5 Exercises That Will Transform Your Body Fast
The science-backed way to tone your arms, abs, and butt. In collaboration with Reebok and Les Mills.
Ah, working out. We appreciate the die-hard fitness obsessed (what can we say? we’ll forever be inspired). And what we’ve learned from trying just about every type of workout out there is that when it comes to unwavering dedication, none are more faithful than those whose sweat session involves BodyPump. It probably has something to do with the fact that it works (we tried it for 30 days, read what went down here). Which is why we caught up with Les Mills master trainer and Reebok athlete Lissa Bankston to show us proper (read: more effective) technique for the five foundation moves in a BodyPump workout.
Start with your feet slightly wider than hip width with your toes slightly turned out (11 and 1 o’clock), and keep your chest lifted. Push your hips back (like you are sitting into a chair), let your knees travel toward the middle of the foot, and stop lowering your butt at knee level (or a 90-degree knee bend). Keep your elbows under the bar and your chest lifted. Now push your heels down firmly into the ground, and squeeze your butt to stand all the way up!
Tip: To keep your chest lifted, think about the instructor at the front of the room being able to see the writing on your t-shirt.
Good for: Lifting your butt.
Clean and Press
Start in a strong ‘set position’ with your heels directly under your hip bones, toes turned slightly out, knees soft, and your core engaged (lightly draw the belly in, and brace your abs as if you’re going to cough). Draw your shoulder blades toward your spine with your hands gripping the bar just outside the edges of your thighs.
To start the move, bend your knees while keeping your chest lifted, and then straighten them as you pull the bar up just under the chest. As soon as the bar reaches your chest, push your elbows under the bar super fast and squat slightly to catch the bar. Now you are loaded and ready to push the bar overhead. Return the barbell to your waist in the exact same way.
Tip: To stay safe, keep the bar close to the body at all times and always brace your abs as the bar moves overhead.
Good for: Engaging the entire body.
Use the same ‘set position’ as you did for the Clean and Press. To start, tip over from your hip with a slight knee bend and let the bar travel against your thighs until you reach the top of your knee cap. Once you are in this position, make sure your spine is flat and straight, and look about six to eight feet in front of your toes. Pull your elbows toward the back of the room, and aim the bar to your belly button. Keep the elbows in and your body perfectly still. Gently release the bar back down to the knee, then drive your heels into the ground as you stand up.
Tip: Keep the tension on your bar as you release from your belly button, and don’t let it drop. Try to think that you’re gently lowering a plate of hot drinks onto a coffee table.
Good for: The upper and midback muscles.
Wanna look good in your sleeveless top? Then you gotta curl! Start with two light hand weights. These muscles are not as big or as strong as they may appear, so keep it light and go for reps. Curl your weight up toward your shoulder, keeping them outside the body, and rotate the wrists up. Stop the weights in line with the center of your shoulders, about two fists away from your body. Release the weights back down, and rotate wrists down to achieve your start position.
Tip: As you hit fatigue, you will want to start swinging your body for momentum—don’t! The more solid you stand, the quicker you see the results because the biceps have to work harder. You will feel the burn, but get used to it—that feeling is change.
Good for: Your arms!
When starting out, it is most important to do the move right before you add any weight. Using your body weight is a great place to start. Find your ‘stride length’ before you start by stepping into what feels like a comfortable lunge, but put your back knee all the way down on the ground. Once you are there, adjust your body so that your back and front knees are at perfect 90-degree angles and your body is upright.
To start, bend your back knee and let it pull you into the lunge. It should drop vertically and stop a few inches from the ground (about at the height of the ankle). Your front knee should bend to 90 degrees, stopping when the thigh is parallel to the ground. Now drive your front heel firmly into the ground to push your body back up to standing.
Tip: Many people have too narrow of a stance, so when you step back, make sure your feet are not on the same line (like a tightrope), but keep them hip width apart to give you a nice, stable base.
Good for: Toning your legs and butt.