Friday, February 19, 2010

4 Minutes to a Better Butt (and it's fun, too!)

I've been getting looks at the gym a lot lately. I've taken my favorite bellydance moves to the bridge, and have found that it's both fun and challenging.

These moves tighten and shrink the glues, works both the inner and outer thigh, while strengthening the lower back and abs. I do it to music (it is a big help), usually Shakira or some music with a fast, consistent beat.

Now, a great butt requires a good, clean diet with lots of water, cardio to burn fat, and muscle building. This exercise will help burn and sculpt your derrier in ways that will surprise you.
My program only takes 4 minutes, and I perform it on the mat at the end of every workout before I stretch. At the end of those 4 minutes, I feel every muscle that I have worked, and they feel strong and tight. You can do this anywhere; you just need a mat.

In the Bar Method, they do something similar and call in back dancing. It begins with a basic bridge (as shown in the above picture). Until you get used to this move, hands palms down on the floor help to support the body. As you get better at it, I suggest putting your hands straight up over your shoulders (as if pointing at the ceiling) or bending them forward, and resting your interlaced fingers on your forehead. When you cannot lean on your hands for support, the body is forced to maintain balance by stabilizing with the both core and leg muscles.

So here's what you do. Lye on your back, feet flat on the floor, knees hip width apart (keep the knees stable for the entire 4 minutes -- do not let them splay apart). For beginners, keep your arms at your side, palms facing down. Contract your abs (think of pulling your belly button towards your spin) and squeeze your glutes together. This action should lift your glutes off the floor. Get them as high as you can, which should bring your body into a diagonal line from knees to shoulders (see above picture). This is the Bridge.

Now, I am going to explain the three moves that you will be doing in bridge, and below that, I will break down the seconds count.

Bellydancer: In bellydance, we do a quick move that makes the hips shimmy. Though standing the action is with the knees, on the floor, it's prompted by a single side glute squeeze. While in the bridge, squeeze just your left glute, while releasing the right. Your left hip will lift slightly, now relax the left and squeeze the right. This will lift the right hip. Repeat. This is the Bellydancer. It will look like you are doing a shimmy right there in the bridge (thus the looks at the gym).

Swivel: Basically, you are doing a figure 8 with your hips, controlling your moves with your abs, inner and outer thighs, and glutes. Start at bridge position. Drop your left hip down and then roll it up in a circular motion to make the first half of the figure 8. When you get to center, bring it around to the right. That's one figure 8. Take each side on a four count, to keep good form, and make sure your hips come all the way back up in between sides.

Drop and Lift: This is a basic move that happens with most bridge work. Starting with a flat, lifted bridge, drop your hips to almost touch the ground and then return back to starting position. While some people do this fast, I like to drop to a count of two, to slowly release the squeeze and really squeeze on the lift. This maintains control for good form, and works your lower back and abs in a safe way.

Ready for your 4 minute routine? Here we go. (Check out Shakira's song Why Wait for this routine. It's amazing for this exercise and is 3:41 mins., so you only have to go it alone for 19 seconds. I wrote the below routine to this song, and do it five days a week.)

Bridge up, and drop and lift for 25 seconds
Bellydancer for 15 seconds
Swivel for 20 seconds
Drop and lift for 15 seconds (these will feel like breaks, in comparison)
Bellydancer for 15 seconds
Swivel for 45 seconds
Drop and lift for 15 seconds
Bellydancer for 30 seconds
Swivel for 30 seconds
Drop and lift for 15 seconds
Hold bridge for remaining 15 seconds

To make this tougher, bring your feet closer into your glutes, or come up on your toes. Remember, you can lift your hands and move them to a shoulder neutral position (never behind your head as it will take you out of good form) for added toughness.

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