Thursday, July 15, 2010

Change your squats and lunges to maximize the burn.

I know, you love squats and lunges. And yes, I can sense your sarcasm. But squats and lunges are two of the easiest ways to tighten and tone your bottom half. No equipment required, and your own body weight is usually sufficient resistance. The biggest problem? Boredom. You can only do so many squats and lunges before you and your leg muscles begin to long for something more exciting. Consider the following suggestions:

• Lunge with a kick! Step back into a lunge, but instead of bringing your feet together again before repeating the lunge, swing that back leg forward into a kick before immediately returning to your backward lunge position. Continue until you've reached your desired amount of repetitions, then switch to the other leg.

• Hold that lunge. And then, let's say your left leg is forward, twist your torso to the left 15 times to activate your obliques. Repeat your desired number of times, then switch legs and twist to your other side.

• Switch quick. Get into a stationary lunge, then jump to switch legs. At first, try just ten in a row. Build on that as the sequence gets easier. Just make sure you're hitting a proper lunge every time to protect your knees.

• Lift your leg when you squat. You might feel like a dog at a fire hydrant, but it'll tighten and strengthen the outer muscles in your hip. Get into a comfortable squat, then lift one leg out to the side before lowering it to complete one repetition. Never let that foot touch the floor, and keep your kneecap facing forward. Repeat on the other side.

• Just wait a minute. Literally! Though not all at once. Squat five times, then hold the squat position for 15 seconds before completing another five squats. Continue until you've held the squat position for at least one minute total (as in, four 15-second squat holds).

• Call on your calves. Squat comfortably and hold it there as you lift and lower your heels to activate your calf muscles. Make sure you really sit into your squat—you want as much of your body weight over your calf muscles as possible. And, of course, you want to make sure your knees never cross the tips of your toes.

I really could go on and on with the variations, and I'm sure you've got a few up your sleeve, too.
Feel free to share! I love learning from my readers!

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