Today, in my at-home exercise series, Jennifer Nyp from Zen Girl Fitness explains how ankle weights can be used to fix a flat butt. If a flat butt is far from your problem, no worries. You can use all the same exercises to lift and tighten too!
I have a genetically flat butt and it’s always been a challenge for me to make any kind of change in that specific area. I find this is very common for my female clients over forty. I’ve learned so much from my clients’ bodies and one of the greatest butt saboteurs is the hip flexors. When they are tight, the glutes shut down. You have to spend some deliberate time working your glutes to bring this dance between the hip flexors, glutes and hamstrings back into balance. In the last year, I’ve been on a mission. A butt definition mission for my clients and myself. It has worked! I give big credit to using ankle weights during butt exercises for this success.
I always include both core and compound movements to create symmetry and fluidity in the body. When your body functions well, you feel better and younger. Be careful though, ankle weights can be dangerous for your joints. If you already have joint pain or injuries, ankle weights are NOT for you. Do the exercises I posted without them. They will still be challenging, but you might benefit by adding time or more reps.
As always, pay attention to your form and the total body. Don’t crunch your neck or clench you face or toes. Put your energy into your core and you will lighten the load that the rest of your body is carrying!
10 Ways to Use Ankle Weights in Your Workout:
Move #1: Squat with Leg Lift
This is a great way to warm-up or add cardio in between more static exercises. Watch your form and the position of your knees (keep them behind your toes)! Do 20-30 or time it for 30-90 seconds.
Move #2: Leg Swings
A more challenging version of a move from the “park bench” series. Be sure to pull in your abs and tuck your pelvis under in order to protect your back. Do 30 seconds to the front and side for each leg.
Move #3: Squat Jump
Get your cardio on! Do this for 30-60 seconds. But if you have joint or knee issues, DO NOT do this! Just squat instead!
Move #4: Curtsy Squat with Side Kick
Do 2-3 sets of 30-60 seconds on each side.
Move #5: Downward Dog Leg Lift and Push-up
Do 10 leg lifts and 10 push-ups then try doing a set of 10-20 alternating between the two. Don’t forget to do both sides!
Move #6: Pilates Side Kick Series
Anchor your bottom leg at a 45 degree angle. Pull your abs back and control your movement. Do 10-20 of each move in the series. Don’t forget to do both sides.
Move #7: Fire Hydrant into Leg Kick
This one really works that booty! Do 60-90 seconds on each side.
Move #8: Inner Thigh Lift and Kick
Turned your leg out, and lead with your inner thigh. For more of a challenge prop yourself on your hands and add tricep dips. Feel the burn!
Move #9: Side Plank with Bottom Leg Lift and Kick
Do a set of 20 or one minute on each side.
Move #10: “Can-Can” Leg Lifts
This one is super challenging no matter how you do it, but especially hard when you do the side-to-side version. Do 2-3 sets of 20 reps or 3 sets of 1 minute.
Stay tuned for next week when Jen will teach us how to incorporate another piece from her list of recommended home gym equipment, which you can find here.
You can follow Jennifer Nyp on Instagram at @zengirlfitness for more daily exercise ideas or if you live in Manhattan and want to work out with her private SOHO studio, you find her contact info here.
As Elle Woods famously said, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy.” In other words, not only can squeezing in a quick workout make you look good, but it’s going to make you feel good too. Everyone has that one area they want to get in check, but right now we’re talking about the booty. Stop fawning over how perf Kim and ‘Yonce’s behinds look in their skin-tight dresses and get a celebrity butt of your own with these workouts!
- 1. Hydrant with Kick
- 2. Sumo Squat
- 3. Superman
- 4. Jump Squat
- 5. Bridge with Leg Lift
- 6. Donkey Kicks
- 7. Side Lunges
- 8. Triangle Crunch
- If you need a little more structure…
- Class test: Best Butt Ever at Equinox
- Best Butt Ever!
- How these glute exercises work
- The Myth Of TONING!
- The Myth Of Toning
- Strength Training And Fat Loss For Tone
- The Myth Of High Repetitions To Tone
- Fat Loss Benefits From Strength Training
- Circuit Training
- Making It Work For You
- Weight Training: How Many Reps (and Sets) to Do
- How many reps should I do?
