Perhaps you’ve stood sideways in front of a full-length mirror and weren’t satisfied with the shape of your belly and booty. Or perhaps you do like what you see, but you want to take steps to keep your sleek shape. In either case, you have plenty of exercise choices that can help tone your abs and derriere. Spot-reduction, however, is impossible. Add aerobic exercises to your regimen to burn fat across your entire body.
The crunch is probably the best-known activity to strengthen your rectus abdominis muscle -- aka your belly. Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor and your hands behind your head. Raise and lower your head and shoulders as many times as you can. Choose from numerous crunch variations, including the bicycle maneuver in which you set up for a typical crunch and then raise your feet off the floor. Move your right knee toward your chest as you twist your torso and try to touch the knee with your left elbow, then repeat the move to the opposite side. To work the gluteus muscles in your booty, get down on your hands and knees, stretch one leg straight backward and then bend it at the knee so that the sole of your foot points upward.
You won’t typically use free weights for abdominal exercises, although you can perform situps and crunches on an incline bench while holding a barbell or dumbbell over your chest for added resistance. You can also hold a dumbbell between your feet while doing leg raises. To firm up your tush, perform squats, lunges or step-ups while holding dumbbells in both hands or by setting a barbell across the back of your shoulders.
You can replicate crunches, situps, leg raises and squats on a variety of machines. The leg press machine can also target your booty, particularly when you position your feet high on the resistance plate and push the plate with your heels. Cable machines also let you perform standing hip extensions. Face a low pulley machine while you wear an ankle cuff and extend the cuffed leg backward, keeping it straight at all times.
Perform eight to 12 reps of the weighted exercises and try to work up to three sets of each. Use sufficient weight so that your final reps are challenging. If you prefer body-weight activities, Dr. Peter Francis, who oversaw an American Council on Exercise study on abdominal exercises, suggests performing five-minute sessions that include one or more body-weight activities.
Check with your doctor before starting a new exercise routine. Warm up your body before you work out by doing five to 10 minutes of light aerobic activity. Then perform about five minutes of dynamic stretches such as walking with high knees or walking lunges to stretch your butt or lying scorpions to stretch your belly. Set up for the scorpion by lying face down with your forearms on the floor. Lift your right foot over your left thigh, twist your abs and try to touch your foot to the floor to your left side. Repeat the stretch to the opposite side.
M.L. Rose has worked as a print and online journalist for more than 20 years. He has contributed to a variety of national and local publications, specializing in sports writing. Rose holds a B.A. in communications.