What Exercises Work Your Butt and Thighs Best?

The butt and thighs are two big problem areas for many women. It seems that this area holds a lot of fat and as such it is important to find the best exercises to build those muscles which will help tone them up and trim them down.

This post is going to look at some of those exercises.

Exercises that work your butt and thighs?

Here are some of the better exercises that you can do for your butt and thighs.

1. The good old squat
Where would we be without the good old squat? Probably with soft and flabby legs with no lower body power at all. I make the weighted squat the core of my leg workout and don’t do anything else until I have really cranked these out. However, the squat can be a bit dangerous if you have bad knees so make sure you learn how to do it properly and make sure you don’t use too much weight too quickly.

This post looks at how to do the squat and why it is so good.

2. Furious hill sprints
When I was in high school I devoted more time to running hills than just about any other exercise. The result? I was toned, lean, strong, powerful and very fit. Running up hills is one of the best exercises you can do for your butt and thighs – the burn you will feel in them afterwards is second to none – even better than the squat.

The thing I really love about hill sprints is that you get an awesome cardio workout while you do it. You can feel your heart pumping in almost every possible place on your body and you will really test your lung capacity. Make this exercises a regular part of your routine and you will be fit and toned forever!

3. Full on Yoga
I am getting more and more interested in Yoga. I really love the benefits it can have on your internal energies but what I didn’t realize is that yoga is a very powerful muscle workout if you choose the right style. Like Pilates, many styles of yoga are very straining and can give you a really good strength workout. Some of the poses that work your butt and thighs are particularly good and will build up those muscles while working on your flexibility and relaxation.

4. Step ups
If you can find a good solid surface a little higher than your knees then you have all the equipment that you will need to get a really good butt and thighs workout. Stepping up to a high surface really brings those muscles into play and helps you target them to perfection. Its just like running up stairs by taking two or three steps at a time. It hurts!

5. Chinese kung fu
I have been doing kung fu for longer than I remember. The low stances of this ancient style really work your legs. Many beginners to the class have to sit down because their jelly legs cannot take the stance for too long! After a while of doing the horse stance and other low stances your legs become hard, firm and very strong.

Not only do your butt and thighs get a workout but you can work on your cardio and your self defense. This sounds like a perfect women’s class to me. Next time you get mugged you can distract him with your toned legs while you beat him down!

There are many exercises out there that will help you tone and shape your butt and thighs. However, I feel it is a good idea to find which ones work for you and then try to fully master them. This will lead to faster progress and less mucking around.

About Katie

Katie has transformed her body from a flabby 186lbs, to a fit & toned 124 pounds through healthy diet and exercise. Katie joined the Lean Curves team in 2007 and has posted hundreds of articles on fitness, fat loss and healthy eating.


  1. Thanks for all the suggestions – I sure need the help for my thighs :) The rest of me gets smaller while my thighs seem to stay the same.. ugh!

    I’m also getting into Yoga as well – I had no idea how many different poses there are! I also love the focus on the breath – it’s probably the most relaxing form of exercise you can do.

  2. home fitness says:

    I am a firm believer in hill sprints as not only does it burn calories more butt it is also an incredible workout for your lower body. Women always come up to me asking how they can tone and firm their lower body and I have a say weight training, cardio and eating healthy is the only way.

  3. Cindy says:

    Oh, the hill sprints!!! Lunges are also very effective and don’t always feel as daunting as getting out and running hills. Thanks for the great suggestions.

  4. JC says:

    Yoga, in any form, is not the same as Pilates. I get very protective of it… Yoga, even in intense circumstances, only burns about as many calories as that in an oreo. Yoga was originally meant to bring mind/ body/ spirit together. (Not to sound like a hippie, but it’s true) Yoga might offer some form of workout in flexibility, but your strength does not improve as rapidly as Pilates (which I actually take, and find to be awesome.) If you are going into the intense yoga classes, make sure you are flexible enough for the work, or you could injure yourself. Also know that after a true yoga class, if done correctly, you should not be short of breath or extremely sore. Just wanted to put that out there to set the record straight. I do love the squats though in some other excersize, just to add…

  5. Joey Atlas says:

    Not a bad article – as many activities will involve the glutes – but there are many better targeted exercises that could place higher on this list.
    - one leg hip extensions
    - touch downs
    - slow step downs

    Joey Atlas – M.S., Exercise Physiology

  6. rahul kumbhare says:

    hello freinds i am a guy from india i just want you to learn some basic excersices to reduce your thigh & butt fat
    1. you can do squat with 3 kg dumbells & your reps must be between 35-40 if you cannot do this many reps then try to do as many as possible and reach the goal of doing 35-40 reps per sets try doing this in three sets & just by following this routine you will able to lose your thigh fat only in one month
    2. let try some yoga moves sit down with your legs straight & your arms on your thighs then try touching your legs fingure with your hand remember your thigh must be straight not bend & then after sometime try to touch your knees with your head with proper breathing when you go down then exhale & when you come up then inhale
    3 last but not the least guys this move will improve your thigh very much this move is vajrasan sit on your lower leg (below knees) on a comfortable mat your torso must be straight looking forward breath regularly & hold this position for 4-5 minutes if you cannot understand what iam saying then search any book or something that will show you the pose of doing vajraasan

