The Best Butt Toning Exercises
Squat Jumps Short Demonstration
Straight Leg Deadlift Demo and Technique
Squat Dips with Your Office Chair
Alternating Single Leg Lateral Hop
Burn Fat and Tone the Lower Body with These Exercises
As bathing suit season quickly closes in, many of us are looking for ways to tighten up the backside to get ready for the beach or a summer spent by the pool. The butt and back of the legs are two areas that are difficult to maintain. Many women have problems with excess cellulite and drooping as we age or from yo-yo'ing weight. While spot reduction is not possible, spot training can help tone areas of your body where you've already lost weight. These exercises can also help you burn calories quickly since most are compound exercises, working multiple muscle groups at once. In addition, lower body toning exercises with weights or body weight resistance can help strengthen your muscles making your joints as well as your lower back stronger and healthier. Here are some exercises you can do at home, in the gym or even at the office in an attempt to tone and firm the lower body. You should have healthy knees, lower back and hips to perform all of these exercises. For best results, try 1-3 sets with 10-16 repetitions in any combination.
Plié Squats - The Plié is a simple exercise that you can do with or without dumbbells. Simply place the feet more than hip width apart in a wide stance, toes pointing outward, and lower yourself with a flat back and tight core being sure not to extend the knees past the toes. To add dumbbells, hold the light weights on the upper thighs for more resistance. You'll not only work the glutes, but also the inner thighs (adductors) more than with regular squats.
Four-Count Dumbbell Squat - This can be performed with dumbbells or a barbell. Hold the dumbbells, one in each hand, down by your sides. For a barbell, place it behind your head on the meatiest part of your upper back, or you can use a lighter barbell resting on the front shoulder and held by your crossed arms over the bar. Start out with no weight or light dumbbells if you are a beginner. Place feet about hip- or shoulder-width apart and bend the knees, pressing the butt back as if you were going to sit in a chair. Lower slowly, in four counts down, and four counts back up. As you lower, make sure your knees don't extend past the toes. Come up and contract the glutes and legs, keeping knees soft.
Squat Jumps - (Cardio/Resistance Combo) Since this is an advanced exercise, learn how to do a proper squat before trying squat jumps. Squat jumps use a technique called plyometrics. Plyometrics improves muscle strength without using heavy weights. These can easily injure your hips, lower back and knees if you don't land properly. Using no weight except your own body weight, start in a squat position, knees behind the toes, and feet shoulder-width apart. Your knees should be bent no more than 90 degrees and back straight. Jump straight up reaching the hands upward, then land back in squat position. Squat jumps work the legs, glutes, lower back and abdominals. Since squat jumps are considered an advanced, explosive form of strength training, only individuals who are healthy should do them, and should be performed under supervision of a trainer or other professional since injuries can occur. Read more about performing plyometric exercises safely with the National Strength and Conditioning Association - http://www.nsca-lift.org/publications/PLYOforWeb.pdf
Deadlift (with Barbell or Dumbbells) - The deadlift works the glutes and hamstrings, and also stabilizes the core, meaning you are getting a good ab workout as well, and quadriceps (front thighs). Perform this exercise with a barbell or dumbbells. Start out with light weight (two to five pounds for each hand or a five to ten pound barbell). Keeping a flat back, with soft elbows and knees (meaning, don't lock out your joints), lower the weight(s) down toward your knees. Your butt should press back as you lower, and the weight should be in your heels. Don't lower past the knees. Come back up and squeeze your glutes together as you stand straight. The closer your legs, the more you'll feel the work in your hamstrings.
Squat Dips - With this exercise, you target the glutes, abs and the front and back of the thighs. Essentially, this is a fancy lunge. Stand in front of a chair and place the top of your right foot on the seat of the chair. Lower the left leg in to a single-leg squat with the knee behind he toe. Repeat with the other side after one set of repetitions. If you want an easier version, use a stair or exercise step, placing your right toe back for balance, and lower in to a lunge position with the opposite foot. You still get the workout with the added stability from your other leg.
Lateral Hops - (Cardio/Resistance Combo) This is another plyometric exercise to work your gluteus muscles. Standing with feet about hip-width apart, alternative from leg to leg in a quick motion carefully landing on your whole foot, with the opposite knee in an upward position. Land softly and keep a slight back in the knees to avoid locking out the joints.
Sun Salutations - Stretch your glutes, thighs and hamstrings with this yoga sequence. In particular the downward facing dog pose is the best stretch for the lower body. In this pose, you lift from the hips and push your booty back and up, balance on your toes and hands. Stretching before and after any workout is best for preventing delayed onset of muscle soreness and joint and tendon pain. See how to perform the entire sequence here - http://www.yogasite.com/sunsalute.htm
Tips: If you don't have dumbbells at home, you can perform these using cans from your cupboard or milk jugs. Weights should only be incorporated once you get the hang of these exercises. Avoid injured knees by perfecting your form.
CAUTION: Always remember to consult your doctor first before beginning a fitness regimen of any kind. Also, a group fitness or personal trainer can show you the best way to perform these exercises. Training articles, videos and DVD's are only tools to help you learn the best exercises for specific parts of your body, but an in-person professional can give you individualized advice for execution of the exercise based on your particular situation. Performing any exercise wrong can result in ineffectiveness and injuries.
Always consult your physician before starting a new fitness regimen. Only you know your strengths and weaknesses, so try these exercises at your own risk.