Whether you refer to it as your butt, booty, derriere, bum, or backside, we’ve all got one. And despite what you may think, they’re all pretty big. Well, at least when compared to the other muscles in the body. Yep, the gluteus maximus is the biggest muscle that makes up the human body.
Also known as glutes, these gluteal muscles wrap around your buttocks, hips, thighs, and pelvis, and they are responsible for maintaining balance and power when you walk, run, and jump. Needless to say, keeping your glutes strong is important. Searching for ways to do that? Below are six of the best glute exercises for women. Make it a workout by combining some or all of them into your fitness routine.
Burpees for Beginners
This butt exercise is not for the faint of heart, but it works — hence the reason it’s included in so many CrossFit and HIIT workouts. In addition to your gluteus maximus and gluteus medius, burpees work your legs, hips, core, chest, shoulders, and arms. In other words, it’s a full-body exercise that leaves almost no muscle untouched, and can dramatically expand your range of motion. Here’s how to perform burpees:
- To start, stand with feet shoulder-width apart and arms at your sides. Weight should be in your heels.
- Push hips back to bend knees and lower to a squat.
- Place both hands on the ground in front of and just inside your feet, shifting weight onto your hands.
- Extend feet behind you (in a jump-like motion) to land in plank position. Your body should be parallel to the ground, in a straight line from head to heels, with your shoulders directly over your hands. Keep your core tight and back straight. (Avoid arching your back or raising your bum to downward dog. Hold for a moment.
- Jump your feet back towards your upper body so they land softly just outside your hands.
- Reach your arms overhead and jump into the air before landing and immediately lowering back into a squat for the next rep. This step should be done in one swift, fluid movement.
Pro Tip: Want a bigger challenge? When you lower your body to plank, incorporate a push-up into the movement.
Step-Ups for Strong Glutes
When it comes to butt workouts, the humble step-up seems to have gotten lost in the exercise pool, with people favoring leg deadlifts, Bulgarian split squats, and bridges of late. While these are all great for building a strong tushy, the simple step-up has its own unique benefits. This exercise strengthens the glutes, quads, hamstrings, and adductors, making it an absolute must on leg day. Here’s how to do it:
- To start, stand tall with shoulders back and abs tight.
- Step up onto a step, plyo box, or bench with one foot, pushing down through your heel to straighten your leg and bring your second foot onto the platform beside your front foot.
- Keeping your knees slightly bent, step the first foot back down to the ground and follow with the second step.
- Perform 2 to 3 sets of 6 to 10 repetitions.
- Switch the lead food, and perform 2 to 3 sets of 6 to 10 repetitions.
Pro Tip: Bump up the difficulty by holding a dumbbell in each hand.
Deadlifts are the way to go if you want to fill out your bum and get a full-body workout. This popular activity works lots of muscle groups simultaneously, helping to strengthen the core, lower back, legs, and glutes. If a strong lower body is what you’re after, try these:
- Start by standing with feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent. Hold kettlebell with both hands or dumbbell in each hand at your thighs.
- Hinging at the hips, bend knees slightly and push butt way back, keeping your back flat. (Your chest should be almost parallel to the ground, and the weights should reach your shins.) Hold for a moment.
- Keeping core engaged and weights close to shins, push through heels to stand up straight.
- Pause at the top and squeeze your butt before doing another rep.
Note: Your lower back must stay neutral to avoid injury. If you find yourself rounding it during heavy deadlifts, go lighter until you master the proper form.
This popular exercise can build strength and size in your derriere muscles in a way that many other movements can’t — and experts agree that they have benefits for many people, including both aspiring athletes and adults over age 65. To perform a hip thrust, follow these steps.
To get to the starting position for this exercise:
- Sit sidelong on a workout bench.
- Place your hands on the bench beside your butt with fingers facing forward.
- Keeping your arms engaged, carefully lift your butt and step your feet out away from the bench.
- After a couple of steps, lower yourself to your elbows. Take a few more steps out — you should be at a near tabletop position — then replace your elbow supports with shoulder supports. (Do this by dropping your hands, one by one, to the ground beneath your butt and gently tilting back until your shoulders are resting on the bench.)
- Adjust your body so that your left foot and right foot are hip distance apart and planted firmly on the floor; knees are bent at a 90-degree angle and positioned directly above your ankles; your upper legs, hips, and butt are raised so that you are in a tabletop position.)
You are now in the starting position. Here’s how to do a hip thrust:
- If you’re not using a barbell or other weight, rest your hands lightly on your abs or crossed at the chest. Using weight? Rest it gently on hips, holding it with hands to prevent it tipping over.
- Tighten your core and — while keeping your upper back in contact with the bench — squeeze glute muscles and drive hips up towards ceiling.
- Hold this position, with upper body steady, before slowly returning to starting position.
Pro Tip: Don’t have a workout bench? A stability ball or the edge of your bed should do the trick!
Standing Glute Kickbacks
If you’ve never incorporated standing glute kickbacks into your workout routine, you’re missing out. It’s a challenging movement, but it works, not only for your glutes, but for sculpting the lower body, boosting abdominal muscle stability and working the hip flexors. I recommend starting with just your body weight, but if you’re up for a challenge, feel free to add a resistance band around your legs.
- Start by standing tall with feet hip-width apart, back straight, hands on hips, and abs engaged.
- Shift weight onto right leg with a slight bend at the knee.
- Without arching your back, use butt muscles to lift left leg directly behind you, and hold for a moment. (Avoid hinging at the waist and bending forward when you raise your leg. Doing so removes the tension in the muscle, voiding the exercise’s benefits.)
- Bring left leg back to right leg without letting it touch the floor. That’s one rep.
- Do 12 to 20 reps before swapping sides and repeating on the opposite leg.
This exercise can also be done on the cable machine. Simply attach an ankle strap to the machine, then loop it around your ankle. Add the desired weight, stand with your feet together, and, keeping your back flat and core tight, complete the kickback movement.
Last on the list, but certainly not least, are sumo squats. This effective glute exercise is often recommended by personal trainers because it helps to shape and tighten the legs while simultaneously building muscle mass in the glutes, hamstrings, and quads. Plus, the wider stance offers a unique challenge to the glute bridge and inner thighs, giving it a “leg up” on traditional squats. Here’s how to do them:
- Stand tall with your left and right feet shoulder-width apart, toes turned slightly outwards.
- Tighten your abs and keep the weight in your heels as you drive your bum back and bend your knees.
- Lower from the standing position into a squat, making sure that your knees stay wide the entire time.
- Stand back up, squeezing your glutes at the top of the movement.
- Lower back down and repeat.
Note: Do not let your knees rotate inward as you lower to your sumo squat. They must remain directly above the ankle. If you are unable to execute the full sumo squat without rotation, lower to the point at which the rotation begins, then return to starting position. Doing so will improve your hip flexibility, and over time, increase the depth of your sumo squat.
Weight It Out
And there you have it — six effective workouts to strengthen your glutes. While doing these exercises, warm up first, drink plenty of water to keep yourself adequately hydrated, and don’t forget to rest between sets. Most importantly, listen to your body and stop if something doesn’t feel right. While these exercises may feel a bit uncomfortable as your muscles adapt to the stress, they shouldn’t hurt or leave you writhing from back pain. If that happens, stop immediately and reassess. Lastly, if you have an underlying medical condition or injury, get the go-ahead from your doctor before starting a new physical fitness routine. Although the glute workouts listed above are generally regarded as safe, it’s always best to keep your primary care provider in the loop when making changes to your health and wellness.
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