It sounds like a promise you’d hear from a late-night infomercial: Lift and tighten your butt in just five minutes!
But this move from BarreAmped creator Suzanne Bowen is as efficient and effective as it is subtle. If you go online to watch the video of Bowen demonstrating the move that she calls the Pretzel, it barely looks like she’s doing anything. Try it for yourself, however, and it’s sure to leave your booty burning.
What it does
Strengthens and defines the glutes and hamstrings.
What to do
Start by warming up for about five minutes with either a brisk walk or light jog.
Position yourself on the floor so that you’re sitting with your right leg bent behind you and your left leg bent comfortably in front of you with your knee in line with your hip. Reach behind, grab your right ankle, and gently reposition your leg so there’s no “break” or crease at the hip — you want the leg extending from the torso in one sweeping line.
While holding on to the ankle at or near floor level, begin to “pulse” the glutes and hamstrings: squeezing and releasing the back of your legs and buttocks. When you’re ready for a harder version, lift the ankle so that the heel is above the hip as you tighten and release.
Here’s the advanced move: Place both hands on the floor in front of you and lift the rear leg a few inches off the ground without losing form. (You’ll need to fight the tendency for the knee to drift forward.)
“Alignment is key to getting good results,” Bowen says. The movement is so small that “you’re barely going to see it … but you’re feeling it intensely. Even after 14 years I’m still in love with this exercise.”
Bowen suggests stretching out the working leg before switching to the other side.
Perform this exercise two to three times a week, working up to two minutes on each side. Be sure to take a day or two of rest between workouts.
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