Legs, bums and tums: the ultimate workout
It’s not as hard as you may think to get off the couch and start working those areas you think you’ve neglected: legs, bums and tums. This exercise plan guarantees a firmer, more toned body in four weeks.
So you want a fabulous-looking body? Not a problem if you stick to regular exercise and a well-balanced diet. ‘Legs, bums and tums are the main worry spots for women,’ reveals Sarah McClurey, leading fitness expert and director of Professional Fitness Management, ‘but with specific exercises you can start shaping these areas up within a month.’
According to McClurey you need to carry out the exercises three times a week, leaving a day in-between for muscle relaxation. She says the motivating factor is that you actually start to feel a difference within two weeks where your body will begin to feel tighter.
When it comes to the order of the exercises, start on the floor working the abs, rising slightly to work the legs then coming up for the buttocks and finally standing up for the cool-down. For all exercises kick off with 10 repetitions and build up by sets of ten as you feel stronger. To quicken the results, work out 20 extra minutes a day with a brisk walk, a bike ride or a length or two in your local pool, to tax your cardiovascular system and help burn fat.
‘Busting that belly is not so difficult,’ says McClurey, ‘it’s getting the technique right that’s the secret. That means taking it slow and contracting your stomach muscles. It’s no good working out with lazy tummy muscles, as you’ll reap no benefit at all. Along with exercise, work out your pelvic floor muscles regularly, which work at a deeper abdominal level – just think of the action as a hammock holding everything in!’
Single arm crunches
Lie on your back with your knees bent and hips wide apart with feet flat on the floor. Press your lower back firmly into the floor – there should be no arching of the back. Pull your abdominals in and keep your head in line with your spine. Place right hand behind your head. Place your left hand on the front of your left thigh and breathe in. Breathe out as you slowly raise your shoulders off the floor.
As you do so, slide your left hand as close to your knee as you can. Keep your right elbow back. Hold briefly then breathe in as you slowly lower your shoulders to the floor, without relaxing your tummy muscles. Brush the floor with your shoulders and repeat. Complete a set and repeat with your left hand cupping your head and your right hand reaching for your right knee.
‘Our legs are exercised daily with walking and stair climbing which is the sure-fire route for well toned legs,’ says McClurey. ‘But an area which is not toned habitually are the inner thighs, which can otherwise blight the outline of a strong pair of legs.’
Inner thigh raises
Lie on your right side with your back straight, hips square and feet together. Keep your head, shoulder, knees and ankles aligned. Pull your abdominals in. Place your left leg on the floor at right angles to your body. Keep your right leg straight and flex your foot so that your toes are towards you. Rest your head on your right hand. Place your left hand on the floor in front of you for support and breathe in.
Breathe out as you slowly raise your right leg as high as is comfortable. Keep your leg straight and foot parallel to the floor. Hold briefly, then breathe in as you lower your leg so that your foot is about two inches from the floor and still parallel to it. Complete a set, then turn to your left side and repeat using your left leg.
A better looking bum
‘Getting your rear view into shape is pretty easy,’ encourages Sarah, ‘it’s just a question of not becoming a sofa slug. The most effective way to burn fat around the bum is to work the body aerobically and master exercises that will increase muscle use but reduce fat. For a firm looking bum, most trainers would recommend squats which not only target the buttocks but work the front and backs of the thighs too.’
Stand with your back straight, chest lifted and abdominals in. Tilt your pelvis forward. Breathe in as you bend from your knees and hips and slowly squat down. Keep your weight over your ankles. Look forward. As you squat extend your arms straight in front of you at or below shoulder height. Keep your back flat, chest lifted and knees in line with your feet.
Don’t allow the squat to go beyond seat height. Keep your thighs parallel to the floor. Breathe out as you slowly stand up. Lead with your shoulders and keep your back flat and heels on the floor.
Warming up and cooling down
Warming up and cooling down are integral parts of any workout. Ideally a warm up should last for around 15 minutes including jogging on the spot, arm swings, shoulder rolls and general stretches – the same applies after exercise where stretching will slow your blood flow to normal.