We may not all be born with the glorious backsides of Jennifer Lopez or Jessica Biel, (we can dream though!), but we can give our own behinds a lift by following a few simple exercises. ELLE Canada went straight to SHAPE Health and Wellness Centre in Toronto to get the best exercises from Conditioning Specialist Daniela Freitas to get your glutes in your own version of J.Lo form.
“With each exercise, make sure to maintain good posture by keeping your abs braced (tight), head up, chest out and shoulders back,” Freitas advises.
Squats: Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, pointing your toes slightly outward. Lower your body into a squat position as if you were going to sit on a chair. Do not allow your knees to extend beyond your toes. Go down only as far so that your legs are at a 90-degree angle, pause for one second, then push up to a freestanding position. To increase the difficulty of this exercise, add a shoulder press by holding two weights to the sides of your body, pressing your arms toward the sky as you squat.
Lunges: Stand with both feet together shoulder-width apart and take a large step forward, keeping your toes pointing forward. Lower yourself down towards the ground by bending your knees. Keep the front and back knees at a 90-degree angle and do not allow the front knee to pass over the toes. Once your lunge is complete, bring both feet back together and start again! To increase the intensity of this exercise, you can hold dumbbells or kettlebells in your hands, or hold a barbell across your shoulders.
Deadlifts: “This is a great exercise for your posterior chain (lower back, glutes, hamstrings and calves), but it’s important to have good form and posture throughout the exercise so as to not injure yourself,” says Freitas.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width or hip-width apart, holding dumbbells or a barbell in your hands in front of your thighs. Keep a slight bend in your knees to reduce the compression through your hips and knee joints. Now, keeping your head and neck up, chest out and core tight, bend over from the waist and lower your torso towards the floor. Make sure to keep a neutral spine throughout the entire exercise. When you reach your lowest point, before initiating the rise up, tighten your glutes (to take the pressure off your lower back), and use your glutes and hamstrings to lift yourself back up to the starting position.
Want to get fit quick? Check out our tips to get in shape fast!Step-ups: Find a step, bench, chair, or set of stairs that are a comfortable height for you. Step up onto the step with one leg, allowing the other leg to trail behind. Stand up completely onto the step to ensure you engage each of the muscles in your leg. You can bring the trailing foot onto the step to join the other foot if you need to help balance, or you can return the trailing leg to the floor and bring the top leg back down to the floor as well. You can use one leg at a time, or alternate legs if you like.
Standing cable/theraband abduction and adduction: Attach the cable or theraband to one ankle. Ensure that you have a chair, wall, or something to hold onto to help balance.
Abduction: Keeping your foot flexed and starting directly in front of your body, pull the cable or band away from your body using your glutes, hips, and outer thigh muscles. Raise your leg out to the side in a straight line. Hold for 1 second and then return your leg back to the mid-line of your body.
Adduction: This is the opposite of abduction. So instead of pulling your leg out, pull your leg in. Starting with your leg out to the side (but still in line with your body), keep your foot flexed, use your inner thigh muscles to pull your leg in towards the mid-line of your body. Hold for 1 second and return the leg to the starting position.
Freitas recommends completing 8-12 reps of the above exercises 2 – 3 times to develop a toned muscular posterior. You will see even more tone and shape if you use a weight that makes the last couple of reps more difficult to complete. You should feel a slight burn with the last few reps.