Exercising Your Bottom, Thighs and Calves
That tired old joke about “does my bum look big in this?” may no longer raise a laugh but it is underpinned by an insecurity that afflicts many people worried about their body shape. It certainly isn’t an anxiety that grips only one sex, either.
Some of the biggest muscles in the body are located in the lower body. Indeed the gluteus maximus – that’s the bottom itself for those unfamiliar with a medical dictionary – is the largest one that we all possess. These muscles need to do the work they were designed for; otherwise all those problems of tone, or rather a lack of it, quickly appear.
Let’s start with the front of the thigh, where the large quadriceps muscle group sits. The quadriceps are concerned with the action of raising and lowering the leg as well as supporting the knee cap. So targeting this area means utilising exercises that mirror these actions. So leg raises, squats and forward lunges - moving forward from your hip and bending your leg at the knee to take your weight on one side - are all exercises that are going to be of benefit.
A Gentle, Firm Action For The ThighsBy contrast, exercises for the outer thigh muscles, or abductors, are concerned with sideways movement. So, again, it’s a case of following the natural line through exercise. Stand straight, weight evenly distributed on both feet, then place your left hand for support on a chair or gym bar and raise your right leg outwards, for a set number of repetitions. The opposite drill applies for the left leg. Alternatively, lie on one side on the floor or mat and follow the same routine. Use a gentle, firm action and feel the effect on the muscle. On no account push your leg out violently because this will put extra strain on your hip.
Now to the calves. Sit down on the floor and raise one leg so that the heel is resting on the floor, the other leg tucked underneath for support. Without raising the heel, start moving your toes and flexing the sole up and down. You’ll feel the pull on both sides of the lower leg. A second exercise routine is to support your body with one hand and raise the opposite leg up, curling the foot around the back of the knee, repeating for a set number of repetitions. Be careful not to work your hip or thigh; rather use gentle but firm movements from below the knee for a maximum workout of the calf muscles.
Pull on the Buttock MuscleFinally to the gluteus maximus and the backs of the thighs. One exercise is to lie on the floor with your body straight, arms behind you with palms flat, then slowly raise each leg in turn from the hip, holding the position for 5-10 seconds each time so that you feel the pull on the back of the leg and the buttock muscle. Be careful not to bend your leg. A second exercise routine is to get down on all fours, raise one leg and push back as straight as your leg will go. Repeat 10 times, then switch to the other leg. Try to keep both your shoulders and neck relaxed and your head slightly raised and in line with your spine.
It should go without saying that before you attempt any exercises, your whole body should go through a warm-up routine. Yes, you are working only your lower-body muscle groups, but your chest, back and arms will all be playing a supporting role. Allow yourself a cooling down period, too. None of these exercises require any specialist equipment, so why not build them into your morning routine, so that you head off for work feeling fitter and more supple. Oh yes, and less worried about the shape of your bum, too.