Glorious Glutes! The Best Exercises to Lift and Tighten Your Tush!
We all know that a firm and lifted rear-end is not only a good way to fill out your jeans, but it’s a look that is coveted by women around the world. Whether you opt for a gorgeous curvaceous bum or something a little slimmer, all women crave a well-rounded and lifted look for their backside. But sometimes we need a little reminder as to what specific exercises target this area, as well as what aerobic activity lends itself to toning this trouble spot.
Three sets of muscles make up the brunt of our backside; the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and the gluteus minimus. We refer to these as simply, “the glutes”! Targeting these muscles will create the lift and firmness that you desire, thus creating that well-rounded coveted look that every women is after! Let’s first take a look at the main muscular movements that hit this area, and then talk about cardiovascular activity that can lend a hand.
Start by doing these 6 moves in sets of 10-20, depending on fitness level. Do one to three sets in each workout and try to do the workout 2-3 times a week on nonconsecutive days. You should be fatiguing the muscles being worked, so look for a slight burning sensation during the last few reps of each move. If you do not feel this, then add on sets to your workout or add some weight such as hand weights for the standing work or ankle strap weights for the floor work.
Squats are one of the fundamental muscle-toning moves that everyone has in their “tool box” The reason being, this one simple move works just about every muscle in your lower body, especially the quads, hamstrings, and of course, the GLUTES!
Start by standing with your feet about shoulder width apart. Now sit back as if you are going to sit in a chair behind you. Make sure your weight is in your heels, not your toes, and that your knees are not jutting out over your toes. Sit back to about a 90-degree angle or less, and then come back to a standing position. Try some basic squats and then add a little variation for a few of your sets. Try coming down to sit in a squat and then pulse for a few counts before coming back up. This REALLY stets the glutes on fire!
You can also add an alternating side leg lift when returning to the standing position to work those outer thighs along with the backside. Mix it up a little and add some variety to your squat sets for the best effect!
Walking Lunges/Duck Walk:
Take your lunges to the next level by adding some movement across the room! Step forward into a lunge with your right leg stepping out in front and your left leg behind. Left leg steps up from behind and then moves forward into another lunge position. Continue to walk this way for several steps moving across the room. When you get to one side, turn, and start duck walking back the other direction. Remember to keep your front knee behind your toe; you don’t want to lean forward over the foot.
Remember all of the step aerobics classes that were so popular in the 80s and 90s? Well stepping happens to be one of the best exercises to lift and tone your rear view! Simply use a step bench, the bottom step of a staircase, or a low weight bench to target the glutes. Use a simple “up, up, down, down” motion. Leading with your right foot step up, your left foot follows, then step back down with the right and follow with the left. Do the right leg lead for 10 and then switch to the left leg lead. Having a higher step will challenge you more and create a lifted look; however, be sure not to go to high. Your knee should never lift up beyond your hip in order to step up. If you do choose to challenge yourself beyond the regular step height of 4-8 inches, keep the platform several inches lower than your hip to avoid injury.
Now we bring our moves down to the floor and begin by positioning ourselves on our hands and knees. The donkey kick is a classic hamstring and glute exercise that moves into a leg extension as you go towards the ceiling. Start with one leg drawing inward toward your ribs, then extend outward and upward as if you are a donkey kicking back. Squeeze your glute muscles as your leg extends up towards the ceiling. (Be careful not to arch your back when you do this.) Continue doing your reps on that same leg, and then switch. People with knee issues can either put extra padding under the knees or avoid the move altogether.
This classic mat move is normally thought of as one of the thigh trimmers, but your glutes get a major makeover as well! Lie on your side making sure your head is down on your arm and in line with your spine. Keep both knees bent, legs stacked on top of one another. Now, here comes the clam shell; keeping your feet together, open up the top leg upward as if the “shell” is opening. Continue to do this for the intended amount of reps, and then lie on the other side to switch legs. Keep in mind that you should not lay your head into your hand creating a “crooked” neck. This puts too much pressure on the cervical vertebra.
