Health & Fitness

Air squats are an effective exercise for thighs and glutes

Ready for a butt-and-thigh burner that you can do anywhere? Meet the air squat. It's like your regular squat, only 10 times harder. Bob Harper, best known for his work on NBC's "The Biggest Loser," says the air squat can't be beat for getting in a lower body workout that will also boost your heart rate.

What it does

Tightens the lower body — the glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps and inner thighs — in a powerful way, because the range of motion is much deeper than with the typical squat. It also tightens the core, especially the lower abs, and raises the heart rate.

What to do

Stand with your feet a bit wider than your shoulders, toes turned out about 45 degrees. Reach your arms forward and lower your butt down past your knees as you keep your weight back and over your heels. (You should be able to wiggle your toes, a sign that your weight is in your heels.) Chest up, eyes forward during the movement. Bring your hands down to your side as you stand. Repeat.

This movement can feel weird for those accustomed to the typical squat, which ends when the upper thigh is parallel to the floor. Beginners might not be able to get that low. Just do what you can, Harper says. Keep working at it, and soon you'll be able to drop your butt to the back of your calves.

How much

Harper employs a Tabata method, which he calls the hardest workout you can do in the least amount of time. It looks like this: 20 seconds of movement, followed by 10 seconds of rest, for eight rounds. So: Air squat for 20 seconds, rest for 10 and then get back to it, for eight rounds in all.

rene.lynch@latimes.com

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