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Fit for Life: Summer Swimsuit Syndrome

Monday, June 20, 2016


“I want a tight butt.”  “Flatten my belly.” “I want nice defined legs.”  If you’re a personal trainer you have heard these requests a thousand times, and if you are a woman you have said these a thousand times. Now that it’s summertime and shorts, crop tops, and swimsuits are de rigeur, we are hearing it and asking for it more. In the area of most concerned parts of your body, these areas also usually get the most focus by many people either just starting a workout program or already working out. Although I am a believer that you cannot spot reduce one or two certain areas of the body without training the entire system, there are certain exercises that will target these problem areas. 

It’s a System

I like to use what I call a systematic approach to training, meaning that I try to queue you to contract muscles while working others at the same time. An example:  be aware of your feet flat on the floor, contracting your hips and squeezing your glutes, while you do an arm exercise, thus promoting the whole system to be active all the time. When people ask about training a certain area, I comply but at the same time incorporate exercises that do much more. Your butt and belly are part of your core, and most of the leg exercises will require stabilization of this area as well, so you want to do a series of exercises that will primarily hit these spots, but will benefit you in other ways. 

A basic move for this body part is the “glute bridge.” Lay on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor with your heels about 6 inches away from your butt. Slowly elevate your hips toward the ceiling, lock out, draw your belly and butt inward, squeeze and release. Repeat for 3 sets of 8-10 reps.

Another move is the “bird dog”.  On your hands and knees with a neutral spine, extend your finger tips away from your heel forming a straight line with your spine, arm and opposite leg. Hold and squeeze for 3 seconds draw your elbow to your knee around mid section of your torso and repeat 6-8 times per side doing 3 sets. 


The “standing cross crawl” is a simple yet effective exercise that promotes balance and mobility as well as a strong mid section. Stand with your arms high above your head with your feet shoulder width apart. Extend one arm high while you touch the other elbow to your knee. Alternate sides and repeat for 3 sets of 10.  “Lying knee tucks” is another simple yet effective movement. Lying on your back, draw your knees to your chest, exhale and repeat for 3 sets of 15. 


I like “super set quads” with hamstrings to keep the intensity high and to save time by eliminating rest periods. “Body weight squats” will work well at first but eventually you will need to load the legs with some added resistance. If weights aren't available, progress to a “split stance squat”, then progress by elevating a leg behind you for a single leg version. Hamstrings are another muscle group that will require resistance to be effective, but you can start with a few basics - try “good mornings”, place your finger tips behind your ears, draw your elbows back, then bend forward, drawing your chest toward the floor, while rocking back onto your heels, return to the starting position, squeeze your butt and repeat for 3 sets of 10. Another great hamstring movement is the “single leg deadlift”. Stand with a split stance then reach toward your left toes with your right hand. Stand tall, open your chest, flex your butt, and repeat. Do each side for 3 sets of 10. Advance this move by raising your rear leg and hold your balance. “Step ups” - find a platform approximately knee height, place one foot on the step and while keeping a tall stance, step up and lock out in the top position. Repeat this move for 3 sets of 10 on each side. To make it metabolic, alternate legs for 60 seconds rest 30 seconds then repeat.

These are basic movements that can be progressed by using dumbbells and free weights. All exercises require multiple muscle groups to work together, engaging stabilizers as well as prime movers. They won't only get you more toned, stronger and more mobile, they will help with your balance and motor control as well. And of course, you’ll look even better this summer.

Matt Espeut, GoLocal's Health & Lifestyle Contributor has been a personal trainer and health & fitnesss consultant for over 25 years. 


Related Slideshow: The 7 Best Health and Fitness Apps

Here is a list of some of the most obsession worthy health apps.

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MapMyRun is the number one selling running app for a reason:  it is easy to use, offers community support if you want it, and tracks and stores your exact routes for you.  If you are training for a race or a serious runner, users say that the extra perks in the upgraded paid version are well worth it. 

Made for iPhone, Android and Blackberry 

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MyFitnessPal seems to be the clear favorite amongst everyone polled.  It is helpful not only for the fitness tracking aspect, but everyone polled mentioned how much they loved the food/diet aspect as well. From carb counting for diabetics to recipe ideas to complement your fitness goals, users love this app. 

Made for iPhone and Android

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JeFit is another fitness app that has rave reviews.  It not only tracks progress for you, but offers a huge database of workouts.  While many apps offer community support, JeFit allows you to sync workouts with friends who use the app, offering a (real) virtual buddy system.

Made for iPhone and Android

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Strava gets the highest mark of all the cycling apps.  While it is also great for runners, the cyclers seem particularly inclined towards the fierce competition that can be ignited by this app.  You can track all of your rides via GPS, then you can compare your efforts to those logged by others in the community on the same stretch of road.  You can also join ongoing challenges that can net you great prizes (in addition to bragging rights). 

Made for iPhone and Android

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YogaStudio gets the top vote for Yoga apps.  It has a lengthy collection of full class-length videos available at your fingertips.  Unlike many other apps, this one also allows you to customize your own video yoga class.  All of the poses are done by qualified yoga instructors, and you can find classes suitable for all levels of yogis.

Made for iPhone only

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SimplyBeing meditation app offers the best of both worlds.  You can choose to run this app as a background for your meditation with soothing music or natural sounds that run for a set amount of time.  Conversely, for those of you who have trouble focusing during meditation, you can choose a soothing voice-guided meditation. 

Made for iPhone and Android

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Fooducate is an app all about educating people so that they make healthier food choices.  Although not perfect, this app is easy to use (you can even take pictures of bar codes to instantly find foods in their database).  It gives food a letter grade, tells you the pluses and minuses, and gives you better ranked alternatives.  You can also use it as a weight loss tool by tracking your daily calories. 

Made for iPhone and Android


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