Thursday, February 24, 2011

Rear End Circuits

Here's a great routine of mine guaranteed to lift your spirits and your butt!

First, plug into some awesome music. You just might need it to help you through!
Equipment needed:
- step stool
- exercise band (preferably the band, not the tube, but really either one will work)
- exercise mat (not essential but nice if you have one)

We'll start standing for a few exercises (in a circuit), break, and then progress to the floor for a circuit (and don't expect to get a break just because you're on the floor).
Warm up but marching in place, dancing around, or whatever you like to do to get your body warm. It really doesn't matter what you do as long as you're moving, elevating your heart rate, and getting your body warm. This first exercise especially is going to be a bit of a cardio move so really get your blood pumping!
Remember, this is your first circuit which means you're going to do all of these exercises in a row with minimal rest between. (Minimal as in, the time it takes you to set up for the next move.)

Circuit 1:
- Stand a step or two behind your step stool to start. Step up with your right leg and bring your left knee up, immediately step back with your left foot and then step back once more with your right foot into a lunge position. Return to starting position. Do one set of 12 on your right leg and then one set of 12 on your left leg.
- Stand with your right foot on the step stool and your left foot hanging off the side of the stool. Do a single leg squat by bending your right knee (you may have to pick up your left foot so that it does not touch the ground as you squat) and going down as far as you can before coming back up to the start. You may want to hold your arms out in front or to the sides for balance. Remember to maintain proper squatting technique by sticking your rear end out as you squat, back straight, keeping your head and chest up. You should be pushing through your heel, not the ball of your foot. Do one set of 12 on your right leg and then one set of 12 on your left leg.
- Set your stool aside (yay!), take your exercise band and tie it around your legs, just below the knee, so that it is taught when your feet are only about 6 inches apart. With hands on your hips, take 10 wide (as wide as you can manage) steps to your right and then 10 steps back to your left. Repeat. To make this exercise a little more intense, squat down a little while you step.
- Keep that band tied nice and taught around your legs. You may want a chair or a wall to help you balance through this exercise. Putting all of your weight on your left leg and maintaining good posture, lift your right leg behind you as far as you can against the band. Try to keep your left knee slightly bent to be sure you're not locking your knee. Do 8 lifts, followed by 8 pulses (quick, small movements) and then turn your toes outward and do 8 more lifts behind. Repeat on opposite leg.

Horray, you've finished circuit 1! Take a small break and stretch your glutes out before beginning the next circuit. For circuit 2 you'll be one the floor so get out your mat if you've got one (and don't get too comfy).

Circuit 2:
- Remember those hip raises from my last post? We're going with variation #2 on this one! So get that exercise band and tie it nice and tight around your legs just above the knee. When you get to the top of your hip raise, be sure to squeeze your glutes, press out against that band, and hold for 3 seconds. Do one set of 15.
- Turn to one side and prop yourself up on your elbow. Move the band down so that it is over your knees (you'll probably have to tighten the band after the hip raises). Keep your hips stacked and your knees bent. This move is called a clam shell so imagine your knees opening up like a clam shell while your feet stay stacked on top of each other. Do one set of 12 and then another set of 12 on the opposite leg.
- Untie your band and move to your hands and knees. Hands should be directly below your shoulders (don't sag between your shoulder blades) and your knees should be directly below your hips. Holding both ends of your band in your right hand, hook your right foot into the band and kick out behind you. (If your band is rather short, like mine, you can tie the band around your foot with one end and hold onto the other end. Just make sure to tie a good knot so it doesn't come loose and snap you!) Do one set of 12 on your right foot and then one set of 12 on your left.
- Toss the band aside, you're done with that! Lay flat on your stomach with your arms stretched out in front of you. Lift your upper body and your lower body as high off the floor as you can (sort of like trying to balance on your stomach...), squeeze your glutes like there is no tomorrow, and hold this position from 30-60 seconds. As you get stronger, try alternately moving your arms and legs up and down (for those of you familiar with Pilates this move is usually called swimming.)
And hooray! You've made it through circuit 2! Make sure to take some time to stretch out your hips and butt, you deserve it! (And you'll regret it tomorrow if you don't!)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Hip Raises

