Listen up ladies! If you want that perfect toned and shaped backside you have to work for it. You also have to know what you’re working on if you want to properly work it out. Your butt is home to three main muscles (gluteal muscles) including the gluteus minimus, gluteus medius, and gluteus maximus. The gluteus minimus is the smallest of the three main gluteal muscles and is responsible for thigh abduction along with the gluteus medius. The gluteus medius is also an important part of hip control, and when weakened, can cause a range of problems with movement in the hip area. The gluteus maximus, as its name suggests, is not only the largest muscle in your butt, but also contends to be the largest and strongest muscle in the entire body. In order for you to achieve the backside physique you desire, your lower body workout must include exercises that target all three of your gluteal muscles. Let’s take a look at how we can make that happen:
Compound exercises, exercises that require the use of various muscle groups as opposed to isolation exercises, which focus on one muscle group, are an important part of any workout routine, especially lower body. While upper body muscle group workouts, such as chest, biceps, triceps, and shoulders, tend to get split up into different days within most fitness regimens, lower body muscle groups are usually the focus of a single day. By targeting multiple lower body muscle groups, including quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes, squats prove to be an essential part of building muscle below the waistline. Not only do squats strengthen your backside, they also help burn fat and calories by increasing your metabolism. Don’t worry about starting with heavy weights that will only force your back to strain. In fact, it’s better to start with no weight (prisoner or air squats) to help refine your form.
Lunges are another compound exercise that targets your hips, thighs, quads, hamstrings, and glutes. Performed the correct way, lunges can build lower body strength while improving hip flexibility, which is often neglected. Hip flexors are responsible for bending and flexing our legs at the hip area and can lead to lower back pain when left unattended. There are a variety of different lunge forms that promise us the best results, including forwards lunges, reverse lunges, and lateral lunges. With so many lunge variations it's best to add as many as you feel comfortable with to your workout, and to decide which works best for you. Similar to squats, lunges are all about proper form. You should start off at low to no weight before adding weight to build muscle.
Many people associate stairs with aerobic conditioning, however, they can also serve as the perfect lower body strength training exercise. Even though stair-climbing is great for cardiovascular health, don’t be surprised if you feel a deep burn in your thigh, quads, and glutes after even a 10-minute routine. To get the most out of your stair exercise, find an actual set of stairs and avoid stair-climbing machines such as the StairMaster. On stair-climbing machines it can be hard to switch up your speed and achieve a complete range of motion, which is important for strengthening all three gluteal muscles. You can also add a little variety to your stair-climbing routine when you feel you’re ready by running up stairs as quickly as you can, taking two steps at a time, and carrying weights.
4. Hip Raise/Leg Curl (Swiss-Ball)
We tend to understate the importance of hips when it comes to lower body physique. Swiss-ball hip raise and leg curls target your glutes and hamstrings by combining knee flexion and hip extension. To perform a proper swiss-ball hip raise and leg curl, lie on your back with your lower legs and heels rested on the exercise ball. Keep your arms stretched out less than a foot away from your hips with your palms facing down. Raise your hips off of the ground to form a straight line from chest to knees while keeping your abs and glutes tight. In the same motion, pull your feet in and roll the exercise ball into your glutes while bending your knees, before settling back into the original position.
One thing you may not realize with squats, lunges, stairs, and swiss-ball hip raise and leg curls is that while you’re building muscle in your lower body, you’re also strengthening your core. The beauty of all four workouts is that they require very little equipment, and can be performed at the gym and in the comfort of your own home's staircase.