10 ways to sculpt away fat

Tone your biggest problem areas with these targeted moves. We'll show you how to firm thighs, tighten glutes, and combat love handles for good.
© Good Housekeeping // © Good Housekeeping

The problem: Under-the-arm jiggle

The move: Tricep dips

To tone underneath the arms, try this easy move you can do at home, says Joey Gonzalez, celebrity trainer and COO of Barry’s Bootcamp in New York City. Sit on the floor or a bench with knees bent at 90 degrees and palms facing out, behind you. Raise your body up and down, dipping your rear until it hovers just above the ground. Keep your elbows pointed straight behind you, and you should feel it in your triceps. Do for 60 seconds, and repeat three times.

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The problem: Jiggly inner thighs

The move: Sumo squat

With a dumbbell in each hand, stand with feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent, and toes pointed out. Keeping a tall spine, stand up straight, bringing your right foot to meet your left. Then, return to low squat position. Repeat for 20 to 25 reps; do 3 or 4 sets.

Regardless what area you're trying to tone, it's important to remember that muscle fibers wrap around your bones in many angles, says Aaron Thorton, trainer at Equinox in New York City. “So you need to work areas from a variety of angles. In order for the body to take on a new shape, there has to be enough load to force a real change to your physique.”

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The problem: Armpit fat

The move: Dumbbell chest flies and shoulder presses

Lie on a bench or workout step with a 5- to 10-pound dumbbell in each hand. Hold weights with arms up in front of your face, with arms slightly bent so that the dumbbells barely touch, says Gonzalez. Slowly open arms to the side, keeping arms slightly bent, but making sure they don’t fall lower than the bench. Pulse the arms when open for 60 seconds. Then, continue with 60 seconds of shoulder presses: Raise arms straight up and down to the chest, with palms facing away from your face. Repeat three times each.

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The problem: Flabby chest

The move: Push-ups with a hold

Doing push-ups for 30 seconds followed by a 15-second hold is the key to scoring a toned chest, says Gonzales. Repeat 3 times. (If you can’t do a traditional push-up, try an incline variation, placing your hands on a bench.)

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The problem: Belly fat

The move: Mountain climbers

Hold a high plank position for 30 seconds, keeping a flat back, says Gonzalez. Quickly bring right knee to right elbow, then left knee to left elbow in fast movements for 30 seconds.

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The problem: Back of legs

The move: Jump rope and around-the-world lunges

Reduce unsightly cellulite that can plague the back of thighs by incorporating some good ol’ fashioned cardio, says Gonzalez. Start by jumping rope for 60 seconds. (If you don’t have a rope, pretend you are holding one and jump while simultaneously moving arms.) Then, step forward with left foot and lower into a lunge, keeping knee hovered just above the ground. Step foot back and move the left foot into a side lunge or squat. Return foot to center and take the left foot back for a reverse lunge. Repeat with the right leg, and alternate for 60 seconds.

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The problem: Love handles

The move: Side forearm plank

“Create length and tone the side body with the side plank, which is also extremely effective at working the obliques to create a trimmer waistline,” says Jill Dailey of The Dailey Method.

Start with a traditional forearm plank, elbows under shoulders and forearms parallel, abdominals engaged. Slide your palms toward your centerline so your thumb and forefingers connect. Then stack your left hip on your right, placing your left palm on your left hip. Use your abs and pull your navel to your spine as you press your shins and thighs together. Reach your left (or top) arm up to the sky to open your chest while you press your hip up. Press up 10 times. Repeat on right side.

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The problem: A flat butt

The move: Standing parallel seatwork

“A high, lifted seat is a great motivator for exercising,” says Dailey. Stand with your feet parallel, hips-width apart with your hands resting on the back of a ballet barre (or a chair, if you’re at home). Soften your knees and take your right foot or ankle in your right hand and dive your knee back while keeping chest and hips squared forward and abs pulled in. Release your hand but maintain your right knee behind your supporting leg. Now squeeze your seat and press your right leg back 30 times. Flex your foot and reach your heel toward your seat 30 times. Extend your straight leg out at an angle (aimed at 4 or 5 on a clock). Square your hips by pulling your waist in; lift 30 times to work the lateral angle. Repeat with other leg.

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The problem: A big butt

The move: Seatwork on all fours

Tone all three gluteal muscles with seatwork on all fours. Get down on hands and knees, with hands directly under shoulders (the middle of your wrist should line up with the outside of the shoulder) and knees directly under hips. Spread fingers wide and curl toes under. Shift your hips and shoulders back 6 inches to create more length for your wrists, alleviating pressure. Reach your right leg straight out behind you, rotate your right hip down toward the floor so both hips are even. Lift your leg as high as you can, maintaining stability in your lower back. Keeping your leg as straight and high as you can, press it up an inch, engaging the base of your seat. Keep the movements small and at the deepest contraction point. Pulse 30 times. Repeat with left leg.

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The problem: Outer thighs

The move: Standing single leg lifts

“This exercise is one of the best moves to do to tone the thigh and also increase stability in the knee joint,” says Dailey. For this move, it helps to have a counter or chair to help you balance. Start with feet parallel, hip-width apart. Stand facing away from the chair and place your left hand on your left hip. Lift your left knee up towards your chest then lengthen your leg in front of you so that both legs are straight. Gently place hands on the chair for balance. Lift your leg 20 times. Flex your foot, then turn it out so the inner thigh faces upward and lift 20 times. Keep your supportive leg straight and engage your seat to help stabilize your posture. Lower your leg and repeat on your right side.

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