In the final feature of her ‘Get Back Into Shape’ workout series, Lex Balladon shares some tips on how to tone up.
I feel great when I’m eating well and staying active and I love feeling strong. Currently I’m on a bit of a mission to get even stronger, and how am I doing this? With weights of course!
As mums, we don’t have a great deal of time to dedicate to ourselves, and when we do get a minute, we usually opt for a cuppa (or a glass of wine) rather than digging out our gym gear. I have an 8kg kettle bell in my kitchen so that when I do get 20mins (yes, that’s all it takes, just 20mins), I can easily grab it and crack on without having the faff of leaving the house. You could use any form of weights like a bar, plates or dumbbells, and you can do it wherever works for you – at home, at the gym, or my favorite at the moment is a Body Pump class that I do once a week, with my goal to lift heavier weights each week.
Here are some of my favorite workout tone up moves:
You can also put these into a circuit by doing 30 seconds, 45 seconds or a minute for each move, with a same time rest in-between each one. Make sure you have a two minute rest in-between each circuit, repeat two to three times. Also, its good to change the order in which you do the exercises; otherwise your body will become accustom to the routine and you won’t benefit as much from it.
If you want your butt to go from zero to hero, do your squats. Just make sure you’re doing them right so you’re benefiting from them while saving your knees. You can change the width of your stance to work different muscles, but always make sure your knees are moving the same direction as your toes. Keep your chin and chest up and shoulders back, stay strong through the core. Move your bum back rather than moving your chest down. Hug your weight to your chest or use a goblet hold for your kettle bell.
Another bum and leg burner. I am not fond of the lunge but I do like the results. Stand with both legs together and step forward (you can step back for another variation if you like), taking the knees to a 90 degree angle. Your front knee should not go past your toes, and again, they should be pointing the same direction. You can also make this more challenging by adding weights. You can use dumbbells in each hand, plates or a kettle bell.
We focus so much on our abs, but sometimes we forget about our backs. You need to keep your back strong to balance out your core. To do a dead lift, stand with your feet just slightly wider than shoulder width apart, and bend your knees slightly. Shoulders back, chin up and core engaged. Tip forward from the hips and you should feel it in your lower back. When you’ve gone down, come back up, engaging your bum (glutes) as you do. You can do this with various forms of weights; you can also use a barbell.
You can use a bench for these or set yourself up in a lunge position. Rest your left arm on your left leg, and have your weight in your right hand. With your arm fully extended, bring the weight off the floor and pull it back keeping your elbow moving backwards and upwards, close to your body. I love this one as I feel it working my shoulder and my arm, and if you do the movement slow and controlled you’ll feel it more.
So hard yet so good for you. Give them a go, whether you’re doing them from your knees or from your toes. Make sure your core is engaged when you do them. I like to mix it up and use a block, ball or kettlebell to lean on which can vary the muscles you’re working. Just don’t forget to even it up by switching sides.
Overhead Press & Tricep Dips
I love an overhead press as it really works my shoulders, which is great for wakeboarding and lifting the kids up. You can use plates, dumbbells, barbells or kettle bells for this one. Simply stand with your feet shoulder width apart and have the weights in your hands, shoulders back and core engaged. Make sure your elbows are out to the sides then lift the weights so they are above your head and your arms are nearly straight, and then bring them back down so starting position.
Tricep dips are great to battle the chicken wing arm wobble. Use a park bench or a kitchen chair and rest your palms on it, fingers facing the direction you’re looking. Move your feet away from the chair. Start with your arms straight and then bend them keeping your elbows moving backwards. Then straighten them again. Make sure your core is engaged and do the movement slow and controlled for more of a burn.
I do crunches as my stomach muscles are still separated by over an inch from my second pregnancy and I’m still not pushing them to their limit. (These things take time; I had my second baby nearly 20 months ago!) You can focus on engaging your core on all the other exercises to start to strengthen your stomach muscles. As you get stronger you’ll be able to do more with the abs, it can just take some time. But for crunches, lay on your back, keep your hands by your ears and keep looking at the ceiling while you raise your upper body off the floor, using your stomach muscles rather than your shoulders. Also try pulsing these from the middle point (not flat on your back and not all the way to your up), you’ll definitely feel the burn!
For more tips, head over to Lex’s interview where she talks about her fitness during pregnancy!