You’re about to discover your new best angle. Get sculpted shoulders, a sexy back, a perky butt, plus carved hamstrings and calves – all in one powerful routine.
TEXT JACLYN EMERICK PHOTOS MARTIN RUSCH HAIR IAN JAMES/THE WALL GROUP MAKEUP SAGE MAITRI/THE WALL GROUP
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Developed hamstrings make you run faster. Firm glutes help you jump higher.
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“Strengthening the back of your body from shoulders to calves will keep you upright and moving properly,” says exercise physiologist Michelle Lovitt.
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Behold the sculpted backside. It does so much more than make your rear view amazing. By training the muscles you don’t regularly see, your body becomes stronger, and more defined and powerful. You’re able to run faster, jump higher, and have better posture and fewer aches and pains. These transformations begin when you start working the rear shoulders, lats, glutes, hamstrings and calves, but also when you mind some smaller muscles – many of which you may not have even heard of, like the multifidus and the erector spinae – that have big functions, such as supporting and extending your spine, and allowing you to bend and rotate. Together, this entire group of muscles and tendons, called the posterior chain, works to keep you upright and moving properly. And when you dedicate your reps to it, you’ll end up looking leaner and taller, says Michelle Lovitt, an exercise physiologist in Los Angeles who’s known for getting celebrities and athletes into top shape.
It’s natural to want to show more love to the muscles you face in the mirror, especially your arms, abs and quads. But neglecting your flip side creates a major front-back body imbalance that, over time, causes problems, says Michelle. For starters, it wreaks havoc on your posture. “Weak shoulders round forward, and your abs and lower back have to pick up the slack for lazy glutes, which can cause you to develop a pelvic tilt.” But strengthen your rear delts and back muscles, and your shoulders will shift back and down, and your abs will elongate, making you instantly appear taller, slimmer and more confident.
You’ll also slash your risk of getting sidelined by an injury. According to research, women’s hamstrings are typically 40 percent weaker than their quads, an imbalance that has been linked to damaged knee ligaments. Even that up and you’re standing on a more solid base. “Stronger glutes and hamstrings also improve hip extension,” Michelle says.
This may not seem like a sexy sell to you, but better hip extension means you’re less likely to develop lower-back, knee and ankle issues. Plus, you’ll improve the overall quality of every workout you do, says Michelle. And let’s be honest: Having sleek shoulders, a defined back and a tight butt looks good. (Just because you can’t easily see all of your hard work doesn’t mean everyone else can’t.)
This routine is stacked with multi-joint movements (complex exercises that work multiple muscles at once, rather than isolating just one) that strengthen and sculpt every muscle in your posterior chain.
“These moves work to create balance between the front and back of your body, and also bilaterally, challenging your dominant and non-dominant limbs separately,” she explains. The result: You’ll eliminate weakness, and eventually be able to move faster and more powerfully in every direction.
This isn’t a sweaty HIIT routine that calls for doing as many reps as possible against the clock. Rather, burning calories is a by-product of your slow, deliberate sculpting. Good posture is essential to ensure that the proper muscles take on the load. “You want a neutral spine for every rep,” Michelle says. “Squeeze your shoulder blades into your spine, and stick your butt back and up.”
Once you try her approach, you will never look back – well, unless it’s to admire your absolutely gorgeous backside.
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