7 exercises that help you look good in jeans year-round
Just because summer is coming to an end doesn’t mean you have to give up on toned legs and a great butt!
What it works: Glutes, thighs and core
A. Stand with your feet together, hands on your hips or behind your head.
B. Step forward with the right leg. Bend both knees and begin lowering yourself until the front thigh is parallel with the ground and the left knee is almost touching the ground. Both legs should create 90-degree angles at the knee. Your torso should be straight up and down, not bent over.
C. Keeping an even weight distribution on both feet, return to starting position and alternate legs.
Make it harder: Try holding dumbbells at your sides or on your shoulders.
Lying lateral leg lifts
What it works: Glutes (primarily the glute medius and minimus)
A. Lie on your side with your shoulder, hip, knee and ankle all forming a straight line. Bend your bottom leg at a comfortable angle and keep the top leg straight with your ankle pointing toward the ceiling
B. Lift the upper leg toward the ceiling (approximately 2-3 inches), contracting your buttock muscles at the same time. Ankle points towards the ceiling.
C. Lower the leg (but don’t let it rest) and repeat the movement in a small fast pulsing manner.
Change the angle of the leg relative to your body after you have completed the set repetitions at one angle: after straight leg lefts, try leg at 45 degrees and leg at 90 degrees.
Make it harder: Do in a side-plank position with your hand on the ground placed directly under your shoulder.
What it works: Glutes, thigh and core
A. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and toes slightly turned out. Hold a dumbbell in each hand at your sides.
B. Initiating the movement from your knees, lower your hips backward until your thighs are parallel with the ground (or as close as you can get them). Maintain an upright torso, a forward gaze and keep your knees aligned over your ankles. To protect your knees, don’t let them go farther forward than your toes.
C. Pause and return to starting position by contracting your glutes as your straighten your legs. Your weight should be evenly distributed between the balls of your feet and your heels. Do not lock your knees at the end of the motion.
Make it harder: Try single leg squats. Use a chair for some extra guidance on the squat pattern.
Even harder: Jump out of the squat as high as you can. Start with only your body weight and progress to holding weights. This increases the muscle fibre recruitment, particularly in the gluteus maximus.
Bridge with leg lift
What it works: Butt, lower back, hamstrings
Lifting your leg as you do this bridge exercise helps to isolate your butt muscle on the leg that’s still touching the floor.
A. Lie face-up with legs bent, feet on the floor and arms at your sides. Tighten your abs, lifting your hips off the floor.
B. Next, raise your right foot off the floor, straightening your leg in the air and keeping both hips level with each other. Hold for three seconds; return foot and hips to floor.
C. Repeat, alternating the leg lift on each side. ??To avoid over-arching your back, keep abs tight throughout the exercise.
Make it harder: Put your feet on a bench or stability ball
What it works: Inner and outer thighs, butt, quadriceps and hamstrings.
A. Stand with both feet side by side, hip width apart. Take a large step forward with the right leg. Ensure you are landing with the heel first then forefoot. Bend both knees and begin lowering yourself until the front thigh is parallel with the ground and the left knee is almost touching the ground. Both legs should create two 90-degree angles. Do not lean forward, and do not let your front knee move forward of the toes.
B. Pushing off from the heel of your front foot, lift the back leg and swing it forward so you are back to the starting standing position.
C. Now take a large lunge forward with your left leg and repeat the lunge. Alternate legs with each lunge.
Make it harder: Hold a set of dumbbells in each hand at your sides or on your shoulders.
Even harder: Add a torso twist. Hold the dumbbell at chest level and rotate your torso toward the lead leg (whichever leg is in front). Keep your body upright.
What it works: Thighs, butt (Bonus: core)
A. Stand about three feet (one metre) away from a wall to provide balance if needed. Face the wall.
B. With abs tight and spine straight, lift your right leg behind you and at the same time bend forward from your waist until your torso is parallel to the ground. Reach arms in front of you to touch the wall with your fingers and keep right leg extended, creating a “T” shape with your body. Keep your arms, legs and torso straight.
C. Raise your right leg about three inches (eight centimetres) higher into the air, squeezing your right butt muscle (keep torso parallel to the ground). Hold for two seconds. Do eight to 12 reps. Then release and return to the upright starting position. Switch sides
Kneeling hamstring curl
What it works: Hamstrings
A. Place your forearms and both knees on the mat. Make sure your elbows are directly under your shoulders. Draw your belly button in toward your spine with your face pointing down.
B. Fully extend your right leg in the air toward the ceiling. Bend the right knee and bring your heel toward your butt. Contract your hamstring when bending the leg.
C. Without dropping the right thigh, bend and extend the right leg for 15-20 repetitions before switching sides.