Work Your Butt Off with 6 Simple Steps
I’ve often said that there’s no fountain of youth. But the good news is, there are some simple steps we can take to look and feel younger than ever. So if you’ve given up on the idea of having a firm and tight rear end, take heart: There are several doable (and, dare I say it, fun) exercises that will transform your butt into one of your greatest assets. And here’s the best part: You can do them anywhere, anytime.
Your backside is actually comprised of three muscles: the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus. Of course these three glute groups all work together, but each one plays a specific role:
The gluteus maximus is usually what comes to mind when we think about the butt – it’s the muscle that creates that round shape. But it’s more than meet the eye: On a functional level, the maximus is what helps propel us forward when we need to move quickly. That’s why sprint runners tend to have such enviable booties. But you don’t have to be an elite track runner to reap the same benefits – simply changing your foot position to a wider stance when performing a squat can help you target the maximus.
But we can’t overlook the importance of the gluteus minimus and gluteus medius. These two muscles play an important role in the rotation of your hips, and are engaged when you move the leg away from the body, whether you’re doing an abduction exercise or simply stepping out to the side. (The main difference is that the minimus is much smaller and deeper within the glutes.)
In a 2006 study at the University of Wisconsin in La Crosse (where my family is from, by the way!), researchers sought to establish the best exercises for better glutes. Of course, the traditional squat was a clear winner, but when it came to the gluteus medius in particular, the study found that the “quadruped hip extension” is the most effective exercise for targeting this area. Intrigued? Keep reading!
Butt Workouts for the Home
Here are a few examples of glute exercises you can do at home – and each of these descriptions comes with a free bonus demo video so that you can easily follow along.
- Quadruped Hip Extension: Start on all fours, legs bent at 90 degrees. Lift your left leg off the floor, pushing the left foot up toward the ceiling, and maintaining that 90 degree bend throughout the movement. Keep lifting until the leg is parallel to the torso. And keeping your abdominals engaged, slowly lower back down.
- Curtsy Squat: Put a spin on the traditional squat with this fun and challenging variation. Stand with your hands on your hips, feet shoulder-width apart. Bring your left leg behind the right, and cross it back to the right so that your inner thighs touch – almost like you’re sitting cross-legged (only standing). Bend your right knee 90 degrees into a squatting position (your left leg supporting you). Pressing your weight into your heels, keeping your abs engaged, push back up to standing. Add a flourish to the end of the move by bringing your left leg out into a side leg lift while you balance softly on the right. Repeat on the other side.
- Stepback Lunge: Standing with feet shoulder-width apart, bring your left leg back behind you, and lower down into a lunge position, so that your front right leg forms a 90 degree angle and your left back knee almost grazes the floor. Keeping abs engaged, press your weight into your heels as return to standing. For an additional challenge, as you bring the left leg forward, bring the left knee up and tuck it toward your chest before you return to standing.
Butt Workouts for the Office
You may not be able to do full lunges at your desk – but there are several things you can do to keep the workout going while you're seated in your office chair.
- Butt Squeeze: The name says it all – it’s a move that’s simple, subtle but oh-so-effective. Squeeze your glutes together into a tight contraction, and hold for 5 seconds. Then, instead of quickly relaxing, slowly release that contraction on a count of five. Repeat for 15 repetitions.
- Quadricep Raise: Sitting with your back off the chair, slowly extend the knee to a straight leg position. Squeeze the quadriceps as you do this (the front-of-the-leg muscles you’re working here). And slowly lower the leg back down to its 90 degree bend. Without resting the foot on the floor, do 5-10 repetitions, and then repeat on the other leg.
- Inner Thigh Tightener: If you can keep one discreetly at your desk, grab a small to medium-sized exercise ball and practice squeezing it between your knees. Start with 10 slow repetitions, holding each one for 5 seconds, followed by a series of “flutters”: A quick series of 20 rapid-motion contractions.
So there you have it: A simple, 6-step process for greater glutes that you can follow at home AND at work. What I love about this routine is that it’s a total excuse-buster. Far too often, we blame our jobs when we miss our workouts. But now, as you can see, you can get a better behind whether you’re watching your favorite TV show or jumping on a conference call. Because when you think about it, having a stronger, fitter body is good for your health, AND for your bottom line.