Monday, May 24, 2004

'Genie' workout grants your wish

Great exercise for lower body
is also one of the simplest

By Dave Patania
Enquirer contributor

One of the questions I am most often asked is "What is the best exercise to shape and tone the lower body?"

I try to stay away from words like "best" because in the world of fitness, there are so many types of exercises that can do wonders for the lower body.

However, the basic front squat, or "genie squat," is a great, all-around exercise that can be performed anywhere, including the gym, office, at home or in a hotel room when traveling. Another great benefit of this exercise is that it doesn't require any type of equipment. When performed correctly and with enough repetitions, you can achieve an amazing burn that will give you a cardiovascular and a muscular workout.

Remember to check with your doctor before starting any type of exercise program and that exercise without high quality nutrition is not nearly as effective.

Instructions: Cross your arms and hold them in front of your body. Start with your knees slightly bent, your feet shoulder-width apart and your toes turned slightly outward. Stick your chest up/out, keep your shoulders upright and position your head and chin up toward the ceiling. This will keep your back stable/straight and prevent you from bending forward as you perform the exercise. Slowly squat down (as if you were to sit in a chair) until your buttocks are at or below parallel to the floor; return to the starting position and repeat.

Try to go as low as you can, so as to recruit as many muscles as possible. Be sure to keep the head and chin up at all times and do not let your knees come together as you perform the exercise. Breathe consistently throughout the duration of your movement. Perform one to three sets of 15-20 repetitions for beginners and 20-100 for moderate to advanced exercisers.

Tip for variation: If you want to target the inner thigh muscles, place your legs in a very wide stance (about 8-12 inches past the tip of each shoulder). With your toes pointed slightly outward, perform the movement as instructed above. To target the frontal part and outer sweep of your thighs, place your feet in a close stance (about 6-8 inches apart) and perform this movement for a great burn. To achieve a cardiovascular/strength benefit, take no more than 30 seconds of rest in between sets and perform each repetition slowly and go as far down as you can.

Tip for advanced exercisers: Immediately after each set of front squats, try to perform the same number of push-ups for a great whole body burn, rest no more than 30 seconds and repeat two more times.

Contact personal trainer Dave Patania by e-mail:

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