The key to rocking shoulder-baring sweaters and blouses this season is pairing them with a strong, toned upper body. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to speed hours in the gym to achieve an eye-catching upper body. What you need is a challenging workout—one that cranks up the intensity on your muscles and eliminates every last ounce of flab. Enter Tabata training, also known as the 4-minute fat-burning workout.
Toned legs and a flat stomach aren’t the only benefits of working out. According to a research review in the International Journal of Clinical Practice, regular exercise can help cut your risk of more than 20 illnesses, including cancer and heart disease.
‘Exercise is essential for losing and maintaining weight loss,’ says sports scientist Nick Morgan, ‘but the other benefits are just as important.’ Here’s what exercise does to keep you healthy, happy and alive!
Staying active cuts your risk of dementia and age-related memory loss by increasing the size of the hippocampus, the area of the brain that makes memories. A 40,000-person Norwegian study found that those who engage in regular activity of any intensity are less likely to develop symptoms of depression.
Brisk walking for as little as one and a quarter hours every week can help reduce oestrogen levels in the body, which may lower your breast cancer risk by 18 per cent!
Bone-thinning osteoporosis now affects around one in three women in the UK, according to the latest research. Taking part in a 45-minute Step aerobics class, three times a week, will help boost bone density, especially in your spine, legs and heels. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) also reports that heavy resistance training may increase bone mass, as it places strain on the bones of the joint you are working.
Intense exercise can reduce levels of ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates your appetite, while raising levels of the peptide YY, which lowers appetite. A study in the journal Appetite also found that a brisk 15-minute walk decreased chocolate cravings by 12 per cent.
Not only will exercise add about four years to your life, it can also lower your systolic blood pressure (the top number that measures your blood pressure while the heart is beating) by as much as five to 10mmHg (millimetres of mercury). This is as good as some blood pressure medications. Aim for 30 minutes of aerobic activity most days of the week.
Lifting weights and upping your lean muscle mass could lower your insulin resistance, reducing your risk of type 2 diabetes. For every 10 per cent increase in muscle mass, the risk of pre-diabetes should drop by 12 per cent.
Three to five weekly workouts of 20-60 minutes of vigorous activity is an effective treatment for IBS, according to a Swedish study. Demanding workouts improve bowel movements, and relieve gas and constipation.
Around 20 minutes of cardio exercise gets your body aroused faster and more intensely for a bit of rough and tumble. Not only that, lifting weights can also cause testosterone surges, and women with more testosterone tend to be more aroused and enjoy sex more.
Name: Kellie Davis
Weight: 132 lbs
Occupation: Fitness writer and personal trainer
Strong, round glutes are the foundation of a great physique and a healthy body. Unfortunately, many of us have weak glutes that just get weaker because we sit all day. Aside from not looking so great, feeble butt muscles can cause a litany of postural problems and pain issues. Even worse, having a weak bum means your primary lifts like the squat and the deadlift aren’t as strong as they could be. If that doesn’t motivate you to put some muscle on your backside, I don’t know what will!
To restore your ailing glutes, you need to make training them a priority. Otherwise, you’ll be stuck with constantly tight hips and probably contract flat-ass disease.
Save your butt from these depressing side effects by following these five rules. They’ll help you feel stronger and more mobile. They’ll also help you add some great-looking curves to your rear end.
Hit Them Baby One (Okay, Three) More Times
If your training routine only calls for one glute-specific workout per week, it’s time to ramp things up. Glutes adapt well to frequency— the more often you train them, the quicker they grow in size and strength. Rather than performing a single glute workout once per week, add booty-busting exercises to each workout you do during the week.
Try this: Add loaded hip thrusts, glute bridges, hip abduction exercises, back extensions, or hip extension exercises to your daily workouts.
Single-leg bodyweight glute bridge
Mix Up Your Hip Extension
Hip extension is important for pelvic stability and daily movement. Walking, running, standing, and sitting in with proper posture begins and ends with your butt.