- How many sets should I do for each muscle group?
1. Hydrant with Kick
Test your balance and enhance your bum with this multipurpose move. The kick helps work out your butt while balancing with just your arms and one leg. It will also help with stabilization to tone your abs. Talk about multitasking!
2. Sumo Squat
The deeper the squat, the more muscles you work. You’re definitely going to feel the burn in your glutes and thighs with this one.
You may not have super powers to help you get fit, but this move is a good start. Tighten your abs and your behind while you pretend that you’re flying high…except you’re still on the workout mat.
Related: What To Change If You’re Hitting The Gym & Seeing No Results
4. Jump Squat
Jump squats are the perfect way to tone your butt and legs at the same time. The jump adds a cardio element to your workout routine, which means you can totally burn off that extra slice of pizza before bedtime.
5. Bridge with Leg Lift
This move is abs-olutely the way to get your perfect Kim K booty. Working your back, core and butt, you can do this move lying in bed or in between Netflix episodes. If it seems challenging at first, put both feet on the ground and work up to the leg lift.
6. Donkey Kicks
Reach for the sky or the ceiling with this workout. The best way to get the most out of it is to pace yourself and don’t go too fast because you don’t want to pull any muscles.
7. Side Lunges
Get a better booty one cheek at a time with this exercise! Keep proper form and hold weights to tone your arms at the same time.
8. Triangle Crunch
This one’s all about balance as it works the core, butt and arms. This move may be awkward at first, but you can totally nail it! Just think about those ‘after’ pics you post on Insta.
If you need a little more structure…
Try out a booty workout plan! There’s so many on the web to fit your individual needs. Some are made for the gym and some can be done in your bedroom.
Blogilates offers one for free. Print out the colorful calendar and follow Cassey, YouTube fitness guru, through all of the moves.
Your best bum is only weeks away! Picking moves that don’t require you to leave the house will leave you no excuse but to workout. Pro tip: make your better booty time go by even faster by catching up on your favorite show or creating a killer playlist!
Class test: Best Butt Ever at Equinox
BBE – can you handle it?
Equinox. Those who have heard about or been lucky enough to visit will know that everything here is exceptional. The gym contains the best equipment, including a squishy floor for stretching on and eucalyptus-spritzed, chilled towels waiting for you in fridges. The changing rooms offer an invigorating steam room and big, individual showers with Kiehl’s products for you to use, along with complimentary mouthwash, deodorant and face wipes – everything you could need to freshen up after a workout. Sportsister’s Stephanie Tait (below right) reports.
I was at Equinox, Kensington to try out its new summer class – Best Butt Ever, a class ‘engineered to lift and shape your hottest asset this summer’. The class was designed by fitness personality and celebrity trainer Natalie Yco, who says: ‘BBE is designed to give you that perfect booty.
‘The class is split into three sections. GET ACTIVE to target and wake up your butt, GET STRONG to build muscle and create shape and GET POWERFUL to speed up your metabolism and create a greater lift. The class also includes core work to help whittle down your waistline to help show off that new butt!’ I was warned: ‘This class will result in your BEST BUTT EVER.’ And I was excited.
You begin with a warm up – lots of squats. I felt the burn almost immediately and spent the rest of the class half-laughing-half-grimacing at how difficult it was. This was a good thing – no pain no gain, right?
The music was awesome; think Destiny’s Child Bootylicious and Ludacris’ Money Maker – ideal motivation for a class that pushes your glutes past their limits, and distracting enough to make you feel like you’re out dancing. Okay maybe not quite; the burn does not stop. Oh the burn.
In the first Get Active section of the class you use a resistance band for glute activation; placing the band just above your knees and stepping out and down into squats on each side. Difficulty is upped with 60-second leg/hip abductions and pulses, but the incredible instructor, Caitlin, keeps you going and encourages you to stay low for longer than you think you can. The band is moved down around your ankles and creates resistance as you move one leg back for a series of taps, before repeating with the other.
The second Get Strong section introduces the use of heavy dumbbells for loaded dynamic exercises, focusing on the glutes and lower body. You hold the dumbbells and perform a range of squats, lunges, curtsies and posses. The pace is fast, but with each exercise usually lasting either 60 or 30 seconds, you feel able to grit your teeth and push yourself, as the instructor counts you down.
