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Poll response: How to tone up your waist, butt & thighs

The results from our poll a few weeks ago showed the majority of you want to know how to tighten up your waist, butt, and thighs; so this article is to help you out! If you’re struggling to tone up these problem areas, read on for ideas and exercises that will help you sort it.

How to slim down your waist

Slimming down in your tummy area is pretty much entirely down to eating a healthy diet (so it’s time to sort out your nutrition!) and clocking up cardiovascular exercise time – the kind of activities that get your heart pumping and your lungs working hard for minimum 30 minutes at a time such as running, cycling, swimming, elliptical machines, or rowing.

If you’re not much of a gym person, team sports will also do you well for this if they involve running around, so you could try joining a social soccer, rugby, netball or touch team. Weights workouts can also double up as cardiovascular sessions if you’re using lower weights with much higher reps (i.e. 20-30 squats holding a 4 kg dumbbell in each hand).

How to tone up your waist

There are four key types of abdominal exercises to help tone up your waist; leg lifts, oblique (side) crunches, regular crunches and core work. There are a ton of ab exercises out there; but just don’t get too focussed on doing these on their own as they should be part of a balanced full body training programme that incorporates both your upper and lower body as well! Doing crunches tones up your ab muscles, but they won’t burn the layer of fat sitting over the top. If you actually want to lose fat from your tummy, look at the previous section.

The new focus is all about core strength as it helps tone up your stomach area, improves your posture, your strength and makes you less prone to back injuries. To practice activating your core, lie on your back and brace your belly while doing a short sharp breath out through your mouth. Use two fingers on each side of your stomach in line with your belly button and press firmly – not too hard! Slow down your exhale and when you breathe out, you should feel your core muscles tighten up when you have no more air left to breathe out. Try bracing your abs while feeling this and holding it for 10 even breaths. After a few weeks of practicing regularly, you should be able to do this easily; you should be bracing your core muscles like this during your weights workouts and feeling for it during your abs training. Consciously think about it every time you train and eventually it’ll become second nature.

Planks (either straight arm or on your forearms to work your core), controlled bicycle crunches (to work your obliques), situps (upper abs), and leg lifts (lower abs), will combine to give you a good mini ab workout, so concentrate on feeling your core work during these exercises.

Plank: Hold long as possible with straight arms or your forearms on the ground, lift your butt off the ground, and hold a straight line between your shoulders and toes (or knees if you need an easier option). Time yourself and try to beat each time, drop out if your back starts to feel it.

Bicycle crunches: 20 reps. In situp position try to reach opposite elbow to opposite knee, then switch. If too easy, lift knees to 90 degrees.

Situps: 20 reps. Get perfect technique by lying down in situp starting position with hands flat on thighs. Exhale and slide palms up thighs towards knees until you can’t go any higher then return to ground. Don’t worry if you’re not sitting all the way up, it’s not necessary for a great situp!

Leg lifts: 15 reps. Lie flat on your back and grab a pole behind your head with both hands, keeping a slight bend in your elbows. As odd as this sounds, it could be part of the stretching bar at the gym, the base of a small tree or even a pole holding up a park bench. With legs relatively straight, brace your abs and lift both legs towards the ceiling keeping your knees and heels locked together. The small of your back should not lift off the ground otherwise your abs aren’t strong enough yet; so if this is happening to you, keep your legs higher and don’t drop them as far down when you go to repeat (keep the movement small; you’ll still feel it!). Still too difficult? Try keeping your knees bent but still do the movement from your abdominals.

How to tone up your thighs and butt

Lunges, squats, repeat. There’s nothing better to tone up your legs and tighten your gluteus maximus than to do squats and lunges. If you’re more advanced and feeling game, deadlifts will do amazing things for your butt and backs of your thighs.

Normal squats: 20 reps. Add equal weights in both hands if too easy. If you can’t get it right, stand in front of a chair or bench with your feet hip width apart, hands on hips. Push your butt out back and go as if to sit down, lightly touch the chair then stand back up. Knees should track over the tops of your toes.

Sumo squats: 20 reps. This one’s great for your outer thighs and butt. Start off in a stance with feet slightly wider than hip-width apart and turn your toes out. Squat straight down. Again, knees should track over the tops of your toes.

Lunges: 20 reps (each side). To get a good lunge distance, kneel on the floor and step one foot forward in front of you. Tuck your back toe under and stand up holding your position. This is how big your lunge should be! Drop straight down, until your knee almost touches the ground then stand back up. If you’re a bit wobbly, try holding a pole in your opposite hand or use a palm against the wall to steady yourself.

Deadlifts (optional): 20 reps. With feet hip-width apart, start off with light dumbbells of equal weight in each hand, palms towards your thighs. Keeping your core tight and a slight bend in your knees slowly lower your upper body (bending from the hips, eyes looking about a metre in front on the ground to keep a straight neck) until the dumbbells are about level with the tops of your knees, then squeeze your butt as you stand back up. Get a fitness professional to help you out with these to make sure you’re doing them correctly.

Image / FreeDigitalPhotos.net – thaikrit

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