Your glutes do more than hold up your pants. These large muscles help to stabilize your pelvis and lower back, move your legs, and help you to sit and to stand. The glutes function for hip abduction, or moving your legs outward from the side of your body, and hip adduction which involves bringing your leg toward and across the center of your body. Glutes move your legs backward in a hip extension movement. Moving your knees toward your chest when doing a hip flexion movement is also assisted by your glutes. Weak glute muscles can contribute to pain and weakness in your entire lower body. For example, weak hip abductors on the side of your glutes and outside of your upper thigh area can even cause knee pain. When your glutes are not strong, your pelvis may tilt forward and possibly lead to poor balance and further weaken your glutes. Your body will compensate for an unstable pelvis by adjusting your gait when you walk, which can lead to injuries such as ankle sprains and stress on the knees. Strengthening your glutes will help prevent injury and pain, and you might even be pleased with the visual results of a tighter booty!
Butt Exercise #1: Lunges
Lunges are among the most effective glute exercises out there. Lunges also work your legs and core muscles. The standard lunge is performed by standing up straight with your feet about hip-width apart. You can place your hands on your hips for balance. Prepare to lunge by bracing your abdominal muscles and then take one giant step forward. Slowly lower your body straight down toward the floor by bending both knees. Keep your upper body straight and resist the urge to lean forward. Hold the lowered position for 2 to 3 seconds and then push up with your rear leg and step forward to bring your body upright again. Repeat the lunge by stepping forward with the other leg. You can add resistance to your lunge by holding a 5 or 8 pound dumbbell in each hand. Hold a medicine ball straight out in front of your chest for an extra challenge. Holding weights in your hands while lunging not only adds resistance to your workout, but also provides a good workout for your arms and upper body. Do 10 lunges on each leg or 20 repetitions of alternating lunges.
Butt Exercise #2: Squats
No glute workout would be complete without a few squats. The squat is one of the best exercises for your glutes, hips, thighs and core muscles. You perform the standard squat by standing with your feet about hip-width apart and your hands on your hips. Squeeze your abdominal muscles and then hinge your body at the hips. Lower your body until your thighs are parallel with the floor. Keep your back straight, feet flat on the floor, and don’t allow your knees to go forward past your toes. Hold the squat for 3 to 5 seconds and then push your body back upright. Hold a kettlebell or a dumbbell in each hand as you do squats to add extra resistance to your workout. Beginners can squat by standing with your back against a wall and sliding down the wall. Place a large stability ball between your lower back and the wall. As you squat down, the ball will roll up your back. This can help keep your upper body straight and prevent you from leaning forward.
Butt Exercise #3: Bridges
The bridge exercise not only works your glutes, thighs and core, but is also one of the most versatile lower body exercises. You can incorporate exercise equipment, such as stability balls or a foam roller. You can do bridges on one leg, on your heels, or place a towel or foam roller between your knees to include some hip adduction exercise to your bridge. To perform the standard bridge exercise, lie on your back on an exercise mat. Extend your arms straight out from your shoulders with your palms up to stabilize your upper body. Bend your knees and place your heels on the floor with your toes pointed toward the ceiling. Brace your core by squeezing your abs and your glutes. Push your lower body up by raising your pelvis toward the ceiling. Don’t let your back sag or arch so that your belly arches up toward the ceiling. Keep your back straight. Your body should make a straight line from your chest to your knees. Hold the position for up to 30 seconds and then lower your body back to the mat. Rest for 2 seconds and repeat the exercise for 10 to 15 repetitions.
To challenge your balance, place your heels on a large exercise ball to add a unique element to the bridge exercise. Using a stability ball will force your glutes to work harder to provide lower body stability during the exercise. Dig your heels into the ball when you raise your hips off the floor. Try to hold the stability ball bridge for up to 30 seconds. For an even greater challenge, do one-leg bridges by raising your body to the bridge position and then lifting one foot off the floor. Try raising your knee back toward your chest and holding the position for 15 to 30 seconds. Lower your leg and then repeat on the other side. Lower your body to the floor and rest for 2 seconds and then repeat up to 20 repetitions.
To get your glutes in shape and keep them strong, incorporate a lower body glute circuit to your workout 2 to 3 days each week. When you do circuits, don’t work the same body parts and muscle groups on consecutive days. Work your upper body one day and your core or lower body the next day to allow your muscles at least 24 hours to rest and repair between workouts. Glute workouts may consist of two sets of 20 repetitions of each exercise. Rest for 30 seconds between sets. Circuits can be intense so it’s important for beginners not to overdo it. Start out with two sets twice each week. Exercise for no more than 20 minutes. When you grow stronger and your endurance increases, add a set or do your lower body circuit 3 days each week. By using these different exercises and workouts you will be able to strengthen your glutes, reduce pain and tone up your butt in no time!