May 20, 2022

J Lo’s PT set me a month of bum workouts, these are my results

Table of Contents Why are strong glutes so important?The routineDay 1Day 2Day 3Day 4Day 55…

Hands up if your search history is filled with questions like ‘what are the best exercises for a bigger bum’ and ‘can I grow my glutes with exercise?’ Yep, us too. Butt – geddit? – with every #fitfluencer and at-home workout plan promising to deliver the derriere of dreams, finding a bum workout that is simple and effective can feel like a daunting task.

Now, we’re the first to say that doing exercises that work for your body trumps following your fave celeb’s fitness regime in the hopes of looking just like them; but nabbing a few hints from those who train with the best PT’s has got to count for something, right?

Enter Jennifer Lopez. Besides her rock-hard core, dancer legs, and guns of steel, Jenny from the block has buns that even the most seasoned squatter would be envious of. It’s safe to say that J Lo has done her research and, with the help of celeb PT Jay Cardiello, she’s got her glute game on lock.

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In pursuit of a peachier, and stronger, behind, I took on J Lo’s butt routine for a whole month to see exactly how she keeps her tush so toned. I’ll admit, I thought I’d be pretty good at most of the exercises having spent not one, not two, but three lockdowns perfecting my home workout moves (spoiler alert: I thought wrong).

That said, low impact workouts – think yoga and Pilates – are my typical go-to, and consistency is decidedly not my strong suit so the mere thought of this challenge was an intimidating one. But in J Lo we trust and if these are the booty-building workouts she swears by, then I’m willing to give them a go. I spoke to Souad Gharib (@female_pt), personal trainer and founder of her female-only fitness facility that specialises in bootcamps and 1-to-1 training, to guide me on my journey to a stronger bum.

Why are strong glutes so important?

Strong glutes are essential in maintaining our overall health and fitness. So if sitting at a desk (or becoming one with the sofa whilst working from home) all day is your norm, listen up. A powerful posterior is key in injury prevention and making sure other body parts, like our knees, hips, and lower back, aren’t taking unnecessary strain because of weak glutes. That’s called ‘butt amnesia’, FYI. Not only that, a strong bum helps with the following:

  • Stability
  • Maintaining good posture
  • Strength
  • Mitigating effects of tight hip flexors

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    The routine

    Day 1

    • Perform each exercise for 60 seconds, no rest in between sets, for 12 minutes
    • Perform on right leg then move onto left leg
      1. Fire hydrants.
      2. Fire hydrants with forward circling on the bent knee
      3. Fire hydrants with backward circling of the bent knee.
      4. Extend leg behind body and raise up and down (donkey kicks).
      5. Keeping leg extended and parallel to the floor, circle clockwise.
      6. Keeping leg extended and parallel to the floor, circle anti-clockwise.
        1. Day 2

          • Perform each exercise for 60 seconds, no rest in between sets, for 12 minutes
          • Perform on right leg then move onto left leg
          • Stand tall with feet together and arms fully extended. You will look like a cross
            1. Raise knee up and down, keeping foot off of the floor.
            2. Kick leg forward and then backward, do not touch the floor between kicks
            3. Raise knee to belly button. Take the opposite hand of the knee and reach down to touch your toe on the floor while you kick your bent knee and extend it behind your body.
            4. Stand tall and swing your leg as far as you can to the side, repeat.
            5. Circle leg clockwise under the body.
            6. Circle leg anti-clockwise under the body.
              1. Day 3

                • Perform each exercise for 60 seconds, no rest in between sets, for 12 minutes
                • Perform on right leg then move onto left leg
                  1. Lunges
                  2. Lunge and kick butt. Begin in a lunge position, then descend your back hip to the floor. Extend back to standing starting position, kick your back heel to your butt and repeat.
                  3. Lunge and raise front leg to a jump. Begin in a lunge position, descend your hip to the floor. Then, extend back to standing starting position and drive your front knee as high as possible, lifting your foot off of the floor to jump. Land and repeat.
                  4. Lunge with jumps. Being in a low lunge position with the back knee close to the floor. Then, lift your back foot off of the floor and jump it back and forth 2-3 inches.
                  5. Lunge holds. Hold in a low lunge position.
                    1. Day 4

