Turn your problem areas into a source of power with these strengthening exercises.
If your belly, butt, back, or thighs aren’t your favorite part of your body, you’re not alone.
For some of us, all our weight—and we mean all of it—seems to go straight to these problem areas. For others, we may have noticed these spots have gotten weaker over time, making it harder to roll over, sit, stand, step, and maintain balance.
You could hide, ignore, or curse these problem areas—but that would sell your body short. These vital muscles respond well to strengthening exercises, and stronger muscles help you power through daily tasks and hobbies. Plus, more lean muscle mass will turn up your metabolism, helping you burn more fat.
Ready to turn your problem areas into a source of power? Try this belly, butt, back, and thighs workout.
How the Belly, Butt, Back, and Thighs Workout Works
You’ll need a mat, an adjustable bench, a variety of gym machines, and a set of dumbbells. If you don’t have access to a particular machine, simply use the ones that are available to you, or try one of the suggested alternatives. If you’re not sure which dumbbells to use, choose the lightest ones you can find. You can always go heavier if the moves feel too easy.
Warm up with at least five minutes of walking or this warmup routine. Perform the exercises below in order. Cool down with deep breathing and stretches of your choice.
As always, safety is key. The exercises here may be different or more advanced than those you’ll experience in a SilverSneakers class. If you have a chronic condition, an injury, or balance issues, talk to your doctor about how you can exercise safely.
Warmup #1: Steady-State Bike Cardio
2 minutes, 5 to 6 RPE
Set yourself up on a stationary or recumbent bike, and gradually build up to a moderate intensity. Tune in to your rate of perceived exertion (RPE): On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the hardest, you want to be at a 5 or 6. You’re breathing harder, but you can talk if you want.
Warmup #2: Bike Intervals
Do 3 rounds of 30 seconds, heavy resistance + 60 seconds, light resistance
Alternate between heavy and light resistance. Do this sequence three times:
- 30 seconds, heavy: Increase your resistance, and pedal slowly for 30 seconds, like you’re going uphill.
- 60 seconds, light: Decrease your resistance, and pedal fast for 60 seconds, like you’re on a flat road or going downhill.
Do 2 rounds
Perform the two exercises below as a pairing, resting 30 to 60 seconds between moves. After the second exercise, rest as needed, and repeat the pairing again. Aim to do two rounds total.
Exercise #1A: Bird Dog
Do 10 reps each side
Start on all fours with your hands below shoulders and knees below hips. You can place a pad or yoga mat below your knees for comfort. Engage your abs, keep your spine neutral, and gaze down or slightly forward. This is your starting position.
Lift your right arm and extend your left leg behind you, gently placing your left toes on the floor for balance. Pause, then return to the starting position, and repeat on the opposite side with left arm and right leg extended. That’s one rep. Continue alternating for 10 reps, and then rest 30 to 60 seconds.
Exercise #1B: Feet-Elevated Glute Bridge
Do 20 reps
Stand in front of a bench or other elevated surface. Lie on your back and place your feet on the edge of the bench about hip-width apart, with your butt on the floor and knees bent. Press your arms into the floor for support, and brace your core to minimize the arch in your lower back. This is your starting position.
From here, push through your feet and squeeze your glutes to lift your hips up until your body forms a straight line from your knees to shoulders. Pause, then slowly lower your hips to return to the starting position. That’s one rep. Do 20 reps.
If you don’t have a bench or feel more stable on the floor, do a regular glute bridge.
Exercise #2: Bottoms-Up Split Squat
Do 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps on each leg
Stand in front of a bench or other elevated surface in a staggered stance, your right foot in front of your left. Keeping your torso upright, lower your body to a kneeling position, with your back (left) knee on the floor and hands on top of the bench. This is your starting position.
From here, press through your front foot to straighten your legs, allowing your hips to travel back slightly as you do. Pause, then bend both knees to return to the starting position. That’s one rep. Do three sets of eight to 10 reps on each leg, resting as needed in between.
Make it easier: Find the best way to do them for your body with our beginner’s guide to the squat.
Do 3 rounds
Perform the three exercises below in order, resting 30 to 60 seconds or as needed in between. After the third exercise, rest one minute, and repeat the full circuit again. Aim to do three rounds total.
Exercise #3A: Bench Row
Do 10 reps
Grab a pair of dumbbells and lie chest down on a bench in incline position. Let your arms hang straight down from your shoulders with your palms facing each other.
Squeeze your shoulder blades together as you row the dumbbells to the sides of your torso, keeping your elbows tucked close to your sides. Pause at the top, then slowly lower the dumbbells. That’s one rep. Do 10 reps, then rest 30 to 60 seconds.
Exercise #3B: Cable Anti-Rotation
Do 5 reps on each side
With a hand-over-hand grip, grab a handle attached to the middle pulley of a cable station. Stand with your right side to the machine, and position your feet about shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent. Step away from the station so the cable is taut, and brace your core. Pull the handle to your sternum as you rotate to face forward.
Keeping your knees slightly bent so you’re in an athletic stance, press your clasped hands straight forward. Pause here for two the three seconds, resisting the rotational forces of the cable, then slowly return your hands back to your sternum and release, allowing your upper body to rotate toward the machine. That’s one rep. Do five reps, then face the opposite direction—so the cable station is on your left—and repeat. Rest as needed before moving on to the next exercise.
If you don’t have a cable station available, you can attach a resistance band to any sturdy anchor point that’s about sternum height.
Exercise #3C: Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift
Do 12 to 15 reps
Grab a pair of dumbbells with an overhand grip, and hold them at arm’s length in front of your thighs. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your knees slightly bent.
Without changing the bend in your knees, push your hips back and lower your torso until the weights are at your knees or just below. Pause, then squeeze your glutes and push your hips forward to raise your torso back to the starting position. That’s one rep. Do 12 to 15 reps, then rest one minute.
Make it easier: If it’s too challenging, you can ditch the weights and perform a hip hinge with your hands on your hips.
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