A frequent request by my clients, whether it be personal training or in my classes is how do I tone my legs and stomach. The answer would take more than one article as there are a massive variety of movements which target these areas.
Most will work on either part, so you will need to do an exercise for each area. I thought this move would be great for everyone wanting to focus on legs and abs as it is a multi- tasking movement. You will get a good work out for your lower half and it also has the addition of working your stomach. Winning!
1. Stand with your fee wider than your hips, like a Japanese sumo wrestler. Your hands are behind your head with your elbows out the side.
2. Inhale as your lower your body down, bending at the knees.
3. Exhale as you press back to the start position. Repeat this up to 10 times.
4. Hold as deep as you can in the squat position after 10 repetitions and bend sideways to the right. Reach your elbow towards the top of your thigh.
5. Repeat towards the left and continue until you have done 10 side bends, five per side.
6. Press back to standing out of the squat.
7. Lower back into the squat position. Rotate your upper body with your right elbow reaching towards your left inner thigh. Repeat to the left, then complete another set of 10.
8. Press back to the top and start the sequence again.
9. 10 basic sumo squats, 10 side bends, 10 cross bends.
Getting It Right
When you press up out of the squat position squeeze your glutes to activate them. This will help tone your buttocks as well as your legs. The deeper you go in the squat, the harder you work, which equals the best results for your body. Make sure you can see your toes when you are in your deep squat position.
This will ensure your legs are in the correct alignment and prevent your knees from working. If you do feel your knees stop and stretch the front and backs of your thighs.
As you do the side bend try to stay as low as possible. This will challenge your balance and stability and make your leg work out more effective. The main abdominals working are your obliques. The are the muscles responsible for laterally bending and rotating the torso. To ensure you get a deep ab work out pull your lower abs in towards your spine.
You can play with the sequence as much as you like. For example, do four sumo squats, 1 side bend to each side, then 1 cross bend to each side then repeat, or do the cross bends first. When it starts to feel easy do more repetitions of all three movements and hold the squat as low as possible and add some pulses before you return to your standing positon.
Emma-Kate Stampton certifies Pilates Instructors and is a certified personal trainer. She is based in Brisbane, Australia.