No matter how fit you are, sooner or later gravity will begin to take its toll. Learn how to defy your age with our top ten droop-busting exercises.
Plank With Leg Lift
Great for the core, thighs and butt, the full body plank works your abdominal muscles while the addition of alternate leg-lifts will tighten your glutes. Raise into full push up position. Bend your elbows to the floor so that your forearms are supporting your bodyweight: this is your starting plank.
Keep your body in a straight line by squeezing your abs and glutes. Now, lift one foot three or four inches off the ground. Hold for ten seconds, then lower. Repeat on the other side. Continue alternating your legs, foot flexed, until you have completed ten leg raises on each side. Work up the number of repetitions as you get stronger.
Weighted Box Squat
Squats build strength in the anterior leg muscles, or quadriceps, and firm the butt. Holding 5lb to 8lb hand weights, stand with your legs hip-width apart. In one slow motion, sit back into a squat as if you were about to sit on a chair.
At the same time, raise your dumbbells up, arms straight, until they’re level with your shoulders. Remember, you’re performing a squat, so stick your butt out as far as you can on the way down. Hold for a couple of seconds, then reverse to start position. That’s one repetition. Aim for 15 to 20 reps, three to four times per week. Gradually increase your weights as you tone.
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Plie squats tone the inner thigh and butt. Begin as with a box squat. Turn out your toes and lower your body, bending your knees out to 90 degrees. You’ll know that your posture’s correct if your knees are aligned between your second and third toes.
Keep the weight in your heels and your abs and torso tall: only your legs should move during this exercise. Press back to start, squeezing your glutes as you return to standing. Try for 15 to 20 reps. As you get stronger, challenge yourself to add hand weights and increase the number of reps to 25.
Box jumps add an aerobic element to your toning work-out, essential for cardiovascular fitness. Stand in front of a step between 6 and 14 inches high. Beginners should start lower and gradually increase the height.
Bend your knees, placing your weight on the balls of your feet. Quickly jump onto the center of the step then straight back down to start, landing softly on the balls of your feet. Jump as many times as you can for 30 seconds. Repeat three or four times per week, increasing your exercise by ten seconds each time until you reach two minutes.
Incline Dumbbell Press
For the décolletage of a 20 year-old, take a tip from the men. The incline dumbbell press stimulates the upper chest muscles, front deltoids and triceps but don’t worry, you’re lacking the testosterone to build Schwarzenegger-style muscle.
Select hand weights that you can raise with a little exertion. Set the incline bench to a 45 to 60 degree angle: anything less than 45 degrees will work your shoulders instead of your chest. Lay back with your weights resting on your shoulders, elbows bent out at the sides. Slowly press the weights up, straightening out the arms but not locking the elbows.
Hold for one or two seconds then slowly lower the weights back down to your shoulders. Don’t rest them there! In one fluid motion, push the weights back up and repeat 12 to 15 times. If you can’t complete this number of reps, the weights are too heavy. Select a lighter weight and try again. Aim for three sets of 12 to 15 reps, with one minute of rest between each set.
Close Grip Push Up
This one’s not for sissies but it will give you the tightest chest, shoulders, triceps and abs of your life! Get into plank position. Bring your arms in so they are less than shoulder width apart – the closer your arms, the harder your triceps have to work.
Keeping your fingers pointing straight ahead and your body straight, bend your elbows back to about 90 degrees. Imagine trying to squeeze your arms into your rib cage as your body lowers. Exhale, pull the abdominals in and push back to plank. Aim for 10 repetitions.
Lie on your back on a mat. Bring both knees up off the floor, pulling in your abdominal muscles. Place your hands behind your head for support and raise your shoulders off the mat into crunch position. At beginner level, your upper body does not move from this position. Now cycle your legs by extending one leg out to 180 degrees while the other knee pulls in towards your chest.
Alternate legs in one fluid motion. Aim to keep cycling for 30 to 60 seconds.To make this exercise harder, add an upper body rotation. Bring your right elbow to your left knee while the left leg is extending, and vice versa. Shoulder blades stay up and off the mat for maximum core toning.
Stand with your legs hip width apart. Hold a moderately challenging weight in each hand. Begin straight-armed with your hands by your sides. Slowly raise both arms to shoulder height, keeping your abs pulled in and your arms straight.
At maximum elevation, your body should form a crucifix position. Slowly lower the weights to your starting position. Try and do at least two sets of 12 repetitions, with a one-minute rest between sets. If you find that you’re straining, lower the weight. Now stand back and admire those sleek, sexy arms!