Well Being: Tone Your Tush!
I’ve been a firm believer and practicioner of weight lifting for over 15 years. I’ve enjoyed the results, I like how it makes my body feel and I think it’s important for the support and health of my bones and joints. I’ve dabbled in all kinds of weight lifting from light resistance and high repetitions to heavy weight and low repetitions. Most women I talk to hate the weight room or feel intimidated by it, and I can understand why, yet I think it’s the activity that produces the best results. I feel it’s important to move your body in general and do so in a way that you enjoy, because if you hate what you’re doing, you won’t stick with it. I aim to weight train 2-3 times each week: one lower, one upper and one full body. I’ve worked with several personal trainers over the last 15 years and wouldn’t have the depth of knowledge I do today without their guidance. If you have the means to support hiring a trainer (even once every other week), I highly recommend it. If not, there are a ton of resources online. I’ve had the pleasure of training with two people I’ve learned a lot from over the years – Justin Grinnell from State of Fitness and with Nicole Wilkins, an IFBB pro and the current Ms. Figure Olympia (3x). They both have a lot of resources on their Facebook pages as does Fitness Rx for Women. In no way do I pretend to be a trainer by offering this information, but I do feel the years I’ve spent lifting weights have taught me some things that are worth sharing in this forum.
Now, the workout. Legs are my favorite weight lifting day! This workout I’m posting here focuses specifically on a spot that most of us women like to work – the upper hamstring (back of the thigh) and lower glute (butt) area. These exercises will not only tone that area but create a lifted, rounded glute muscle as well. We all know we can’t spot reduce when it comes to exercise, but this workout came close! I was very sore in that specific spot for a couple days. Give it a try and let me know what you think. Bathing suit season will be here before we know it!
Smith Machine Squats with Squat Jumps — I like squatting on the smith machine when I want to focus on the glute/hamstring area, because it allows me to keep my torso tall and safely go below 90 degrees in my squat with less pressure on my lower back. Stand with the feet hip to shoulder distance apart, walk the feet far enough forward that when you squat down, the torso stays straight over the hips and doesn’t hinge forward. Squat down below 90 degrees and push up through the heel of the foot and engage the core. Inhale as you go down slowly, exhale as you power up quickly.
Do one warm up set with no weight. Then do 3-5 sets of 20-25 repetitions. Use enough weight on either side that the last 5 reps are a struggle. I always do no weight for my warm up set, gradually add weight for sets 1 and 2, and then sets 3-5 are with my max weight.
In between each set of squats, do 30 of these squat jumps with a low bench, aerobics board or something of similar height.
Smith Machine Reverse Lunges with Lunge Jumps — Again the key here is to go below 90 degrees for the leg that is on the bench. When you bring the moving leg up, use your core to lift the knee. The bench should be far enough forward that when you step back, not only does the front knee not go beyond the ankle, your torso stays straight over your hips (don’t hinge and lean forward with the torso). As you step up push through the heel that is on the bench. Leaning forward will involve more quad while staying straight up and pushing through the heel creates the work in the glute/hamstring. Always engage the core to support the spine.
Do 3-5 sets of 15 on each leg. After doing right and left leg (one set) do 20 alternating lunge jumps getting the back knee almost all the way to the floor.
Deadlifts with Walking Lunges — Due to the flexibility in my hamstrings, I stand on a bench for my deadlifts because otherwise the weight will hit the floor and inhibit my range of motion. Feet are hip distance apart, slight bend in the knee, keep the core lifted as you hinge forward, consciously contract the hamstring/glute, engage in your core to come back up to standing. Do 5 sets of 15-20 repetitions.
Alternate the deadlifts with walking lunges. Weight can be on the shoulders as demonstrated here or you can hold dumbbells in each hand. Don’t hinge forward with the torso, keep it tall at all times. Push up through the front heel to walk forward, and support the spine with a lifted core.
Want to add a glute/hamstring focused cardio into your routine? Walk on the treadmill at 3.5mph at 15% incline for 35 minutes (no hands and stand tall!). Last 10 minutes increase speed to 6mph and run at 15% incline for 35 seconds, hop to the side for 25 seconds – 10 times. Cool down.
Be well xo