If you have been looking for ideas/inspiration for new ways to target your legs and glutes, try incorporating the balance trainer!! This 'half ball' is a versatile and useful piece of equipment that can be seen at many gyms, and also purchased here online for home use! The bottom of the balance trainer is a flat, hard plastic material while the opposite side is a rubberized, 'half-ball'. Either side can face up depending on the exercise. The benefit of using the balance trainer is the rubberized surface forces you to engage your stabilization muscles (i.e. core) for balance and maintain form while performing the exercise. The following pictures demonstrate 4 exercises to target your legs and glutes. Let's get started! 1) Lateral Squats Traditionally, the lateral squat puts greater emphasis on the outer glute, as well as inner thigh muscles while moving side-to-side. Incorporating the balance trainer makes this move more advanced while only using body weight. Start with the balance trainer on the floor, rubber side up. Place either heel on the centre of the ball, the other other the floor, wider than hip width apart, toes pointed slightly outward. Keeping your core engaged, chest up and back straight- assume the squat position. Knees should follow direction of the toes, thighs just above parallel to the floor. Driving your weight through your heels, squat upwards to a small 'hop'- hopping laterally over the centre of the ball. As you cross over the ball, switch feet and place other foot on the centre of the ball, land the opposite foot on the floor. Assume squat position as in first step. Squat upwards, move laterally to the opposite side of the ball, and so on. Repeat 10 times each side. To make this move more cardio-based or to incorporate into a circuit, simply increase the speed of your lateral squats. 2) Fire Hydrant This cutely-described move (imagine a puppy at a fire hydrant- you'll get the idea ;)) also helps target the outer-glute. By using the balance trainer, it requires effort from both sides: one to stabilize on the ball, the other to actively lift the leg. Position yourself onto the floor on all fours: balance trainer is on the floor rubber-side up. Place knee on either leg on the centre of the ball. Ensure your hands are approximately shoulder-width apart for balance, back is straight. With opposite leg off the ball, slightly have leg bent and raise to the side- away from the body. Do not rotate your hips. At the highest point of resistance, lower leg to body. Repeat 10-15 times each leg. To create an even greater challenge: either pause lifted leg for 2-3 seconds, or increase the speed of the exercises. 3) Static Lunge Much like the traditional stationary lunge, this move using the balance trainer creates a greater challenge requiring much balance from both upper (back and core) and lower areas. Start with the balance trainer on the floor, rubber side up. Place either foot forward, heel on the centre of the ball. Back leg's heel is raised; hands resting on hips for balance. With chest up and back straight, lower into lunge position: front leg is bent to 90 degrees/parallel to the floor, back leg is slightly bent and off the floor. Ensure your knee doesn't go over your front toe. Driving weight from your front heel, push off the ball, returning feet together on floor. Repeat, lunging on to ball with opposite leg. Perform exercise 10-15 times each leg, or until failure. Form and balance are key: less focus on tempo here. 4) Single-Leg Glute Bridge The traditional glute bridge is often performed with a weighted body bar or barbell. Using the balance trainer requires balance throughout your core, glutes and hamstrings. This is a challenging, advanced version of the bridge with just your body weight! Start by laying with your back on the floor, arms on either side of hips for stability. With the balance trainer facing rubber side up, place either heel on centre of ball; ball should be aligned with the hip. Hold opposite leg straight and off the floor. Driving through your heel on the ball, thrust up and lift glutes and lower back off the floor: only your shoulders, arms, and foot on ball are grounded. At the highest point of resistance, slowly lower back down to the floor. Repeat 10-15 times each leg. To make this move more intense, increase the speed of the movement. The balance trainer is a convenient and versatile piece of equipment. It makes traditional moves more advanced and efficient, and involves recruiting more muscle groups Try incorporating these moves into your next workout and give your traditional moves a challenging makeover!