The lower body is traditionally a big trouble spot for most women and if the words "thunder thighs", "saddlebags" or "tree trunks" are familiar to you, read on. The hips and thighs seem to be the final resting place for cheesecakes and burgers, but there's an evolutionary reason for it. When we were cave dwellers we needed fat storage to survive food shortages and unpredictable weather. Women with more lower body fat tended to survive harsh periods better and consequently, passed these genes down the generations.
But things have changed - food is everywhere and our bodies haven't caught up with the times. Our new challenge is learning to say "no" to too much food. For toned, sleek legs try and ensure that 80 percent of everything you eat comes straight off the land and onto your plate. Avoid super-sized portions and the temptation of extra salt and sugar. Combine this with a targeted exercise programme like this, 3 times each week.
DOUBLE LEG LIFT
Lie on your left side, propping yourself up on your left elbow. Raise your right leg a foot off the ground, then raise your left leg to meet it. Hold for 2 seconds then lower each leg separately. Reps: 10-12 each side.
Stand, holding a full drink bottle or hand weight in each hand, arms by sides, feet hip width apart. Take a big step forward with one foot, lowering the opposite knee to the floor before pushing back up. Reps: Alternate legs for 12 lunges.
Using a hill or treadmill, walk 15 minutes on an incline of at least 10-15 degrees. It may sound simple, but after 5 minutes you'll be wondering if you can go the final 10.
Find a step and for extra oomph, hold a weight in each hand. Stand on the step and position your feet so that the heels are slightly off the edge. With weights by your side, push up onto your toes then return to the start. Reps: 10-20
Stand side-on to a wall, using your left hand for balance. Take your almost-straight right leg out to the side as high as you can without moving your upper body. Pause, return to start. Reps: 10-12 times, then change legs.
With weighted hands and feet shoulder width apart, lower yourself until your thighs are almost parallel to the floor, before standing up. Lose the weights and hold the back of a chair for balance, if you need to. Reps: 10-12.
Did you know that approximately 85 percent of women are affected by cellulite? Our fitness professionals are frequently asked if exercise will help with cellulite loss and to be honest, there's no straight answer. For some women the answer is yes, while for others the dimples may worsen.
A 2006 report in "Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery", the official journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, noted that women who lost larger amounts of weight and lowered their percentage of thigh fat, experienced the greatest improvement in cellulite. Surgeon, Dr John Kitzmiller, says: "Cellulite is not specific to overweight people, but excess weight may worsen the condition. The dimples appear to be permanent features that lessen in depth as the pounds come off."