Sculpting your backside is about way more than performing dedicated butt workouts. It’s about hitting your booty during every workout. That’s because your glutes (comprised of your gluteus maximus, medius, and minimus) are the largest muscle group in your body. So even before you get around to training them, they tend to be pretty damn strong.
As a result, it takes some serious work to really strengthen and shape them the way you want to, says Pat Gilles, C.S.C.S., owner of Pat’s Gym in Wisconsin. Integrating glute work into your favorite exercises is the perfect way to do just that, and Women's Health Magazine has the scoop below.
1. Running: Crank up the incline. Doing so will shift the brunt of the work from your quads to your glutes. If you’re into outdoor running, heading uphill will achieve the same thing, says Los Angeles-based trainer Mike Donavanik, C.S.C.S. (Just remember that running back downhill will hammer your quads.) While you’re at it, take a look at your form. If you’re like a lot of women, you jut each hip out to the side as you stride forward. However, by keeping your hips in check, you’ll automatically work your gluteus medius (at the top of your tuckus) like crazy, he says. While concentrating on your form helps, including exercises like clamshells and lateral band walks into your butt routine can help you control your movement, says Donavanik.
2. Squats: This move is a staple in any butt-training program, but a couple tweaks to your go-to squat can kick your glutes into overdrive. First, if you usually perform back squats with a loaded barbell on the very top of your shoulders, try holding the barbell across your upper back. This "low-bar" squat increases how hard your glutes have to work with each rep, says Donavanik. (Note: Most people can move more weight with these low-bar squats, so you may need increase your resistance or number of reps.)
Whether you like bodyweight, kettlebell, or barbell squats, setting your feet a wider distance apart (sumo style) can increase glute activation, says Gainor. To get your sumo on, stand with your feet significantly wider than hip-distance apart, your toes pointed at 45-degree angles out to each side.
>> Try the Skinny Mom 30-Day Squat Challenge for bootylicious results!
3. Cycling: Cyclists are known for their quads of steel. Buns of steel? Not so much. But you can change all of that with two tricks: Pushing through your heels instead of the ball of your foot and taking advantage of “post-activation potentiation.” While the first tip is easy enough to figure out, “post-activation potentiation,” or PAP, is the phenomenon by which muscles work harder as a result of previous contractions, says Gilles. Essentially, you're waking them up before a serious workout. “Activate your glutes prior to cycling and you will automatically use the glutes more effectively during your workout,” he says.
To put PAP into practice, perform your favorite butt moves, especially deadlifts, single-leg deadlifts, bridges, and band walks, as a warm-up for your cycling class. This way your glutes will already be burning, he says.