1: Wake your glutes up with a dynamic warm-up.
You know that static stretching before workouts is passé, but doing dynamic movements to wake your muscles up is particularly important because the glutes are a “sleepy” muscle group. When you spend long hours sitting, suffer low back pain, or simply don’t work your glutes sufficiently, they can become inhibited.
The first step to waking your glutes up is to do a warm-up using exercises that have high glute activity—that is, they require your butt to get to work.
Exercises to try: Glute or hip raises in which you lie on your back with your knees bent and raise up into a bridge is a great glute “activator.” To increase difficulty, do single-leg glute bridges.
Do body weight lunges, squats, donkey kicks, and Monster walks (with an elastic band around the ankles) to wake up the glutes. According to a 2006 study these exercises produce the greatest glute activity—donkey kicks (also known as quadruped hip extensions) got the glutes working the most.
2: Use the classic lifts (deadlifts, squats, lunges) to create a strong, balanced body.
The best glute building exercises are multi-joint lifts that activate the glutes and require them to do a lot of work, thereby training and growing the largest number of muscle fibers. They also have the added benefit of producing a lot of metabolic stress, which helps you lose body fat.
The reason all women should start building their glutes by training the classic lifts is that it allows you to teach your body to move in a coordinated manner as a system.
3: Include single-leg multi-joint exercises to target the posterior chain.
Single-leg training with exercises such as lunges, step-ups, and single-leg deadlifts allow you to specifically target the glutes, which is beneficial for three interrelated reasons:
* It leads to greater glute muscle activity so you overcome a weak connection from the brain to the muscle.
* It equalizes strength levels in the glutes between the right and left side of the body.
* It allows for greater muscle growth for lovely, rounded glutes.
4: Train glute builders.
Now, we’re ready to get down to business and directly target your glutes with top booty builders.
Here are a few exercises that directly build the glutes:
Glute-Ham Raises: A lesser known but valuable glute builder for women, the glute-ham raise allows you to work the lower back, glutes, hamstrings, calves, and even the abs a little bit.
For best results, adjust the footplate so that when your feet are secured, your upper thighs are resting on the center of the bench and you can hang your upper body over the edge. Start with hands on hips and back straight throughout the motion. Progress to hands across your chest and then behind your head to increase difficulty. Eventually, add weight with a medicine ball or weight plate against the chest.
Barbell Glute Bridges: Glute bridges, which we discussed in the warm-up section, are the quintessential glute builder when you load them with a barbell. Some people consider them unsightly, but they are highly effective at isolating the glutes to build shape and strength.
Plus, glute bridges are useful when you don’t want to grow your quads and hamstrings as much as you want your glutes to pop. Squatting, deadlifting, and lunging will grow all the muscles in your legs and backside, which is great for athleticism and a must for novices, but if you’re already strong and just want to target your glutes for a training phase, try glute bridges.
Progress from having your body on the ground to elevating the upper back on a bench. Load them heavy and train them with a fairly high volume.
Good Mornings: A powerhouse lift for the posterior chain, it hits the hamstrings, glutes, and lower back, making it an excellent “core” exercise.
Reverse Hypers: An often overlooked glute exercise that puts minimal compressive forces on the spine but strengthens the lower back and hamstring muscles along with the glutes for a strong and balanced posterior.
5: Do sprints to lose body fat in the hips and thighs.
Sprint training will help women lose body fat in the hips and thighs. For instance, a study of 45 young women found that bike sprints done 3 days a week produced an impressive average loss of 2.5 kg of body fat and increase in lean muscle of 0.6 kg.
Most of the fat was lost from the thighs and trunk—an area that is often considered “tricky” for women. They also lost 0.15 kg of belly fat, which looks like a small amount but is significant due to its dangerous location around the organs.
Protocols to try:
The workout done in the study mentioned above used 8-second resisted sprints followed by 12 seconds of low-intensity cycling, repeated 60 times for a total of 20 minutes. Be sure to use resistance because researchers think this was the catalyst that allowed the women to get such good results without modifying diet.
Try running sprints on a track or self-propelled treadmill or doing a deadmill sprint (it’s sort of like pushing a weighted sled because you’re propelling the treadmill with your feet). A new study found that normal-weight women who did 4 to 6 sprints of 30 seconds on a treadmill lost an average 1.4 kg of fat, reduced body fat by 8 percent, and decreased waist circumference by 3.5 percent.