In this age of computers and cubicles, people spend most of their time in hip flexion (seated position). More often than not, long bouts of sitting cause tight quads, a tight psoas muscle, and weak hip extensors—namely the gluteus maximus.
To alleviate these symptoms and put yourself on a path to a perkier posterior, it’s wise to activate your hip extensors regularly. Hip extension occurs when the thighs or pelvis move rearward. The most common—and best—exercises for hip extension are the squat and deadlift. These two lifts belong in your lifting regimen along with assistance exercises to pack on glute mass.
Try this: Use squats and deadlifts as a primary hip extension exercises and add in one or two assistance exercises to each routine. Assistance lifts include, but aren’t limited to: Romanian deadlifts, single-leg Romanian deadlifts, hip thrusts, glute bridges, back extension, reverse hyperextension, glute kickback, and donkey kick.
“The most common—and best—exercises for hip extension are the squat and deadlift. These two lifts belong in your lifting regimen along with assistance exercises to pack on glute mass.”
Add a Little Abduction, Too
Your hips articulate in several ways other than the all-important extension. Your hips can also move in flexion, medial and lateral rotation, adduction, and abduction. If you move your hips in circles, you’ll get the idea. Along with hip extension, another important element of strong glutes is hip abduction, or moving the thighs outward from your midline.
Your glute medius is a major abductor of the thigh. Its anterior fibers rotate the hip internally while the posterior fibers rotate the hip externally. A strong glute medius will control any unwanted sideways movement in your pelvis. For example, if your left hip drops when you stand on your right leg, your right glute medius is probably weak. An unlevel pelvis can lead to other issues like IT band syndrome and patellofemoral pain syndrome, neither of which is pleasant.
Try this: To strengthen the glute medius, add 2 sets of 10 reps of standing cable hip abduction and 2 sets of 12 reps of seated band hip abduction twice per week.
Keep Your Booty Active
If you sit on them all day, your glutes will just become weaker and weaker. This weakness can be compounded when other muscles have to take over a lift in order to compensate for them. Avoid a weak booty by doing a series of activation and mobility drills ten minutes a day. Practicing glute activation will help them fire during every exercise.
Try this: Perform 10 reps of each exercise once per day.
- Single-leg bodyweight glute bridge
- Fire hydrant
- Bird dog
- Standing glute squeeze
“Passive tension is how your hamstring muscles feel at the bottom of a Romanian deadlift.”
Mechanical tension is the bee’s knees when it comes to muscle hypertrophy (growth). Mechanical tension occurs when you passively stretch or actively contract the muscle. Passive tension is how your hamstring muscles feel at the bottom of a Romanian deadlift and active tension is how your biceps feel as you contact in a barbell curl. Both are key players in muscle growth, and both can make a big difference in gluteal development.
When using a full range of motion (ROM), your muscles are placed under a combination of both passive and active tension. For example: At the bottom of a squat, your glutes are in a stretched (passive tension) position; at the top, they’re in a squeezed (active tension) position.
Maintaining this tension through a full range of motion is optimal for gains. To do it, control your reps, keep a steady tempo, and don’t rely on momentum to get through the exercise—oh, and don’t skimp on the ROM.
Try this: To increase mechanical tension, use a tempo for your exercises. Tempo is expressed as a series of 3 or 4 numbers, such as 2-2-2. The first number is the number of seconds in the eccentric (lowering) portion of the movement, the second number is the pause, and the third number is the number of seconds in the concentric (lifting) portion of the movement.
You can incorporate an exercise tempo as simple as 2-2 or 3-3. You can also incorporate a pause in the middle, like 3-3-3, or even have a longer eccentric portion like a 4-3 tempo. Remember, though, that adding a tempo doesn’t mean you get to forgo a full range of motion.
