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Targeted Exercises to Slim, Sculpt, and Strengthen Your Body
Written by Dr. Kellyann Petrucci
When you look in the mirror, do you see sculpted arms, a slim waist, slender thighs, and a firm butt? Or are things starting to slide, wobble, jiggle, and droop? If you aren’t thrilled with what you see, then I have a suggestion for you: rearrange the furniture! With smart, targeted exercise, you can slim, sculpt, and strengthen your body, making you look years younger even without losing weight.
And here’s more good news: You don’t need to spend all day doing it. In fact, fifteen or twenty minutes per workout will be plenty. The trick is to make the most of those minutes—and to do that, you need to do resistance training. In this type of exercise, you use dumbbells or the weight of your own body to work your muscles hard, trimming and toning them.
Here are some keys:
Start with weights heavy enough to challenge you, but not so heavy that you can’t keep good form.
If possible, use a variety of weights.
Do resistance training every other day, allowing your body to repair and strengthen your muscles in between.
Now, here are some of my favorite exercises for taking years off your arms, waist, hips, and butt:
SQUATS. These are awesome if you want a gorgeous butt and you’d like to get rid of saddlebags. In addition to basic squats, try these variations:
Squat-and-Side Kick. Each time you rise after a squat, do a martial-arts-style side kick, alternating from left to right. Here’s a demonstration.
Curtsey Squat. This is just what it sounds like. Alternate your “curtseys” to the left and right, doing a regular squat in between. Here’s a demonstration.
Squat-and-Lunge. Alternate squats with backward lunges. Be sure not to let your knees extend beyond your toes when you do the lunges.
ARM AND SHOULDER SHAPERS. Lifting weights won’t make you look like Popeye; instead, it will give you the beautiful posture and shapely arms you had years ago. The trick here is to do a variety of exercises, and here are some of the best:
Bicep curls. When you do this basic exercise, keep your elbows close to your body and lower the weights slowly to get the most “burn.”
Tricep dips. To do this exercise, sit at the edge of a sturdy work bench or coffee table with your arms beside you, your fingers facing forward, your knees bent, and your feet on the floor. Grasp the edge of the bench or table with your hands. Now lower your butt close to the floor, supporting yourself on your hands. (Be careful not to lock your elbows at any point.) Your back should just graze the bench or table as you lower yourself. Once you’re as low as you can comfortably go, return to your starting position. Here’s a demonstration.
Military presses. To do this exercise, raise your weights above your head as if you’re lifting a barbell.
Pushups. Yeah, I know—these are tough. But they’re fabulous for building beautiful arms and shoulders, and they get easier over time. Want a bonus? They also strengthen your core. If doing pushups from your toes is too difficult, do them from your knees—or do pushups against a wall.
TUMMY TUCKERS. If you’re tired of doing sit-ups that don’t work, try exercises that really will trim your waist. Here are some of the best ones:
Planks and Side Planks. These work your waist as well as trimming your arms and toning your butt. There are a zillion variations; here are some great ones.
Bicycles. To do this exercise, lie face-up on a carpeted floor or mat and put your hands behind your head, gently supporting your head with your fingers. Lift your legs at about a 45-degree angle and make a bicycling motion with your legs, straightening one leg as you bend the other. As you bend each knee, rotate your body to bring the opposite elbow close to it. Here’s a demonstration.
Mountain Climbers. This is another tough one, but it pays off. To do it, start in a front plank position. Now, pull your right knee in to your chest as far as you can. Then switch and bring the other knee in. Avoid sticking your butt up in the air as you do this exercise. Here’s a demonstration.
Do these exercises every other day for a few months, and I’m betting that you’ll see a big difference. Those pesky areas that were surrendering to gravity will start getting higher, firmer, and sexier. Your clothes will look better on you. You’ll even stand and walk like a younger you. And when you look in the mirror, you’re going to love that rearranged furniture!
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