Your lower body is the easiest and quickest place to build calorie torching lean muscle. You’ve got over 200 muscles below the belt, not the mention the largest muscle in your body – your gluteus maximus. So, get off your glutes and get your lower body going in everything you do! Stand on one leg for shoulder presses, squat during biceps curls, etc – the more you work your lower half, the better.
For an even bigger BOOST to your BACKSIDE and lower body consider adding plyometrics to your training toolbox. Plyometrics are powerful, explosive movements that train the body to produce power quickly as well as build strength, size, stamina and promote muscle definition.
Begin plyometric training by using body weight only; additional resistance in not necessary until you perfect the form of each plyometric movement as well as build up initial muscular strength and endurance in the explosive movement pattern. Learn the start and end position of each plyometric and practice those first, then add the explosive portion of the movement. This helps ensure proper biomechanics for joint safety. Try these 3 exercises, adding the first 2 exercises to your lower body workouts and the third to your upper body workout:
Squat Jump: Start with feet hip width apart, toes and knees straight ahead, elbows bent and arms by your side. Bend at the knees and hips until in a squat position with hips slightly higher than your knees – this is where you will start and end. Inhale as you drop the hips down slightly lower (drop 3-4 inches); exhale while using as much power as you can and quickly push off the ground jumping as high as you can. When your feet touch back down immediately soften the knees and return to start/end position. Try 15 jumps, rest 30 seconds and perform 15 more.
Split Lunge Jump: Start with feet split into a lunge position, knees, feet and hips pointed straight ahead, elbows bent with arms by the side and both knees bent slightly with front knee not quite to 90 degrees of flexion. Inhale and drop hips until front knee is at 90 degrees of flexion; exhale and push quickly and forcefully off the ground into a jump. While in the air switch the legs and feet so when you land the foot previously in front is in back (and vice-versa). When feet hit the ground immediately soften the knees and land in the start/end position. Try 10-16 jumps, rest 30 seconds and perform a second set.
For a great finisher, consider a “Frog Jump Burpee”: Start with feet hip width apart, toes and knees straight ahead, elbows bent and arms by your side. Bend at the knees and hips until in a squat position with hips at or below knee level (remember leap frog??) arms down front – this is where you will start and end. Inhale as you drop the hips down exhale while using as much power as you can and quickly push off the ground jumping as far forward as you can. When your feet touch back down immediately soften the knees and perform a squat thrust, or “burpee” as we used to call them in gym class! Hands should be out in front of the body slightly wider than the shoulders, jump feet back to a ‘push-up position’. And quickly return feet to start and stand up for another frog jump!
The human body is amazing in its capacity to adapt. When you perform resistance training on a regular basis, the body will adapt fairly quickly to the loads (amount of weight), repetitions, exercises, and style of lifting that you are using. This is why so many exercisers plateau and stop seeing results – they continue to exercise the same way, day after day and month after month. Not only does boredom set in, but some of the lost pounds settle back on and some of the muscle mass gained decreases. If you want to continue to see improvements and changes in muscle mass, shape and tone you must find ways to challenge the body by introducing different types of stimuli at least every 2-3 months.
So what are you waiting for? JUMP!
Lisa Welko is an ACE certified and AFAA certified group fitness coach and owner of Ellipse Fitness, a classes only fitness franchise that is planning a nationwide expansion. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on her website www.ellipsefitness.com.