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My Top 5 Exercises for the Booty

Building a strong and sexy back side should be one of the main goals of any lifting program. For an athlete, the gluteal muscles are the engine that drives the car; they are the prime movers in a number of athletic movements like jumping, sprinting, and more importantly, braking and changing directions. For weekend warrior athletes or general fitness clients with weekday 9-5's, sitting down all day can wreck your posture and your lower back as you develop tight hip flexors and tight hamstrings. The best known way to counteract this problem is to lengthen your hamstrings and hip flexors through stretching, while at the same time strengthening the muscles of your backside. And for vanity's sake, all girls and guys want their butts to look good in jeans or a bathing suit!

When building your gluteal specific training program it is important to remember that your butt has three main muscles, each with a specific movement function. The gluteus maximus is the largest and most superficial of the three muscles. Its main function is to extend and externally rotate the hip. The gluteus medius is situated on the outer pelvis and functions to abduct the hip. Lastly, the gluteus minimus is the smallest of the three gluteal muscles and serves a similar function as the gluteal medius by aiding in hip abduction and counteracting medial rotation of the thigh. Select exercises that target all three muscles and movement patterns to develop a well rounded booty (pun intended!)

Here is a list of my Top 5 favorite exercises to give you the booty blast that you deserve!

1: Hip Thrusts (aka deficit bridges)- This is the mother of all gluteal specific exercises. Simply sit down with your back to a bench, roll a barbell on to your hips, set your feet at distance that allows your shins to be perpendicular to the ground and then thrust the bar upward until your hips are parallel to the ground. Squeeze your glutes at the top of the movement. This exercise really focuses on hip extension and targets your gluteus maximus especially. Ideally you want to place a squat sponge or air-ex pad in-between your hips and the bar to avoid discomfort. You can go pretty heavy on this exercise, so challenge yourself with high weight low reps (5x5) or lighten the load and go for a pump (3x12). No time for or access to a gym? Try these on the edge of a comfy sofa and try them one-legged!

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Barbell Hip Thrusts

2: Single Leg Box Squats - this exercise not only targets the gluteus maximus with hip extension during the concentric phase (standing up), but it also recruits the gluteus minimus because it is a unilateral movement and naturally unstable. In this exercise the gluteus minimus stabilizes the knee from excessive medial rotational of the thigh. Watch yourself do these in a mirror and try to keep alignment of your toe - knee - hip as linear as possible. Aim for 2-3 sets of 8-10 good reps each side. Add weight in the front carry position when you are ready for the challenge. This is another exercise that can easily be done at home or in a hotel with a trusty chair that is about knee height.

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Single Leg Box Squat

3: Banded Monster Walks are a great low impact exercise that will fire up your gluteus medius and gluteus minimus. Strap a mini band around your thighs or above your ankles and walk laterally with steps (do not drag your back foot). The lower the band on the legs, the more difficult the exercise will be. Make sure your feet are facing straight ahead, do not allow your lead leg to externally rotate. Try two variations, one with your body in a quarter squat (more gluteus medius) and one with your body completely standing up (more gluteus minimus). Try 2-3 rounds of 15-20 lateral steps one way and then back the other. Face the same direction for your round trip, otherwise you will be working the same side twice!

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Banded Monster Walk

4: Reverse Hyper Extensions primarily work your gluteus maximus, but will strengthen the spinal erectors of your lower back as well. This is another exercise that is extremely effective and extremely safe when done properly. If you do not have a bench like the one pictured below, try laying across a stability ball on the floor and give the glutes an isometric squeeze at the top of the movement. Aim for 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps.

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Reverse Hyper Extension

5: Frog Pumps are a great finisher exercise that really targets the gluteal maximus with both hip extension and external rotation. Lie on your back on the floor with your feet in a butter fly stretch position where the bottoms of your feet are touching. Press your heels together while extending your hips as high in the air as you can. Remember, you are going for a pump here, so keep the rep count high and do not let your butt rest on the ground for any length of time, keep constant tension. Try 1 set of 25-50 reps at the end of your workout, this one will burn!

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Frog Pumps

There are a ton of different exercises that target the booty, these are just some of my favorites. What are some of yours? Comment below!

--Matthew Miller, CSCS

President - Miller Sports Training & Fitness

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