// THT '07: Tummy, hips and thighs revived

by Lisa Westlake

Many of us may cringe or giggle at the memory of classes in which we performed moves such as the ‘bottom walk’ or the ‘doggy leg raise’ on our hands and knees, in the quest for a wash-board abdomen, ‘Elle’ legs and a taught tush.

The Tummy, Hips and Thighs (THT) class came, and it went. But now, like so many things from the 80s – it’s back! The time is right to bring THT classes out of the closet, and to add some effective renovations and improvements!

This surprisingly intense workout is free of complicated choreography and frustration, making it a favourite among those who want no fuss, strong and effective ‘below the belt’ training.

The revived THT class involves low impact cardio training using the step to hone in on quads and gluteals. This is followed by conditioning and core work on the fitball, focusing on abdominals, back muscles, gluteals, hamstrings and quadriceps.

Why work half your body when you brought all of your body to class? Providing the option of using light to medium dumbbells gives clients the option of raising the overall workout level and of incorporating upper body conditioning.

Variations and progressions

• Participants can alter their workout level to suit their individual ability by varying the height of the step (maximum of two blocks each end).
• Those new to the class or with an upper body concern should not use dumbbells.
• Options are also provided in the fitball section.

THT revived class plan

Start the class with the step ready to go, and hand weights and fitballs out of the way ready for later. A five to ten-minute low impact warm up is followed by slow controlled moves on the step, working at 120 to 130 bpm, for 20 to 30 minutes.

Lunges and squats on the floor and step can be interspersed throughout the exercises. Low load, high repetition upper body conditioning is an option for participants looking to increase intensity. Half way through the class, get your participants to put their steps away, and move on to training abs, backs, gluteals and hamstrings on the fitball. Naturally, it is important to finish with stretching all of the muscles used. Perform the following exercises on the right leg, then repeat on the left. Spend one or two minutes on each exercise.

Important considerations

• For healthy posture, injury prevention and great results ensure you train anterior and posterior muscle groups equally.
• Instructors must look out for poor form and cue for slow, strong, controlled technique.
• Core stability and postural alignment are a high priority throughout.

Reach and extend

Starting position (photo 1). Action (photo 2)

• Stand behind the step with your right foot on the step, left foot close to the step, on the floor, knee bent.
• Bend your elbows back and tuck them in close to your body.
• Stand on the step, extending and lengthening your left leg backwards, simultaneously reaching forwards.
• Return to the floor, bending your left knee and weight-bearing into the heel, as you draw your elbows back and inwards.

Technique tip
• Keep chest upright and back straight.
• Bend the supporting (floor) knee and weight bear into the heel as you land.
• Squeeze the back leg straight and long towards the floor. Do not throw it backwards or arch your back.

Side raise

Starting position (photo 3). Action (photo 4).

• Side on to the step, with your left foot on the floor and knee bent.
• Right foot resting lightly on the step.
• Elbows bent to 90 degrees and tucked in close to your body.

• Extend your right leg to stand up on step and adduct your left leg
sideways. Simultaneously laterally raise your elbows to shoulder height.
• Lower your heel back down to the floor, bending your left knee as you land. Lower your arms back to your sides.

Technique tip
• Keep the outer leg straight and pointing forward (avoid external rotation of hip).
• Engage your core and elongate your spine to maintain upright posture and avoid leaning sideways.

Step around

Starting position (photo 5). Action (photos 6 &7).

• Side on with right foot resting lightly on the Step, left foot on the floor, knee bent.
• Elbows bent to 90 degrees and tucked in close to your body.

• ‘Chug’ or walk around the step, taking small, double-time steps that raise and lower your body as you travel around the step. Keep your back straight and create a small pumping movement with your arms by your side.

Technique tip
• Bend your floor knee every time you land. Think of going both higher and lower as you travel around the step.

Tap from top

Starting position
• Standing in a narrow squat position on the step, holding hand weights by side.

Action (photo 8)

• Tap one foot lightly on the floor, keeping the supporting knee flexed in the squat position.
• Perform biceps curls simultaneously.
• Return foot to step and extend elbows, then repeat on other foot.

• Continue alternating legs,
maintaining the squat position.
Technique tip
• Keep supporting knee bent and
body still as you ‘test the water’ with
each foot lightly touching the floor.
Progress ion
• Repeat several foot taps to one side,
balancing on one bent knee, before
repeating on the other leg.

