Step Up to Strong, Sexy Glutes

When you think of your beauteous backside, which of these comes to mind?

  • A cushy place to sit
  • A part of your body you’re working on
  • Swingin’ it
  • The strongest prime movers in your body

There is some emotional baggage to our backside. Most of us think it’s too big. Some of us like it but want to improve it. But most of us really don’t care that the gluteus maximus is the largest, most powerful muscle in our body and that weak glutes are a ticking time bomb.

Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to have weak glutes. Sitting all day makes your hip flexors and erector spinae tight, and these muscles begin to over function for your glutes. Instead of letting the glutes take the load properly for functions such as climbing stairs, walking, running, jumping, or squatting, they play a minor role while other muscles are overused.

This is what I’m talking about when I refer to muscle imbalances – pain or injury that results from the wrong muscles taking the load over and over again.

If your glutes are weak it’s hard to feel them working. That’s because they may not be firing correctly; you’ve become accustomed to relying on other muscles. It’s obviously important to train your quadriceps and other leg muscles as well. Don’t only train your glutes. Focus on getting them strong while training your entire body.

Your glutes can never be too strong. Strong also translates into a firm, sexy shape! Strengthening these muscles should be as important as core strengthening in your workouts, and you can do this with these exercises:

  • Dead lifts (single leg and regular)
  • Squats
  • High step ups
  • Leg presses
  • Hip extensions
  • Floor bridge
  • Lunges
  • Side-lying leg lifts

While I admit I overdid it last week when I trained my lower body, it provided such a targeted training in my glutes that I wanted to share my workout. To avoid total backside burnout for the next four days, don’t lift heavy for the entire workout like I did. Use a moderate weight for two of the exercises, meaning you could lift several more reps (but do not).

  • Split squat 10×4
  • Back extension 10×3
  • Barbell squat 8×4
  • Kettle bell swings 10×3

Of course, a side benefit to strong glutes is that they look tighter and higher. That can even be your primary objective. Whatever your motivation, make training your backside a top priority. Train them twice a week, lifting moderate to heavy weight, and you’ll start seeing results in six to eight weeks.

An excellent article describing what your glutes should be doing and how to fix it if they’re not is The Plague of The Mediocre Athlete: “No Glutes Equals No Results.”

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  1. My glutes are one place that, hmm, respond quickly to training. lol. Not sure if I love that or hate it.
    Kerri O recently posted..Planning For SuccessMy Profile

  2. You know…even though I’ve swollen up again, I STILL like my ass. Yes..I really DO want it to be smaller, but the basic shape? I like it.

    I am getting back into this slowly but surely..You are my hero!
    ragemichelle recently posted..2011: GTFO!My Profile

  3. For me it’s worth repeating, I genuinely belive that 1-legged leg presses, done deep, but slow (so long as the knees cooperate) are a supreme glute builder. I will often super-set these with low-back extensions — another supreme glute hardener. A dynamic duo glute love!
    Emergefit recently posted..Resolve not to resolve annually, but daily…My Profile

  4. This may sound really weird and/or silly . . . but my favorite part about lower-body training is that the glute activation helps me get in touch with the fact that we walk from the hips, not just *with* the legs. Does that make sense?

    Over-civilized (that is, sedentary) life disconnects us from our bodies and makes our movement mechanical. Strong, functional muscles help us inhabit our bodies more like animals. Anyway, that’s what I was musing on a couple of days ago after working legs and glutes.
    Mary C. Weaver, CSCS recently posted..Why you can keep the weight offMy Profile

  5. A really useful post Suzanne, thank you. This is an area I have recently become interested in as my backside has started to head south…
    Sarah Arrow recently posted..The alternative traffic success formula for 2012 #bloggingMy Profile

  6. Happy New Year, Suzanne! Thanks for sharing these great moves. I’m been working with my trainer now for almost 2 1/2 months and the biggest improvement so far has been in my glutes, as well as overall body strength. So while sometimes this challenging full body training can be a pain in the ass, that’s one of the places I’m seeing the greatest benefit. 🙂 Guess it pays to be a hard-ass, right? Okay, I’m done with the butt jokes now, I promise!
    Shira recently posted..What I learned during my winter vacationMy Profile

    • Back at ya Shira! And lol ;). Love that you’re seeing improvements in your glutes (and everywhere else). Feel free to joke around glute hardening here – I will totally butt out.