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Name: Karina Baymiller
Occupation(s): Team Bodybuilding.com; Cellucor athlete; ACSM Personal trainer
In the fitness community, I’m most often recognized because of my big weight-loss transformation. I went from 185 pounds to a little less than 130 pounds. It took me a few years to get to my lowest weight, but I followed the motto that slow and steady wins the race and I never gave up. I know it was this attitude that helped me place second the 2013 Bodybuilding.com BodySpace Spokesmodel Competition.
Sometimes, I look back and can’t believe how far I’ve come. I don’t even remember the girl who had never stepped foot in a gym and gorged on pizza, chips, and ramen all day.
But I’ve decided my transformation work is not yet done—in fact, it’s only just begun! I’m on a second transformation journey, and this time I’m putting my happiness and my health first. I’m transforming my body from skinny to strong, and my mind from unhealthy to happy.
Why I Decided to Change … Again
Believe it or not, when I weighed 185 pounds, I was one confident girl. I loved my body and never thought of myself as fat. I was who I was and that was that. I wasn’t defined by my body’s appearance. But that self-confidence changed the moment I decided I should lose weight. It seemed as though the more weight I lost, the more self-conscious about my appearance I became. I reached every weight-related goal I had set for myself, and yet I was never good enough.
At 125 pounds and with barely enough body fat to function, I competed for the first (and last) time with anxiety that I was “too fat” to be on stage. I had become so progressively wrapped up in numbers and body fat percentages over the few short years of dieting, that I was mentally destroyed.
I also noticed that my training started to suffer. I first began working out to be healthy and because I loved the way it made me feel, but I had lost sight of those reasons. I trained to burn calories and stay as thin as possible. If I didn’t burn enough calories according to my heart rate monitor—which was never accurate anyway—my mood was ruined. More often than not, I would make myself go back to the gym later to do HIIT or run. I started to hate outdoor runs because I was forcing myself to do them. I allowed my training to control me. I stopped doing the things I enjoyed in exchange for doing whatever it took to stay thin.
Along with a severely distorted body image and training that was running me into the ground, my relationship with food started to become extremely disordered. Gone were the days of using food for fuel. If my food wasn’t weighed out to the gram and if I didn’t prepare it myself, I refused to eat it. There were days that I had full-blown anxiety attacks because I couldn’t log something in MyFitnessPal.
“If I didn’t burn enough calories according to my heart rate monitor—which was never accurate anyway—my mood was ruined. More often than not, I would make myself go back to the gym later to do HIIT or run.”
I began taking hours of my day to try to configure my food so I would hit my macros just perfectly. If I didn’t, another anxiety attack would ensue. To say I was obsessed is an understatement. I restricted myself with calories, types of foods, and situations. God forbid I would eat a cookie!
I felt like I was drowning, like I was just barely holding my head above water. Everything I had loved so much in the beginning—the healthy eating, the workouts, my body—now had complete control of my life. They were no longer positives. They had become negatives, weighing me down with each passing day. I knew I had to change. It was only a matter of time before I broke down completely.
That’s when I decided I wanted to find strength.
The first thing I had to change was my mindset. I had to let go of the unhealthy habits that were slowly suffocating me. My negative body image was, and still is to this day, the hardest thing to let go of. I found it much easier to allow for self-hate than to find self-love. Sadly, I think this is true for many people. But I had to let go.
I had to let go of having visible abs 24/7. I had to let go of desperately trying to maintain 12 percent body fat. I had to let go of the number on the scale. Most importantly, I had to let go of the idea that I would only be happy if I was lean. I wanted to be happy when I looked in the mirror, and I knew it wouldn’t come from a certain size. It had to come from letting go and loving myself no matter what.
“I’m proud of the person I’ve become and the changes I’ve made.”
I still remind myself of where I started. That girl sitting on her ass eating ramen all day is 180 degrees from where I am today, and she always will be. I’m proud of the person I’ve become and the changes I’ve made. Whether I stay the size that I am now or gain or lose a few pounds, I love who I am. My worth is no longer based on what the scale says in the morning.
