Baby Got Back: Guide to Getting Great Glutes

Whether Nicki Minaj is singing about them or Kim Kardashian is flaunting them, great glutes are everywhere. Unfortunately, not all of us were blessed with a big booty that would have Sir Mix-a-Lot acting like an animal. Gone are the days of strapping weights to our ankles and doing endless leg raises with Jane Fonda. If you want to be mistaken for J-Lo from behind and get a head-turning tush, it’s time to plug in your headphones, press play on Bootylicious, and hit the gym with these glute-targeting exercises.

What’s in a Glute?

Before you begin your quest to enhance your derriere, it is important to understand the basic anatomy of your behind. Your glutes, more formally known as your gluteal muscles, are made up of three different parts: the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus.

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The gluteus maximus is not only the largest muscle of the three, but it is also one of the thickest muscles in your body. If you are looking to add size and shape to your behind, this muscle is your best friend.

Beneath your gluteus maximus is a thick, fan-shaped muscle known as your gluteus medius. It works in tandem with your gluteus minimus to abduct your thigh, rotate your hip, and stabilize your body when perched on one leg.1

Strengthening these three muscles will not only give you enviable assets – they will also help improve your posture and athletic performance, and can even reduce back and knee pain.2

Squats

One of the foundation moves for achieving a great backside is the squat. There are countless variations of squats you can do to tone and tighten your lower body, but when it comes to building size and targeting your glutes, these three will give you the start you need. Before you attempt these advanced exercises, make sure you have mastered the basic squat form. Do these exercises twice a week with a linear progression of weight and/or repetitions. We recommend starting with 3-4 sets of 12-15 repetitions.

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1. Plié Squat

This squat lets you channel your inner ballerina while targeting your gluteus minimums, inner thighs, and quadriceps. To perform a plié squat, begin by standing with your feet wider than shoulder width apart, feet angled out, and knees slightly bent. Holding a dumbbell with both hands between your legs, lower your body by bending your knees until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Squeeze your glutes as you press upward to complete the squat. To avoid injury and optimize gluteal engagement, it is important that your back remains straight and your arms are stationary through this exercise.

2. Smith Machine Squat

If you want to add size to your behind, you will have to gradually begin to lift heavy. Step away from the purple and pink weights and make your way over to the Smith machine. This piece of equipment consists of a barbell that is attached to a rail and moves vertically with you. The Smith machine allows you to focus on increasing your weight and depth of motion by allowing your shoulders to press on the bar and balance your body.3

Once you have your desired weight on the barbell, position yourself below it as if you were going to do a free-weight squat. Walk your feet 12-15 inches in front of the bar and proceed to squat as usual. This might feel awkward the first time you try it, but this position will put a greater emphasis on your glutes and hamstrings than a tradition squat stance.

3. Bulgarian Split Squat

Begin by standing in a split stance with your back leg elevated and resting on a bench. While holding a dumbbell in each hand, lower your body toward the floor until your knee almost comes in contact with the ground. Push yourself back up to your starting position by engaging your front leg. Maintain a straight back through the entirety of this exercise. Finish 12-15 reps before switching legs.

Tone It Up

While squats are a must-do exercise to achieve a fantastic fanny, I also recommend adding these exercises to your routine to isolate and tone your behind. Incorporate exercises like the barbell hip thrust, standing cable kickback and cable hip abduction alongside your favourite squats once a week.

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Stairmaster to Heavenly Humps

When it comes to getting great glutes, I would be remiss to leave out the Stairmaster. Climbing stairs is one of the best ways to burn calories and build muscle at the same time. Not only does the Stairmaster help with weight management, but it will tone and lift your glutes to give you a fuller, rounder rump. Complete this workout twice a week. Increase or decrease the intensity to meet your current fitness level. If you aren’t dripping in sweat by the end of the workout, it’s time to increase the level and really challenge yourself.

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Stairmaster Pro Tip: To get the most out of your workout, avoid gripping the side rails. You might be tempted to hunch over and rest your upper body on these rails, but that is not going to get you the derrière of your dreams. This position will take pressure off your glutes and refocus it onto your upper body. Keep your core engaged, your torso upright, and your hands off those railings!

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Stretches

After every great workout it is important to stretch the muscles you worked, and your glutes are no exception. Try these two moves to avoid stiffness and injury.

Seated Spinal Twist:

Sit on the floor with one leg extended in front of you. Bend your other leg and cross it over the extended leg. Your heel will be roughly in line with, or slightly higher than, the knee of your extended leg. Anchoring your glutes to the floor and rotating from your hips, turn in the opposite direction your leg is bending until your torso is at least 90 degrees from its starting position. You can press your elbow into your knee for a deep stretch while extending your other arm behind your torso for support. Hold for 30 seconds then switch. Repeat 2-3 times.

Runner’s Lunge:

This is a great stretch for your lower body, with extra emphasis on your glutes. Start by taking a large step forward and lowering your body on your back leg so your rear knee is resting on the floor and your front leg is bent at 90 degrees. Keeping your torso in an upright position, place your hands in front of you and rest them on your thigh. To intensify the stretch, slide your rear leg backwards. Hold for 30 seconds then switch legs. Repeat 2-3 times with each leg.

Now that you have all the information you need to get a rocking rear end, all that’s left for you to do is load your iPod with all your favourite booty-shaking songs and hit the weight room.

Article Courtesy of Fix.com / Ashley Aucoin


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