Get Powerful is the third part of the class and involves a step platform. The moves include jumping, which specifically targets the glutes. Exercises include a bilateral straddle box jump, where you straddle your step and jump up on top landing with bended knees, and then back down with a leg either side into a deep squat, before springing back up in an explosive jump. This really gets your heart pumping and made me feel sick, which again, was a good thing!
The final corker of a move is a grand plié burpee. You start in a straight arm plank with hands on your step; before jumping your feet forwards to the outside of your step and sitting up into a grand plié squat with hands in front of your chest. If this wasn’t tough enough for 60 seconds, you finish by digging even deeper. After landing in the plié squat, you are told to jump into the air and tap your heels together – and repeat the whole move for 60 seconds! It will take your breath away and set fire to your quads and glutes. You finish with some stretches and a touch of smugness.
I wasn’t able to complete every rep of every exercise and for some of the exercises I left my dumbbells on the floor to ensure better form, but I was constantly smiling and Caitlin (below) never goads or scolds you; she is pure motivation.
The bottom line
This is a class after which you will feel that you deserve the self-congratulation. I was pouring with sweat and shaking, but I felt happy and uplifted (like my glutes). I have been to the class twice and each time with a friend. I would definitely recommend going in pairs – with the music (rnb/hip-hop/rap), the inspiring instructor and the mind-blowing burn I can guarantee that you will have a great time. Just be prepared for the soreness that comes in the following few days!
With membership costing £186-per-month, Equinox is very expensive and out of most people’s budgets. But, if you can afford this you are in for a treat – Best Butt Ever is one of the best classes I have ever been to, the facilities are superb and the complimentary towels, steam room, showers and products leave you feeling amazing. There is also a plush lounge and café with fresh green juices and healthy food on offer to help you refuel. I would go every week if I could!
Stephanie Tait, Sportsister
The Women’s Sports Magazine
Best Butt Ever!
As you read through, bear in mind that this is almost 2 decades worth of information! Don’t be overwhelmed if you don’t digest everything in the first run through. The program is yours to keep so continue to read through it and fire away with any questions you have at any time on our Facebook page and I’ll personally get them answered.
Our programs are broken down into 3 sections.
• Learn – This section will be different from any other program you may have tried so far. I don’t want to simply send along another generic workout and eating program and wish you the best. I want you to understand the principles, the building blocks of nutrition and training so well that you’re able to share it with other people. It may seem like a lot to read but your health is worth it. I won’t go too far down the scientific rabbit hole but I do want to take
everything I’ve learned, everything that has worked with clients just like you over the years and give it to you. It’s essentially your master class on permanent fat loss.
• Nutrition – Here we’re going to get exact on how to make the best food choices, scheduling your nutritional day, how to navigate happy hours, how to make sure you’re getting enough of the good stuff and healthy shortcuts to make the whole thing a breeze.
• Train – In the final section, we get to work on laying out your workouts.
Whether performing them at home or in the gym, we’re going to cover what to do and how to do it. No day will be left unturned and we’ll make sure to fit it all to your schedule.
We’re in the midst of a glutes renaissance. Thanks to Instagram, the increased focus on functional fitness, and/or Jennifer Lopez, men and women are trying to build stronger, more beautiful butts. And with that goal comes the quest for better, more creative glutes exercises.
But with all due respect to the #fitspo folks, the glutes aren’t just for modeling yoga pants. Combined with the hamstrings, calves, and , the glutes are the most powerful muscles in the human body. This muscle group—collectively called the “posterior chain”—generates more force than any other human movement, whether that means power cleans, deadlifts, box jumps, or simply lifting a heavy suitcase off the floor and into the overhead compartment.
And regardless of what some Instagram influencers might have you believe, building a strong butt doesn’t require any mysterious voodoo. Nor does it require doing 1,000 squats a day. Instead, you’ll need to attack these crucial muscles with a barrage of proven glutes exercises. By varying the workload, training your muscles from multiple angles, and incorporating instability into your workout routines, you can strengthen your glutes (and sculpt your butt while you’re at it).
How these glute exercises work
Don’t expect to head to the gym and do every single one of these in a single session. (The glutes may be strong, but they’re not invincible).
