Ok, let’s admit it… Who doesn’t want a juicy butt? You’ve heard it before – Strong is sexy. (So too is ‘maybe-not-so-strong-yet-but-working-on-it’ – we don’t discriminate here, we know we are all at our own level). At Ladies Balance we aim to support all women on their journey to feel their very best.
Fitness and strength is just one area of whole body health, though an important one at that. You’ll not only feel strong inside and out, you’ll also be supporting safe and functional movement for your body when you tone and strengthen your lower body region.
Have you ever googled ‘butt workouts’ (2.5 million results btw) or ‘how to tone inner thighs’… (1 million results!) and gotten a little overwhelmed at the overload of information? Maybe you’ve it’s just been on your mind and you need a little direction for some things you can do to achieve your goals.
In this article, we give you some exercise tips for every fitness level, without the need for a gym membership or any equipment – accessible for anyone, anywhere!
Good for the body, good for the mind
Exercise does it all – Improves your health, sleep and mood. Exercise greatly reduces physical and mental stress. Physically, stress tenses muscles, in your face, neck, shoulders, belly – all over really. Tightness can arise in chest, muscles can cramp and internal tension can result in ulcers, digestive dysfunction and headaches. Exercise relieves tension and stress, promotes blood flow, opens and warms the physical body, promotes healthy cardiovascular function and – the best part – creates and circulates happy hormones through your body. We don’t have to tell you about that post workout high! Your body feels stronger, sleep is improved, and you’ll literally be happier.
It’s so good that exercise is claimed to be the most effective natural, risk free (and financially free!) ways to improve mental health. Countless studies have proven that exercise has positive effects on anxiety, depression, stress, and even memory and brain cognition.
Even for those who are less physically mobile or fit, exercise can still reap positive rewards without the need to go too hard. Research states that even modest exercise makes a powerful different in overall mental and physical health. Even 3X 10 minute walks a day can be as useful as a 30-minute walk. It was found that 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise 5 days a week is sufficient for mental and physical health benefits.
Anatomy of toned glutes
The strongest, biggest muscle of the body is the Gluteus Maximus (that big juicy one dominating the muscles of your butt!) It plays an important role in stabilizing the spine and pelvis, and supporting movements in the legs as a hip extensor. Your butt muscles also support proper leg alignment to create easeful walking, running, sitting and standing.
During our chair-laden lifestyles, our glutes tend to lose tone. Not only do we not have the juiciest glutes that we could, a weak and underused glute area can affect entire lower body strength, which is one of the root causes for injury and chronic pain, especially in the lower back region. This big muscle provides stability for the Sacroiliac joint (SI), where many people experience dysfunction, injury or pain. Even ankle sprain injuries have been linked to reduced activation in the glute region.
To be aware of this region when we exercise, activate and strengthen it, you will find more integration in your body, improve alignment and performance in other exercises and physical movements, and you will prevent the change of injury. All of this, and you’ll get that strong sexy feeling as a cherry on top!
Shaping and Toning – Cardio and HIIT
Toning is not just about muscle strength and shaping your body through exercise, but also being able to see the work you’ve put in means reducing layers of fat that may be stored in these areas. This happens through cardio and intensity in workouts that promote fat burn. One of the best forms of workouts for this is High Intensity Interval Training, often referred to as ‘HIIT.’ Spot reducing fat really is a myth. Whilst we can strengthen and tone certain areas, for fat loss and to slim the body, full body cardio and HIIT workouts is where you’ll see results.
HIIT workouts are short, intense sessions consisting of bursts of high-energy activity (such as sprinting) followed by a short period of recovery. HIIT has been proven to benefit balanced cholesterol levels, improve bone density and rev up your metabolism for fat burning benefits. Some people even report a greater feeling of endorphins (blissful brain chemicals) after exercising in the HIIT format (I know I do!) Added bonus – a HIIT workout is usually under 30 minutes!
Add in some kind of HIIT workout if your goal is to reduce some fat to really see the tone and definition that the leg and butt exercises listed below will create.
Here’s a suggestion for a time-effective HIIT routine that requires no equipment!
30 seconds activity and 15 second rest. 5 exercises. Repeat 3 times. That’s a workout less than 15 minutes!
#1: Running/sprinting on the spot (Knees up and fast feet!)
