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Saturday, January 17, 2009

Ab & Butt Toners: 10 Best Exercises

Ab & Butt Toners: 10 Best Exercises

By Raphael Calzadilla, BA, CPT, ACE, RTS1
eDiets Chief Fitness Pro


I hate to see anyone feeling awful about their body, but at the same time that's what it sometimes takes for people to make changes. Looking in the mirror and being honest with yourself, becoming annoyed with how tight your clothes fit, going to the doctor's office and hearing about your health issues...Most times a wake-up call is exactly what we need.

So what areas of the body stand out so much that they practically initiate this wake-up call? We are obsessed with these two areas of the body -- glutes and abs. If an alien landed on earth and knew little of our culture, it would quickly assume that a firm butt and tight abs were reserved for those with royalty and prestige. It may sound crazy but just think of the way you look at someone with a tight butt or flat stomach.

A calorie-reduced nutrition program combined with exercise will do wonders to create a tight booty and firm abs. The formula that works for a healthy body is the same one that works for a great butt and abs -- nutrition, exercise and loads of consistency.

As far as nutrition, the biggest mistake people make is reducing calories as low as possible. After a few days of this insane approach, they're back to eating more junk then ever because the approach isn't realistic. The key is to reduce calories low enough to lose fat but still keep calories high enough to sustain your energy. Food, when used properly, can actually stimulate the metabolism to lose body fat. This is where eDiets can help! Our qualified dietitians have not only created great meal plans, but they're also accessible to you as an eDiets member whenever you have a question.

Your glutes and abs won't get tighter and smaller unless your overall body fat is reduced. You can perform all the butt movements on the planet for hours a day, but it won't make one bit of difference unless you lose body fat. Spot reduction is simply not possible.

To help accelerate your progress, I've constructed five great abdominal exercises and five great butt exercises. Take two exercises (one butt and one abs) and include them in your current workout (no matter what the workout is). Perform three sets of 15 reps of each on alternate days of the week. After three weeks, choose two other movements from the list. This alternating schedule will allow you to keep changing abdominal and butt exercises without adapting to the same movement. And it will also prevent boredom.

ABDOMINALS

Vertical Scissors

Starting Position:

  • Sit on a chair or bench with your legs straight out in front of you.
  • Your hands should be under your butt for balance.

    Movement:

  • Contracting your abdominals, lift your right leg as you lower your left leg.
  • Reverse the positions of your legs by lowering your right leg and raising your left leg, mimicking a scissor.

    Key Points:

  • Breathe rhythmically throughout the exercise.
  • Squeeze your butt and hip muscles as you switch legs.

    Cable Kneeling Rope Crunch

    Starting Position:

  • Kneel in front of the cable machine with your body facing the machine. Hold a rope attached to the upper cable attachment. Keep your elbows in.

    Movement:

  • Contracting the abdominals, curl your body downward toward your legs, stopping when you have reached a full contraction of your abdominals.
  • Slowly return to the starting position, stopping just short of the weight stack touching.

    Key Points:

  • Exhale while lifting the weight and curling down.
  • Inhale while returning to the starting position.

    Incline Bench Leg Raises

    Starting Position:

  • Lie on an incline bench and stabilize your body by gripping the bench above your head with your legs extended out.

    Movement:

  • Contracting the lower abdominal area, raise your legs up until your hips form a 90-degree angle.
  • Slowly return to the starting position stopping just short of your legs touching the bench.

    Key Points:

  • Exhale while lifting your legs.
  • Inhale while returning to the starting position.
  • Point your chin toward the ceiling to avoid using your upper body.

    Reverse Ab Curl

    Starting Position:

  • Lie on the floor with your back relaxed and your hands on the floor by your hips.
  • Keep the upper back pressed into the floor throughout the exercise.

    Movement:

  • Contracting your abs, raise your butt and gently roll your hips off the floor, stopping when you feel a full contraction of the abdominals and can no longer lift your hips.
  • Slowly return to the starting position.

    Key Points:

  • Exhale while lifting your hips.
  • Inhale while returning to the starting position.

    Reverse Trunk Twist
    Starting Position:

  • Lie on the floor with your back relaxed and your arms out to the sides forming a "T" with your body.
  • Extend your legs straight up in the air so that your hips form a 90-degree angle with a slight bend in your knees.

