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Exercises to target common problem areas

ALEXA TOWERSEY
Last updated 09:33 17/03/2014
Abs

FLATTEN THAT TUMMY: Compound movements which target various muscles will work a treat.

Abs
TRAINER EXTRAORDINAIRE: Alexa Towersey.

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We all have our own trouble spots, whether they be trouble because they're too fat, too thin, not shapely, not toned, too weak or just prone to injury, but there are some definite tricks of the trade that we can use to fix them.

The beauty of these exercises is that you can do them both in the gym and in the comfort of your own home so there are no excuses.

To top it off, they will not only address how these areas look, but also help to prevent any injuries that could be a direct result of having to sit down all day.

1. Glute Bridges: To lift and tone the butt for a shapely, not saggy, derriere.

The great thing about this exercise is that it opens up the front of the hips at the same time as it strengthens and tones the glutes.

How to: Place the tip of your shoulder blades on the top of a bench/chair as you place your butt on the ground. Have your knees bent with heels on the ground underneath the knees, hip distance apart. Lift your hips off the ground until knees, hips, and shoulders are in a straight line making sure to squeeze your glutes and pause for 2 secs at the top of the movement. Slowly lower your hips back to the ground and allow them to slightly touch the ground before completing another rep. You can make this exercise harder, and increase the burn by placing a weighted barbell across the front of the hips.

2. Bulgarian split squat: To target, tone and tighten thunder thighs.

 A double barreled exercise that allows for the stretching and lengthening of the hip flexor and quad in the back leg, whilst simultaneously strengthening and toning the front leg, and correcting any single leg imbalances. It's also a great alternative to a lunge if you suffer from knee pain.

How to: Stand in front of a bench or chair, and reach one leg back behind you to rest the top of your foot on the bench. Keeping your torso upright, descend under control until your back knee lightly touches the ground, then squeeze the front glute and drive through the heel to come back up to a standing position. If you're e beginner just use your own bodyweight, but if you have some experience in the weights room, you can hold dumbbells or place a barbell on your back.

3. Bicycle crunch: To flatten belly bulges.

If you're looking to be efficient with your time and energy, the bicycle is one of the only core exercises that engages all of the muscles of the abdominal at once, whilst keeping the spine stable.

How to: Lie on your back with your hands behind your head, and your legs raised and bent at 90 degrees. Alternate sides by bringing your right elbow towards your left knee then your left elbow towards your right knee, building up to 60 seconds. Try and hold the crunch for a two-count on each side to force a slower, concentrated movement.

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4. Push-up rotations: To sculpt and strengthen the chest, shoulders and triceps.

You can improve not only your push-up with this exercise, but also engage your core and shoulder stabilizers at the same time. You're also working all the muscles of your arms, including those dreaded bingo wings providing you complete the pushup with your elbows tucked into your sides.

How to: Complete a push-up, either on your knees or feet, then at the top of the movement, rotate the body into a side plank position with the hand directly underneath the shoulder and driving the hips up towards the ceiling. Come back to centre, and repeat for the other side. Make sure, if you're doing the pushup on your knees that you step back to a full plank position with the feet before turning.

5. Prone YTI: To lengthen, strengthen and tone the back.

Everybody tends to forget to include the back when doing any sort of training program but most lower back pain and injuries are a direct result of sitting down all day, so it's really important to focus on strengthening these big postural muscles. This exercise targets all the muscles that you would normally address using both vertical pulls (think pull-ups) and horizontal pulls (think seated or bent over rows). In addition you don't need any equipment or assistance to do it.

How to:

The Y: Lie face down on the floor with your arms resting on the floor, completely straight and at a 30-degree angle to your body, so they form a "Y. Your palms should be facing each other, so that the thumb side of your hand points up. Raise your arms as high as you comfortably can.

The T: Perform this like the Y raise, only move your arms so that they're out to your sides--perpendicular to your body with the thumb side of your hand pointing up--and raise them as high as you comfortably can.

The I: This time, move your arms so that your body forms a straight line from your feet to your fingertips. Your palms should be facing each other, with the thumb side of your hand pointing up. Raise your arms as high as you comfortably can.

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