I don’t have “fat days” or “fluffy days” anymore, because quite frankly, I don’t care. I refuse to let something like three pounds of water destroy my day. I know now that I’m healthier than I ever was at 130 pounds. My hormones aren’t out of whack, I’m not moody or depressed, I don’t have random headaches, I’m not constantly fatigued, and I don’t feel weak.
Unfortunately, there’s a widespread belief that equates health to six-pack abs. This might be true for some people, but for the majority it’s not. I can lift more, sprint faster, and am healthier now than I ever was. There is beauty in strength. I don’t just say it, I know it.
I wanted my fire for exercise to burn like it did when I first started lifting, so I let go of the forced daily runs and extra HIIT sessions to “make up” for calories. I began to utilize conditioning work 1-2 times per week instead. I added back my short outdoor runs, but much more infrequently, and never because I felt pressure to burn a certain number of calories. I threw my heart monitor away.
I also discovered powerlifting. When I finally dropped the light-weight, high-rep stuff I was doing to stay thin, I started following Wendler’s 5-3-1 program and quickly fell in love. My strength skyrocketed, and when I decided I wanted to take my training to the next level, I signed with The Strength Guys. Now, the spark is back when I’m in the gym. I feel the fire again.
Strength Training Program
I follow an intense, block-periodization powerlifting program created by my coach, Jon Stewart. It’s high volume, tailored to correct my weaknesses, and uses movements and load intensities built for progression. I’m on six-week cycles of five-day splits. I have one day of light conditioning and one day of complete rest. Mobility is a vital component of my current program because my training pushes my body to its limits.
Each day and week I use different sets, reps, and weight with a specific rest time, exercise tempo, and rate of perceived exertion (RPE) to follow. Days one and three look on week three of my program.
- Mobility Training
Mobility Training includes foam rolling the area to be trained, plus two or three dynamic stretches/movements the prepare the area for training.
Pause Squats have the lifter descending to the bottom position of the squat and freezing. The bottom position is held for three seconds, maintaining tightness in the muscles and correct technique, before returning to the starting position.
is lifting sub-maximal loads with maximum force. For more details check
- Wide Neutral-Grip Pull-Up
3 sets of 8 reps
- RKC Plank
3 sets of 30 seconds (15% bodyweight on mid-back)
- Mobility Training
Mobility Training includes foam rolling the area to be trained, plus two or three dynamic stretches/movements the prepare the area for training.
Reset Deadlifts are performed the same as a standard deadlift, but the lifter will put the weight completely on the floor and reset their hip position between each rep.
The hardest physical aspect to change for me was my diet. I had developed such rigid views and habits around food that it was almost more of a struggle to let them go than it was to keep them. I packed away my food scale and deleted MyFitnessPal. I started incorporating foods that I hadn’t allowed myself to eat in years. I stopped restricting. I re-learned how to eat, not from a clock or scale, but from what my body was feeling.
At first I thought I would feel free without the calorie counting, stress, obsession, and anxiety, but I didn’t. I would take two steps forward and three steps back, wondering if I would ever be able to change. It took years to develop my disordered relationship with food, and I knew it wasn’t going to take a week to fix it. So, I trusted the process just as I always had, kept working at it, and didn’t give up.
Today, around 70-80 percent of the food I consume is healthy, nutrient-dense food that allows my body to perform at its optimal level. This includes things like lean proteins, organic dairy, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts (and butters!), and seeds.
70-80 percent of the food I consume is healthy, nutrient-dense food like lean proteins, organic dairy, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts (and butters!), and seeds.
The other 20-30 percent of food I consume is made up of things that I crave, or that I just plain want—no explanation or condition necessary. There is no special time, day, or place for these foods. I allow myself the freedom to eat them when I want them. Some days I’m at a 50/50 split, some days it’s 100/0, but on most days I stay right around 80/20. It all balances out.
