Get Great Glutes: The Top 3 Exercises for a Better Butt
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I start every evaluation by asking the new member about their goals. Everyone has different fitness objectives, but almost everyone – especially females – points to one body part in particular that they’d like to improve: the backside.
I’ll often joke with clients that the best part of my job is getting to talk about butts all day. That gets some giggles, but it’s true because literally everyone wants greater glutes. Whether it’s as simple as looking better in a bikini or as advanced as getting stronger glutes for improved athletic performance, we spend a lot of time working on the behind.
When shaping the keister, I rely heavily on three exercises that target the glutes from different angles. If a better butt is on your wish list, read on:
First and foremost, squats hit the glutes better than just about any exercise. And notice I said “deep” squats. Those shallow knee-bends that you call squats won’t cut it. That’s not just tough-guy talk. We’ve got proof from the lab to back it up.
Studies show that the lower you squat, the more your glutes get involved. That’s because the glutes extend the hip as you stand back up from the bottom of a squat. The lower you go, the more your glutes work to extend the hip and the more they’ll grow.
But wait! Your glutes are actually made up of three muscles: the gluteus maximus (the big slabs that you sit on), the gluteus medius (smaller muscles on the “top” of your butt that sit slightly behind and below your hip bones) and the gluteus minimus (even smaller butt muscles buried underneath the gluteus maximus). The three muscles work together to create the round shape we all know and love.
What’s the point about having three glute muscles? Well, the gluteus medius and minimus function to externally rotate your hip (i.e. move your knees away from each other), which is a fundamental movement of the squat.
Think about it – when you squat, you have to sit your butt “between your knees”, which means your hips rotate outwards to make room. The gluteus medius and minimus are in charge of external rotation, so squatting builds them up too. This is great news because these muscles shape the “top” of the butt, giving you a perkier, fuller-looking butt.
Goblet Squats are easy to learn and teach proper squat technique. Hold a dumbbell at chest height with palms underneath the top as if you were drinking milk out of a cereal bowl (hence the name “goblet squat”). With your feet hip width apart, sit your butt back and descend between your knees while keeping your chest tall. At the bottom, drive the floor away from you with your heels and stand back up.
Start with 4 sets of 8 reps twice a week, adding weight each workout. Once you can do 4 sets of 12 reps with your starting weight, go heavier and start back at 8 reps.
Few exercises load the glutes more directly than glute bridges. While squats target the glutes most in the bottom position when the glutes are stretched, glute bridges challenge the butt in full hip extension, which gives a serious burn – and serious results.
Glute bridges also teach you how to create what’s called a posterior pelvic tilt. When you flex your abs and your glutes together, you drop the back of the pelvis and flatten your lower back. This can reduce lower back pain and even make your stomach appear flatter! It’s a win-win.
Glute Bridge Holds are like planks for your booty. Lay flat on your back with your knees bent and heels flat on the floor. With your feet about 6 inches away from your butt, press your lower back into the floor (that’s posterior pelvic tilt). Then, lift your hips as high as you can, as if you had a rope that ran from your bellybutton to the ceiling. Squeeze your glutes as hard as you can and hold that position anywhere from 20 seconds to a minute.
Anyone who does Kettlebell Swings with me knows they burn fat like nobody’s business. But did you know that swings hit the glutes in a way that squats and glute bridges can’t?
You see, the swing is what’s called a hip hinge, which refers to any exercise that shifts your hips backwards while keeping the knees in one place. And the beautiful thing about the hip hinge is that it targets the glutes and hamstrings at the same time.
When you swing, push your hips back far enough that you feel a good stretch in your hammies. Then, when you swing the kettlebell to chest height, squeeze your glutes as hard as you can. This targets that troublesome area where the upper hamstrings meet the bottom of the butt. Females always talk about adding more “curve” to this area and kettlebell swings are the answer.
Use a kettlebell that’s heavy enough that you need some “oomph” from your hips to swing it. It shouldn’t be so light that you could raise it with just your arms. Try setting a timer for 60 seconds and doing as many swings as you can. Go all out for a minute, rest for 30 seconds and repeat 3-4 times for a heart-pumping, glute-building workout.
Give these three exercises a try and let us know how you like them!
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