This is from an interview I did with Iron Tribe Fitness, a gym that offers functional fitness workouts.
Toning your legs and booty doesn’t have to be a series of complicated & confusing movements. Nor does it require equipment. Using equipment is optional, and only includes one dumbbell or kettle bell (when you do it my way). You can stick to basic moves and still reach your goals and get the results you want.
Squats and Lunges
are two moves that will effectively target the biggest muscles in your body. Your leg muscles are dense and expansive, making them highly effective calorie burning machines. Furthermore, when you work these muscles, you are elevating your heart rate and increasing your metabolism. This will help your overall health, fitness and ability to keep fat off.
There are many different squat variations; my favorite of which is the sumo (or plie) squat. Here are some key pointers to keep in mind while you perform a sumo squat.
1. Walk each of your legs out so they are a bit wider than shoulder-width apart.
2. Point your toes away from your body at a 45 degree angle.
3. Keep your posture strong with your butt back, shoulders back and chest out.
4. Bend your knees and drop your butt down so that your knees form 90-degree angles.
5. Do not let your knees drift farther forward than your toes. (Letting that happen will encourage knee injury).
6. Drive your weight down through your heels and push your body upright.
Sumo squats target the inside of your quadriceps and your glutes a bit more than a traditional squat does. Refer to the above picture for depictions of the correct form. Proper form is crucial in effectively engaging all prime movers (muscles) as well as preventing injury.
As pictured, you can add weight to this move to make it a full body workout. Driving weight above your head in combination with the sumo squat move will engage and tone your shoulders. Making the move an explosive jumping motion is another way to exhaust those muscles for a quick, challenging workout (while also engaging your calf muscles). If you fancy yoga, you can hold this pose with weight (as pictured) and will feel the same burn!
Lunges are an absolute powerhouse move for toning the back of your legs and glutes. They also happen to be one of my favorite exercises. I love the added challenge of balance, especially when using weight. Just like in performing squats, there are some key pointers to keep in mind when lunging:
1. From a standing upright position, take a large step forward with one of your legs.
2. Bend & drop your back knee so that it touches (or comes very close) to kissing the ground.
3. Like in performing squats, do not let your knee exceed your toe.
4. Make sure you are maintaining a strong posture through the duration of the movement. Keep your shoulders back, butt back and chest out. As you fatigue, you will be tempted to lower your torso each time you drive your leg down. Challenge yourself to keep your torso perpendicular to the ground the entire time.
5. Drive your weight down through the heel of your front leg, push your body back to an upright standing position.
Refer to the above picture for depictions of lunge form.
Something that applies to both squats and lunges: when you are driving your weight back up, the part of your foot that you are driving weight down into will target different muscles in your legs. For example, if you drive your weight down through your toes in performing a squat, you will feel your quadriceps (the front of your thigh) engaged, whereas if you drive your weight down through your heels, your hamstrings and glutes will be more engaged. I generally recommend pushing your weight down through your heels (as I love a great booty workout) but it also tends to keep your center of gravity more controlled and keeps you more stable. I urge you to experiment with both!
Add weight! Adding weight ups the challenge, which makes you stronger, which makes you leaner, etc. You can also incorporate a trunk twist mid-lunge to challenge your core and engage your oblique muscles. To take it up another notch, try lunge jumps. In a lunge jump, you are propelling your body into the air each time you drive that front heel down. In other words, you are jumping up from a lunge position and landing with the opposite leg in front of you. This will incorporate your calf muscles and elevate your overall heart rate in a hurry. Like with merely any exercise, you can morph a lunge into a yoga move by holding this lunge pose for as long as you can. You will work the same muscles, while also improving muscular endurance and overall balance & flexibility.
Happy squatting & happy lunging–challenge yourself to get your patootie firmed up for summer time!
So excited to share the wisdom and thoughts of a woman that I truly admire, look up to, and see as a running sister!
Here are my questions to Emz:
1. You run, a whole bunch. What gets you up in the morning with such tenacity?
I’d say for the most part it is my goals. Even if I don’t have a scheduled race in the near future, I know running for charities is my passion. I always want to know that if I received an opportunity to do a run….that I will be ready [training wise]. The early morning hours are MY time for ME. This may mean I get out of bed at 4:30 but it is always worth it.
2. How is each run different for you?
Although I do all my runs on a treadmill, I do try to make sure that I change it up. Some days I go a little faster, some days I take the incline higher. At least three days a week I try to do my runs without any music or TV. Other days I take it easy & just let the legs go.
3. If you could sum up your approach to running, what would it be?
Just. Freaking. Run.
Who cares about the speed. Get out there.
4. If you could only run in one pair of shoes for the rest of your life…what brand & model?
Love this question. Without a doubt Mizuno Wave Prophecy 3’s.
5. Dream place to run:
New Zealand. Every year we go back to visit family – it reminds me that I do like running outside every now & then. 😜
6. Dream running buddy:
My Instagram friends. Truth. Some of the coolest people ever. I have made some of my closest/dearest friends through social media. I have been fortunate enough to run alongside many of them during one of my 24-hour treadmill runs. As well as having some of them pace me during my trail 100’s. Incredible, inspiring, thoughtful, selfless individuals.
7. Favorite run of your life so far:
Grand Canyon Rim to Rim to Rim run. It was a completely different experience than any ultra I have ever done. No crowds. No cheering. No crew. No run partners. Just me with myself, outside in one of God’s most incredible creations.
8. If you could give nutritional advice to other runners, what would it be?
That quote, “you can’t out train a bad diet”…… It’s the truth. It took me way too long to get this through my thick skull. Running 70-100 miles a week does not give you the right to eat superfluous amounts of crap. I found when I eat bad – I feel like bad. Don’t get me wrong I enjoy carrot cake & pizza with the best of them. And I do ENJOY my treats occasionally. But not daily.
9. Favorite food/meal:
Mexican food. All of it. [sans meat & dairy]. My go to after a long run….Cafe Rio vegetarian salad [tortilla, black beans, all veggies, guacamole, jalapeños, salsa] = my heaven.
My daily staple = vega one vanilla chai protein shake. Holy. Yum.
10. Favorite Athlete:
All the mom’s out there. I know you may call this generic…. But it’s the honest truth. I am so inspired by moms who get up and put in hard amounts of training every day – then rather seamlessly put on their mom, wife and employee hats. It’s incredible to me. I am far more inspired by “average women” than professional female athletes.
11. Your best marital & parenting advice:
Be honest. Express your needs. Communicate. Hang out together. Not a fan of girl’s night or girl’s weekend but I am a huge fan of date night with my man. I choose him every damn day over anything else.
Don’t make your child’s life easy. Teach them how to work hard. Be an example of this.
12. What impression would you hope to leave on those that look up to you?
That I’m not a talented runner. But I put in a lot of work. My parents taught me the value of working hard at a very young age. It has always stuck with me. If you want something. Put in the work. Get after it. Now.
13. Emz’s Life Motto, summed up:
You’ve. Freaking. Got. This.
Train your brain to tell your body you CAN do hard things.
I’ll be sure to keep this post on hand for days when I want an extra dosage of motivation. You ROCK, EMZ!!! Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me 🙂