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!

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