                      • Perform for 30 seconds with 30 seconds rest between each exercise
                      • Rest for 60 seconds between rounds
                      • Perform 3 rounds
                        1. Burpees.
                        2. Squat jumps.
                        3. Jumping jacks.
                        4. Run in place.
                        5. In and out jumps: Stand in a wide squat stance with knees bent. Remain on balls of feet. Jump feet under hips and back to starting position. Repeat.
                          1. Day 5

                            • Perform each exercise for 30 seconds, no rest between sets, for 6 minutes
                            • Begin in a full-plank position
                            • Perform on right leg then move onto left leg
                              1. Fire hydrants.
                              2. Fire hydrants with forward circling of the bent knee.
                              3. Fire hydrants with backward circles of the bent knee.
                              4. Extend leg behind body and raise up and down (donkey kicks).
                              5. Keeping leg extended and parallel to the floor, circle leg clockwise.
                              6. Keeping leg extended and parallel to the floor, circle leg anti-clockwise.
                                1. As well as following the routine, I loosely followed Jay Cardiello’s 8 workout rules to get the full J Lo experience.

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                                  5 things I learned from J Lo’s workouts

                                  1. Form > Anything

                                          Coming as a surprise to virtually no one, good form should be top priority when it comes to working out. Whilst I thought I had this firmly in mind, my body fell victim to my poor technique, and following day three’s lunge-heavy workout my lower back was feeling a little worse for wear. Shame on me.

                                          Souad tells me that my discomfort is likely the result of poor form putting additional pressure on my lumbar and that a few tweaks should alleviate any tension. ‘Make sure your knee doesn’t extend beyond your ankle and toes, lift your chest, engage your core, and make sure you aren’t leaning forward too much,’ she says. ‘Correct form is vital in injury prevention and for getting the most out of your workout. Try exercising with a mirror in front of you to keep an eye on your positioning.’ Sure enough, once I applied Gharib’s advice (and after staring at myself in the mirror for longer than I’d care to admit) the pressure on my lower back eased up.

                                          Emma Gritt

                                          Gharib also cautions me that ‘rushing through a workout with incorrect form means you won’t be engaging the right muscle groups, subsequently hindering your progress.’ She recommends a slower tempo to keep more control over the movement and more tension in the targeted muscle. She also suggests trying variations of exercises to minimise injury and get to grips with the correct form. To scale back squat jumps, Souad says, ‘You don’t have to jump at all if you feel pain in your knees. Grab a stool and squat down until you hit it, stand up, and repeat for 10 – 12 reps. To target your glutes, take a wider stance and squeeze the glute muscles.’

                                          2. J Lo’s workouts are easy to adapt

                                          By the end of the first week of workouts my glutes were on fire, but I wanted to up the ante. With Souad’s go ahead, I added a resistance band to my fire hydrants and boy did I feel the difference. ‘Using a resistance band will definitely make you feel the burn,’ she says, ‘and it will really help to target those glute muscles even more.’ She adds that resistance bands might be a particularly good choice for me as ‘wearing the band slows things down’, meaning I can really focus on form and speed.

                                          Equally, I switched up some of the other exercises that I noticed were taking their toll in the wrong ways (I’m looking at you, burpees). I realised pretty early on in the challenge that my knees are not cut out for a lot of high impact movement and putting excessive pressure on them was only going to result in injury. Gharib concurs and advises I swap out traditional burpees for walk-out burpees to take that pressure off. ‘Medicine ball slams, step ups, high knees, sumo squats, and burpee variations’ are all amazing alternatives for getting your sweat on sans jumping.

                                          3. My balance is way off

                                          Balance is my Achilles heel. Don’t get me wrong, I can put my socks on while standing up, but ask me to do a pistol squat and it’s going to be a hard pass. And, much to my disappointment, all that lockdown yoga I’d been doing doesn’t seem to have prepared me for the slew of one-legged exercises in this challenge. Not only did my constant wobbling slow down my workout, but it also meant I didn’t perform the exercises quite as well as I should have. Souad’s quick fix is to simply stabilise yourself using a wall, stool, or TRX.