I don’t restrict, I listen to my body’s needs and wants, and most important, I consume everything mindfully and in moderation. Through all of the extremes, I’ve found balance to be the key component in my physical and mental health. It’s also been the key to my happiness.
I don’t have a meal plan to follow because the foods and amounts I eat change on a daily basis. I don’t weigh or measure anything, so all quantities below are estimated. I don’t know my caloric intake or macro breakdown, but I would guess I’m somewhere in the neighborhood of 2,200-2,700 calories per day. Here is what I ate yesterday:
- Chobani Key Lime Yogurt
1 container with graham cracker crumbles and white chocolate chips
- Peanut Butter
- Cellucor COR-Performance Whey Cinnamon Swirl
- Almond Milk
1 1/2 cups
- Homemade Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie
1 1/2 pieces
- Spinach Salad
1 small salad
- Caesar Dressing
Greek Chicken Wrap
- Brown Rice Tortilla
- Chicken Breast
- Feta Cheese
- Cucumber, Tomato, and Onion
marinated in olive oil and red wine vinegar with dill, oregano, salt, and pepper
Throughout my second transformation, I’ve found myself spending more time with friends and family. They couldn’t care less what I look like—my abs make no difference to them. As long as I’m healthy and happy, they’re happy too.
It’s funny because these are the people I pulled away from when I started my downhill slide into disordered eating and thinking. I sheltered myself from everything that wasn’t fitness related, even friends and family. But when I finally let go of the obsession and the stress, I felt free.
During this second transformation, I found that the middle is where I want to be.
The fitness community is full of extremes. We work out until we can’t move. We eat diets of tilapia and broccoli. It takes a strong individual to endure what we put ourselves through. But during this second transformation, I found that the middle is where I want to be.
I want to be somewhere between the overweight college girl and the underweight girl on stage, somewhere between the girl who ate pop-tarts for every meal and the girl who ate lettuce for every meal, somewhere between the girl who never stepped foot into the gym and the girl who wouldn’t leave it until she’d burned enough calories. This middle spot is where I’m happy and strong. It’s where I found my balance.
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Pop onto FitBoard or the fitness board on Pinterest and you’ll soon learn that it’s all about the butt! Who doesn’t want a backside that turns heads? You can do cardio until you’re blue in the face, but you won’t build a great bum unless you do some weight training. Not sure which moves or techniques are best for building the perfect booty? We’ve got you covered.
India Paulino, Tabitha Klausen, Amanda Latona, and Sara Solomon: The lovely ladies of BSN want to help you build your best booty!
Here are five of the best glute training techniques and exercises you can do, including a complete workout from IFBB Bikini competitor India Paulino. Incorporate these techniques in your lower-body training regimen and you’ll be blown away by the results. A full set of glutes is in your future!
“Old-fashioned bodyweight squats that go below parallel are a great way to start your leg workout.”
Of all the bum-friendly exercises to add to your workout routine, the squat should be numero uno. True, it’s the queen exercise of butt-building, but it’s also a great movement for athleticism, flexibility, and can even tax your cardiovascular system.
Tabitha Klausen, an IFBB Bikini competitor and proud owner of a great booty has some tips for squatting. “Old-fashioned bodyweight squats that go below parallel are a great way to start your leg workout,” she says. “They’re the perfect way to make sure you concentrate on using the right muscles throughout the workout.”
Before each leg workout, Tabitha does 4 sets of 25 reps of bodyweight squats. She focuses on squeezing the glute muscles to get them firing and ready for her heavier lifts ahead.
Tabitha recommends concentrating on form rather than weight. “Focus on feeling the form through all of your exercises rather than using the heaviest weight possible,” she says. “It’s important to feel that mind-muscle connection.”
2 Go “Wide And High”
Puzzled about how to grow your glutes without also building massive quads? Amanda Latona delivers the “wide and high” answer. “When doing any glute-focused exercise, like squats, take a wide step forward to take the weight away from your quads. Or, if you’re doing step-ups, add more elevation. Both adjustments will add more focus on the glutes specifically.”
