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3 Keys to a Better Bum: A Guide to a Shapelier Lower Body
If you’re looking to fill out your favorite pair of jeans in all the right places, or simply trim your hips in proportion with the rest of your physique, you want a strategy that works! And because working the lower body is tough, you want to maximize the time you focus on it. Luckily, the muscles of the lower body make up the greatest percentage of total muscle mass in your body, and working them with compound exercises like lunges, squats and leg presses causes your heart rate to really soar.
Incorporating as many of these moves into your lower body sculpting regimen burns a lot of calories so you melt off the fat. Beyond the calorie burn, though, there are three keys to getting the rear view you’re looking for: proper form, resistance and repetition.
How to do lunges, squats and leg presses correctly
This is the most important aspect of the entire process. You won’t get the best results if your form isn’t right. Not only that, but you could possibly injure yourself. Before you do anything else, make sure you can execute each exercise with control and a full range of motion.
Lunges, squats and our leg press exercises have several form points in common to help you get maximum results while protecting the knee joints and other injury-prone areas:
1) Always keep your body weight in the heel of the foot, rather than the ball. Test this by wriggling or lifting your toes in your shoes. With your body weight back, you place more emphasis on the muscles in the back of the leg — the glutes and hamstrings — and less stress on your knees.
2) Keep your knees directly above or slightly behind your ankles. Check in the mirror to be sure. For squats, however, it’s acceptable for the knees to line up with the toes — but no further! A good test for this, if you don’t have access to a mirror, is to cast your eyes downward and look for your toes throughout the movement. If you can see them, you’re doing great. If you can’t, adjust your position.
3) Maintain a neutral spine, with your shoulders back and chest out. As you move downward during lower body exercises, it’s easy to let your upper body fall forward or cave inward. This will not only cause stress to your lower back, but it moves the resistance away from the target muscles.
Once you’ve mastered these tips, focus on moving through a complete range of motion (ROM) to make the muscles work harder for even better results. For hip and thigh exercises like lunges, squats and leg press exercises, bend deeper through the knees to lower your body more. However, avoid lowering the hips below the knee, creating less than a 90-degree angle with your ankle, knee and hip joints. This places unnecessary stress on the knees.
If after doing all of this, you still aren’t feeling the burn, add a knee lift or a low kick at the end of each repetition. This increases the need to engage the stabilizer muscles of the legs. More muscle recruitment means more calorie burn and more sculpting benefit!
How and why to add resistance to lower body exercises
Adding weight to your exercises is a key component to getting the results you desire. Once you’ve mastered a move, add a pair of five-pound dumbbells, one in each hand or on each shoulder. As you get stronger, you will notice that the sets become easier. If the last four to eight repetitions of the exercise aren’t tough, then it’s time to progress to the next set of dumbbells: eight pounds on each side. Follow the same rule and progress up to 10 pounds next, then 12 pounds, then 15 pounds, etc.
The maximum weight you should use is the one that challenges you. However, don’t try to make too big a change at once; two to three pounds each time you increase is plenty. And, if the weight becomes too heavy during the set, pick up the lighter weights again, and use them for the rest of the workout if you need to. Slow and steady wins the race!
Repetitions should be based on your fitness goals
Finally, whether you need to slim down your hips or you want to add a little shape, the number of repetitions you do makes a world of difference.
If you want to shrink your current size, focus on powerful leg movements like plyometrics and a higher number of repetitions for lower body exercises. Choose high intensity cardio workouts and workouts that combine cardio and weight training.
If you want to add a little curve, focus on fewer repetitions and isolated exercises like those found in total body sculpting workouts. Also, add workouts into your weekly calendar that focus solely on shaping the legs.
We all know that life is what you make it. Why should your workouts be any different? Whether you are a beginner or a very advanced exerciser, there are safe ways to challenge yourself and get the results you desire. Use these tips to intensify your workouts and create your own unique routine. You’re sure to see results!
Article courtesy of The FIRM Believers Club, an online community that helps you reach your fitness goals. With maximum-efficiency home workouts, support and motivation from The FIRM Master Instructors, daily tips, personalized workout rotation calendars, and access to other members through discussion boards, The Club provides all the tools you need to get in the shape you want.