  7. When I first started to lose weight, my booty deflated and the husband got upset. But then I started doing ass exercises and now the husband looooves my booty again!

    Hooray for developing sexy glutes! It saved my marriage (well, not really but it sounds like a great marriage testimonial).
    Yum Yucky recently posted..Here’s My January 2012 Progress Picture. Have You Snapped Yours Yet?My Profile

  8. Good glutes workouts I aint got hot chocolate buns of steel for nothing .fitted jeans all day
    Ndem @bigtymer32 recently posted..week 4, last cheat meal and food journalsMy Profile

  9. Great advice. As a desk worker and runner I tend to fall into the trap of having the wrong muscles worked regularly. Because getting my workout time in means running from my front door I run mostly flat surfaces which doesn’t help either.

    Time to step it up with some of the exercises you suggest, many of which I can do just after a run!
    Yolanda recently posted..Success: What Exactly Are You Doing… Right Now?My Profile

  10. I’m loving this conversation – lol.

    The leg press has got to be one of my favorite exercises. That combined with walking lunges works for me.

    And though they work SO well, one legged squats are #@#$*& HARD!!!
    Lisa Wood recently posted..WordPress 3.3 Is Out: Here’s What’s NewMy Profile

  11. I saw this over at Josie’s place & I posted about this today too BUT just about 1 exercise I saw that I wanted to share.. yes to tight butts but I will say age fights you no matter how much you do! I do fight back though!;-)
    Jody – Fit at 54 recently posted..Tighten the Butt/Glute with a Ball!My Profile

    • Just visited your site too – thanks so much for stopping by Jody! And ahaha it is true about the droop with age and cannot be denied. Not only that, but genetics play a big role in the appearance of your butt. I’ve managed to shape mine a bit (combating flat butt syndrome in my family), but overall I have a VERY hard time building muscle there. It’s a battle I will not give up on though!

  12. so all your blog posts just came through on my reader. I’ve been missing out! glad i could catch up on some booty work. YEA!
    lindsay recently posted..Duty Calls: WIAWMy Profile

  13. This reminds me of the wonderful Benjamin Zander, who combines being a leadership guru focused on The Art of Possibility with conducting the Boston Philharmonic and being a cellist…

    He uses the expression ‘one buttock player’ to describe people who are active, enthusiastic and absorbed in their playing, or any activity in life, because they shift from cheek to cheek (as it were) automatically and rarely have both buttocks on the seat…not conventional exercise but perhaps something the desk bound can consider! 🙂
    Christine Miller recently posted..Work as PlayMy Profile

  14. Hi. I’ve been lurking on your blog for awhile now and love it. Anyway, I’ve been doing the New Rules of Lifting for Women since the end of September and a lot of squats, deadlifts, lunges and step-ups are written into the program. My glutes were saggy beyond belief and weak too. I also incorporated KB swings (5×20) when the program called for intervals and seriously, my glutes look so much better. I just turned 40 a few months ago and never thought I could get my rear to improve especially being a little older. Great article highlighting the way to better glutes.

    • Thanks Toni! Great to connect. I LOVE hearing that you like (love??) your glutes at 40. I hear women say “the slide” is just part of aging, but I think it has to do more with genetics and lack of glueal work than age. By doing exactly what you’re doing, you can firm up any booty. I love the New Rules of Lifting for Women too! It’s super cool you’ve been seeing results with those big compound moves. You keep that right up!!

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