Thursday, February 12, 2009

Get your butt ready for bikini bottoms! (Fitness move of the week/month)

The move of the week (or month… let’s be truthful here about my ability to update this thing) is..... the Reverse Lunge and Lift!

Major Muscles worked: Gluteus Maximus, Quadriceps

Supporting Muscles: Hamstrings, Adductor magnus (inner thigh) Erector Spinae (worked during the kick and to stabilize), Abs (mainly to stabilize)

Equipment Needed: Dumbbells or just body weight.

Hardness Rating: 2 out of 4 dumbbells

I came across this move in the most recent issue of Oxygen (March 2009). They had a little mini section on building a better butt. I’ve incorporated a few into my leg workout but this is the one that I found worked the most muscles, and was the most effective (ie I felt it the most) while requiring only minimal equipment. The basic exercise is a series of back lunges (ie instead of stepping forward into a lunge –the kind you would do for walking lunges—you step backward keeping the front foot anchored on the ground.) but instead of bringing your rear leg back to the starting position you do a little glute kick and then go directly back into the lunge.

Here are the instructions from Oxygen

Set up: Stand with your knees slightly bent and hold a pair of dumbbells at your side.

Take a large step to the rear with your right foot. Bend both knees, keeping your front knee over your toes and centering your weight between both feet. When your front thigh is parallel to the floor, push off your right foot and straighten your left leg while simultaneously lifting your right leg straight behind you, with your hips square and level, squeezing your glute. Bring your legs back together to complete one rep. Continue alternating sides

Proper form for the lunge is shown in the picture. When doing the lunge your thigh should be parallel to the ground and your thigh and shin should form a 90 degree angle. I tend to think this is the most important part of the exercise in terms of form. You can put a lot of strain on your knees when you do squats and lunges incorrectly, so please pay attention to form.

Please see the video below for a demonstration of the move. The fitness model in the magazine has her leg lifted really high in the glute lift.... My leg will not be lifted that high, but you'll get the gist. (My form isn't really stellar in this demonstration... I didn't have a mirror to check myself in. :-/)

1. No baby steps! When you step backward into the lunge make sure your step is big enough. When you lower into the lunge your front thigh should be parallel to the ground and your knee should NOT extend beyong the front of your shin. It may be uncomfortable at first to take such a large step backward. You may need to do a few balence checks, but don't do the move until you can take the appropriate step back.

2. Keep pressure on the heel. When raising up from the lunge make sure that all of the weight of your body is being supported by your heel, not toe. Keeping the pressure on the heel helps engage the gluteal muscles AND helps you keep good form. If you push off with the pressure on your toes or balls of the feet your front knee will extend beyond 90 degrees which puts increased strain on the knees.... not a good thing. Lunges and squats always get a bad rap because they "hurt the knees". They only hurt knees if your form is crappy.

3. Try not to propel yourself back up using your back foot. As much as possible you should be pushing yourself up with your front leg. The majority of the glute work in this exercise comes from the front leg pushing out of the lunge. If you use your back leg to propel you off the ground then you are cheating yourself out of the exercise..... so don't do it.

I hope someone tries this out. It's really a great exercise for the butt! Do this as part of a comprehensive leg workout for a few months and your butt will look just like this! (ok... your but won't look like yours unless you do a HELL of a lot more than this move, but she's my butt idol, so I thought I'd post her. she works out with heavy weights 5 days a week...doing a few lunges won't bulk you up like this, so please don't post saying... "I don't do lunges because they'll make my legs big. They won't. Stop your yappin and do a lunge!")

Stay tuned for next weeks exercise :-)

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