When it comes to losing fat and toning muscles, especially around your hips, the right combination of diet and exercise can make a difference.

However, since you can’t spot-reduce fat in one area of your body through diet or exercise, it’s important to focus on losing overall body fat. Once you start losing weight, you can focus on exercises that can help tone the muscles in and around your hips and core.

Having less fat and stronger lower body muscles may give your hips a leaner, more sculpted appearance. Plus, having more muscle and less fat will help you burn calories at a faster pace, making it easier to control your weight.

Read on to learn more about the best ways to drop inches and tone your hip muscles.

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Squats are a versatile exercise that target many of the muscles in your lower body. You can do squats with just your body weight.

Once you’ve mastered this exercise, you can make it more challenging by holding a dumbbell in each hand, or a kettlebell with both hands, while doing a squat.

To do a squat with good form:

  1. Stand with your feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart.
  2. For bodyweight squats, you can put your arms out in front of you for balance.
  3. Engage your core, keep your back straight, spine tall, and lower yourself until your thighs are parallel with the floor.
  4. Pause with your knees over, but not beyond, your toes.
  5. Exhale and stand back up.
  6. Perform 10 to 15 repetitions.

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Also called a lateral lunge, the side lunge is a variation of a forward lunge. It focuses more on the outer thigh and hip area.

  1. Stand with your feet a little wider than hip-width apart. With your body tall, core engaged, and eyes facing forward, take a wide step to the right and squat down.
  2. Lower your body until the right thigh is parallel to the floor.
  3. Pause. Then push off with the left foot and return to center.
  4. Perform this move, alternating sides, 12 to 16 times.

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The fire hydrant exercise is a move that targets your glutes and hip area. It also uses your core muscles for stability. If you have issues with your knees, you may want to use a mat for this exercise.

  1. Get on your hands and knees, with your knees and feet hip-width apart and your palms on the floor.
  2. Keep your gaze looking slightly ahead and down.
  3. Engage your core, lift your right knee off the floor, and rotate it out to the side and up. Your knee should stay bent the entire time.
  4. Pause at the top, then lower your leg to the starting position.
  5. Complete 10 repetitions with the right leg before repeating with the left.

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Wall sits, also known as wall squats, are great for working your thighs, hips, and lower abs. They can be a great move to build core strength, test your muscle endurance, and lose weight.

  1. Stand up straight with your back pressed against a wall and your legs a few inches away from the wall.
  2. Slide down the wall until you’re in a sitting position with your legs at a right angle and your hamstrings parallel to the floor.
  3. Hold this position for 20 to 30 seconds. As you build your strength and fitness, try to work up to 1 minute.
  4. Rise back up to the starting position.

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The banded walk exercise uses a resistance band to keep tension on your hips while you move laterally for a certain amount of paces. It’s an excellent exercise for targeting your hips and strengthening your glutes.

Choose a wide exercise band with enough resistance to challenge your lower body, but one that’s light enough to complete 10 reps in each direction.

  1. Put the exercise band around your ankles, bend your knees slightly, and widen your stance.
  2. Walk to the side without letting your feet touch.
  3. Take 10 steps in one direction, then take 10 steps back to your starting point.
  4. Repeat 2 to 3 times.

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Step-ups work the muscles in your glutes, hips, and thighs. They can also improve your balance and stability.

  1. Stand with your feet about hip-width apart in front of a knee-height bench or step, with a dumbbell in each hand.
  2. Step onto the bench with your right foot, and drive your left knee up while keeping the weights at your side.
  3. Lower down your left leg, stepping backward off the bench.
  4. Complete 10 to 15 reps, leading with your right leg, then switch and do the same number of reps leading with your left leg.
  5. Do 2 to 3 sets on each side.

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The side-lying leg raise is an isolation exercise that strengthens and tones the hips. Correct form is critical for this exercise.

  1. Lie on an exercise mat on your right side.
  2. Slowly raise up your top leg (left leg) as high as you can go. Keep your toes pointed forward.
  3. Pause at the top, then lower your leg to the starting position. Make sure to keep your pelvis steady and your core engaged.
  4. Repeat 10 times on each side.

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The squat jump is an advanced plyometric exercise that takes the basic squat and adds a jump for power training.

  1. Get in a basic squat position with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Keeping your weight on your heels, squat down until your thighs are parallel with the floor.
  3. From this position, explode upward and come back down.
  4. Upon landing, lower yourself back down to the squatting position. Make sure to land softly with the balls of your feet hitting the ground first, then transferring the weight back to your heels.
  5. Repeat for 30 seconds or 10 to 12 repetitions.

Stair climbing is a great way to tighten and tone your glutes and hips, and get an excellent cardiovascular workout all at the same time. If you have access to a set of bleachers, or a multi-level parking garage, you can run or jog up and down the stairs.

Run or jog up to the top to the stairs, then walk back down. Try to repeat for five minutes. You can also use a Stairmaster or stepmill machine at the gym for a stair-climbing workout.

High intensity interval training, also known as HIIT, is a type of cardio workout that requires you to do short bursts of intense exercises, followed by a short rest period.

You can burn a lot of calories quickly with HIIT, and research shows that it’s an effective way to burn body fat.

One example of HIIT is to do 30 seconds of fast sprinting on the treadmill, followed by 15 seconds of walking on the treadmill. Or, you could do jump squats or burpees for 45 seconds, followed by a 15-second rest period. There are many variations and options with a HIIT workout.

A HIIT workout will typically range from 10 to 30 minutes in duration. Aim to do a HIIT workout at least two times per week.

Exercise is a great tool to help you build lean muscle mass and decrease body fat. It’s also one of the best ways to help keep the pounds off after losing weight. However, if you’re looking to maximize your overall weight loss, it’s important to consider other lifestyle changes, too.

Eat a healthy diet

When it comes to losing weight and trimming down your hips, eating a healthy diet plays a key role. Try to follow an eating plan that focuses on whole foods across all food groups.

Avoid foods and beverages with added sugars, and keep an eye on your portion sizes. Aim to consume fewer calories than you burn each day.

Get good quality sleep

Getting the right amount of sleep each night can help support your weight loss efforts. Aim for seven to nine hours of quality sleep each night.

Keep stress in check

We all have stress in our lives, but research shows that having too much stress can lead to health complications such as weight gain, high blood pressure, and headaches. That’s why keeping your stress in check is a critical part of a weight loss program.

If you deal with stress regularly, you may want to try stress-reduction activities like yoga, meditation, or deep-breathing exercises. Exercise can also help reduce stress levels. Consider talking with your doctor or therapist about ways to manage your stress.

While it’s not possible to spot-reduce fat on your hips, you can design a program that prioritizes fat loss with an emphasis on lower-body strengthening exercises. The end result may include hips that are trimmer, stronger, and more toned.