Balance and curl

Starting position (photo 9). Action (photo 10).

• Stand on the step on your right
foot, with your right knee bent and weight in the heel.
• Holding hand weights, tuck your elbows back and in.
• Rest your left foot on the floor, or just off the floor, to increase the challenge to stabilise.

• Flex the left knee to slowly squeeze your heel towards your hip.
• Use controlled, strong ‘self resistance’ to avoid kicking your foot upwards.
• Simultaneously extend elbows.

Technique tip
• Keep the supporting (step) knee bent and stable.
• Avoid shrugging your shoulders.

Step lunge

Starting position (photo 11). Action (photo 12).

• Right foot on the step, left foot a long step behind, resting on the ball of the foot. Hold hand weights in front of chest, elbows raised laterally.

• Lunge, bending both knees and lower hands towards floor.
• Perform an upright row as you return to start position.
• Repeat 10 to 20 times before changing legs

Technique tip
• Keep weight back in heel of front foot and avoid shrugging shoulders.

Prone swim kick

Starting position
• Lie prone on the ball, legs raised to hip height and balanced so that hands can rest lightly on the floor.

• Look at the floor to maintain spinal alignment and avoid neck strain.

Action (photo 13)

• Perform a slow straight leg kicking action.

Technique tip
• Keep your legs straight and strong.

• Rest one foot on the floor and slowly raise and lower the other leg.

• Try raising one hand off the floor.
The less you lean on your fingers, the more you train back strength, balance and stability.

Self resisted hip extension

Starting position (photo 14)

• Lie prone on the ball, resting very lightly on fingers on the floor.

• Legs extended, left crossed over right.

• Slowly raise and lower your right leg, providing self-resistance to hip extension, by pushing down with the left leg.
• Perform several reps then kneel on the floor and stretch out your back before repeating on second leg.

Technique tip
• Use slow, controlled resistance.

Side leg raise

Starting position (photo 15)

• Kneel beside the ball and push it in under your left hip.
• Lie sideways over the ball and extend your right leg out to align it with your body. Slide your left knee out slightly to allow your left hip to rest into the ball.


• Raise and lower your right leg from the floor to hip height.
• Perform several reps, stretch, and then repeat on the other leg.

Technique tip

• Keep your moving leg straight and your knee facing forward. Avoid the temptation to externally rotate the hip.
• Keep your body and the ball still and stable.


• Lie on your side on the floor for the same exercise.


• Keep your foot at hip height and slowly glide your leg forwards and backwards.
• This increases the challenge to stability and control.

Ab curl on the ball

Starting position
• From the seated position, take a big step forward and roll carefully down
to supine. The ball must be supporting your lower back and tail bone.
• Feet hip width apart, heels under knees.

Action (photo 16)

• Engage your core, then slowly roll your spine up off the ball, curling up one vertebrae at a time.
• Slowly roll back down.

Technique tip
• Keep your elbows back and chin off chest.

• Perform the ab curl on the floor.

• Take a small step backwards to be slightly further back over the ball, or bring your knees and feet together.

Curl and extend (photo 17)

• For a challenging progression, extend one foot out in front as you roll up off the ball.

Ball curl wit h knee pull

This exercise is for those with strong abs, and excellent balance and control on the ball.

Starting position
• As for regular ab curl on the ball.

Action (photos 18 & 19)

• Extend one leg to raise foot off the floor.
• Recruit core abdominals and then roll
your spine up off the ball. At the same time pull your knee towards your chest.
• Roll back down as you extend the leg long again.
• Repeat 10 times before changing legs.

Technique tip
• If you feel wobbly or lacking control, leave your foot on the floor and raise just your heel. Expect to feel more confident on one foot than the other.

Rolling ab curl

• A gentle variation for ab curls using the ball.

Starting position
• Supine on the floor, with knees bent and fitball resting on abdomen.

Action (photo 20)
• Slowly roll the ball up your thighs to your knees, allowing the spine to round up off the floor, one vertebra at a time.


Lisa Westlake, BAppSc (physio)
Lisa has worked in the health and fitness industry for over twenty years. Australian Fitness Network named her Fitness Instructor of the Year in 2000, and Presenter of the Year in 2003. Through her business, Physical Best, Lisa combines physiotherapy and fitness to create classes and programs for a variety of ages, levels and abilities, and is well known for her work in developing the Fitball program in Australia.