Toning Your Butt
Why women want buns of steel
Ask any guy and he’ll tell you a little junk in the trunk is a good thing, but it’s what kind of junk it is that makes all the difference.
“Junk” can mean extra fat on your bottom end or tight, muscular glutes. While both add some padding to your rear view, a less-toned butt can sag, look uneven and show off more of those unwanted cellulite dimples. A butt with more muscle than fat will be firmer and smoother.
What are the glutes and where are they located?
When we’re talking our rear ends, we’re really talking about the gluteus maximus, one of the largest muscles in the body. It’s one of the strongest too. The gluteus medius and minimus, which technically act as hip abductors, make up the rest of the gluteal muscle group. They are located underneath the gluteus maximus on the pelvis, but attach to the side of the thigh rather than the back.
What do they do?
The gluteus maximus is engaged during hip extension (when the thigh moves backwards). It also assists in moving the legs away from the body sideways when hips are bent, moving the legs toward the body when hips are straight and outward hip rotation. The other two glutes move the legs away from the body.
Why you should strengthen your glutes
It’s not all about appearance, although it’s flattering when your significant other lets you know they appreciate your rear view. Toned glutes are more functional than a butt composed of fat. Strong butt muscles help you stand up when you’re sitting down or kneeling and in some cases can even ease lower back and knee pain.
Exercises that target the glute muscles
- Stability ball squat - A stability ball for support makes this move easier and more challenging at the same time. Stand with the ball resting between your lower back and a wall. Lower yourself until your thighs are parallel to the floor (knees not going past toes) and return to staring position by engaging the glutes.
- Dumbbell squat - Add some weight to a regular squat by holding a dumbbell in both hands and letting it hang down in front of you. Squat with a straight back, forcing your butt to work against the resistance and repeat.
- Cable kickback - Cables are great for targeting the glutes. Attach an ankle strap to one of these machines and move the cable to the lowest position. Stand straight, facing the machine with one ankle in the strap, holding onto hand grips if necessary. Keep the other leg firmly in place as you kick your heel backwards about a foot. This is a hip extension move.
- Kneeling kickback - If you don’t have access to a cable machine, or want some variety, this move is great. Kneel on a mat or the floor and raise one leg so it makes a 90 degree angle. Raise it as high as you can and return to start. Weights can be added behind the knee for more resistance.
- Lying glute push-up - Lie on your back with feet on a stability ball. Push into the ball with your heels to raise your butt off the floor, your body should form a straight line from shoulders to knees. Hold for a few seconds and repeat, or try for longer.