There are three main muscles that are found in the gluteal muscle group which is more commonly known as the buttocks. These three muscles include the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius and the gluteus minimus. While they all have some different functions, they all work together to create movement in the lower body for activities such as walking and running. It is also very important to maintain strength in these muscles to prevent pain or discomfort from an uneven balance in the body.
Exercise Guides For Your Butt and Glutes
One Legged Cable Kickbacks
Exercise Instructions: This exercise is performed using a pulley machine. Attach a small hand attachment to the lower section of a pulley machine. Place one foot through the handle opening of the small hand attachment so that it becomes wrapped around your ankle. Keeping your leg straight, smoothly kick your heel backward about one foot. Hold your leg at the top of this movement for a one-count and repeat with the opposite leg.
Dumbbell Bench Step Ups
Exercise Instructions: Stand next to a flat bench with a dumbbell in each hand hanging at your sides. Step up onto the bench with one foot and then bring up the other foot so that you end up standing on the bench with both feet. To return to the floor, carefully step backward off of the bench with the same foot you started with. Repeat the movement with the opposite foot first and alternate for 10 repetitions on each leg.
Exercise Band Kickbacks
Exercise Instructions: This exercise is similar to the one-legged cable kickbacks except that instead of kicking your leg straight back behind you will extend it back and outward at roughly a 45 degree angle. Keeping your leg straight, smoothly kick your heel backward and away from your body at about a 45 degree angle for a distance of about 12-15 inches. Hold your leg at the top of this movement for a one-count and repeat with the opposite leg. You can use the pulley machine or surgical tubing to perform this exercise, depending on the amount of resistance your desire.
Exercise Ball Butt Raises
Exercise Instructions: While laying on your back, place your feet on the top of an exercise ball. Slowly raise your butt off the floor and really squeeze your glutes at the top of the movement. Slowly lower your butt back to the starting position and repeat.
Exercise Ball Inverted Leg Lifts
Exercise Instructions: Place your hands securely on the floor and position your feet on the top of an exercise ball. Position your body so it’s almost in a 90 degree angle and raise one leg as high as you can towards the ceiling. Make sure to really squeeze your glutes at the top of the movement. Slowly lower your leg to the starting position and repeat with your other leg.
Exercise Ball Leg Raises
Exercise Instructions: Lie on your side on a mat on the floor with your arms crossed in front of your body. Place a large exercise ball in between your feet and slowly lift the ball up toward the ceiling using only your hips and butt. Return to the start position and repeat.
Exercise Instructions: Get on your hands and knees on a mat on the floor with your back parallel to the ground. In a controlled motion, thrust one of your feet backwards as though you are kicking like a horse. Be sure to really flex your butt for a one-count when your leg is fully extended back behind you. Return to the start position and repeat with the opposite leg.
Exercise Instructions: Be sure to check with a trainer at your gym to assist you with how to properly use the leg press machine if you are not familiar with it. Position yourself on the leg press machine with your feet firmly on the platform just beyond shoulder width apart. Lower the platform by slowly bringing your knees to your chest. Next, press the platform upward in an explosive fashion and repeat.
Lying Butt Bridge
Exercise Instructions: Begin by lying down on a mat or comfortable area on the floor. Place your hands at your sides, preferably palms up. Bend your knees so your feet are flat on the ground at about shoulder width. Press your heels into the ground and squeeze your butt as you lift up your hips. At the same time, slightly arch your back so your chest slightly reaches towards your chin. Come all the way up until your spine and hips form a straight line or even slightly higher. Hold for a few seconds while squeezing your gluteus and breathing naturally. Lower yourself back down to the floor and repeat.
Reverse Dumbbell Lunge
Exercise Instructions: Stand with your feet about shoulder width apart and grab a dumbbell in each hand and let them hang at your sides. Begin by reaching one of your feet back behind you like you are taking the first step if walking backwards. Really reach back with this stride to get a good stretch. Bring that leg back to the start position and repeat the same movement with your opposite leg. Be sure to keep your back firmly upright and straight throughout this exercise.
Single Dumbbell Plie Squat
Exercise Instructions: Grab a dumbbell with both hands and let it hang down in between your legs in front of you. Keeping your back straight, execute a deep squat and really focus on letting your butt do all of the work. Return to the start position and repeat.
