A recent study in Strength and Conditioning shows that this technique—called the “pump”—can also prevent the muscle breakdown that often occurs when you’re working out to lose weight (we’re looking at you, cardio queens).
Take any of the following seven exercises for a spin, then check yourself out in the mirror, good lookin’.
1. Kettlebell Swing
This dynamic, high-intensity move works the power muscles throughout your entire backside, like your butt, back, and hamstrings, making them look more toned, says exercise physiologist Pete McCall, CSCS. Plus, it’ll rev your cardiovascular system and get you sweating, which will help reduce any belly bloat caused by excess fluid retention, and even constipation.
Get instant results: Stand tall with feet shoulder-width apart. Bend knees, push hips back, and grab top of kettlebell with both hands. (The kettlebell should be heavy enough to demand serious work, but allow you to maintain proper form.) Swing kettlebell back between legs and, straightening legs, thrust hips forward, squeeze glutes, and swing kettlebell directly in front of chest. Let it fall back through legs to return to start. That’s 1 rep.
This one is all about the butt. After just one set, you’ll notice that your glutes feel firmer, look bigger, and even sit rounder and higher on your backside, he says. Your glutes are your body’s biggest muscle group, and this move hits them hard.
Get instant results: Grab pair of dumbbells with an overhand grip, and hold at arm’s length in front of thighs. Stand with feet hip-width apart and knees slightly bent. Without changing the bend in knees, bend at hips and lower torso until almost parallel to floor. Pause, then raise torso back to starting position. That’s 1 rep.
3. Resistance Band Biceps Curl
“Resistance bands are my go-to for curls because they provide continuous tension in the muscles,” says Taylor Gainor, CSCS, cofounder of LIT Method in Los Angeles. And the longer you keep your biceps tense, the more of a pump you get, she says. “Resistance band biceps curls will leave your arms looking a little bit tighter and toned for the rest of the day,” she says.
Get instant results: Stand on center of resistance band with feet about shoulder-width apart. (Adjust feet if you need more or less resistance.) Hold handles at sides with elbows fixed to waist. Slowly curl arms up to shoulders, and then back down, keeping core engaged. That’s 1 rep.
4. Assisted Chin-Up
“If you want to improve definition in your arms, shoulders, and back with one simple movement, the chin-up is essential,” says McCall. “You’ll see an immediate difference in the definition of those muscles.” Seriously. This move is awesome.
Get instant results: Stand facing assisted chin-up machine or wrap band around chin-up bar with loop hanging underneath it. Grab bar with hands shoulder-width apart, palms facing you. Kneel onto bench or band and let body hang, arms straight. Squeeze back and brace core to pull chest to bar. Pause, then slowly lower back to start. That’s 1 rep.
5. Resisted Bird-Dog
Since this exercise seriously engages your core and butt, it’s a great one to do before a night out in a tight dress, says Suter. For the best results, perform as many reps as you can, she says.
Get instant results: Start on all fours and place resistance band handle snug around 1 foot. Hold other handle with opposite hand so band is stretched. Keeping core strong and engaged, simultaneously extend banded arm and leg so body forms straight line from head to heel. Be sure to squeeze glute of working leg during kick back. That’s 1 rep. Complete reps, then repeat using opposite arm and leg.
Prepare for beyond-burpee levels of impressiveness with this move that’s so cool it should be called “woman-makers.” They’ll blast your arms, legs, shoulders, and—if you’re using a moderate to heavy amount of weight—your core, says Suter. Expect your stomach to de-bloat from all that sweat as your muscles swell. Make sure you have a towel (or bucket) handy to mop up the floors after this one.
Get instant results: Get into high-plank position, holding 1 dumbbell in each hand. Keeping straight line from head to heels, perform 1 single row with each arm. Then, jump or step feet forward and stand up (kind of like performing a burpee). Immediately press dumbbells straight overhead. Lower dumbbells to sides. That’s 1 rep.
7. Sumo Squat
Apart from making your backside sore for days, sumo squats fire up the muscles that run along your inner thighs, says Gainor. They’ll feel instantly tighter, firmer, and stronger.
Get instant results: Stand with feet more than shoulder-width apart, and toes turned out to 45 degrees. With hands clasped in front of you for balance, brace core, and lower body as far into seated position as possible. Pause, then slowly push through glutes and inner thighs to return to start. That’s 1 rep. For extra results, pulse up and down at bottom of squat 30 seconds.