          We all want a nice backside that we can feel proud to show off in our favorite pair of jeans or in a swimsuit right? A nice, high, round bottom is something we want and something we can be proud of. Unfortunately, with all of the sitting we do these days (whether it's because we're sitting at work or sitting at home...) our hip muscles grow weaker and the forget how to work for us. What does this mean? A saggy backside and a nice little pooch out front. Did I say a pooch? Why yes I did. Weak glutes cause your hips to tilt forward giving you the appearance of a pooch. Um, yeah that's the last thing we need when we're already worried about our rear, yikes!
          Today's exercise is one most of you probably know already and that's the hip raise. If you already know the move, why read on? Because I've got a host of variations to work the muscle differently and produce different results that you love. This exercise is awesome because it works your glutes and your hamstrings but it also causes you to activate the muscles in your lower back and your abdominal muscles which means you're working your core at the same time. Yay! We love exercises that work lots of muscles at the same time!
          The main exercise is to lie face up on the floor (or on your nifty mat) with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. It's best if you've got your arms out to the sides (away from your body) so you can't cheat by pushing down on the floor at your sides during the move. Pushing through your heels (not your toes), raise your hips up until your body is in a straight line from knees to shoulders. You should be able to lay an imaginary board on your body and have it lie flat against your body from knees to shoulders. Pause for up to 5 seconds (squeeze your glutes while holding) and then slowly move back downward into the starting position. Ta-da! That's it! Two or three sets of 10 to 12 reps is ideal, however you need to do sets and reps according to your current fitness level.

Variation #1: Add a weight to this exercise by holding a weight plate (if you don't have weight plates use another type of weight, big heavy books work too...) on your hips as you perform the exercise.
Variation #2: Tie an exercise band just above your knees and press out lightly as you perform the exercise. This helps to further engage your gluteus maximus and your gluteus medius.
Variation #3: Place a rolled up towel between your knees and try to hold it there as you perform the exercise. Inability to hold you knees together indicates a weakness in your hip adductors (groin muscles). This variation will strengthen those muscle as well.
Variation #4: Raise your hips up and hold them there for the duration of the set. Slowly lift one knee to your chest and then lower back to the start. Alternate knees. You do not lower your hips back to the ground after every knee lift. Keep you hips lifted until you finish your set.
Variation #5: Lay flat on your back and raise your lower legs up onto an exercise ball, still keeping your knees bent. Raise and lower your hips with your lower legs on the exercise ball.
Variation #6: Place the bottoms of your feet on the exercise ball and raise your hips up. This variation is the same as #4, only your feet are on the exercise ball instead of on the ground. Do not allow your hips to sag!

          I hope you find these hip raise variations challenging and a great way to bust your butt this month! I'll be posting more great moves to shape your rear and I'll include some great routines to give you an amazing, but busting workout so check back often! Also, don't forget to take the poll for March!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

February is the Month to Bust Your Butt!

          And we have a winner! February's focus will be on butt busting workouts! I know we're halfway through the month but I have a confession to make and I promise this is a very good excuse for neglecting you all for so long. I'm pregnant! And not only that, I'm literally sick and tired so it's been rough trying to do anything so the blog has taken a back seat. Sorry! But I'll try my best to make things better by helping you to get a better butt this month!
          This post is super short but I wanted to get you started right away since I took a break for a few weeks. This workout comes from and I love it! The first time I did it I had been running for a few months and had figured my butt was pretty toned. Boy was I wrong! I was so sore the next day! Check this video out and give it a try! It's only 5 minutes and you can add it to your regular toning routine during the week. Check back soon for some of my personal butt busting workouts (and don't forget to take next month's poll)!