T.There’s a lot here about having strong glutes. They help us with our athletic accomplishments such as running fast and jumping high, but also daily activities like climbing stairs or getting in the car. (Also: a pair of jeans doesn’t hurt when you swing them.)
“Since the glutes sit in the center of our bodies, they are involved in most of our basic movements,” explains Daniel Richter, a certified personal trainer and co-founder of Strengthlog. “As we get older, our joints are one of the most important muscles in maintaining our freedom of movement, including the ability to move around daily, just like getting up from a chair.”
Heather Carroll, a certified personal trainer and owner of A Balanced Life Training, says that when we spend most of our time sitting in front of a computer or in a car, the glutes don’t lengthen and make us feel extra tight. He adds that glutes help us maintain optimal posture while aligning with our spine. “The adhesive muscles work directly with the core muscles, pointing the pelvis straight to the ground instead of tilting backwards or forwards,” he says.
Fortunately, there are seemingly endless ways to strengthen our backs. But what is actually effective? When it comes to the best way to strengthen the gluteus – which includes gluteus maximus, gluteus medius and gluteus minimas – many of us are not sure what to actually practice. We asked three personal trainers to meet us in their desired steps for maximum results which you can do yourself at home or in the gym.
Richter says that classic squats are a great addition to any lower body training program. “Squats work your glutes at long range speeds, stretching your muscles under the squats under load,” he says. “Working on a muscle over a long range under load has been shown to be important for muscle growth and strength.” Science supports him: A 2019 study found that performing deep squats resulted in a double improvement with half squats despite training with light loads.
- Stand straight with your legs hip-width apart, behind the shoulders, above the chest, and at the core.
- Bend your knees and sit all the way behind your buttocks so that your buttocks reach the back and bring your arms forward in front of you for imbalance while sitting in the chair.
- When your thighs are parallel to the floor, press with your heels to stand back up.
- Complete 20 to 50 repetitions.
2. Hip thrusts
Hip thrust, which can be performed with a barbell or a hip thrust machine, uses hip extensions to target the glutes. “One of the benefits of hip thrust is that it’s easy to find and maintain uninterrupted muscle contact throughout the exercise, which can be beneficial for muscle growth,” Richter said. “Aim for long range range of motion for optimal results and gradually gain weight with each workout.”
- Place your shoulder blades on a bench so that your body bridges from side to side so that your knees are bent 90 degrees, your legs are shoulder-width apart, and your buttocks are in a tabletop position.
- Hold the weight or a barbell across your hips.
- Lower your hips to the floor, then lift them up until your thighs are parallel to the ground.
- Complete 10 controlled delegates per set.
3. Bulgarian split squats
Since you are standing on one leg at a time, Bulgarian split squats work hip stabilizers – gluteus medius and minimas. “Working on one leg at a time means you can find any side-by-side difference in strength, although it’s perfectly normal to be a little more stable than the other side,” Richter said.
- Stand about three feet in front of a bench or step, facing away, place the top of your hind legs above your back bench. Your legs should be shoulder-width apart and your front leg should be forward enough so that your front knee does not extend beyond your toes when you fall into the lunge.
- With your shoulders back and the core engaged, bend your front knee to descend into a split lunge.
- When the thighs of your front legs are parallel to the ground, press with your ankles to return to the standing position.
- Complete eight to 10 repetitions per leg per set.
- For an extra challenge, you can load this squat by holding the dumbbell in each hand and keeping your arms beside you.
Kent Probst, a certified personal trainer and fitness educator through the Long Healthy Life blog, likes that deadlifts mimic the function of gluten in everyday life, such as when we lift something off the ground.
- Legs shoulder-width apart, with arms at your side and a dumbbell in front of each ankle.
- Bend your knees to sit behind your hips as far as possible until you are low enough to reach and hold the weight with your back straight and chest up.
- Engage your core to lift the dumbbells when you lift your body to a standing position. Your back should be straight and the weights should be tracked vertically along your shin.
- Sit back on your hips slowly to slowly lose weight on the floor. Place your chin up and look forward.
- Repeat 10 to 12 times per set.
5. Single-leg glute bridge
“This exercise is similar to hip thrust, but using one leg at a time without any weight makes it even more challenging,” Richter said. He adds that this is a great exercise for running and other athletics to improve your hip stability.
- Lie on your back with your knees bent, one foot flat on the floor and reach for a straight air.
- Squeeze your glutes to lift your buttocks until your body is in a long line from your knees to your shoulders.
- Hold for one breath and then slowly lower yourself.
- Repeat 15 times, then switch sides.
6. Kick the weighty ass
Carol likes this exercise because it works both the glute and the hamstrings and can be advanced or reversed by adding or removing weights.
- Get all four with an ankle weight on each ankle.
- Lift the right leg behind you, keep a 90-degree bend at the knees so that the shin is perpendicular to the ceiling, then return to the beginning.
- Aim for 15 repetitions on each side.
7. Fire hydrants
Reaching the side of your foot, Carroll says that this exercise works your gluteus medius.
- Go to a tabletop position on your hands and knees with your core tight, back flat, and ankle weight on your ankles.
- Use your core to stabilize your buttocks while bending your knees and lifting your right leg straight to the side.
- Return to starting position.
- Aim for two sets of 15 repetitions on each side.
This Pilates exercise works the hip rotator muscles at the base of your buttocks, says Carroll. “It’s also great for working on the muscles that we need to rotate and change direction quickly.” To advance the exercise, he said, add a loop band around the middle thigh.
- Lie on your side with your knees bent 45 degrees and align the heels directly under your sitting bones. Engage your core to lift the heels off the floor, legs together, so that they are aligned with the tailbone.
- Rotate the upper knee open keeping the buttocks stable and the heels attached.
- Close your knees to return to the starting position.
- Complete two sets of 15 to 25 repetitions on each side.
9. Glider reverse lunges
If you do not have access to glider discs, you can use a smooth floor towel for this exercise. Carol says it’s great for effective movement, such as climbing stairs or lifting something heavy off the ground.
- Stand with your legs together and a glider or towel under your right foot.
- Slide your right foot backwards while bending both knees 90 degrees so that you are in an opposite position.
- Press down with the left ankle, attach the glutes and hamstrings and return to the starting position.
- Repeat 12 to 15 times on each side.
So how often should this glue exercise be done?
Although you don’t have to do all these exercises every time you exercise, mixing and matching three or four in your regular workout will provide the variety needed to create your well-rounded, strong glute.
You can do glute exercises every day if you only do light training, says Richter. “If you do more challenging workouts, one to three times a week is usually a good idea, a sweet spot about twice a week.” You can increase the amount of your training as you get better, Richter notes. “But, if you’re just starting out, be careful not to overdo it!”
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