If you’re really looking for a challenge, Amanda also recommends lunging by stepping down from an elevated platform. This increases your range of motion, which will result in greater glute muscle fiber activation and growth.
3 Build a Glute Bridge
One problem Dr. Sara Solomon sees regularly is women who are using a regimen that neglects to correct muscular imbalances. “It’s critical to follow a workout that focuses on correcting your muscle imbalances so you can avoid running into injuries,” she explains. “Most of us spend the majority of our day sitting, which further causes the glute muscles to weaken and makes us rely more heavily on our quads and hamstrings to power through our exercises.”
One of Sara’s favorite exercises to correct this imbalance is the glute bridge. To perform this one, sit on the ground with your upper back against a bench, your knees bent, and your feet flat on the floor in front of you. Squeeze your glutes as you raise your pelvis high enough off the floor to create a straight line between your knees, hips, and shoulders.
“It’s critical to follow a workout that focuses on your muscle imbalances so you can avoid running into injuries.”
Focus on using only your glute muscles to do the work. If you need a bigger challenge, put a weight plate or loaded barbell on your hips for extra resistance.
4 Try Single-Leg Squats
Because this exercise puts your body in an unbalanced position, you’ll have to recruit often-untapped muscle fibers in order to maintain balance. This added challenge will get even the most stubborn glutes to grow.
Single-leg squats are often overlooked, but they’re one of the most challenging and most effective lower-body movements around. Many people won’t be able to do one right off the bat. Hold a weight in front of you for counterbalance, grab a wall for help, or put a thin plate under your heel.
Whatever you do, squat down as low as you can.
5 Do Split Squats
The split squat is an excellent butt-building move. When you do it, think about pushing up from the bent-knee position through the heel instead of through the ball or toes of your foot. By shifting your weight to your heel, your center of balance will instantly move slightly backward and will better activate your glutes.
To make split squats even more difficult and thus put more stress on your booty muscles, put a barbell across your back. A barbell works better than dumbbells because your body position is optimized for glute muscle recruitment.
6 Follow India Paulino’s Glute Workout!
The 2013 Bikini International winner knows exactly what it takes to earn the top spot on stage. For India Paulino, that means working her glutes three times per week! “I was always very skinny,” India says, “so I had to work hard to build my glutes.” India’s glute workouts are fast-paced, intense, and effective!
Here’s an example glute-building session:
Watch The Video – 06:18
- Hyperextensions (Weighted)
- Reverse Hyperextension (Performed on Stability Ball)
- Butt Blaster
- One-Legged Cable Kickback
- Cable Hip Adduction
- Smith Machine Squat (Sumo stance)
- Bodyweight Squat (Performed on Bosu Ball)
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Want a gorgeous, toned bum? Here are the best exercises for your glutes and thighs.Donkey kicksStarting on your hands and knees, keeping your core tight and back flat, raise 1 leg and keeping knee at 90 degrees. Push that leg as high as you can in the air and lower back down, repeat for 12 reps, then switch legs.Aim for 4 sets of 12 reps.Model: Sara Fennell; Photo credit: Jamie Watling Photography
4 HIIT workouts to try now So you want to be one of those super-fit (and perky) people? Set a goal and time frame and train using these HIIT workouts.High-intensity interval training (HIIT) involves alternating short periods of intense anaerobic exercise with active recovery sessions. These short, intense workouts burn high levels of calories and improve athletic capacity.How: Try the following routine over two to four weeks and complete two times per week.
This circuit-based routine won’t take you hours in the gym each day. You’ll be combining some of our favourite exercises, performing them back to back with minimal rest between sets. This approach will help you to build strength, increase endurance and of course torch calories while helping to earn tight, lean and shapely muscle. Importantly, you’ll enjoy it