Unconventional Fitness: Squeeze Your Butt, Raise Your Grade

Energy Express

EnergyExpress 0323

August 2023 Issue
Energy Express by Marilynn Preston

I offer up three ideas—three luscious summer fruits—to move you toward better health, greater happiness and an organic chicken in every pot.

Just to remind you, lifestyle change is a step-by-step kind of thing. No one can do it for you, not even your mother. Sometimes it’s two steps forward, one step back. And that’s OK, because every day you can begin again, eating smarter, moving instead of sitting, mindfully releasing the stress and heebie-jeebies that come from watching the news.


Body awareness is a marvelous thing. Take your butt, for instance. If you let nature take her course, you will, over time, notice it sagging and becoming listless. Buns of steel naturally turn into buns of cinnamon. Butt it doesn’t have to be that way.

Tush muscles are made for squeezing, and the more you engage them, the longer they appear perky. Bottom line? Next time you’re in traffic waiting for the light to change, or standing at your computer, or doing the dishes, use that time to build a stronger butt and draw energy to your core.

How? Work those glutes! The maximus, the minimus and the medius. Shift your attention to the base of your spine, and squeeze your glutes as though you were pushing a golden light up your spine, all the way out the top of your head. Hold that squeeze and that energizing visualization for a count of 10. Relax and repeat, whenever you can, for the rest of your life.


Walking or running on a strong, stable treadmill is one of the most popular ways to exercise. To get the most out of your cardio time, venture out of your comfort zone by cranking up the grade.

Walking up a 10 percent grade will burn 75 percent more calories than walking on a flat surface. Walking uphill also makes your muscles work harder and gets your pulse up more quickly. And may I remind you that aerobic workouts are proven to enhance memory.

But, dear reader, don’t torture yourself or elevate to the point of pain. Feeling breathless for too long is counterproductive, so vary the challenge. Move the grade up, and allow yourself to breathe hard for a minute or two; then ease it down when it’s time to recover.

It’s called interval training—alternating hard and easy moments in a workout—and it’s one of the hottest old trends in fitness today. A 20-30 minute high intensity training session will improve your cardiovascular fitness in a way that an hour of easy ambling never will, though both have their place when it comes to boosting your overall well-being.


Lifting weights is a heroic way to build strength, protect joints and—if you’re patient—reshape your body. But lifting weights in a herky-jerky way, out of alignment and out of control, is a bad habit that can lead to trouble.

What’s a better way? Lift with awareness, in control, using your muscle power, not your momentum. Don’t tense your muscles to make them strong. Just the opposite: Relax, and let the energy flow. Experiment with a s-l-o-w count, four counts up, four counts down, and slow it down gradually to eight or 10 counts, up and down.

Focus, focus, focus on the inner game. You’ll be amazed how quickly your muscles will tire just by slowing the pace and adding concentration.

And don’t forget to connect to your breath! Your breath is your best friend when it comes to strength training. (And all of life, actually.) On your inhale, expand your lungs, top to bottom, and feel your heart lift. Exhale with great enthusiasm as you lift up the weight. Exhale right into the muscle, joint or body part you’re working with, visually and mentally.

It sounds abstract because it is abstract, but there’s no doubt the mind and body are energetically connected. Practice this technique of touching your body with your breath—when you lift, when you stretch—and you’ll ease tightness and increase your range of motion. You’ll also experience the mind-body connection for yourself. A true aha moment.



“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.”
— Jim Rohr

Marilynn Preston is the author of Energy Express, America's longest-running healthy lifestyle column. Her book All Is Well: The Art {and Science} of Personal Well-Being is available on Amazon and elsewhere. For more on personal well-being, visit www.MarilynnPreston.com. 
© 2023 Energy Express, Ltd.

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