Scroll through Facebook workout threads, pinterest boards, or just walk into a gym… you’ll quickly see that it’s all about the bootay! Who doesn’t want a stronger, more full and round tailside? I personally have been working hard to build my glutes and I believe that it’s working. Every time I wear my blue leggings (#bluepantseffect IS REAL- everyone looks good in them), I have women ask me what they should do to build their booty. It’s an important part of the routines I make for all of my clients, but I thought I would share some of my most common tips and favorite exercises here for all of you!
Blues pants effect!
A few basic points:
- While we all want flatter abs, lean arms, and a great booty, it’s important to remember that it is not possible to spot reduce body fat and that the best thing you can do is to workout your entire body in a balanced fashion. It’s ok to give a little extra attention to a particular area, but slaughtering your abs or working your glutes hard every day is not going to be the most effective route. You’re best off learning some great moves, practicing to execute them with good form, and pushing the heavy weights on some moves. So drop the Pinterest 300-bodyweight-squats-a-day routine and put your work towards learning some efficient exercises that will go a long way!
- Nutrition is an undeniable part of any health and fitness goal. You can work your glute muscles to be more rounded and tight, but unless you clean up your nutrition, you may never see the shape you are really aiming for! Your body needs fuel to grow muscle, and you may need a certain leanness in body fat to show the shape you love. Everyone’s goals are different. But don’t ignore the role that nutrition plays in you reaching yours.
- Squats: they are the king of exercises. While I’m going to go over some great squat-based exercises, this article is not just another one yelling at you to hang out in the squat rack all day! Many people join a gym with limited experience and think they need to throw a bunch of weight on a bar, load it on their back, and heave it up to get a round booty and nice legs. While the squat is a fantastic compound movement, most people have muscular imbalances in their body that really should be worked out and a foundation of strength and proper form that should be built before chanting “A** to Grass!” with a bar on their shoulders. Not only that, but there are many other fantastic glute exercises that build your shape and should not be ignored!
- To avoid muscle fatigue and injury, in general, multi-joint, multi-muscle moves should come first in your workout and exercises like cable kickbacks and single leg stiff deadlifts that isolate glute and hamstring muscles from the rest should be later. You want to give your attention, energy, and best effort to the multi-muscle moves like squats and lunges then move to the more isolated moves. This is true when working all body parts, not just legs/booty.
My favorite booty building exercises (demo video below):
Bodyweight squats: When you really concentrate on a great mind-muscle connection with a focus on squeezing the muscles and executing the squat with the best form possible, bodyweight squats can be a great warm up before heading into a heavy leg/glute day. Ball Wall squats are a great modification to work your way up to a smooth bodyweight squat and holding a dumbbell or kettlebell (or in my case, a child!) is a great way to advance your squat.
Glute Bridges/Hip Thrusts: These are a great choice for correcting those aforementioned muscular imbalances while focusing on squeezing and growing the glute muscles. To perform this one, sit on the ground with your upper back against a bench or entire back flat on the ground, your knees bent, and your feet flat on the floor in front of you. Squeeze your glutes as you raise your pelvis high enough off the floor to create a straight line between your knees, hips, and shoulders. As you improve, you can add a weight plate or barbell in your lap for resistance. Another option to add intensity is to lift and hold one leg into the air to perform single leg glute bridges.
Split Squats and Bulgarian Split Squats: While doing these bent-knee lunges, think about pushing up from the bent-knee position through the heel instead of through the ball or toes of your foot. By shifting your weight to your heel, your center of balance will instantly move slightly backward and will better activate your glutes. Placing the shoelaces of your back foot on a bench behind you and executing the split squat makes it a “Bulgarian” and allows you to increase the range of motion and challenge the glute muscles.
Frog Lifts: Lie on your stomach on either the floor or a flat bench. Contract the abdominals. Turn hips out, and pull heels together so they touch. Hips stay connected to the floor, and spine stays neutral. Lift the heels toward the ceiling, pulling as much of the thigh off the floor as possible. Squeeze buttocks at the top and hold for a moment. Lower the thighs down slowly, keeping heels touching. This exercise strengthens the buttocks, lower back, core and hamstrings. Keep a slow pace so that you can control the movement and squeeze those glutes!
Squat Side Kicks: again… don’t forget to squeeze the glutes on these. You’ll need it for balance! With feet hip-width apart, slowly lower into a half-squat, keeping knees over toes. Raise right knee to hip level, then extend right leg to the side, straightening left leg as you push out through your right heel. Pull right knee in, and return to starting position.
Down Dog Leg Lifts: I swear, my son does these every morning in his crib! Start in Down Dog (lift hips high and evenly distribute weight into the hands and feet). Point one foot and slowly lift the leg to the highest point without kicking to get there and control the leg back to starting position. Make sure that both shoulders stay square down toward the floor (don’t allow one shoulder to pull up as the leg lifts).
Curtsy Lunge: You can practice your bow for the queen with this one! Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, optionally holding dumbbells or a kettlebell. You should be looking straight forward, with your chest up and shoulders back. Initiate the movement by shifting your weight to your right foot, lifting your left from the ground. While keeping your torso facing forward, place your left leg behind your right, taking a wide, lateral step behind the front leg. Descend into a lunge by bending your knees, lowering your body straight down. Continue until your front knee is at approximately 90 degrees, and then drive through the heel and extend the knee and hip. As you come back up, return the back leg to the starting position.
Goblet Squat: this one works the legs while improving shoulder and core strength and improving posture, balance, and hip mobility. Standing tall with your feet shoulder-width apart, grab the head of a dumbbell with both hands and hold it vertically in front of your chest. Keeping your chest up and back straight, squat down until the crease of your hip drops below the knee and the tops of your thighs are at least parallel to the floor. Extend your hips and knees to return to the starting position with a squeeze of the glutes! Plié squat is similar but with the weight hanging between your legs rather than held at the chest.
Cable Kickbacks: As this is an isolated movement, I like to end a glute workout with these. They can be performed with a resistance tube or with an ankle cuff attached to a cable pulley system. It’s important that you don’t lean forward too much- concentrate on squeezing the Glutes to pull the leg back (see a common theme here? Glute squeeze is important!)
Single Leg Deadlift: sometimes referred to as the the non-surgical butt-lift, this move is awesome for everyone, from beginners (with no weight) to the most experienced (with heavy weight). It should be performed towards the beginning of your routine, when you’re feeling fresh. Stand on one leg, on the same side that you hold the kettlebell. Keeping that knee slightly bent, perform a stiff legged deadlift by bending at the hip, extending your free leg behind you for balance. Continue lowering the kettlebell until you are parallel to the ground, and then return to the upright position.
Always remember that you are beYOUtiful! Make every day count towards YOUR goals, not anyone else’s! Then there is nothing to be but proud of your hard work!