    Movement:

  • Contracting the abdominal and oblique muscles, lower your legs toward one side keeping your feet together and your back on the floor. Stop at the limits of the strength of your abdominal and oblique muscles.
  • This may start out as a very small range of motion and gradually increase as you get stronger.
  • Slowly return to the starting position.
  • After completing the set on the one side, repeat on the other side.

    Key Points:

  • Exhale while lowering your legs.
  • Inhale while returning to the starting position.

    BUTT

    Smith Machine Forward Lunge

    Starting Position:

  • Place the bar across the back of your shoulders. Be sure it is not resting on your neck.
  • Place one foot forward and one foot back. Both feet should be flat on the floor and facing forward with a slight bend in the knees.

    Movement:

  • Lower the weight until the front leg is at a 90-degree angle. The rear heel will come off the floor slightly but should remain straight with a slight bend in the knee.
  • Contracting the quadriceps muscles, slowly return to the starting position, stopping just short of the legs fully extending.

    Key Points:

  • Inhale while lowering the weight.
  • Exhale while returning to the starting position.
  • Do not let the front knee ride over your toes (you should be able to see your foot at all times).
  • Do not let the back arch.
  • Never let the knee of the back leg come in contact with the floor.

    Barbell Wide Stance Squat

    Starting Position:

  • Begin by standing tall with feet shoulder-width apart. Although the animation shows the feet wider than shoulder width, I've found that the glutes receive better stimulation when the feet are shoulder width.
  • Place a barbell across your shoulders. Be sure it is not resting on your neck.
  • Maintain a neutral spine and a slight bend in the knees.

    Movement:

  • Concentrating on the quadriceps muscles, begin to lower your body by bending from your hips and knees.
  • Stop when your thighs are parallel with the floor.
  • Slowly return to the starting position, stopping just short of your knees fully extending.

    Key Points:

  • Exhale while returning to the starting position.
  • Inhale as you lower down.
  • Do not let your knees ride over your toes (you should be able to see your feet at all times).
  • It helps to find a marker on the wall to keep your eye on as you lift and lower. Otherwise, your head may tend to fall forward and your body will follow.
  • Think about sitting back in a chair as you are lowering down.
  • Push off with your heels as you return to the starting position.
  • Perform this movement in a slow and controlled fashion without using momentum.
  • You may want to try this exercise without weights until you master the movement. It is a very effective exercise that involves most of the muscle groups of the lower body, but if done improperly can lead to injuries.

    Straight Leg Reverse Lift

    Starting Position:

  • Start this exercise on your hands and knees.
  • Straighten your left leg as if you were going to do a push-up.
  • Keep the right leg bent, supporting your weight along with your arms.

    Movement:

  • Contracting the buttocks muscles, lift your left leg up toward the ceiling, stopping when you feel a full contraction of the buttocks.
  • Slowly return to the starting position.
  • After completing the set on the left side, repeat on the right side.

    Key Points:

  • Exhale while lifting the leg.
  • Inhale while returning to the starting position.
  • Do not let the back arch.
  • If you are an intermediate or advanced exerciser, you can add an ankle weight to the working leg to make it more challenging.

    Dumbbell Lunges

    Starting Position:

  • Stand straight with your feet together.
  • Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your arms down at your sides.

    Movement:

  • Step forward with the right leg and lower the left leg until the knee almost touches the floor.
  • Contracting the quadriceps muscles, push off your right foot, slowly returning to the starting position.
  • Alternate the motion with the left leg to complete the set.

    Key Points:

  • Inhale while stepping forward.
  • Exhale while returning to the starting position.
  • The step should be big enough that your left leg is nearly straight. Do not let your knee touch the floor.
  • Make sure your head is up and your back is straight.
  • Your chest should be lifted and your front leg should form a 90-degree angle at the bottom of the movement.
  • Your right knee should not pass your right foot. You should be able to see your toes at all times.
  • If you have one leg that is more dominant than the other, start out with the less dominant leg first.
  • Discontinue this exercise if you feel any discomfort in your knees.

    Treadmill Incline Power Walk

    Starting Position:

  • Stand tall with your legs straddling the belt.
  • Choose the manual program.
  • Step carefully on the belt.

    Movement:

  • Perform a five minute warm-up and then adjust the incline setting to 12. Increase your speed between 3 mph and 3.5 mph, based on your fitness level. Make sure to use your glutes and hips with each step Walk at this level for 15 to 20 minutes.

    As always, please check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program.

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