Bikini season is fast approaching.  Soon the panic will set in and we will start cramming in 8 minute abs in hopes of rocking that 2-piece.  Tame that panic with some simple exercises to help firm and tone.

First up, the booty.  Squats are a great way to tone up those glutes and there are a ton of variations to keep it both exciting and challenging.

How to Squat:

Stand with your feet shoulder width apart.  Your toes can point forward or out just slightly.  With your arms straight out in front of you, lower down sticking your booty back and making sure your knees stay behind your toes (this is critical!  You can risk serious injury letting your knees in front of your toes on a squat).  Go as low as you can, ideally your thighs will be parallel to the floor (if not lower!), and then come back up making sure to keep your back straight through the entire rep.  When body weight squats get easy, add some weight or try another squat variety.  If you can't go very low when you start, work on getting deeper before adding much, if any, weight.  Some of us are less flexible in the hips & knees and it prevents us from getting super low.  It's better to not go as deep then to strain your muscles and potentially hurt yourself.  If at any point during the squat it hurts, stop!  Make sure to assess whether the pain is real pain or just muscle soreness from something new.  If it is just sore, continue on but be on the watch in case something starts hurting.  

Start with 10-15 reps, that's 1 set.  When that becomes easy, start adding sets until you can do 3 sets of 15 reps.  Then starting adding some weight - you can use dumbells or a barbell.  

The two key points here are to ALWAYS keep your knees behind your toes and to keep your back straight (and keep that head up - no staring at your feet).

Basic squat

When you've got that move nailed down, you can check out one of the many 30 Day Squat Challenges to really amp up your squats.  200 squats?!  My thighs are burning just thinking about it!

Super squat bonus: this is an easy desk exercise if you sit all day.  Every hour stand up and do 5 squats (maybe take off the heels!).  This will help keep your hips & knees from getting stiff and the short break can help boost your productivity.

 

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