Your motivation for working your glutes may be that bathing suit you'll be donning in a few short months, but sculpting a well-rounded butt is only one of the many benefits of strengthening these muscles.
Stronger glutes help improve your running form and prevent injury. Having strong glutes also means that less effort is required of your lower back when performing everyday tasks, which can help combat back pain.
Body-weight exercises like squats and lunges tend to be the go-to movements to work your glutes, but they also recruit other larger muscles like the quads and hamstrings. As a personal trainer, I see a lot of my clients actually work their quads instead of their glutes during a squat. It’s an easy mistake to make.
That’s why I recommend using resistance bands to isolate and target the major muscles in the butt. This equipment is inexpensive and convenient and allows you to work on strength without using weights.
Here are four exercises that will tone your butt and engage your core, while also improving your overall strength and reducing your risk of injury.
Side-to-side band walk
This exercise is a great way to wake up your glutes. First, place the resistance band around your thighs. Bend into a half squat (also known as a shallow squat) and place your hands together close to your chest. Take a step towards the right with your right foot. Then take a step towards the right with the left foot. When you step, make sure your feet remain hip-distance apart to maintain tension on the band. Take two steps towards one direction, and then two towards the other. Repeat for 20 repetitions.
Standing glute kickback
Start standing with your feet as wide as your hips. Then step your right foot back so that the right toes are a few inches behind your left heel and clasp your hands together at your chest. Shift your weight onto your left foot and kick the right leg straight back behind you, lifting a few inches off of the floor. Squeeze the glute at the top. Return the foot to the starting position; repeat for a total of 10 repetitions. Then switch sides.
Wrap the resistance bands around your thighs and get down on all fours on the floor. Keep your hands placed flat on the floor directly below your shoulders and your knees placed below your hips. Flex your right foot and kick it up and back behind you, as if you are trying to stamp your foot on the ceiling, squeezing your glutes. Slowly bring it back down;vrepeat 10 times. Switch sides and perform on the left foot.
The fire hydrant works your outer glutes while getting your hips involved. Like the donkey kick, you start on all fours with the band around your thighs, but this time, you move your leg out towards your side. After getting into position, lift your right knee out towards your right side, opening your hips. Be sure to squeeze your abs to remain balanced and squeeze your right glute at the top of the exercise. Bring your right knee back down; repeat 10 times. Then switch to the left side.