Instead, break up this list of 20 moves into four or five different groups of exercises. Piece together a few moves that require the same piece of equipment—like, say, the suspension trainer, Swiss ball, or barbell.
You can combine them as a circuit: Do as many reps as possible of each exercise in 45 seconds, rest for 15 seconds, then move on to the next exercise; rest for two minutes after each round.
Alternatively, do these exercises in traditional straight sets—say, four sets of eight reps each, with 60 seconds of rest in between. Vary your rest, sets, reps, and exercise selection to ensure you make the most of these glutes exercises.
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The Myth Of TONING!
When many people talk about being “toned” what they are referring to is a firm body with muscular definition and shape. This is generally a fitness goal that many women have (but also men) with the majority of their emphasis usually on their arms or more specifically their triceps.
Mistakenly, due to the media many people (mostly women) think in order to “get toned” all they need to do is very high repetitions and very little resistance with moderate to long rests. They also don’t take into account cardiovascular activity or diet in order to get “toned”.
The Myth Of Toning
Lets dissolve the misnomer of “tone” right now. The firming-up or toning is due to an increase in muscle tissue as well as a low enough bodyfat percentage to see the definition and shape of the muscles and get rid of the “jiggle”.
Muscles do not go from soft to hard or hard to soft—they either shrink or grow in size. Muscles themselves do not “firm-up” or “tone”.
Strength Training And Fat Loss For Tone
There are no two ways about it—in order to achieve the look of muscle tone or a toned body you need to engage in strength training as well as shed the layer of fat covering your muscles.
Traditional resistance training alone doesn’t produce the toned look desired, especially when an individual resistance trains in the fashion previously mentioned with unnecessarily high repetitions, little resistance, and little if any stress on the muscle.
Resistance training alone doesn’t produce the toned look desired.
A calorie deficit also needs to be created in order to shed some of the subcutaneous bodyfat (fat under the skin).
The Myth Of High Repetitions To Tone
Just because you are not looking to get “bulky” or add muscle mass doesn’t mean that you should shy away from stressing your muscles with relatively heavy weight (women and men).
Effort needs to be given and your muscles need to be stressed in order for them to change and grow. And simply going through the motions will produce little if any results because the muscle is not being stressed enough and therefore has no reason to adapt and change its current condition.
Generally, training with a resistance that produces fatigue between 8-12 repetitions works well for most individuals. That doesn’t mean that you can give up after the 8th or 12th repetition—it means that there is no way that you can get the 13th.
If you can get 13, then the resistance is not enough. Don’t forget to include cardio conditioning into your fitness program in addition to your strength training.
Fat Loss Benefits From Strength Training
Strength training and cardio don’t necessarily need to be exclusive from each other—you can get a cardiovascular and fat burning benefit from strength training both directly and indirectly.
Indirectly, the more muscle tissue that you add through strength training the greater your basal metabolic rate (resting metabolism) will be and therefore you will be burning more total calories and fat at rest. This is more of a permanent solution to weight loss.
Directly, if you use large body movements and keep rest periods short you will elevate your heart rate and therefore be getting the same immediate calorie and fat burning benefits as traditional cardiovascular exercise.
This is the more temporary solution to weight loss. These two reasons are why every weight loss program should include weight training.
You can kill two birds with one stone this way—you can get the resistance training benefits as well as the cardio benefits in one short and sweet workout if designed correctly. Generally you should use repetitions as low as 10 and no higher than 15 for most exercises and muscle groups.
You generally should be taking short rest periods in-between sets—ideally no longer than 30 seconds for most exercises and muscle groups (in order to keep heart rate elevated as well as give the muscles a brief rest and recovery period before the next set).
Again you should come to failure at the end of every set and not just be going through the motions. Don’t be afraid if you can’t complete as many repetitions as you did the previous set—that is to be expected because the rest periods are so short that the metabolic byproducts haven’t had a chance to be completely removed yet.
Eventually your body will adapt to the metabolic stress and become more efficient at recovery and you will be able to lift more weight in a shorter period of time.
If you dip below 8 to 10 repetitions you should decrease the weight though. Having a simple stopwatch or keeping your eye on the second hand of the clock in order to time your rests may be a good idea in order to stay on task when beginning this type of training.
