What can I say about butts that hasn’t already been said? There are a ton of benefits to building a stronger, firmer booty that aren’t just for looks. First a little background of the infamous gluteus maximus.
1. It’s the largest and strongest muscle in the human body. [WOW!]
2. It’s responsible for the movement of the hips and thighs.
3. It supports the pelvis as well as the trunk of the head of the femur.
4. It’s most powerful function is to cause the body to regain the erect position from stooping.
5. The lower part of the muscle acts as an adductor (pulls structure towards the midline of the body e.g. bringing the knees together) and an external rotator (the rotation away from the body e.g. feet in opposite direction) of the limbs.
6. The upper part acts as an abduction (pulls structure away from the midline of the body e.g. star jump or splits) to the hip joints.(Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gluteus_maximus_muscle)
Now we have a better understanding of how significant this muscle is, we can move on to the benefits of strengthening it!
1. Since the glutes assist the pelvis, legs and hips, without much training the glutes can become “lazy”. What does this look like? They’ll sit back and let the hamstrings and lower-back muscles take over with extending the hips and rotating our femurs into their sockets.
Well this can’t be -too- bad right? Incorrect! Over time, this can lead to back, hip and knee pain! OUCH!
2. Strong glutes make you more powerful with other activities such as sprinting, jumping, and squatting and swinging. This is because of its four main function listed above.
3. It can prevent knee and back pain. How? It prevents your knees from caving in and keeps the bone centered in the hip socket rather than sliding forward.
4. With strong glutes, that means you burn more calories throughout the day and since they are the largest muscle, you could see some fat loss by working them out.
5. You could also experience less fatigue during the day and doing other activities as well as making activities easier.
Now that you know what glutes do and the benefits, you probably want to know where to start, right? Awesome! There are so many exercises you can do to “wake up” your glutes and start strengthening them today. In fact, RIGHT NOW!
First WAKE THEM UP!
Get into this position and squeeze your core for about 20-30 seconds maintaining a straight line. Try to do this 3-4 times if you’re completely new and need to build up strength first.
Now that you’ve warmed them up, we can move on!
For beginners and those unsure of their balance (I’m one of them), start with body weight squats to get a feel for the motion. The more familiar you are, then start using the bar. The deeper you go, the more emphasis you’ll achieve on the glutes. Do 3-4 sets or 5-10 reps. If you’re just beginning, just focus on the form. If you can’t get up to 5, that’s okay, you’ll work up to it!
Since there are so many variations of squats, we’ll keep it simple for now.
Form: Keep your legs shoulder-width apart and your toes pointed slightly out.
2. Walking Lunges
Skip the weight right now until you get the form down. Once you’re sure of your balance (or if you already were), add some weight. Pick up dumbbells that you feel comfortable with without breaking form. Do four sets of 10 reps (10 steps on way, 10 steps back). Focus on getting as long as you can without slamming your knee of the ground.
Form: Lunge and alternate legs with each step making sure you don’t extend the front knee past your toes.
3. Stiff Legged Deadlifts
These are one of my favorite exercises! Grab an appropriate weight barbell (the long “dumbbell”) and do 4 sets or 10 reps. It’ll be so worth it! Trust me!
Form: Keep the bar as close to your legs while keeping your back straight. Go down as low as you can to feel a deep stretch and returning to the starting position without rounding your back.
4. Dumbbell Sumo Squat
This is by far the easiest squat -in my opinion-. You can easily achieve this with a weight used for other machines if it’s more comfortable to use. I usually do these (10 reps) in between other exercises.
Form: Standing with a dumbbell between your legs, with a wide stance shoulder width, squat down parallel to the ground while keep your back straight.
5. Step Ups
If you can find a sturdy box at the gym, use it! Step ups are great minimalist workouts. Do 4 sets or 10 reps holding an appropriate weight. You can always start next to a wall for added balance until you get the hang of it!
Form: Keep you back flat and do not lean forward.
So do these exercises, mix it up and push through the burn!