If you are new to working out and trying to figure out where to start; join a gym, buy a treadmill, hire a personal trainer, Zumba classes, free weights or machines?
The options can be intimidating. On the flip-side, if you have been exercising for some time, you may be stuck in a workout routine that is not getting results. Or at least, not getting the firm thighs and tight glutes workout that you desire… and that other people notice.
Looking good and feeling great about yourself are not the only reasons to focus on butt (gluteal muscles) and thigh exercises. These two very large muscle groups are essential to the strength and stability of your hips, back and core. As a spine specialist for over 26 years, it is my experience that strong legs and butt muscles help keep people of all ages from having back and hip pain.
Want another good reason? These muscles are essential in maintaining good balance. As we age, it’s so often a fall from having poor balance that cause an injury, or even a broken hip or shoulder. Many times this leads to a serious decline in overall health and function.
First, here are some common exercises that are not really effective at firming your butt and thighs; long, slow cardio on the treadmill or elliptical trainer, a thirty minute circuit on weight machines, walking, dance classes.
I realize that you may have devised a way to make some of the routines that I just mentioned into a dynamite lower body workout, but the following moves will get you to your goal much faster. All of these exercises can be started with you down body weight if you a beginner. Free weights or dumbbells can be added to make them more difficult if you are more experienced.
- The Squat – Starting with feet a little wider than hip width, maintain an upright back looking straight ahead. Bend your knees and lower your body into a squat position to the point where your thighs are parallel to the floor. Be careful not to let your knees go out over your feet and try to keep them inline with your ankles. Add hand weights to make this move more challenging.
- The Lunge – There are many variations of the lunge. Starting with a basic body-weight lunge, step forward with one leg (or backward with one leg). the distance can vary but between 2 and 3 feet will work for most people. Lunge slowly into this position so that the extended front thigh is about parallel to the floor. then return to standing.
- Hill Repeats – I love to run and this is a fantastic way to combine high intensity interval training with an effective butt and leg workout. Pick a hill or use a treadmill with an elevation setting. I usually shoot for 45 – 90 seconds of running up hill then walk to recover for 2-3 minutes. Be sure to warm up before going all out. A good goal to build up to is 10-12 hill repeats of increasing difficulty.