Time to tone up your backside for spring break and beach season.
These shapely muscles not only look great in tight jeans, but are necessary for every step and leg movement you make.
The gluteals are made up of three muscles maximus, medius, and minimus. Strong gluteal muscles:
- Support your low back
- Improve posture
- Require energy i.e. burn calories
- Stabilize the hip joint and protect the knee
- Assist smaller muscles in the pelvis
- Prevent overuse of the hamstrings
- Allow for easier standing and lifting
Aerobic exercise, strength training, and a little TLC will keep your butt in top shape.
Work your heart and butt at the same time. Running, walking and hill climbing all strengthen the muscles and reduce fat. Shoot for at least 30 (45-60 optimally) minutes of aerobic exercise, 5 times a week.
Focus on strengthening all three glute muscles. Work muscle groups every other day to allow for recovery. Start with one set of 10, gradually building to 3 sets of 15. Weights may be added to increase the intensity.
To work the largest muscle in the body, the gluteus maximus, squats and lunges are very effective. To strengthen the medius and minimus, focus on side leg lifts, lateral walks and side kicks. Check out these videos, featuring Tony Duncan of Body Science, to learn proper form.
Squats begin with feet wider than shoulder distance apart, contract your abs, bend at the knee with your back straight, stick your butt out and keep your knees in front of your toes. First sit, then push to standing by engaging your butt and pushing through your heels.
Lunge by taking a big step forward with your right leg, bend both knees so the left knee nearly touches the floor, push to upright. Make sure the front knee does not go past your toes and maintain an upright body position. Repeat and then switch legs.
Leg lifts begin by laying on your right side, supporting your head with your right hand, slowly raise and lower your left leg about 45 degrees. For a different version, perform the same movement with the toe pointed downward. Repeat on the opposite side.
Lateral walks use a flexible band or tube circled around your ankles, a bit wider than shoulder distance. With knees slightly bent, side step slowly to the right, maintaining tension in the band. Repeat steps in one direction, then go the other way.
Side kicks are done on all fours. Maintain the bend in the knee, and slowly raise your leg up to the side, then lower. Repeat and switch legs.
Tender Loving Care
Massage your hard working glutes with a foam roller or massage ball. Stretch the muscles with a great stretch: supine leg cross over. Lay on your back, keep your left leg straight on the ground, bend your right leg and guide the knee across the body toward your left shoulder. Hold for 5 breaths, repeat on the other side.
Try a supported pigeon by bending your left leg and placing your calf, foot and knee on a table about the height of your pelvis. Find a comfortable stretch and hold for 5 breaths.
Build a strong base for your daily activities by working your glutes. But, don’t be surprised if you get a few glances as you walk by.