#2: Mountain climbers (Hands under shoulders on the ground, start in plank position, bend one knee towards chest and then other, making it a fast transition).
#3: Squats (Any variation of those listed below).
#4: Push up (Any variation to your level).
Repeat 2 more times!
There are a ton of different variations for duration of active time versus your rest period. Tailor to your own fitness level. Maybe it is 20 seconds activity and 20 seconds rest to start. Maybe you take 1-minute break between each round. We all start somewhere!
The Best Bodyweight Leg, Thigh and Glute Exercises
All you need is your own body and a modest size space! (Optional yoga mat to support when you are lying down). Use these exercises in a HIIT routine, or create your own routine to match your fitness level/desired intensity.
As a classic strengthening yoga pose, this one tones inner thighs and works your whole glute and leg region, also your core will fire up as you raise arms over head. Stand with legs together, bend knees and extend your arms over head, your body reaches forward at a slight diagonal. Hold for a minimum of 30 seconds.
– Do this with feet hip distance apart, aim to keep even weight between your feet.
– Put a pillow or yoga block between upper thighs and squeeze together when you bend your knees.
– Raise heels and balance on your toes in the pose.
Activates the back line of the body. To tone your glutes and inner thighs.
Lie on back with feet down, hip distances apart and knees bent up. Raise your hips to the ceiling so that your body is in one long line. Raise and lower 20 times and repeat 3 rounds.
– Put pillow or small ball/yoga block between thighs and raise up.
– Raise heels and come onto toes, each time your hips raise to the highest amount, squeeze thighs so knees touch together at the top, and then as you lower your body, take knees back to hip distance apart. Repeat.
Squat, squat, squat!
This is the ultimate exercise for thighs and glutes – and bonus – the entire body (core especially). There are so many types of squats, and we encourage you to try them all! Variation in your workout routine will not only be more interesting, it will keep you from plating in your results as the body will stay challenged. The challenge is where the change happens, so change it up and ramp it up when you feel like you can do a little more.
Here’s some squat variations you can do, beginning from easy and through to advanced variations:
– Regular: Standing with your chest open to the front, have feet hip distance apart and keeping a straight back, bend your knees as far as you can while heels stay down. Arms out to the front, shoulder height. As if you were squatting to sit on a chair!
– Narrow: Same movement and upper body positioning, though this time with feet together.
– Wide Plié: Take your feet in this variation wider than hip distance apart. Turn your toes out to the side and when you squat down, make sure knees bend over the line of the feet.
– Walking: Best done with the regular squat feet hip distance apart, but this time keeping your body low, walk forward and back without raising your body to a standing position.
– Jump squats: Squat down and then from the low position, spring your body back up to jump into the air, landing in a squat again. You can do jump squats from any of the above feet position (regular, narrow or wide).
At the end of the day, we all have different goal, bodies, fitness levels, and preferences for working out. If your goal is to strengthen your body to prevent injury, these exercises will be beneficial to you. If you’d like to build a bigger booty and shape your legs, then you will for sure see results incorporating these workout tips into your movement routine. If you want to feel the mental clarity and mood boost that come with regular movement, then why not start today!
If you have started to incorporate these exercises into your routine, let us know how you are progressing!
Already do HIIT workouts and are a fellow squat lover? Let us know how these workouts have already helped you!
Article References: “American Heart Association Recommendations for Physical Activity in Adults.” American Heart Association. American Heart Association Inc, 27 July 2016. Web. 24 July 2017.
Robinson, Lawrence, Jeanne Segal, Ph.D, and Melinda Smith, M.A. “The Mental Health Benefits of Exercise.” Helpguide.org. Helpguide.org, Apr. 2017. Web. 24 July 2017.
Sharma, Ashish, Vishal Madaan, and Frederick D. Petty. “Exercise for Mental Health.” Prim Care Companion J Clin Psychiatry. 8.2 (2006): 106. Primary Care Companion to The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. Physicians Postgraduate Press, Inc., 2006. Web. 24 July 2017.
Swinnen, Bram. “Re-activating and Strengthening the Gluteal Muscles.” Functional Resistance Training. Functional Resistance Training, n.d. Web. 24 July 2017.
Tupper, Naomi. “10 Ways to Tone Your Inner Thighs.” Calorie Secrets. Caloriesecrets.net, 11 Apr. 2014. Web. 24 July 2017.