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!)

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