Before You Jump to the Videos of the Legs and Butt Exercises, You Need to READ THE FOLLOWING
Legs and butt exercises are total lower body exercises if you do them correctly. If you have read about the best leg exercises, you already know that most leg exercises also work your butt.
The best leg and butt exercises are often the same exercises which are misused by many. The misuse is based on the weight training myth of spot reduction. Legs and butt exercises are often misused because of the idea that they tone the butt and thighs. You can look no further than the average women’s magazine to find why this myth is so prevalent.
The Best Legs and Butt Exercises Do Not Spot-Reduce Body Fat!
The truth is, resistance training exercises never have and never will reduce fat in a specific area. If you have a very low body fat percentage already in the low ideal or lean category, building muscle with legs and butt exercises in a specific area will help you tone up the area. If your body fat percentage is in the mid- ideal, normal or overfat categories, you should focus on legs and butt exercises which exercise the most lower body muscles through the most range of motion as possible because they will burn more calories and fat, allowing your muscle tone to become visible with time.
Jump Down to the Best Legs and Butt Exercises or continue reading to learn more.
A Crash Course in Lower Body Anatomy Will Help You Understand the Best Leg and Butt Exercises
In order for you to understand why some movements are considered legs and butt exercises, you should know about the anatomy of your lower body.To fully understand lower body exercises, you have to look past the classic isolated view of the function of muscles in the legs and butt.
The Classic Way to Look at a Muscle’s Function is Obsolete
The classic, simple way to look at muscles is to look at one phase of movement in one plane of motion. The movement is viewed always from the anatomical position as you see in the anatomy picture below. For example, from the anatomical position, the adductor muscles of your inner thigh are responsible for squeezing your legs together, the motion referred to as adduction.
Functional Anatomy is Very Important for Legs and Butt Exercises
Functional anatomy looks farther than the structure of the muscles and their basic function. The function of any muscle is not limited to the standard concentric (shortening) action from the anatomical position. Functional anatomy looks at the action of muscles during normal motions, such as walking or stepping, which occur in many planes of motion.
Let’s talk about the adductors. How important is the motion of squeezing the legs together during functional daily activities such as walking? We very seldom squeeze our legs together but that does not make the adductor complex unimportant. The adductors have many important functions for daily activities. They decelerate the opposing motion of abduction. They also decelerate flexion and internal rotation of the thigh, helping stabilize the entire hip complex. As you can see, the adductors have many functions. Rather than being isolated, they usually work along with many different muscles help proper functional movement.
All muscles in the lower body serve multiple functions during multi-joint functional movements. The adductors are not alone. All the muscles in the lower body as well as throughout the whole body have multiple functions in multiple planes of motion. Sometimes the muscles serve a stabilizer function. Sometimes they shorten, and sometimes they lengthen.
Why Isolating Specific Lower Body Muscles is Not Very Effective
The anatomy discussion above can be simplified. Most lower body exercises such as the best legs and butt exercises work all of the muscles in the lower body.
Unless you are skinny or want to bulk up, exercises that isolate specific muscles such as the inner and outer thighs will not help you tone up if you have excess body fat.
The most effective legs and butt exercises are those which work the entire lower body muscle group dynamically in its full range of motion.
This is why exercises such as the inner and outer thigh machines are not considered the best legs and butt exercises or good exercises at all.
Hip Adduction and Hip Abduction Machines Are a Very Ineffective Use of Your Time in the Gym
Don’t fall victim to the inaccurate articles in fitness magazines. If you want to be in the best shape, follow a full-body weight training program along with a balanced nutrition plan and cardiovascular exercise program.
The following legs and butt exercises are great exercises to use as your only lower body exercises. You can also supplement some of the best leg exercises to have a complete and efficient exercise program such as barbell squats, and various forms of lunges.
Elevated Split Squats
Elevated split squats, which can also be called stationary lunges, are a great multi-joint legs and butt exercise which can be effective using only your body weight.
Start: Put your front foot up on an elevated surface. Position your knee so the middle of the knee joint is right on top of your ankle. Hold a pair of dumbbells in the low- or high-hang position.
Scoot your rear foot backward until your can create a 90 degree angle with your back leg to match your front leg. The ball of your back foot should be on the floor. Draw in your core and keep your shoulder blades retracted toward your spine.
Begin the motion: Slowly lower your torso straight down toward the floor. Your upper body should remain upright with a neutral back.
If you are trying to work your butt, do not let your front knee move forward at all . When your back knee approaches the floor, pause for a second and lunge back up to the top position.
Modifications: You can increase the difficulty of this legs and butt exercise if you use a controlled unstable surface for your front foot. A BOSU ball would be a good choice. These are also an excellent exercise to use in combination with upper body exercises such as shoulder presses or biceps curls.
Bulgarian Split Squats
This version of elevated stationary lunges is even more difficult than elevated split squats.
Start: You can use a weight bench or any elevated surface which is comfortable. Put your rear foot up on the surface. Whatever you choose to rest your rear foot on, make sure it allows your toes to point in the same direction as your knees.
Hop your front foot forward until the middle of your knee is directly on top of your ankles. This requires pretty good balance. You can hold on to something if your balance is poor.
Begin the motion: Keep your upper body as upright as possible and lower straight down towards the floor. Try not to have any forward motion of your front thigh.
Modifications: If you decide to hold on to something while you perform these legs and butt exercises, you should use extra resistance. If you set up close to a squat rack, you can position the bar where you can hold on for balance. If you decide to hold on, hold a dumbbell in the same hand as the forward leg.
Stability Ball Bridge Hip Extensions
These legs and butt exercises are a progression of the core exercise the floor bridge. Make sure the shirt you are wearing is not slick, because you will likely slip off the ball.
This legs and butt exercise also works your core and lower back. Since the motion is hip extension, your glutes should perform most of the work. If you only feel your hamstrings and lower back muscles working during this exercise, you most likely have muscle imbalances which may lead to posture problems.
Start: Sit on a stability ball. The size of the stability ball should allow your legs to be at a 90 degree while you sit upright.
Walk forward and form the stability ball bridge. Your head and upper shoulders should rest comfortably on the top of the ball. Your legs should form a 90 degree angle with your knees on top of your ankles.
Begin the motion: Draw in your core and lower your butt down toward the floor. You can stop just before your butt touches the floor, or you can tap your butt on the floor. As you raise your hips, make sure you contract your glutes.
Modifications: You can progress this exercise by positioning your feet on a controlled unstable surface such as a BOSU ball. The extra stabilization will work more muscles. You can also add resistance such as dumbbells or a body bar across your hip.
BOSU Lateral Squats
If you are lucky enough to have a BOSU ball, this is one of the best legs and butt exercises, period. You will feel a great burn in your butt and your inner and outer thighs during this exercise. If you can perform 20 repetitions with proper form, you should congratulate yourself for a job well done.
Start: Position a BOSU ball round side up in a place where you have a few feet of space on all sides.
Place one foot on the center of the BOSU and your second foot on the ground off to one side. Keep your core tight and your back in neutral alignment.
Begin the motion: Squat down. Remember the first motion of the squat is to tilt your hips back like you are trying to sit back into an imaginary chair.
From the bottom of your squat, immediately bound laterally so that the foot which was on the BOSU is now on the floor on the opposite side.
Modifications: You can increase the difficulty if you hold dumbbells in a high hang position at your shoulders. If you want to add inner and outer thigh work, you can wear ankle weights.