quads, place your feet shoulder width apart, focusing on those quad muscles as you’re doing your reps. Placing your feet high and wide will target your hamstrings. Again, really engage on the movement of your feet going up and down, focusing on the hamstrings. As a burn out, I like to bring my feet towards me, lowering the leg press, and do little pulses at the end of my workout.
Plyometrics – Plyometrics are an “explosive” type of workout that really fire up your muscles and get your heart rate going. Jumping lunges and jump squats are the two plyometric exercises that I always do for my legs – who doesn’t want those glutes lifted?! For a jumping lunge, start off in a lunge position, power up into the air, and return with feet on the floor in the same position. You can also alternate your feet as you’re jumping up and coming down. For a jump squat, get yourself into a squat position and once again, power up as high as you can go. Land with both feet in the same position you started and repeat. To give yourself added resistance, try holding a 5 or 10 pound plate or even a 20 pound barbell on your back while performing this exercise.
Kickbacks – There are so many variations of kickbacks that can be performed, but angles kickbacks are the best for the “saddle bag” areas. To perform a kickback, stand straight and kick slowly kick your leg into the air, making sure you angle out. You can also do this same exercise on cables with a foot attachment for added weight, on the stair mill, or using a step/bench. Doing a straight out kickback is another way to help build the glutes. Remember to squeeze and contract your muscles when doing both of these kickbacks.
For more workout tips, check out my Ab Workout, Lower Body Workout, and the Best Fat Burning Cardio. We’ll be at the LA Fit Expo this weekend, explaining the uses and benefits for coconut oil, so if you’re in the area make sure to stop by booth #1034!