2 steps to a tighter bum & toned legs

Kim Droze

No butts about it... the majority of us aren't very keen on the shape of our backsides. The bottom line, according to a recent survey we carried out: only one in 20 respondents is happy with his or her behind. Our survey says 42% of us are "very dissatisfied" and just under 30% are "somewhat dissatisfied" with the derriere.

Yet, while our rumps have us down in the dumps, four out of 10 of us refuse to lift a finger to remedy the problem. Why? Well, fitness experts will tell you that too many people hold the misconception that it’s a pain in the butt to work the glutes.

The truth: you don't have to spend a lot of money or hours sweating in the gym to shape your lower body.

Fitness expert and regular contributor Michael Stefano, author of The Firefighter’s Workout (HarperCollins), says you can get a better butt by working out for just 12 minutes a day, 3 days a week.

Even better news: his workout will tone your thighs too!

Don't go reaching for your chequebook or take a second mortgage out - you don’t need a gym membership or fancy exercise equipment!

Stefano says it's a common mistake for people to spend too much time isolating different muscles on machines when all they really need is a few minutes, a step and a set of hand-held weights.

“There are lots of machines at gyms which isolate the inner thigh, outer thigh and bum,” Stefano tells us. “It’s insane. Women spend an eternity on all these different machines when they could save 15 sets by doing just one set of squats. “

Stefano’s thigh-bum combo provides an effective one-two punch. With just two exercises, you work the quads, the hamstrings, the glutes and the hip flexors.

“With the right programme, you’ll start seeing results in a month or less, especially with a resistance programme like this one," Stefano says.

“And there’s no excuse for not having enough time to work out. All you need is 12 minutes. It really doesn’t take hours and hours - if you do the right exercise, you can get real results in 12 minutes.”

Stefano adds that for maximum results it’s important to follow a healthy diet and do regular metabolism-boosting cardio.

For the thigh-bum combo, do 12-20 reps of the step-up, or to muscle fatigue. Rest for 30 seconds to a minute. Do 12-20 squats, or to muscle fatigue. Rest for 30 seconds to a minute. Repeat 12-20 reps of the step-up. Rest for 30 seconds to a minute. Finish off with another 12-20 reps of the squat. Rest for at least 48 hours before repeating these exercises.

Step-up
Place your right foot flat on the step and your left foot flat on the floor. Exhale and push off as little as possible with the left foot as you bring both feet up to step level. Inhale and lower your left foot to the floor. Repeat 12-20 times, or to muscle fatigue, then repeat with the legs reversed.

Intensity Variations
Lower the step height to decrease intensity. Hold dumbbells or other weights to add intensity. You can also perform all repetitions without ever placing two feet on the step. This maintains tension in the leg that remains on the step and further increases intensity.

Squat
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hands at your sides. Your head is straight, the natural arch maintained in your back, knees slightly bent. Inhale and allow the arms to move forward for balance while bending at the knees and hips to a sitting or semi-sitting position (see intensity variation). Be sure your bum doesn't drop below the level of your knees and your knees do not extend beyond the toes. Exhale, slowly rising to a standing position and allow your arms to drop to your sides. Repeat to muscle fatigue (in the range of 12 to 20 reps).

Intensity Variations
To reduce intensity, do half-squats. This limits the range of motion and puts less strain on the lower back and knees. Place a chair or bench of the correct limiting height under your bum (be sure to lightly tap only) to provide a safety stop. Hold dumbbells (as shown) or other weights such as food cans to increase intensity.

Start a diet plan at tescodiets.com

Thanks to tescodiets.com who have provided this article.