With the main focus on physical fitness, the go-to exercise when it comes to toning your posterior is the Squat. Although this compound exercise works to strengthen and tone your glutes, there are many creative alternatives available to help you solo- or partner-work your way to a firmer backside.
Understanding the Anatomy of the Butt Muscles
In order to effectively target and strengthen your butt muscles, it is important to have an understanding of the anatomy of the posterior.
The gluteal muscles, otherwise known as the butt muscles, are made up of three muscles, the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus. The gluteus maximus is the largest of the three – it covers the majority of the buttocks area and is responsible for hip extension and outward rotation. The gluteus medius is situated along the outside of the hipbone, and maintains our posture when standing as well as hip abduction – or moving the legs away from our body. Lastly, the gluteus minimus is found underneath the gluteus medius, aiding in hip abduction and internal rotation.
Five Creative Exercises to Strengthen Your Glutes
Now that we better understand the anatomy of the glutes, let’s explore five creative exercises for effectively targeting and strengthening the butt muscles.
- Bird Dog
The bird dog is a great exercise for warming up and activating your glutes. To perform this exercise, begin on your hands and knees with your back neutral. Tense your abs, press into your hands, and extend your left leg behind you while simultaneously extending your right arm in front of you. Keep your hips level and pause for a few seconds before bring your leg and arm back to the starting position. Repeat with the opposite arm and leg as well.
- Reverse Lunges
If you’re looking to target the gluteus maximus, reverse lunges are a fantastic exercise. Begin by standing with your feet close together, keeping your weight on your left foot and then step left leg back bending at your right knee. Your left leg should be extend behind you, with the heel lifted off the floor. Next, press your foot into the ground and drive your left knee forward to return to a standing position. Continue to repeat on the other side.
- Single Leg Glute Bridge
This exercise works to target the gluteus maximus as well as the gluteus medius. Begin by lying on your back and bend your knees, feet flat on the floor. Make sure that your feet are hip-width apart and drive through your feet and push your hips up. Once your hips are in line with your shoulders and knees, raise your right leg off the ground and hold for a few seconds. Slowly, lower your leg back to the ground and repeat with the other leg.
- Fire Hydrant
The fire hydrant works to target the gluteus medius and minimus. To perform this exercise, begin in a four-point stance on all fours with your hips leveled and your spine neutral. Bring your right knee up towards your chest and then push outward away from the body, keeping your knee bent and your foot flexed. Be sure to keep your hips as level as possible throughout the entire movement and repeat with the other leg.
- Elevated Hip Thrust
The elevated hip thrust will help you target and strengthen your glutes, as well as the hamstrings. Begin this exercise by sitting on the ground with your shoulder blades lying against an elevated surface. Bend your knees and place your feet flat firmly on the ground, and then press through your heels and squeeze your glutes as you lift your glutes up off the floor until your hips are in line with your shoulders. Hold this position for a few seconds before slowly lowering your hips back to the floor.
Making the Most of Your Glute Strength
To make the most of your newfound glute strength, combine the exercises mentioned above into a circuit of 8–10 sets of 8–12 repetitions for each exercise to effectively work your glutes. Adding an interval of cardio, such as walking or running, as well as other resistance exercises, such as squats and deadlifts, will help improve your strength and conditioning even further.
With a better understanding of the anatomy of the glutes and the effective exercises to target and strengthen those muscles, you have the tools needed to transform your posterior into the shape you desire. By incorporating the above-mentioned exercises into your fitness routine, you are sure to see the glute muscles you’ve been dreaming of in no time.