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The Booty-Camp Workout: Toning Exercises for Your Butt, Legs, and Thighs
Fight flab from your abs down to your calves with these proven lower-body toners.
How the Workout Works
Just slim and bare it! Get miniskirt-ready fast with our last-minute lower-body rescue routine. "The secret is the right mix of targeted exercises," says trainer Rich Barretta, who perfected this supersculpting circuit working with swimsuit-model clients at his private training studio in New York City. "When you can't stand another rep, you'll switch to the next move, which works your lower half from another angle." Grab a set of 3- to 5-pound dumbbells, a step (optional), and a towel and do the circuit in order two to three times through twice a week (on nonconsecutive days). Minis, you've met your match.
Many exercisers miss out on much of the butt-shaping magic of lunges because of common flubs that make legs do all the work, according to trainer Rich Barretta. Use his foolproof how-to and, ahem, firm the other cheek.
- Lower straight down. "Focus on the up-and-down movement rather than the forward motion to really target the glutes," Barretta says. "Put a hand on your butt and sit down into it as a cue."
- If knee isn't behind toes, step farther.
- Land on heel. (Be able to wiggle toes.)
Targets: Shoulders, back, abs, and butt
- Stand on a low step with feet together, hands at sides, a dumbbell in each hand. (No step? Perform move on ground.)
- Hinge forward at hips and simultaneously lift right leg straight back, squeezing glutes, as you raise extended arms in front of you until body from hands to right heel is parallel to ground. Make it easier: Keep knuckles on hips and elbows bent out to sides throughout or go without dumbbells.
- Hold 1 to 2 counts, then lower arms and right leg without touching right foot down on step.
- Keeping hips squared to front, hinge forward and lift right leg out to right side as you raise arms out to sides at shoulder level so they form a T and torso is parallel to ground. Lower arms and leg to complete 1 rep.
- Do 5 to 10 reps without touching right foot down. Switch legs; repeat.
Trainer's Tip: As you get fitter, try doing 15 reps of each of these moves. Do only as many as you can while maintaining good form.
Targets: Butt, inner and outer thighs, and hamstrings
- Stand with feet hip-width apart, hands on hips.
- Lunge left leg forward diagonally toward left and lower hips until left thigh is parallel to ground.
- Press through left heel to stand and repeat with right leg, lunging diagonally toward right.
- Do 10 diagonal lunges, alternating legs, then turn around to do crossover lunges back to start.
- Lunge left leg diagonally forward and across body toward right.
- Press through left heel to stand and repeat with right leg, lunging diagonally toward left.
- Do 10 crossover lunges to complete set.
Trainer's Tip: Be sure your knee always points in the same direction as your toes when you lunge.
Ski Boot Sit
Targets: Butt and inner thighs
- Stand with feet hip-width apart, a dumbbell under each heel (heels rest on handles of weights), and squeeze a folded towel between knees.
- Extend arms in front of you at shoulder level, palms down, and, squeezing towel throughout move, bend knees 90 degrees to lower, as if sitting down in a chair (keep lower legs still).
- Lift halfway so knees are still slightly bent, then lower.
- Do 8 to 10 reps.
Trainer's Tip: Make sure the folded towel is about 4 inches thick to keep knees aligned with hips.
Targets: Butt, inner thighs, and calves
- Stand with feet wider than shoulder-width apart, toes turned out 45 degrees, holding a single dumbbell with both hands in front of hips (or fold arms in front of chest without dumbbell). Make it harder: Use a 10- to 15-pound dumbbell.
- Lower into plié squat until knees are bent as far as 90 degrees, knees behind toes.
- Hold plié squat and lift heels as high as you can off ground for one count. Make it easier: Lift one heel at a time.
- Lower heels and rise halfway to standing, then lower.
- Do 8 to 10 reps.
Targets: Butt, quads, and hamstrings
- Stand on a low step with feet together, arms extended in front of chest, palms facing each other. (If you don't have a step, perform move on ground.)
- Hop left leg out to left, placing body weight on left heel and bending left knee 90 degrees to sit into a one-legged squat.
- Quickly press through left heel to hop left leg back to start position; repeat hop with right leg to right side and sit into squat.
- Return to start to complete 1 rep.
- Do 8 to 10 reps.
Targets: Abs and obliques
- Lie on ground on right side, propped up on right forearm with shoulder directly over elbow, left hand on hip. (Or place left hand on ground in front of you for balance.)
- Lift hips off ground until body forms a straight line from head to feet.
- Pause, then raise left leg about 6 inches higher. Make it easier: Keep legs together.
- Lower left leg, then lower hips to ground.
- Do 5 reps; switch sides and repeat.
Trainer's Tip: Think about pulling your rib cage and lower hip together like an accordion as you lift.
Crunch and Lift
- Lie faceup on ground, legs together and extended and hands lightly touching ears, elbows bent out to sides.
- Crunch up, bringing head and shoulder blades off ground, as you lift legs straight up.
- Lower legs as far as you can toward ground without arching back or touching feet to ground, then lift them again.
- Do 10 to 12 reps.
- Start on ground in plank position, balancing on forearms and toes, hands clasped, so body forms a straight line from head to heels.
- Tip tailbone up, arching back slightly, then tuck pelvis under, reversing arch to flatten back and pull abs tight; hold contraction for 5 counts.
- Do 8 to 10 reps.
Trainer's Tip: This is a subtle movement: Hips lift very slightly, as shown, not into a high inverted V as in downward dog.
Originally published in FITNESS magazine, July/August 2010.
Video: 10 Exercises to Tone Your Butt, Legs, and Thighs
Follow along with Nike Master Trainer Traci Copeland to tone your lower body with 10 easy exercises.