Having strong muscles in the butt and legs is essential for your overall health and ability to exercise efficiently. Unless we have active jobs, the threat of sitting down for hours at a time has a huge detrimental effect on these areas; muscles slack and become less defined if not used properly, circulation is dramatically reduced and so blood isn’t able to reach muscles as well as it should, cellulite can form and tone is decreased.
Working out your butt and leg muscles will not only shape and tone them, but will help towards efficiency in other exercises such as running, cycling and swimming. Here you will be taken through 8 leg and butt workouts that will help towards getting the shape and tone that you want.
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This is an absolute essential exercise if you want to target your legs and butt. It works the thighs, butt and hips as well as pulling through your core and lower back muscles. If you want a sculptured backside then squats are your best friend.
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- Start with feet hip-width apart, keeping your back straight with shoulders pulled back, straighten your arms out in front of you.
- Slowly bend your knees and push your butt out and down as though you’re about to sit down on a chair.
- Lower yourself so that your thighs are parallel to the floor, your knees are positioned slightly over your ankles and your head and shoulders aligned over your knees.
- Using your leg and butt muscles, slowly push up keeping your weight evenly distributed throughout and come back to standing position.
- Beginner: start off with a repetition of 3 sets of 10 squats and increase the amount of squats in each set by 1 squat each day.
- Advanced: To make this move more difficult, add handheld weights, keeping them at your side throughout the exercise. Increase weights for more intensity.
Leg and butt workouts are not complete without lunges as they help work the muscles in both areas.
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- Start with legs shoulder-width apart and hands resting on your hips.
- Extend your right leg out in front of you and lower your hips toward the floor until both knees are at 90-degree angles. Make sure your front knee does not extend over your whole foot and keep your body straight pulling through your core.
- Push up on your extended front leg to return to your your original position. Repeat this with the left leg.
- Beginner: Repeat 10 lunges on each leg, increasing by 1 for each separate workout.
- Advanced: To make this more challenging hold weights in both hands or wear a heavy backpack. Alternatively, try side lunges that add a bit more of a challenge.
Bridges really work your butt muscles and are good for both shaping and toning.
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- Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor and hip-width apart.
- Keeping your arms relaxed on each side, lift your glutes off the floor pushing through your heels.
- Hold and squeeze your glute muscles in this position and then slowly lower your butt back down to the floor.
- Beginner: Try 10 reps, 3 times increasing slowly with each workout.
- Advanced: To make this move more difficult, add a stable weight to your stomach area or try a Unilateral Bridge by raising one knee to your chest or extend it all the way out, then start lifting your glutes off the floor as with a basic bridge.
Planks are ultimately great for your core but they also engage your glutes and leg muscles if done correctly. This is a great exercise as you can adjust the challenge by adding seconds to each plank.
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- Lie on your front and gently raise your body onto your elbows, making sure elbows are shoulder-width apart.
- Slowly raise yourself onto your tip toes and hold.
- Beginner: Try holding a plank for as long as possible. Aim for 30 seconds to a minute and increase this over each workout.
- Advanced: Once you’ve mastered a basic plank, try a Knee Pull Plank which will work your legs and butt more. This involves pulling one knee in towards your stomach and extending it back.
Deadlifts are amazing for targeting hamstrings, glutes and lower back. It’s really important that you maintain good form while performing deadlifts so try and do them in front of a mirror so that you can make sure you are doing them correctly.
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- Stand holding a dumbbell in each hand with arms shoulder-width apart, hanging straight down and making sure feet are shoulder-width apart with knees slightly bent.
- Squeeze your shoulder blades together in back and keep your chest high. It is very important to keep your upper body in this position throughout the entire exercise.
- Slowly bend forward from the hips, pushing your butt back, keeping your shoulder blades retracted, and chin tucked in.
- Lower the dumbbells down your legs and bend down as far as you can until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings.
- Hold for a second and then squeeze your glutes and return to starting position.
- Make sure you do this exercise slowly and keep your back and posture straight.
- Beginner: Repeat 10 times in a set of 3.
- Advanced: Increase your weights to make this more difficult and challenging.
6. Hamstring Curls
These are really great for your legs and will strengthen your hamstrings.
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- Lie on the floor face down with your arms linked in front of you.
- Place a weight in between your feet and grip tightly.
- Slowly lift both legs up at the knee until they are at a 90 degree angle from the floor.
- Slowly lower your legs back down again, aiming to keep the feet off the floor at all times.
- Beginner: Repeat 10 times in a set of 3.
- Advanced: Increase the weight to add more challenge.
7. Calf Raises
This move is specific in toning and strengthening your legs to give you shaped and defined leg muscles.
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- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Slowly balance onto your toes and lift up your heels as far as you can.
- Make sure you push evenly your entire foot; don’t allow the weight to push over to your big toe or to the outside of your foot. Keep the push central.
- Slowly lower your heel to the ground.
- Beginner: Repeat 10 times for 3 sets. You can hold weights in your hand to add further intensity.
- Advanced: Try sumo squat calf raises for an extra challenge.
8. Wall Sits
These are fantastic for your glutes, calves and thighs and will test your endurance.
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- With your back straight against the wall, stand with your feet slightly apart and a small distance away from the wall.
- Slowly bend your knees so that your thighs are at a 90 degree angle from the floor.
- Hold for 30 seconds to a minute (or as long as you can)
- Slowly use your leg muscles to bring yourself up to a standing position.
- Beginner: Start with 30 seconds to 1 minute increasing the time by a few seconds each day.
- Advanced: Try a one-legged wall squat by extending one leg out in front of you. This will work the butt and leg muscles more intensely. Change legs once your primary leg cannot sustain the 90 degree angle any longer.
Tips for Leg and Butt Workouts
- Remember when doing toning exercises, the key is to do the movements slowly and focus on squeezing the muscles as much as possible. It’s also important to remember that quality is better than quantity. It’s much more effective to increase intensity with each exercise than just doing more of the same exercise at the same level of intensity. This way the muscle is being challenged and will tone up much more quickly.
- Write down a schedule of your workouts as this will help you to keep motivation. Start with a weekly or monthly timetable of each daily workout you do. Make sure you show exactly how many reps you will do for each exercise and show a progression throughout the week or month by adding weights and intensity.
- Wear sensible, stable shoes that support your feet well to avoid injuries to your ankles.
- Be aware of your limits – don’t try using heavy weights straight away. Start small and work your way up as this will make the workouts a lot more beneficial and will avoid injuries.
- Always drink plenty of water when doing workouts as you can get easily dehydrated.
- Talk with your doctor if you suffer from back pain or are pregnant as these exercises may not be suitable.
- Remember to eat a healthy diet as eating foods high in saturated fats and sugar will only counteract the good work you’re putting in!
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