The Skinny Jeans Workout

Popular exercise programs aim to get your butt, abs, and thighs in shape -- and help you fit into those jeans.

From the WebMD Archives

Many women have a love-hate relationship with their jeans -- especially their "skinny jeans." You might define your skinny jeans as that pair hanging in the back of the closet that fits only when you’re at your slimmest. Or you might think of them as the super-tight, hip-to-ankle style that’s been in vogue the past few seasons. Either way, those jeans don’t lie! They’re a barometer of your weight and how you feel about yourself.

The fitness industry is capitalizing on this obsession by creating "skinny jeans workouts" designed to shape up what you show in that form-fitting denim. A TV commercial for Bally Total Fitness promises to help you look better in your skinny jeans. Equinox offers one-hour Skinny Jeans Workout classes at certain clubs nationwide. Many independent trainers and fitness clubs are offering some variation of the skinny jeans workout.

"I think fitting into any pair of tightly cut jeans is motivating," says Fabio Comana, an exercise physiologist with the American Council on Exercise in San Diego. When you can slip into that special pair that really flatters your physique, you feel slim and sexy, and you get second looks and compliments, he says.

A Lower-Body Workout and More

These classes are based on time-tested exercises. In fact, Molly Fox, who created The Skinny Jeans Workout for Equinox clubs, says she harked back to the old barefoot Jane Fonda workouts of the '80s for inspiration, then added some modern twists.

Lisa Wheeler, the national creative manager of group fitness for Equinox, says the classes focus on "old school" exercises for abs, glutes, and thighs, like leg lifts, squats, and isometrics -- but updated to include balance, core strength, light weights, and yoga and Pilates moves for a total body workout.

Los Angeles fitness trainer Lisa Goldenthal created her own Lisa G’s Skinny Jeans Workout DVD. Her version uses intense, multi-tasking techniques so, as she describes, you don’t have to spend as much time working out. For example, squats and lunges also incorporate bicep curls and shoulder presses with light weights. The workout also includes core strengthening moves based on Pilates exercises, and yoga-style stretches.


The Skinny Jeans Workout: Does It Work?

Nichelle Toomire of Los Angeles says the Skinny Jeans Workout is working for her. She started doing Goldenthal’s program two years ago, when she was 39. She says she stuck with it because she saw results in a fairly short time and she felt stronger, more energetic and more confident.

"It enabled me to shave inches off my figure, especially my booty," she says. "Now I don’t look like a pear in my jeans anymore!"

Exercise expert Comana says that classes like these can be a good choice, especially in light of the motivation factor. While he cautions that it’s impossible to spot-reduce fat, targeting the hips, butt, stomach, and thighs as part of an overall fitness program may help you look better in your jeans.

Build Your Own Workout

Comana says that any "skinny jeans" program needs to include cardio to promote weight loss and general conditioning, plus resistance training to tone and build muscle.

If you want to do your own skinny jeans workout, he offers this advice:

  • Lunges and squats are good resistance exercises (done with or without weights) for toning the lower body.
  • The real skinny on looking great in skinny jeans, he says, is to include cardio exercises that work your lower extremities (like running or cycling) to burn calories and tone muscles overall. Try for 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise three to five times a week.
  • If you incorporate cycling, don’t mash heavy gears. That can build more muscle than you might want and even harm your knees, he says.
  • Don’t overdo running steps and hills, as they may build muscle and may not be the best for getting you into those skinny jeans (although they’re great for overall fitness).
  • Ellipticals and steppers can target the glutes, but as with lunges and squats, it’s important to use correct technique (see below).

The Right Way to Do Butt Exercises

Comana says that women tend to rely on their quads (thigh muscles) more than their glutes, hamstrings, and calves during certain stepping, squatting, and jump-landing movements. There are several mechanical reasons for this, he explains, including the structure of the knee joint, hormone levels, and motor skill development.


He says you can teach yourself to target the glutes better during squats by holding a wooden dowel against your back and making contact with your head, spine, and sacrum (it’s a little awkward, but you’ll get the feel of it). Then, maintain contact at all three points while you do your squat. Think of pushing your butt backward, rather than driving your knees downward and forward. Once you get the feel of this, try the same motion to adjust your stepping or climbing position.

Goldenthal says that targeting the glutes is important for a shapely rear. "You need something in those skinny jeans," she says. "You need a little junk in the trunk!"

But what’s the point of having the perfect butt if you’ve got a "muffin top," or your arms are saggy? It’s not just about the butt and thighs, she says. "It’s about looking good and feeling good in your clothes."

WebMD Feature Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD on October 22, 2009



Lisa Wheeler, national creative manager of group fitness, Equinox Fitness Clubs.

Fabio Comana, MA, MS, exercise physiologist and spokesperson, American Council on Exercise, San Diego, Calif.

Lisa Goldenthal, personal trainer; creator, The Skinny Jeans Workout DVD, Santa Monica, Calif.

Nichelle Toomire, workout client of personal trainer Lisa Goldenthal, Los Angeles.

© 2009 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.


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