By Grethe Swart; photograph by Garreth Barclay; Video by Leigh Cann
Former Men’s Health cover star and Cape Town hottie, Ryan Botha, gives the low-down on the 5 basic exercises every woman should use to tighten and tone in time for summer!
We visited him at the Pointbreak Fitness Centre in Greenpoint, where the secrets were spilled and the sweat was drippin’. Time to tone up!
1. Drop it like it’s hot: The squat
“Make sure you squat shoulder-width apart and that your knees never pass your toes. When you go down into the squat, you should basically be sitting at a 90° angle and push the weight through your heels, toes relaxed. Keep your core nice and tight and, as you come up, squeeze your glutes. Repeat. Make sure it’s a nice controlled movement – no jarring, no bouncing,” says Botha.
*Do 3 sets of 30 squats to start off with. As you become stronger and fitter, increase the rep count. How low should you go?
2. Dip it low: The lunge
“Starting off in a standing position, take a nice big step forward – big enough so that when you come down into the lunge position, your front knee doesn’t pass your toe. Ensure your back is knee bent, 90° knee to the ground (back and front leg). Push off the front leg into starting position and alternate back to the other leg. Repeat.”
*Do 3 sets of 15 reps per leg. Not sure if you’re mastering the lunge? Here’s how.
3. Raise the roof: Calf raises
“In a standing position, full extension up onto your toes, tighten the calves up, then take a slow and controlled movement down to the ground and repeat. When you come up, hold that toe stretch position for a second to feel those calves burn.”
*Do 5 sets of 20 reps. “Your calves should burn. As long as it’s a tightening up burn and not a pulling burn, it’s fine.”
4. Pick it up: Jane Fonda with weights
“A sequence of 30 sec. exercises where you change between exercises. It ranges from punching to extension movements, to biceps curls and shoulder press. Make sure you’re always on your toes, always bouncing to the rhythm. You’ll feel it working your arms, shoulders, triceps, biceps, forearms – everything. Always keep your abs tight – it’s a functional base movement so the abs need to be tight.”
*Do each set for 30 seconds, alternating between exercises, for at least 7 minutes.
5. Burn baby burn: Crunches (full three-range movement)
a) Jack knife (bottom abs)
“Leaning back, tighten your abs, belly button towards the spine, knees to chest. Full extension out, nice and controlled movement back. No shaking, no jarring.”
b) 90 crunch (top abs)
“Chest towards knees, tighten your abs, and slowly go back down. Repeat”
c) Side-to-side glute crunch (side abs)
“With each movement, reach to the side and touch the ankle, alternating between sides. Repeat.”
*Do 3 sets of 30 per exercise to start off with.
REMEMBER: “The point is that you want your muscles to burn. When they burn in a controlled manner, they’re toning and tightening,” says Botha.
Do you get bored easily when doing abs exercises? Try the super fun Cha Cha Side plank challenge and let us know what you think! Looking to tone while having fun and learning something new? Check out How To Tone Up With A Pole Dancing.