by Nora Tobin for SHAPE.com
Whether you're wearing a bikini, skinny jeans, or a little black dress, a sculpted booty is always the perfect accessory. And while there are many effective ways to tighten and tone your rear, I've discovered a five-move formula that never fails to deliver fast results. This better-butt circuit includes plyometrics, sprints, and simple strength exercises to get your heart rate up (burn fat!) and build lean muscle.
Do 1 set of 10 reps for each exercise, unless otherwise noted, with little or no rest between moves. After you've finished the last exercise, repeat the entire circuit 2 more times. Start by doing this workout twice a week, then increase it to three or four times a week.Single-leg deadlift1. Straight-leg dumbbell deadlift: This is one of my favorite exercises for women because it dramatically strengthens and tones the glutes and hamstrings. For best fat-burning results, be sure to choose a weight that challenges your muscles. If you feel like you could easily do more than 10 reps, you need to use heavier dumbbells.
How to do it: 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, bend at your hips and lower your torso until it's almost parallel to the floor (keep the weights as close to your body as possible). Pause, then return to standing. Your back should stay naturally arched during the entire movement.
Do 10 reps with a challenging weight (15 to 40lbs depending on your fitness ability).
Sprint, back peddle, sprint2. Sprint, back peddle, sprint: Research shows that high-intensity interval training (like these sprints) can help your body burn more fat in the 24 hours after your workout than you would after steady-state cardio.
How to do it: Start in a lunge position with your back at a 45-degree angle, weight shifted forward. Drive through your big toe to take bounding steps forward. After about 10 yards, shift your hips back to quickly reverse the movement. Back peddle to the starting position (10 yards), keeping your chest up the entire time. Quickly shift your hips forward to repeat the forward movement again. That's one rep. Do 10 reps of sprint-back, peddle, sprint total.
Marching bridges3. Marching bridge: This is a simple yet super-effective exercise to target your glutes and hamstrings without risk of your quads taking over. By lifting your leg while holding the bridge, you'll also activate your entire core.
How to do it: Lie faceup with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor, arms by your sides. Raise your hips so your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. Lift one knee to your chest, lower back to the start, and lift your other knee to your chest. Continue alternating until you've completed 10 reps on each leg, holding your hips high during the entire movement.
Jump squats4. Jump squats: This high-intensity exercise raises metabolic rate, meaning you'll keep burning fat for hours after your workout is over. The movement targets your glutes, hamstrings, and quads.
How to do it: Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Push your hips back and bend your knees to lower into a squat (in preparation to leap). Explosively jump as high as you can. Land softly, and then immediately squat down to jump again. Do 10 reps total. Imagine that you're pushing the floor away from you as you leap. You can use your arms to help you jump higher.
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Kettlebell swings5. Kettlebell swings: Kettlebell exercises combine cardio and strength training to tighten up your trouble zones in no time. No kettlebell? You can use a dumbbell instead.
How to do it: Hold a kettlebell (or dumbbell) with both hands and stand with your feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent. Bend at your hips and lower your torso until it forms a 45-degree angle to the floor, keeping lower back naturally arched. Swing the kettlebell between your legs. Keeping your arms straight, thrust your hips forward, straighten your knees, and swing the kettlebell up to belly-button/chest level. Continue swinging until you've completed 10 reps with a challenging weight (17 to 26lb kettlebell depending on your fitness level).