Tag Archives: kettlebell

2 Key Moves for Toned Legs & a Firm Booty!

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.

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Squats

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.

Advanced Variations:

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!

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Lunges

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!

Advanced Variations:

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!

The Best Kettlebell Exercises to Burn the Most Calories as featured in the Houston Chronicle

The Best Kettlebell Exercises to Lose the Most Calories

by Jesica Salyer, Demand Media Google

Dual moves will make your heart rate skyrocket and ramp up your calorie burning.
Dual moves will make your heart rate skyrocket and ramp up your calorie burning. 

The key to maximizing your caloric expenditure during kettlebell exercises is to perform moves that target your upper and lower body simultaneously. Focus on doing these dual moves back-to-back so that you keep your heart rate elevated. This will boost your metabolism and shock your muscles, which is key in seeing results. According to “Fitness” magazine, you’ll burn upward of 10 calories per minute doing high intensity kettlebell exercises.

Kettlebell Swings

Kettlebell swings are a dynamic move that target your shoulders, quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes. Start upright, arms extended down in front of you, gripping the kettlebell with both hands. Align your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Bend your legs and drop your butt downward so that your knees are over your toes. Drive your weight down through your heels and push your body upward. As you come up, use your shoulder muscles to swing the weight upward toward eye-level. That makes one repetition. Perform three sets of 15 repetitions to scorch calories.

Squat Jump to Shoulder Press

A squat jump into a shoulder press is an explosive move that will help you burn calories in a hurry. Similarly to a kettlebell swing, your lower back, quadriceps, glutes and shoulders are all targeted doing this exercise. Start with your feet shoulder-width apart, gripping the kettlebell and holding it at chest level. Bend at the knee and drop your butt down so that your legs form a 90-degree angle. Explode upward by pressing your weight down through your heels. As you come up, extend your arms over your head and push the weight upward. Do three sets of 15 repetitions.

Lunge with a Twist

Turn your body into a calorie burning machine with this move. Performing lunges with a twist will engaged your shoulders, biceps, obliques, hamstrings and glutes. Start upright, holding your weight at belly-button level. Take a large step forward, bend your knees and sink down so that your knee kisses the ground. Holding that position, rotate your torso and bring the weight to one side of your body. Bring the weight back to the center, push yourself upright, then repeat with the opposite leg and side of your body. Perform three sets of 16 repetitions.

Bridge with Chest Press

The bridge pose combined with a kettlebell chest press isolates your glutes, hamstrings and pectoral muscles, helping you shred calories and elevate your metabolism. Start by laying on your back with your legs bent and feet flat on the ground. Hold your weight above your chest. Press your weight down through your heels and drive your hips up so that they’re in line with your knees and shoulders. Holding this position, push your kettlebell weight up above your body. Aim to perform three sets of 15 repetitions to burn calories and fatigue your upper and lower body.

Read the published article here: http://livehealthy.chron.com/kettlebell-exercises-lose-calories-9203.html

The Best Exercise to Reshape Legs as featured in the Houston Chronicle

The Best Exercise to Reshape Legs

by Jesica Salyer, Demand Media Google

Lunge It Down

Lunges are very effective at targeting your thighs, especially your hamstrings. Start by taking a large step forward with your right leg, then dip your butt down. Your right leg should form a 90-degree angle. Drive your weight down through your heel to push your body back to a standing position. Repeat this move using your left leg. Form is important to make this move effective. Focus on keeping your torso upright as you lunge. Also, do not let your knee surpass your toe, as this would welcome knee injury. Aim to do three sets of 16 repetitions.

Squat Jump it Up

Squats are one of the single-most effective exercises to target your quadriceps. Transforming the squat move into a jump supercharges the effectiveness of this move in reshaping your legs by also incorporating your calf muscles. Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend your knees and drop your butt down so that your knees are over your toes. Drive your weight downward through your heels to propel your body upward, becoming airborne for a moment. You should feel a burn in the front of your thighs after three sets of 10 repetitions.

Kettlebell Deadlift

Deadlifts are a move that can be done with either a dumbbell, barbell or kettlebell. This move helps reshape your hamstrings and glutes. Start by standing upright with your legs shoulder-width apart, holding your weight in front of you. With your back arched and shoulders back, bend at the waist. Bring the weight down to the ground, then pull your torso upright again. You can also start this move by raising up on your toes to incorporate your calf muscles. After three sets of 15 repetitions, your hamstrings and glutes should feel tight.

Laying Leg Curl

You can isolate and reshape your entire backside by practicing this move. Your hamstrings and glutes should feel tight after performing this move. Start by laying down on your stomach with your legs extended and your arms out to either side of you for balance. In a controlled movement, lift your toes off the ground, bringing them closer to your butt. Then, tighten your butt in order to lift your thighs off the ground. Lift them up as high as you can then slowly relax them and bring your toes back to the ground. Do three sets of 15 repetitions.

Cardio for Legs

In addition to implementing resistance training into your efforts to reshape your legs, engage in cardiovascular activity. According to “Fitness” magazine, “One of the best ways to maximize fat loss and get more out of your aerobic training is to vary both the duration and intensity of your cardio workouts.” You can accomplish this by varying the types of cardio you do. The treadmill, stair stepper and elliptical trainer are three effective pieces of indoor cardio equipment. Mix it up by taking a few walking or running workouts outdoors. Aim to incorporate three cardio workouts per week into your routine.

Read the published article here: http://livehealthy.chron.com/exercise-reshape-legs-8757.html