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Fitness Challenge: Abs and Glutes

Crunched for time? Tone your tummy and build your butt in just a few minutes a day.
By Jodi Helmer
WebMD the Magazine - Feature

In each issue of WebMD the Magazine we feature a reader's fitness question and then find an expert to answer. In our September, 2012 issue, Deb Moore, 52, a college professor in Little Rock, Ark. asked, "I'd love to feel more toned, but I don't have time to hit the gym. Are there simple exercises I can do on my own to get results?" 

Expert tip:  "It only takes a few minutes, three times per week, to keep your abs and glutes looking their best -- no gym membership required," says Joan Pagano, American College of Sports Medicine-certified health and fitness specialist and author of Strength Training for Women. She offers these moves to tone your trouble spots.

Abs

Forget the tummy tuck. This exercise targets your trouble spots and helps build up muscle. Combine with cardio a minimum of 30 minutes, three times a week (beginners can take three brisk 10-minute walks, working up to a 30-minute workout).  This exercise and cardio will whittle your waistline -- no surgery required.

Bicycle Crunch

  1. Lie on your back, bend your knees, and raise your legs until your knees are over your hips, calves are parallel to the floor, and feet are in the air.
  2. Cradle your head in your hands and tighten your abs as you lift your head and shoulders off the floor.
  3. Exhale and twist your left shoulder toward your right knee while extending your left leg.
  4. Inhale and return to the start position, keeping your head and shoulders elevated off the floor.
  5. Do 20 times, then repeat on the other side.

"The bicycle crunch engages all four abdominal groups," Pagano says. "Instead of doing three different exercises, I can get the same results with one."

Glutes

Try this exercise to tone your butt. Not only will your glutes, the large muscles in your buttocks, look great in a pair of jeans, but this move will improve your posture and balance, too. You'll also look -- and feel -- stronger.

Squat 

  1. Stand in front of a chair, facing away from the chair, feet parallel and hip-width apart, and bend slightly forward from the waist.
  2. Keeping your spine straight, inhale and lower your body toward the chair as if you were going to sit down.
  3. Touch the edge of the chair with your glutes (but do not sit), keeping your knees over your ankles.
  4. Exhale, squeeze your glutes, and return to the start position.
  5. Repeat 10 to 12 times.
Reviewed on July 15, 2012

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