Want a better butt? Who doesn't? The good news is that it's within your power to shape, tone and sculpt your backside… provided you are willing to put in the effort and follow some basic principles.
Pretty much every butt workout you hear about starts with squats. No argument from me here. Squats and other multi-joint lower body movements like lunges and leg presses are staple exercises that are excellent at lifting and firming the glutes.
One caveat: The key to achieving results in these movements is to go low. Specifically, you need to drop your butt below parallel with the ground. So-called "half-squats" simply don't involve the glutes to any significant degree.
As long as you don't have existing knee problems, this should not be an issue.
A problem with squats, however, is that the quadriceps are significantly active in the movement. Why does this matter? Well, when one muscle takes on a significant burden in a lift, other muscles inevitably get short-changed. In most cases, the quads tend to fatigue before the glutes. Thus, the glutes don't fatigue to the degree they should, ultimately reducing muscle development.
To maximize glute development, you need to employ a variety of exercises that work the butt from various angles and also tie in all three gluteal muscles. In case you aren't aware, “the glutes” are actually comprised of the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus.
So in addition to the multi-joint lower body exercises, this requires performing targeted "isolation" moves that directly hone in on the glutes.
What's more, forget about doing tons of repetitions like I see so many people do in the gym. Performing an endless amount of donkey kicks or side leg raises is basically just an exercise in futility.
Bottom line: If you can do more than 15 reps without muscle fatigue, it's time to add more weight or resistance to the exercise so that your muscles are sufficiently challenged. You should be struggling by the last few reps. Otherwise, it's little more than an endurance activity.
Here are five terrific butt exercises guaranteed to sculpt your glutes. Choose two or three exercises per workout and rotate the others in over time. Stay dedicated, push your body, and you'll soon be sporting a rear that's always in gear.
Begin by grasping two dumbbells and allow your arms to hang down by your sides, palms facing your hips. Assuming a shoulder-width stance, slowly lower your body until your thighs descend below parallel to the ground.
Your lower back should be slightly arched and your heels should stay in contact with the floor at all times. When you reach the "bottom" position, reverse direction by straightening your legs and return to the start position.
Begin by grasping two dumbbells and allow them to hang down by your sides. Take a long stride forward with your right leg and raise your left heel so that your left foot is on its toes. Keeping your shoulders back and chin up, slowly lower your body by flexing your knees and hip, continuing your descent until your left knee is almost in contact with floor.
Make sure that your right knee does not go past your toes. Reverse direction by forcibly extending the right hip and knee until you return to the start position. After performing the desired number of reps, repeat the process on your left.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Grasp two dumbbells and let them hang in front of your body.
Keeping your knees straight, slowly bend forward at the hips and lower the dumbbells until you feel an intense stretch in your hamstrings. Then, reverse direction, contracting your glutes as you rise upward to the starting position.
Begin by lying face down on a flat bench with your lower torso hanging off the end of the bench and your feet just short of touching the floor.
Grasp the sides of the bench with both hands to support your body. Slowly raise your feet upward until they are just short of parallel with the ground, contracting your glutes at the top of the move. Then, reverse direction and return your legs to the start position.
Begin by lying down on your left side. Bend your left leg at a 90-degree angle and bring your left foot to rest underneath your right knee. Keeping your right leg straight, slowly raise it as high as possible. Contract your glutes and return to the start position.
After finishing the desired number of repetitions, turn over and repeat the process on your left. Attach leg weights to your ankles to add appropriate resistance to the exercise.
Brad Schoenfeld is one of America’s leading fitness experts. He’s the best-selling author of Sculpting Her Body Perfect, 28-Day Body Shapeover and his newest book, Women's Home Workout Bible. Schoenfeld is certified as a strength and conditioning specialist by the National Strength and Conditioning Association and as a personal trainer by both the American Council on Exercise and the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America. He’s also been named “master trainer” by the International Association of Fitness Professionals. Check out his website at www.lookgreatnaked.com