RULE 1: “ACTIVATE/FIRE/ENGAGE” THOSE GLUTES! Whatever term resonates with you, use it…and learn how!
One of the most asked questions in my business is, “how do I get a firm booty?” And the answer most trainers give is “do more squats and lunges!” Well those ARE a couple of the best exercises for the backside, but many people either don’t do them correctly, or don’t know how to truly use their glutes. So one thing I have been doing recently with my clients is starting with glute “activation” exercises before we move on to the bigger leg/glute exercises. These are often the silly looking exercises known to have caused some serious giggling among those in their 80’s aerobics classes! (Can’t you just hear Jane Fonda saying, “10 more…squeeze, squeeze”? And she still looks amazing!!) But they are great moves and can benefit everyone from the couch potato to the athlete. Learning to truly use your glutes can help lessen back pain, reduce risk of injury, improve speed and strength, and help with posture. And BONUS: you’ll have strong, gorgeous legs and a great booty!
Don’t do all of these at once- just pick two or three to focus on before your workout to wake up that butt! I like to do a few sets of 2 or 3 exercises on a non-workout day to keep my hips loosened up and my booty working! Here’s a sampling of some of the BEST GLUTE FIRING EXERCISES! Put on those leg warmers (and an exercise “mini” band to add difficulty) and get moving!
BAND WALKS AND SIDE SHUFFLES-
It is important to keep a soft bend in your knees (we call this an athletic stance), don’t let your knees “cave in”, keep your feet apart, and keep tension on the band throughout the moves. Always make sure you engage your core when doing any exercise (think pulling belly button towards your spine) To make the exercise easier, just put the band above your knees. Start by walking forward slowly with exaggerated steps. 10-20 steps should do the trick. Then repeat backwards, and to each side, one direction at a time. I usually have people do enough of these to really feel a good burn in the glutes and hips. For a little extra fun, try walking on your tip toes forward and backward while keeping tension on the band. Woo hoo! Talk about a burn!
This exercise really helps with my tight hips and low back stiffness. Keep your feet together and open your hips as much as you can without pain. Pause briefly at the top of the motion and concentrate on using the glutes. A couple of sets of 15 reps should do the trick! Remember to keep that core strong!
This is a good exercise for your core (abdominals and back), but it gets some blood flowing throughout the whole body. Start with your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips. With your right foot flexed, drive your leg straight out as if reaching toward the wall behind you. Then reach your left arm straight out in front of your head, keeping your arm to the floor. Yes, opposite arm and leg- this helps with stability as well! Make sure you keep your core strong (belly button pulled towards the ceiling). Squeeze your glutes and hold the movement for a couple of seconds before lowering arm and leg. About 10 reps , then switch to the other side. To advance the movement a bit, raise your leg as high as you can without arching your low back. Squeeze that booty!
BRIDGES/ONE LEGGED BRIDGES (Glute Raise)-
This is a good move to strengthen your glutes and open up your hips. The band will help really activate those glutes by adding tension throughout the exercise. It is important to keep your core tight so you won’t hyperextend your low back while trying to get your hips higher. Squeeze your glutes, go slow, and hold for a couple of seconds at the top. You can make it more difficult by lifting one leg up, stabilizing your core, and doing a slow one legged bridge as pictured. Try holding your leg up with knees at the same height and thighs parallel. And to advance a bit more, really raise that leg and keep it high throughout! 10-15 reps should be good…
SINGLE LEG REVERSE HYPEREXTENSION-
Lie flat on the ground and rest your head on your hands. Engage your core! This is an exercise that can hurt your low back if you don’t do the move correctly! Slowly lift one leg up as high as is comfortable without using your back- just use the glutes to do the lift! Hold for a second and slowly lower. 10 reps on reach side…
Wake up the glute medius! (now you can impress your friends with the super knowledge of your booty muscles!) This is an important piece to the booty puzzle as it helps maintain balance, stabilize hips, and helps prevent knee and ankle injuries. Start with hands under shoulders and knees under hips. Flex both of your feet. Raise one leg out to the side while keeping arms straight and core tight. Make sure you keep a 90 degree bend, squeeze the booty, and move slowly throughout. 12-15 reps before switching sides.
Another awesome exercise for the core and glutes! Once again, start on your hands and knees, feet flexed, and core engaged. Lift one leg straight up – think of pushing the bottom of your foot straight up to the ceiling. Make sure you are squeezing your glutes and not arching your low back as you move through the entire movement. Be careful not to let your knee flare out to the side- keep it in line with your hip. Hold at the top and move slowly through 12-15 reps before switching legs. You can make this harder if you want to really challenge your backside: squeeze a dumbbell in the crook of your knee and slowly go through the reps.
MAY THE BOOTY BE WITH YOU!