Bring on the tight booties and bangin’ legs!!!!
Our bottom half is where it’s at ladies!
This is where the majority of your larger musculature is found (especially those glutes) and hence translates into the areas that you should be focusing on the most during workouts to up-regulate your metabolism and burn fat!
I practically mention this in every fitness related blog post but oh well, I’m saying it again.
Muscle tissue is highly metabolically active, meaning it uses a significant amount of calories to build and sustain itself so it’s one of your best methods for getting and staying lean, while achieving that “toned” look.
Bottom line: If you want a lean, sexy bod, give your bottom half some extra attention in your workouts!
So let’s dive into 3 of my favorite “bang for your buck” moves to get this done.
#1 Single Leg Deadlifts
This is my absolute #1 favorite exercise to sculpt and strengthen my glutes and hamstrings.
Deadlifts of any variation are a fantastic bang for your buck exercise and the single leg variety, allow you to increase glute activation, reduce sheer forces on your lumbar spine, and train stability from the foot up, which is why these bad boys rock.
These little buggers are tricky to execute properly, so it is imperative (like with any exercise really) to master your form with just your body weight before loading.
Some words of wisdom:
Pattern, Perfect, Progress.
This means properly learn the movement pattern, perfect the movement, and then progress the movement.
Remember this, and always work in that order!
Also, if you have had any previous back injuries make sure to consult a physical therapist or qualified fitness professional for safer alternatives before jumping into any front or back loaded, flexion based exercises.
Tips For Deadlifts
- Start with just your body weight until you can maintain stability and control.
- When starting out have a chair or bar nearby to hold onto for stability.
- Work with a 3-4 sec slow and controlled lowering phase, until you perfect the movement.
- Firmly anchor foot on the ground.
- Keep hips level, like you have a tray on your back (think about pointing your toes on the straight leg down towards the ground to help with this).
- Keep neck neutral, shoulders down and back.
- Hinge at hip, keeping hips above knees at all times (this is not a squat).
- When using a barbell keep bar as close to your body as possible.
- Lower weight to just past the knee to start, and progress to the ground.
- Draw in your abs and tighten your core before your pull.
- Use the mind muscle connection and focus on using your glutes to drive you up, and not your lower back.
Something to note: You don’t have to bring your rear leg high up behind you like I did. If you don’t have the balance or mobility simply brush your foot along the floor behind you to where you feel comfortable.
#2 Reverse Lunge To Single Leg Hip Extension
Again this exercise is an awesome bang for your buck move.
It targets your large quadriceps and hamstrings muscle groups, and really helps to increase activation of the glute on the standing leg as you move into full hip extension at the top. This exercise also challenges your stability from your feet all the way up to your core.
I also tend to prescribe this exercise as one alternative to forward lunges as it reduces the sheer forces on the knee while maintaining activation of the same muscle groups.
An additional benefit to doing any single leg/ bi-lateral training is that you can prevent and correct imbalances you may have between sides.
Every exercise program should include some form of bi-lateral training.
Again master the pattern, take your time with the movement, and maintain adequate stability before jacking up the weight.
Tips For Lunges
- Master the standard reverse lunge before attempting this variation (same thing w/0 coming into a single leg stance).
- Take a wide enough step back to allow both your knees to fall at 90 degrees and no less.
- Gain your balance first after stepping back before descending into lunge.
- Push into the ground with your front foot and big toe to increase stability.
- Lower into lunge with a slow and controlled tempo and push up with increased power.
- Squeeze the glute of the working/front leg as you ascend.
- Be sure to stand all the way up with full hip extension at the top.
- An option to increase stability when you are practicing this for the first time and/or when you start to fatigue, is to tap your toes of the non working leg on the ground instead of lifting your food off the ground to a full single leg stance.
#3 Hill Sprints
“Ughhhh sprints.” This is the response I usually get when I tell gals to get on the sprint wagon.
I get it, sprints are a killer, and not for everyone. But they freaking work wonders for your entire body, especially your booty and legs.
I of course am one of those crazy people who loves that feeling of death you get after a wicked sprint workout and the results I gain make it totally worth every ounce of pain!
But the reason they are so amazing is that they are high intensity and tap into your anaerobic energy system improving your conditioning, metabolism, nervous system activation, and muscle building capabilities (aka they torch fat and sculpt like a boss).
And the reason I recommend hill prints particularly is to reduce joint stress and progressively challenge you during the entire sprint. Plus they are great for beginners to get comfortable with sprinting while still producing a significant challenge.
While they are an amazing training tool, it is SO important to ease into doing them. The best way to do that is to master a light jog and work your way up to faster speeds, for less time, using an incline.
Make sure to take the progressions slow, only do a little at a time, and give your body ample time to recover between workouts to reduce injuries.
The main idea is to always be pushing your hardest, whatever that is for you at that time, but intelligently. Meaning you don’t kill yourself to the point where you throw up, or won’t want to come back to it again.
Remember you aren’t doing sprints for long periods. The harder you go, the shorter your workout. In most cases you want to stay under 20 minutes.
Just take it slow, ease into doing them using the tips provided, and work up to pushing your yourself progressively, as your body begins to adapt.
You will see some serious results!!
Tips For Sprints
- Do a light jog as a warm up including backwards and side to side shuffles.
- Keep sprint workouts short, no longer than 20-30 minutes (higher intensity= less time)
- Do not do sprints after a leg dominant workout. Do them as a recovery workout on their own, or on workout days with an upper body dominance.
- Use active recovery between each sprint such as walking or a light jog to help replenish phosphocreatinee and glycogen stores (what you use predominately for energy) and eliminate waste such as hydrogen ion buildup.
- As much as you’re going to want to just collapse on the ground after each sprint DON’T DO IT! It will slow down your recovery time.
- If you’re a beginner use longer work to rest ratios (1:3 – 1:6) meaning you run for 15-30 sec at a challenging pace and rest (walk/jog) for 1 – 3 minutes. Do 3-5 rounds starting out and play around with your work to rest ratios and number of rounds as you progress.
- The longer your sprints and the more reps you do, the more aerobic the workout becomes. So to stay in an anaerobic window limit sprint times to 1 minute or less and 4-8 reps.
- Think of pulling the ground behind you with your feet to increase hamstring activation and momentum forward.
- Time yourself and try to match your time with every sprint.
- Lean slightly forward and keep your arms close to your body to help you accelerate.
- Give yourself at least 48 hours to recover between sprint workouts.
Extras Nuggets To Maximize Your Results
- Vary Your Rep Ranges
The glutes contain various muscle fiber types so it’s important to vary your reps between 5-15 to achieve full development.
- Stretch Your Hip Flexors
Hip flexor tightness will cause whats known as reciprocal inhibition of your glutes, reducing their ability to fully fire/activate. So make sure to do some hip flexor stretching regularly to reduce any tightness in that area.
- Execute Full Rang Of Motion With Every Exercise
To illicit more electrical activity of the muscles you’re training don’t sacrifice full range of motion in the interest of adding more weight. This is just silly, don’t be that person.
There you have it ladies.
Three bang for your buck/go to exercises to kick that bottom half into shape.
Try these bad boys out and tell me what you think.