There are several variations to the basic bridge that really zero in on the tush, but let’s get the basic move down first. Laying on your back, keep both knees bent and your feet flat on the floor, or lift the toes and balance on the heels. Arms can remain by your sides on the floor or crossed over your chest. Begin to lift your buttocks, hips, and finally lower back off of the floor until your hips are in-line with the knees. As you come to the top of the move really squeeze your glutes to engage them. Try the recommended 10-20 reps for your first set and then decide how many sets you will do. Variations to intensify the bridge include doing a single leg bridge by placing the opposite ankle on top of the working leg, or to come up onto your heels and walk the feet out a few inches while doing the double leg bridge. Burn baby burn!
All cardiovascular activity will help to burn calories to burn off the extra layers of fat that lay over top of your newly toned muscles, but there are two that stand out as true booty-toning bad asses!
The stair climber and step aerobics!
There are a slew of step aerobics DVDs available online as well as step classes that still exist at the local gym. You can do a simple “up, up down, down” movement as described above and simply add some music to it to make it more interesting, or you can try a class or two to see how you like it. Make sure you go to a beginner’s class if you have never done step aerobics before; more advanced classes have more difficult choreography that can leave you feeling confused and frustrated rather than excited about this incredible firming workout.
Stair climbing has been around since the early 80s. The stair climber was one of the first cardio machines that gained popularity due to the smooth rhythmic motion of continuous “steps” with very little impact. The movement targets key areas such as the glutes and calves, while at the same time delivering a super cardiovascular workout! The stair climber is a bit tricky to get used to and in order to derive the most benefit from this machine there are a few pointers to keep in mind.
- Make sure to keep the foot pedals in the middle range of the motion when stepping. Do not stay all the way at the top of the range with tiny stepping movements, and do not go all the way down to touch the floor with each step. (Note: When you first step onto the machine and are using the buttons on the console to begin your program, continue to take little steps to prevent the pedals from going all the way down to the floor.)
- Maintain an erect posture. Do not lean forward on the console, thus supporting your weight on it and lessening the effect of the activity.
- Choose a stepping speed that allows you to stay in the middle range of the pedal motion. Be sure to exercise at a level that is consistent with your fitness level.
Follow the same guidelines given in past articles to reduce bloat and weight gain, and to give you that tight and toned look no matter what muscle group you are focusing on. Here is a recap:
Sip lemon water throughout the day. The more water your body has going through it, the more it will release what it is holding in reserve. Lemons are a natural diuretic, so adding this to your water will help to release any stubborn water retention that you might be experiencing. Not only is it refreshing and hydrating for your body, it aides in digestion and cleanses the system. Lemons are also known to curb the appetite!
Get your fill of fiber with plenty of fruits and veggies! If your diet consists of mostly fruit and veggies, you are less likely to get bloated and feel that “thick around the middle” feeling. Pineapple and parsley are two of the most well-known bloat busters. Keep in mind that some veggies produce a little more gas, especially broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage.
Highly processed foods tend to be high in sodium and low in fiber, both of which can contribute to becoming bloated. Get in the habit of reading food labels; food choices should have no more than 500 mg of sodium per serving, with a total of only 1,500 to 2,300 mg of sodium per day.
Try probiotics! Whether you are using an over-the-counter supplement or eating specialty yogurt that had added probiotics, these can really help to clear out your intestinal track from unwanted bacteria that can cause gas and bloating. When used appropriately, probiotics (good bacteria) can really help to deflate a bloated stomach!
The Wrap Up
So, there you have it ladies! Work your glutes with focused muscle-toning exercises and specific aerobic activity, and your rear view will be toned and lifted in no time! By following these recommendations you will be well on your way to achieving your ultimate booty-luscious body!
Lastly, remember to begin all exercise at a slow pace, make sure to follow the recommendations on form and technique, and progress only when you feel confident in your abilities. Good luck!
- StiarMaster Sports/Medical Products, Inc.(1995).The StairMaster Fitness Handbook. St. Louis: Wellness Bookshelf.