After you become accustomed to this kind of training you will know when to do another set without watching time because it will be ingrained.
In order to have a shorter and more efficient workout as well as ensuring your heart rate is elevated and remains elevated, you may want to consider circuit training.
Circuit training is where you go directly from one set of an exercise to another exercise that works a different muscle and so on.
So you have a series of exercises where you go straight from one to another with absolutely no rest—hence the name “circuit training”.
You may take a brief rest if need be only after each circuit. This type of training requires being focused (so headphones or avoiding distractions is a must for an effective workout) but it is extremely effective at burning fat and building strength, endurance, and muscle and creating that toned look.
Making It Work For You
When designing your program keep in mind that larger muscle group movements such as those that involve legs and back and others that incorporate numerous muscle groups at once such as the bench press burn more calories than isolated exercises like dumbbell biceps curls.
Examples of excellent exercises to achieve an elevated heart rate include but are not limited to: any variety of squats, deadlifts, straight-leg deadlifts, any variety of lunges, bench step-ups, etc.
Don’t be afraid to get creative and combine movements either. An example might be doing a repetition of the dumbbell shoulder press and then going fluidly into a repetition of the dumbbell biceps curls and then back and forth for a complete set of 20-30 total reps (10-15 each).
This is where a reputable personal trainer may come in handy to develop “non-traditional” exercises for you with your goals in mind as well as to show you how to perform them properly.
As long as the resistance is sufficient enough to create fatigue by no more than 15 repetitions, your rest periods are very short, if at all, and you have a solid nutritional program, you’ll see your muscles tighten-up, firm, and become more pronounced giving you that tone that you desire.
Weight Training: How Many Reps (and Sets) to Do
You can’t design a strength-training (or weight-training) program without knowing two terms: rep and set. Rep (repetition) is one complete motion of an exercise. A set is a group of consecutive repetitions. For example, you can say, “I did two sets of ten reps on the crunches” This means that you did ten consecutive crunches, rested, and then did another ten crunches.
How many reps should I do?
The number of reps you should do depends on where you are in your training (new, experienced, coming back from a long layoff) and your goals. To become as strong and as big as your body type will allow, do fewer than 8 or 10 reps per set. To tone your muscles and develop the type of strength you need for everyday life — moving furniture or shoveling snow — aim for 10 to 12 repetitions. Doing dozens of reps with ultralight weights (weights you can barely even feel) doesn’t bring good results of any kind, because you’re not stressing your muscles enough.
No matter how many repetitions you do, always use a heavy enough weight so that the last rep is a struggle, but not such a struggle that you compromise good form. After about a month of strength training, you may want to go to muscular failure (that is, your last repetition is so difficult that you can’t squeeze out one more).
If you have a few different goals in mind, you can mix and match the number of reps you do per workout. If you want to get bigger and stronger and also improve the endurance of those muscles, you can do a heavy workout one day and a lighter workout the next time out. Keep track of how you feel; your body may respond better to one type of training than another.
Be sure to adjust the amount of weight you use for each exercise. In general, use more weight to work larger muscles like your thighs, chest, and upper back, and use less weight to exercise your shoulders, arms, and abdominals. But even when doing different exercises for the same muscle group, you’re likely to need a variety of weights. For example, you typically can handle more weight on the flat chest-press machine than you can on the incline chest-press machine.
Write down how much weight you lift for each exercise so that next time around, you don’t have to waste time experimenting all over again. But don’t lock yourself into lifting a certain amount of weight every time. Everyone feels stronger on some days than on others.
© /Catalin Petolea
How many sets should I do for each muscle group?
There’s no simple answer. Several studies show that doing one set per muscle builds just as much strength as doing three sets per muscle, at least for the first three or four months of training. If you’re a novice or if you’re starting again after a layoff, begin with one set of 10 to 12 repetitions, and make sure your last rep feels challenging. You should feel like you have control of the weight but if you did one more rep, you may not be able to make it all the way.
Most people can increase their initial weights after two to four weeks of training; at that point, consider adding a second or even third set for each muscle group. However, if your goal is simply to build enough strength for good health, one challenging set may be sufficient.
If you’re aiming for maximum strength or a physique like the ones you see on ESPN body-building competitions, you need to do at least 10 to 20 sets per muscle group!