WTF are saddlebags? I’m sure you already know this fat holding area but haven’t heard the name before, at least that was the case for me. Saddlebags are just like they sound! They are the round pockets of fat on the outside of your upper thigh. If you have excess fat here they will truly look like you have a saddlebag on each side of your body, hence the name. But have no fear!! I have 5 killer exercises that are sure to burn this fat away.
First up is the single leg glute bridge. Start on your back with your legs bent as shown. You want to make sure you are at a 90 degree angle keeping your knees aligned with your ankles. It is a common mistake to keep your feet too far forward, but this will not allow you to fully squeeze the glutes and will activate your quads instead. Also, if you have grandma knees like me, this is a no no. We don’t want to add any extra pressure to your joints!! Lift your hips up to the sky keeping one foot anchored to the ground and the other leg raised. The goal here is to squeeze as hard as you can where you can really feel your glutes working. In the raised position hold for a second and slowly lower back to the starting position. Repeat this movement 10 times each side, for 2 sets.
The second movement is called a clamshell. I will do this movement with a band, but this is advanced. If this is your first time try without a band! You can always add the band later if it seems too easy. Each person’s hip mobility will be different, so don’t feel bad if it seems too difficult with a band. Personally my hip mobility is TERRIBLE, and I stretch every single day. So whether you use a band or not does not prove a point. Start by laying on your side with your knees bent and stacked on top of one another – basically lay in the fetal position (lol). If you are using a band place the band around both legs right above the knee.
Raise your top knee to the sky as far as you can WITHOUT rotating the rest of your body. The key here is to make sure your side does not twist and turn. This will keep the movement strictly in your hips and really get into that saddlebag area. You will know when you have reached your limit and your hip will truly not open any further. Once you have reached this position hold for a second and slowly lower back to starting. This should really be a burner in the saddlebag and hip area. If it’s too easy you should try to push further or use a band. Seriously I do this exercise very frequently and every single time it is difficult for me. Try to complete 10 reps each side for 2 sets!
Thirdly is a lateral lunge! If you read my last post I taught you (or reminded you) how to do a forward or “normal” lunge. The principles are exactly the same as then, but this time we are moving laterally (sideways). Start standing tall with your feet directly next to one another. Take a large step to the right and lunge. To do this bend your right leg but keep your left leg straight. Make sure your knee is directly over your ankle as always and try your best to sit back. If you just lean straight to the side it really is more like a stretch. By sitting your butt back like you’re in a chair you will REALLY work those muscles we are trying to burn. Push back to your original standing position and repeat 10 times each side for 2 sets!
Fourth we have crab walks! I have been doing these my whole life basically so I will be doing the advanced version with a band to add resistance. If this is your first time doing this movement start without a band and see how it goes. If you do want to use a resistance band put it just above your knees like we did for the clamshells. Start by standing with your feet hip width apart. Bend your knees and sit your booty back like you’re sitting in a chair. Slowly take a moderate step to the right and follow with your left. It will follow the pattern “right left right left right left” and so on. Obviously you can’t be at a 90 degree angle with this movement or you would fall backwards (haha).
Two important things. 1) Try to make sure you take equal steps with both feet. By taking too big or too small of steps you will be putting excess stress on one leg and our goal is to get both legs working at the same stress level. 2) Really focus on your knees. Do not let them bend inside. If this happens this is a sign you need to take smaller steps. While using a band it is common for the band to want to pull your lead leg back inside. You need to make sure your knee is always straight over your toes and if this is not the case just ease up a lil bit. Be prepared for this movement as it really is a burner. If you need to take extra rest in between sets in order to use correct form please do so. Quality > quantity, ALWAYS.
The fifth and final movement to target the saddlebags is called a fire hydrant! I really have a love/hate relationship with this one as it is very difficult for me to complete but I can feel it working my saddlebags the most! Start on your hands and knees. Make sure your hands are directly below your shoulders and your knees are directly below your hips. Try to keep this form throughout the entire movement focusing on quality. Keeping your core extremely tight move one leg directly out to the side. You will look like a dog peeing on a fire hydrant, seriously lol. This will really test your hip mobility again, so try to move as smoothly as possible. Pause for a second at the top of the movement and slowly move back to your hands and knees. Repeat 10 reps on each side for 2 sets if possible. Again, this is a very difficult movement to do with keeping the rest of your body stabilized. If you can’t do 10 reps or 2 sets, start lower and work your way up each time.