  7. Elva says:

    I have recently had a fairly severe muscle strain in my left quad muscle and my chiropractor tells me that I need to exercise the gluteous muscles to strengthen all the muscles in that area and tells me that walking is a good exercise. However I have osteoarthritis in both feet and find it difficult to walk very far.
    The Squat exercise seems to be a good idea but I feel I should work up to doing it and not go straight into it! Any suggestions would be helpful as I do not want to do any more damage.
    The only exercise I do as a general rule is housework and gardening and the occasional swim. I am 74 years old by the way.

  8. AZIMAH says:

    squating and hill sprints really work in strengthening as well as shaping the butt,hips and thighs.every woman who desires to have a very good shape should include thi in her routine exercises.

  9. Bobbie says:

    I am four months pregnant and use to work out moderately (ran one to three miles a day) before i got pregnant. Once the morning sickness kicked in I stopped… i have noticed that the only part of me that is gettin bigger is my butt and thighs. Do you think buying an exercise step would be a good way for me to tone up without puttin my child in danger?

  10. shelby says:

    I have a question to ask. I work out with home video excercising tapes like Tae Bo Flex from Billy Blanks, would this also help me get a toner look for my butt, legs and thighs?

  11. Charlene says:

    Hi Elva

    In response to your comment. Have you tried assisted squats. Its where you use a fitness ball pressed against the wall as a means of assisting you whilst you squat. Its is intended for beginners and is a milder form of squatting.

    • Elva says:

      no i didn’t, thanks pet. I tried this and my leg was better in no time. Now i can get back on that horse and go find me a sex partner!
      Many thanks.


  12. Jessi says:

    The step-ups work well for me. Thanks lots!!

  13. Tina says:

    Do I do the hill sprints on the days I dont do weighted squats? or in addition to the squats on the same day?


  14. Ashley Scott says:

    awesome advice!!

  15. Amy Spot says:

    I love doing squats. You can really feel the burn in your legs and it gets you lean quickly. Just wanted to say that when i do squats i hold a five pound weight in each hand. it really increases the workout.

  16. melanie says:

    I am looking for an effective way to reduce the cellulite in my butt, hips, and thighs. Will cardio and butt lifting exercises help reduce the cellulite in my butt? What tips can you guys give me to jump start this process? I’m willing to try anything!!

  17. Cali says:

    JC, maybe you havent heard of Bikram Yoga before? I know it gets a lot of flack for it being just a big franchise, but having experienced this practise, I can vouch for its benefits. I have been doing it for just over a year, yet only after a few weeks of doing it not only had I become more flexible, but my strength had increased as well.

    A lot of people think you cant have flexibility as well as strength, but just have a look at gymnasts and that point is already disproved!

    Bikram is a 90 minute yoga class done in 40c heat. The general attitude about yoga is that it is all spiritual and does not build any type of body strength, which is completely untrue. It is true that it aligns mind/body/spirituality, in many ways including strength in all of those aspects. This class is a cardio workout, the heat prevents even further the risk of injury and not only are you streTCHing, you are streNGTHENing every muscle, sinew, ligament, bones to skin.

    There are studios all over the world that teach this certified programme (especially developed by Bikram Choudhury who worked alongside scientists to bring a yoga programme that worked everything), there are so many testimonies all over the internet about the wonders of this yoga. With regular practise, you start to feel better, happier, well (before I started, I would get quite ill in the winter with a bout of flu that lasted over a month and would take a long time to go…now…I rarely get ill unless I have eaten something funny!)…

    I would say go have a look at the postures, but that coupled with the thought of exercising in heat puts people off. It is not about doing the postures perfectly in the obvious sense i.e. the fullest expression of the postures ever done and how it should look (almost contortionist-like!)…that is only a goal, but in the reach for YOUR fullest expression of the posture, you can only listen to your body, which is what people dont do.

    This is another thing that yoga (across the board, no matter what type) teaches you – to listen to your body. Lots of people run on injured knees, ankles, do weights when their back is bad… As Bikram says honor your boundaries, but expect them to expand.

    I could go on…all I can say is…TRY it! A regular practise of 3 times a week is all one needs to really make progress and see results – like anything, consistency is a great aid if you are looking for results…

    Have a look on his website at www dot bikramyoga dot com

    Happy exercising everyone!

  18. sophie :) says:

    the advice given is very helpful i personally hate my body and i would go for weeks without eating when reallt all i needed to do was get some more exercise your advice is very helpful! thanks

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