OK- so your summer goal is to once and for all get those legs toned, tight and lean. You’re incorporating squats, lunges, and even deadlifts into the mix. You’re sure you’re doing everything a Trainer would suggest to strengthen and tighten up your back side, but you still can’t get rid of the cellulite, your booty still isn’t sitting as high as you want it, and you’re not quite as firm as you had hoped. So what’s the deal? The deal is it’s not IF you squat, it’s HOW you squat.
Reality is, you probably are dealing with a muscle imbalance which will LIMIT you from working the muscles you want even with the RIGHT exercises. Most people today sit in chairs for hours every day, which will continuously weaken the glute muscles. Same thing happens to our shoulders as we slouch over to work at our desk, eat at a table, or text on our cell phones; we develop overuse of the upper trapezius muscles. Bottom line- our bodies were made for MOVEMENT and we don’t move very much anymore. Over the last century our movement has come to a halt with cars, elevators, computers and the demand of sedentary jobs. Our bodies literally need daily movement in order to maintain proper posture awareness, structural alignment and proper mind muscle connections.
All of this has basically caused almost everyone to at least have a muscle imbalance between your glutes/hamstrings and your quads. The glutes and hamstrings are turned OFF and the quads are not only turned ON but stronger and more dominant than ever, creating a huge imbalance. People are always asking me how to best tone, tighten, and round out their backside. As I mentioned, the natural thought to accomplish this would be to squat, lunge and deadlift. However, you can do these exercises all day long, but if you are insanely quad dominate (which most of us are) and not engaging your glutes, you can kiss that plump tushie Goodbye!
The average person, who sits most of the day, has flat, underdeveloped glutes. Because of this, when they squat or lunge their brain is MUCH LESS likely to send a signal to recruit the glutes to help out due to their weakness and lack of overall use. The person might be squatting, they might be lunging, but they will perform these exercises with most of the work load getting sent to their quads with little action coming from the glutes.
Of course they can still have strength gains, we can make their quads stronger and stronger because those are dominantly the muscles that are getting recruited when they lift legs, but they are going to continue having that imbalance while diminishing their ability to meet their goals of toning and tightening their backside, not to mention risking injury along the way.
The glutes are the largest and should be the strongest muscle in the lower body and ideally be your brains first choice to send them to help perform squats and lunges. Unfortunately for most, this isn’t the case. Are YOU engaging the right muscles? Here are a few tips to make sure:
SQUEEZE AS YOU GO!
When you Squat, at the BOTTOM of the range of motion, clench your butt together as hard as you can and USE that contraction to stand back up. Do the same thing when you lunge, clench the hamstring and glute of the leg that is in FRONT and push through the heel and middle of that FRONT foot as you stand and bring your feet back together. Doing this will FORCE the right muscles to engage and work the problem area that you are after.
TIME UNDER TENSION!
When performing a squat for example, don’t free fall on the way down. Control your body as you squat down, hold for a count of 1 at the bottom of the range of motion (SQUEEZE) and then stand quickly and repeat. Try not to lock out and rest at the top, keep tension on the working muscles throughout your set! Take your time and perform quality reps. Slow it down and focus on using the right muscles!
LOAD YOUR HIPS!
Not your knees! Try performing your lower body workout in front of a mirror watch your knees during each movement. Are you leaning into it with your knees and going even slightly forward? ‘Cause that’s not what we want… when you are squatting sit your butt BACK behind you (use a chair to help if you need to) and lower down SLOW AND CONTROLLED, load that weight in your hips, PAUSE at the bottom, CLENCH & SQUEEZE that booty, then stand and repeat! If your glutes are on you should FEEL them working. You should FEEL the burn during and after your leg workout. Here’s a tip: Start with body weight squats and hold your arms out in front of you parallel to the ground. This will help you force your weight BACK into your hips.
Now you know what to do and how to do it, I encourage you to try one of my short but killer leg workouts on the PEARsports or Warrior Dash Training APP. In just 15 minutes, I will coach you through a hardcore leg and butt routine that will leave you feeling toned, tight while ridding cellulite!