Saturday, May 1, 2010

On junk in the trunk.

I must confess, I am always hesitant to work my glutes because I fear the size of my rear. I think I'm slightly prone to having a badunka-dunk so any efforts to tone and tighten are done not sparingly but lightly. Whether or not you feel the same about your body, I suppose I'll never know. (Though I'm guessing a few great minds are probably thinking alike in this case.)

What I know for certain, however, is that despite any fear of the rear it isn't wise to ignore this important muscle. The gluteus maximus is like any bicep or deltoid in that it needs to be challenged—and challenged often as it can be a central location for excess fat. A booty will always be at its best when toned and tightened. But squats and lunges, despite being great ways to achieve just that, get old really quick. So here's a list of other ways to put some quality junk in that trunk of yours:

1) WALKING LUNGES: I know, but it beats lunging in one place. Watch that knee, though. Make sure it never crosses your toe.

2) KNEELING CABLE KICK BACKS: Find the cable machine in your gym and place a bench perpendicular to it. Adjust the pull so it hits at the ground, ankle strap attached, ankle in strap. Facing the machine, kneel on the bench with your other leg and place your hands in pushup position. Keep your back straight and abs tight. Adjust the weights, probably to something lighter for starters, and lift until your leg is behind you and in line with your back. Lower and repeat.

3) SIDE STEPS: Tie an exercise band around your calf muscles, then take large steps to the side without releasing the tension in the band.

4) SIDE LYING KNEE LIFTS: Lie on your side, propped up on your bottom arm with your legs and bottom arm bent to 90 degrees. Keep your abs tight as you open your top leg, pointing your knee at the ceiling without releasing that 90-degree bend. Return to start and repeat.

5) STANDING KICK BACK: Face a chair, machine, wall or anything else that will help you balance. Keep your chest up and legs together, toes pointed forward and hips square. Lift one leg behind you as high as you can without bending it, and without opening your hips to the side. Lower and repeat.

6) WIDE SQUATS: Yes, we're trying to avoid squats, but this is a variation that's worth your time. Stand with your legs wider than hip-width apart, toes pointed out to the side. Lower into a squat, lift to starting position and repeat.

7) LEG PRESSES: If your gym has a leg press machine, you might be familiar with its ability to tone and tighten the quadriceps muscles. Simply moving your feet to the top of the plate will call on the glutes a little bit more than usual.

8) ONE LEG HIP RAISES: A typical hip raise calls on the glutes, but often relies heavily on the hamstrings for help. To perform such a move, you'll want to start on your back with your knees bent. Contract the hamstrings and glutes to lift your hips, creating a line from knee to shoulder, then relax and repeat. To limit the hamstrings and hit the glutes more intensely, hug one knee into your chest and hold it there throughout. Lift, lower, repeat. Then switch legs.

And there you have it. But I wouldn't be true to myself if I didn't share my absolute most favorite way to tone and tighten the tush (among other things)—by dancing, of course! And what better tune to twirl to than the following:

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