When I was a Texas undergrad, I was consistently attracted to the cowboys who wandered about campus; years in the saddle made them look mighty fine from behind in their Wranglers. Of course, the butt muscles are the largest muscles in the body. So when worked out, they look terrific. But ignored, they present a LARGE problem in a hurry. Three muscles known as the gluteus maximus, the gluteus medius, and the gluteus miniumus, make up one’s rear end. The maximus comprises the biggest portion of the tush, the medius sits at the top of the hips, and the minimus rests in between.
Most of us are motivated to work our glutes in order to look toned and sculpted and fabulous in jeans. However, a strong butt serves functional purposes as well. Not only does it help stabilize the back, it also helps us climb stairs, sit and stand, get in and out of the car, and carry out daily chores and countless other tasks. The following five exercises will activate the gluteal muscles and transform droopy and flabby into shapely and firm for a sexy and strong derriere:
- Ready: Lie on your back with your knees bent, shoulder width apart and feet flat on the floor. Inhale and exhale several times slowly.
- Set: Lift your hips off the floor and engage your abdominal muscles, with your weight mostly on your heels pressing into the floor. Try not to push your hips too far up so as to avoid overarching your back muscles.
- Go: Slowly lower back down without letting the hips touch the floor. Maintain the position and repeat the exercise 10-20 times.
- Exercise Challenge: Try lifting one leg in the air as you lift your hips off the floor or holding a dumbbell or medicine ball on your hips as you lift.
This is a simple move that works the butt and can be done anywhere, anytime with no equipment. The platypus walk engages the butt, thighs, and core, and challenges one’s balance as well. I love this move for all the different muscles it involves and it’s also fun to do.
- Ready: Start with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart with toes pointed out (think plié position in ballet).
- Set: As you sink into the plié position, keep your back straight and your arms raised as if you are holding your ears.
- Go: Maintain this position and begin slowly walking forward 10-20 steps then back 10-20 steps. Repeat 2-3 times.
- Exercise Challenge: Increase your distance and speed.
Ready: No equipment is needed as you start with feet shoulder width and toes lined up with your knees. Place your hands on the side of your hips. Stand tall with your chin parallel to the floor, shoulder blades together, abdominals engaged and chest up. Inhale and exhale throughout the movement.
Set: Keep your weight shifted back onto your heels as your hips and butt prepare to jut out behind you. A good cue is to think of sitting in a chair. Like a hinge, your hips and knees bend in unison as you lower your butt, and your knees will start to shift forward.
Go: Begin to slowly lower yourself into a “sitting in the air” position with arms extended forward for balance. As you squat, try not to let your knees pass over your toes and keep your heels planted flat on the floor. Align knees with hips throughout the movement. To engage the glutes muscles push through the heels more as you begin the upward movement. Repeat 5-20 times.
Exercise Challenge: Add weight in your hands and maintain the above position.
Bicycling is an outstanding butt workout, as it engages multiple muscles, including the glutes and burns about 500 calories per hour. To avoid back or knee strain, distribute your weight evenly and don’t slump. Keep your shoulders back and your hands even with your shoulders on the handlebars. Adjust your seat so that your knees stop just short of locking when you push down on the pedals. Adjust your gears so that the ride is challenging, but not impossible – and be sure to wear a helmet for safety.
Standing Gate Openers
Set: Think of a gate that opens and closes like a hinge as your prepare to lift one leg up and off the floor.
Go: As you begin the move, engage your abdominals and shift your weight to one leg as you lift your other knee up towards your chest. Keeping your knee in a 90-degree bent position, rotate the bent leg across your body and back as if it is a gate opening and closing. Try to keep your other leg and hip stable as you repeat the move 5-10 times.