                                          To build up balance, though, she tells me that ‘strengthening your core is important in general, but imperative when it comes to stability. Yoga and BOSU balls are also amazing for improving balance’. As it happens, my issues with J Lo’s one-legged exercises may well be down to uneven strength in my legs. To target this, Gharib suggests incorporating single-leg (a.k.a. unilateral) exercises to prevent my dominant leg from compensating, for example split squats and single-leg press.

                                          4. HIIT might be for me, after all

                                          As a devotee of low-intensity exercise, I did not look forward to this part of my new routine. I was 99% sure, that no matter what I tried, I would just never be a HIIT kinda gal. Well, this particular workout might just have converted me. I’ll be real, the first time I did workout no.4 I was exhausted, but I felt amazing. Who’da thought? Souad puts this down to the release of endorphins, chemicals that reduce pain and anxiety and improve your mood. ‘HIIT will result in an endorphin release. It gets your heart pumping, you’re working all of the different muscle groups, and it really energises you.’ Think runner’s high.

                                          Aside from its mood-boosting powers, J Lo’s HIIT circuit is super convenient and effective. Working up a sweat that I can only describe as feeling like I’d taken a shower in my gym gear in just over 20 minutes is seriously impressive stuff, and it made squeezing a good sesh into my day dead easy. Gharib says that a HIIT workout doesn’t have to be long to reap results, ‘it can be as short and sweet as 10 to 20 minutes.’ Bonus.

                                          Jen’s cardio circuit implements one of Cardiello’s fave techniques: rapid muscle response. ‘Rapid muscle response works by forcing the brain to signal neurons to fire more quickly, resulting in faster muscle activation patterns to stabilise the body,’ Jay says. ‘It’s extremely effective for building lean muscle mass because the brain tells the muscles to contract at an increased rate.’

                                          5. What you see in the mirror isn’t the only indicator of progress

                                          Going into this with realistic expectations, I didn’t anticipate much physical change from only a month of workouts. And apart from noticing a slightly perkier bum (which Souad chalks up to a pump), my expectations proved to be pretty on the nose. Finishing the challenge without a butt to rival Jen’s doesn’t mean it was all for nothing, though. Despite not looking much different, I did feel it.

                                          Emma Gritt

                                          While my physical changes may well be temporary, I was noticeably less tired after each workout as the weeks wore on and I definitely felt stronger by the end of the challenge, and that’s what counts. Gharib confirms that ‘you’ll feel the changes before you see them. You’ll feel stronger, more energetic, and your sleep quality and self-esteem will improve.’ ‘Focusing on how you feel is key. When tracking physical changes, you have to take measurements into consideration and not just the number on the scale.’

                                          Final thoughts

                                          Final verdict? J Lo obvs works hard for her butt. I mean, just look at her. And having tried her intense workouts there’s no doubt that they play a huge part in maintaining her strength, but are they sustainable? For me, probably not. The workouts were fast-paced and short which made staying motivated easy, and Jen’s got it right with workouts three and four. Day three’s lunges had my glutes on fire every single week (although, a good workout isn’t characterised by muscle soreness), and I genuinely enjoyed the HIIT circuit.

                                          One thing I will say is that working the same muscle groups every single day got old fast and my concentration waned with every passing workout. My body felt the same and by the end of the challenge my upper body was crying out for attention and my legs and bum were desperate for some R&R. Jay Cardiello’s ‘always include glutes’ rule might work for J Lo, but it certainly didn’t work for me.

                                          The dreaded DOMS got me good during these workouts, and the lack of rest and recovery time made sticking to Jay’s ‘give it all you’ve got’ mantra that much more difficult. Gharib favours finding a good workout split and ‘would not recommend targeting the same muscle groups with back to back training’ if muscle soreness has taken hold. ‘It’s so important to give muscles a break and to let them recover. During breaks, focus on mobility and flexibility to soothe muscles and aid in injury prevention.’

                                          Ultimately, training like Jennifer Lopez was no mean feat. I won’t be rolling up my yoga mat in favour of her super intense workouts, but I’ll be sure to take a leaf out of her book next time I’m in the mood for a serious booty burn.

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                https://www.womenshealthmag.com/uk/fitness/a39770182/i-tried-jennifer-lopez-bum-workout/