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Tone Your Tush - by Lesley Maxwell

Nothing says 'hot' like a toned tush. It's a great feeling knowing that you can slip into a pair of skinny jeans at any time – and have them look good too! Women often ask me what the secrets of maintaining a pert tush are.

Well, it really isn't rocket science, or is it? You see, if you know the most effective exercises and perform them regularly with perfect technique, the results will speak for themselves.

I recommend a mixture of machine weights, free weights and bodyweight exercises.

Bodyweight exercises will give you functionality. Free weights will strengthen all your stabiliser muscles as well as your main muscle groups. Lastly, machine weights will allow you to lift a heavier weight without risk of injury to help develop more lean body tissue (aka muscle). Sounds good to me!

Now what about cardio? As far as cardio goes, I would never run for kilometres on end for fear of burning off all that precious muscle I've worked so hard for. Walk at a good, fast pace using the full range of motion, take large steps, stepping from heel to toe, then squeeze all the way to your glutes at the top of the movement. For variety, add some interval training in the form of step-ups (if you find a park bench on ToneYour Tush! your travels) or you can do short bursts of skipping, around 50 paces or so to elevate your heart rate, then return to your walking. Repeat this several times.

A hill climb is great for your hamstrings and glutes too. Take large strides and make sure you squeeze your glutes with every step.

Here are some tips and my favourite exercises to give you a toned tush. I like to work hamstrings on one day and quads on another. This means my glutes are being worked twice weekly as glutes are always included in my leg exercises. Being consistent with training is a must!

Effective Exercises

Always ensure that you have done a 'warm-up' set with lighter weights prior to performing your heavier sets. This warms up the area you are about to work. For example, I always perform at least one set of 15 bodyweight squats before I begin my leg workouts.

If you are just doing a bodyweight workout, add more reps to your sets for added intensity.

Squats

Squats would have to be my favourite exercise of all time and I do believe they are the most effective lower body exercise.

A squat is one of the 'seven human basic moves' and therefore is a movement we are meant to perform if we are to remain fit and agile. If you are a beginner, you may prefer to start with Fitball squats against a wall.

I like to squat fairly low and always ensure that I keep my weight in my heels as I sit into it. Never allow your knees to extend past your toes. You can also really activate your glutes by squeezing them on the way up to bring you back to starting position.

Sometimes I like to perform bodyweight squats at home if I feel I have been sitting at my laptop for too long or haven't had time for my cardio workout. I do 4x25 bodyweight squats and 4x10 push-ups superset and then a little stretch. As well as working my legs, butt and upper body, this gets my heart rate up too. This mini workout can be done almost anywhere!

Leg Press

The leg press allows you to lift more than you would in a squat without fear of injury as the motion is just pushing the weight forward and lowering the weight back down again. For variety, you can perform the exercise with a wide and narrow stance or you can do a single leg press.

Lunges

Lunges are another basic move and are great for hamstrings and glutes.

To lunge properly, take a huge step forward and keep the weight in your toes with your back foot and your heel with your front foot. The longer your stride, the more you will work hamstrings and glutes. Never allow your knee to extend past your toes. Drop your body in a straight line, breathing steadily throughout the exercise. Little pulses can be added at the bottom of the movement for extra intensity. For variety, try static, stationary or walking lunges either with or without weights.

Deadlifts

Even though they don't sound very nice, add deadlifts to your exercise regime as they are SO effective for your glutes. Always make sure your hamstrings are warmed up prior to doing this exercise. Bodyweight step-ups are a good way to warm up. I even touch my toes ten times before I begin deadlifts to ensure my hamstrings are warm. Focus on squeezing your glutes to bring the weight back up to starting position. Remember never to use your lower back with the lift. This exercise is all about your hamstrings and glutes!

Step-ups

Never underestimate simple exercises such as step-ups! Choose a step about knee height and ensure your whole foot is completely on the step while you step up. Squeeze your glutes on the way up and steadily lower yourself down again. I always do single leg step-ups to ensure I fatigue my legs and glutes. I also use step-ups for a form of interval training as it really elevates my heart rate. Step-downs are a good alternative when you feel like a change. You can choose to perform these exercises with or without dumbbells.

Cellulite

Cellulite is formed by toxins stored in your fat cells, most noticeably above your muscles, below your skin and often visible in your lower body. It causes a dimpled effect and is common among many women. Women with a body composition of more body fat than muscle frequently have a more pronounced cellulite development, while on the other hand, those with less fat and more muscular definition tend to have less visible cellulite.

I like to do everything I possibly can to keep cellulite at bay. As well as training to develop more lean body tissue and eating super clean to keep toxins to a minimum, I also like to stretch.

While stretching alone will not get rid of cellulite it does improve circulation and it's believed that increased circulation can help with removing toxins from the affected area.

Some good stretches include glutes, hamstrings, quads and lower back – just to name a few. These stretches only take a few moments and make you feel great!

Stay lean by eating clean.

What you eat plays such a vital role in your outcome. You can still enjoy some delicious food and there is no need to feel hungry if you choose to eat clean. It does take some planning, but it's totally worth it. If you can give up just three unhealthy foods, you could have your body weight under control for life. How good does that sound?

What are these three culprits? They're wheat, sugar and alcohol. By giving up wheat and sugar you will also eliminate all processed food that usually contain one or both of these ingredients plus trans fat too. Do your body a favour and don't ruin the fantastic gains that you have made with your training by not following through with a clean diet.

By giving up sugar I mean sugar that is added to foods. I once asked a personal training client of mine to give up sugar. He later said giving up sugar wasn't difficult for him as the biscuits he had with his morning coffee made it easy! True story.

Let's drink to that – filtered water or green tea only, though! When you consume alcohol, you are essentially drinking empty calories as well as contributing to harmful, toxic activity within the body.

So the bottom line is (excuse the pun) to develop lean body tissue (muscle), especially from your weight training, eat a healthy, nontoxic sugar- and wheat-free diet and drink filtered water.

'What next?' you ask? Please go and buy those skinny jeans that you've had your eye on!

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