Before you buy the latest gadget that promises you slimmer and firmer abs and butt, try several techniques that require nothing more than your bodyweight and some space to move around. Working out your abs and butt with other muscle groups together will help you improve athletic abilities and burn more calories in less time than working just one body part.
Floor exercises, including the floor bridge, Bird-Dog pose and sit-ups, usually focus on muscle isolation, which can increase muscle activation in your abs and buttocks. However, full-body exercises, such as lunges, squats and step-ups, can help you perform better in various daily activities and sports that require similar movement patterns. For example, a study that was in the August 2002 issue of, "Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research" described how researchers at Furman University in South Carolina found that muscle activation in the buttocks increases as the depth of the squat increases.
Leap, Jump and Bound
Jumping, skipping and bounding can make your workout feel more vigorous, especially in your buttocks. Since these muscles are power hip extensors, they work constantly to propel your body up or forward. Such exercises are called plyometrics, which refers to your muscles' ability to contract maximally in the shortest time possible. These exercises include box jumps, shuttle runs, single-leg hops and depth jumps. Even though you may not feel them burn, your abdominal muscles are working just as hard as your buttocks during plyometrics. In a study published in the August 2011 issue of, "The Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy" that was conducted at Saitama Medical University in Japan, researchers found that the deep transversus abdominis fired first during the standing long jump, followed by the external obliques and rectus abdominis. The takeoff phase elicited the highest activation rate. Likewise, researchers at the University of Tokyo in Japan also found that the rectus abdominis and the external obliques fire at about 100 milliseconds before the feet land on the floor during the depth jump.
Don't Forget to Stretch
Stretching your butt and abs before and after your workout can help alleviate stiffness and improve blood flow. Dynamic stretching, which refers to moving your abs and hips within their full range of motion repetitively, should be performed before your workout rather than static stretching -- holding a stretch for 15 to 30 seconds. In a study that was published in the June 2011 issue of, "Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research," researchers found that soccer players who performed dynamic stretching had a higher range of motion in the instep kick than those who did static stretching. For example, warm up your butt and abs with standing torso twists in which you turn your hips and body to your left and right while swinging your arms. Save static stretching after your workout, which include the supine hip rotator stretch, supine abdominal stretch on a stability ball and standing lateral trunk flexion.
Make Your Own Recipe
Once you're familiar with the exercises, mix-and-match them to create your own workout to improve strength, power and metabolic rate. For example, do two to three dynamic stretches, and proceed to the basic body-weight exercises by using the circuit training method, which has you perform a series of exercises with minimal rest in between. If you want to increase muscle size, use the superset method, which is performing two exercises that work different muscle groups with minimal rest between sets. For example, do one set of sit-ups followed by a set of squats or floor bridges.
- NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness Training; Michael Clark et al.
- Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: Acute effect of Static and Dynamic Stretching on Hip Dynamic Range of Motion During Instep Kicking in Professional Soccer Players
- IDEA Fitness Journal: Look Before You Jump!
- Journal of Electromyography and Kinesiology: Activity Modulations of Trunk and Lower Limb Muscles During Impact-Absorbing Landing
- The Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy: Abdominal Muscle Activity During a Standing Long Jump
- Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: The Effect of Back Squat Depth on the EMG Activity of 4 Superficial Hip and Thigh Muscles
- IDEA Fitness Journal: Stretching - A Research Retrospective