Smith Machine Squat
Exercise Instructions: Using a Smith Machine, place the barbell across your shoulders behind your neck. Your legs should be a bit wider than shoulder width apart. To execute this exercise properly, simply squat down until your thighs become parallel to the floor. Visualize sitting down into a chair and be sure that you keep your back as straight and upright as possible throughout the entire movement. Return to the start position and repeat.
Smith Machine Stiff Leg Deadlift
Exercise Instructions: Using a smith machine, position your feet shoulder width apart and hold your arms naturally down to your sides. Securely hold the smith machine barbell and slowly bend down while keeping a little bend in your knees and tension on your hamstrings (back of leg). From the bottom position, slowly extend back up using your hamstring muscles until you’re at the starting position.
Walking Dumbbell Lunge
Exercise Instructions: Grab a dumbbell in each hand and find an area where you can walk for about 20 feet unobstructed. Beginning with one foot, simply stride forward (walk) as far as you comfortably can while keeping the dumbbells hanging down at your sides. It is very important that when you plant your striding foot that your knee stays perpendicular to the floor and does not extend past that point. Continue to alternate strides for 10 steps on each leg.
The Muscles of The Butt and Glutes
The gluteus maximus is the largest of the three muscles. This is the main muscle responsible for the shape of the buttocks. It is attached from the upper thigh bone to the pelvis and tailbone and its main responsibility is to maintain balance in the lower body during walking and running. While walking, this muscle will tighten as the heel of the foot makes impact with the ground to slow the forward movement of the leg. While running, this muscle will tighten on the stationary or standing leg to help control the forward movement of the lower body. As this muscle lifts the body from squatted positions, it also assists to propel the body forward when moving on inclines or uneven areas.
Popular exercises for building the gluteus maximus are squats, lunges and step ups (using your own body weight or with added resistance using dumbbells or a barbell). It is critical to use proper technique during squats to avoid injury by keeping the feet shoulder width apart with your toes pointed slightly outward, while keeping the core and upper body straight. Good posture is extremely important. Like squats, lunges can be performed using your own body weight or with dumbbells or a barbell for added resistance. With lunges, the body should remain centered while stepping forward and lunging to create a 90 degree angle in the knees. When performing step-ups you should use a step high enough to create a 90 degree angle with the knee and use the stepping leg to lift the body up and guide it back down to the floor with the floating leg.
The gluteus medius is slightly higher on the buttocks and about one-third is covered on its lower area by the gluteus maximus. This muscle is attached from the top of the pelvis to the outer edge of the upper thigh bone by a tendon formed at the base of the muscle. It is primarily responsible for the stability of the pelvis. It keeps the pelvis from dropping on the stationary side of the body as the foot is lifted off the ground. Weakness in this muscle will cause abnormal walking patterns from re-centering gravity through the body and can also result in less efficiency through shorter steps.
Great exercises for the gluteus medius start with an exercise called the “hydrant”. Position yourself on all fours with your arms directly under your shoulders, then straighten the leg and bring it up towards the side of the body. Lying leg lifts also help to promote strength in this muscle. Lay on one side with your underneath leg bent and bring one leg straight up to the side of the body creating a 90 degree angle with the body. The side-plank is similar to this exercise and it involves bringing the leg up from the body. It is a little different since you will be holding your body up using your elbow which is placed on the floor while keeping your body in a straight line. Another effective exercise to target the gluteal muscles is the one leg squat using just your body weight. This not only works your glutes, but it also targets your quadriceps and hamstrings very well. These are all great exercises to promote strength in the hips also which is a muscle that’s critical to the overall balance of the body.
The gluteus minimus is the smallest of the three muscles of the gluteal region and it has a triangular, fan-like shape. It is slightly separated from the medius by branches of the superior gluteal neurovascular bundle made up of nerves and blood vessels. It is primarily responsible for keeping the hip in place and has multiple functions such as moving the leg forward, to the side and the inward rotation of the thigh.
A few popular exercises to build the gluteus minimus are the hip hitch and the clam exercise. With the hip hitch, one leg should be on a step just slightly off the floor. Drop the opposite hip down and lift back up slowly, creating flexibility and strength. For the clam exercise, lay on the floor with both knees bent with your forearm supporting your head. Slowly lift the leg while not touching the floor and continuously tightening the buttocks. This exercise will also help with development of the medius. It’s very important to include gluteal training in your overall fitness plan to build up strength in this key area of your body.