Spot Treatment: What is the BEST Butt and Thigh Exercise? By: Napa Boot Camp

As a fitness trainer, I always get asked “What is the best exercise for…” you can fill in the blank. One of the most common areas many women are concerned with is the lower body, specifically the butt and thighs. There are many exercises that will build the muscle in this area and I am going to share one of my favorite lower body exercise and some variations of it here. It’s called the Bulgarian Split Squat.

You can change the thunder thighs into wonder thighs but before we get into this, one thing I definitely don’t want to do is contribute to the belief of individual body part training and spot reduction on certain areas of the body. I am a keen believer in total body training, meaning that we train the upper body, lower body, and core during every single workout. Training single body parts was born from the bodybuilder method which is not optimal for fat burning. By training the whole body at once we maximally stimulate lean muscle gain and metabolism and promote total body fat burning in order to effectively eliminate the body fat that is hiding those areas that people are having trouble seeing. You know the stubborn fat areas that prevent a good body from becoming a great body.

And as we have discussed, a diet high in lean protein, fiber, and green veggies and low in unnatural fats and refined sugars and starches is of course a pre-requisite if you want to see your muscles pop in a good way. It is also important to know that you lose fat in a genetically predetermined way. You can do all the crunches you want but without total body training, proper eating habits, and time and consistency to get to those stubborn fat areas you will never get rid of your gut, jiggly arms, or the junk in the trunk.

Back to one of my favorite exercises… the world’s greatest lower body exercise. My favorite leg exercises are any sort of lunge variation because I prefer single leg exercise in lieu of their double leg counterparts for a lot of reasons. For people with back issues, single leg exercises allow them to safely perform lower body exercises without putting their lower lumbar spine in jeopardy. Furthermore, I feel there’s often such a strength and/or flexibility imbalance between one leg and the other for most people that it’s critical to address one leg at a time to really shore up the weak links from the start.

My favorite lunge variation is called the Bulgarian Split Squat or the rear foot elevated lunge. So basically we’re going to elevate the back foot on a chair, bench, box, or any other sturdy foot support, usually about 12-18 inches high. You’ll put your front leg well in front of you in order to make sure that your front knee and ankle are lined up. In general, I tell people to exaggerate how far you put your front leg forward so that the front knee is almost slightly behind the ankle as this really helps reduce sheer force on the knees. Initiate the exercise by loading the front heel and dropping your hips as low as you can in a pain-free range of motion while staying really tall up top with a proud chest and shoulders down and back. Finish the rep by explosively driving through your front heel to return to the top of the movement. You can start with body weight only in search of front thigh parallel to the floor or lower depth and then progress by adding speed of movement or by adding dumbbells. You can even incorporate some very cool combination movements with this lower body exercise like adding a curl to press at the top of the movement or even by raising dumbbells overhead to really challenge your core and single-leg balance and stability.

See the video below for a complete demo of all of the different variations of the rear-foot elevated lunge:

I have yet to find an exercise that hits the legs as hard as this exercise does. In particular, it really helps strengthen your vastus medialis muscle, which is that inner quad muscle that looks like a teardrop, that’s heavily responsible for tracking your patella and keeping your knee caps in line. So if you have a history of overtraining or patella-femoral issues this exercise is phenomenal for keeping your knees as bulletproof as possible.

Also, what’s great about it too is that it provides a very good stretch for the hip flexor of your back leg, an area that is often very tight, especially for many of us that spend a lot of time sitting in a car or at a desk. Any exercise that allows you to simultaneously stretch and strengthen your body is a real keeper. Don’t waste another moment with the useless adductor machine (a.k.a. the sex machine) and get off your butt and really work it with the world’s best lower body exercise today!

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