Although lunges and squats tend to get all the glory when training the glutes, there are actually better exercises to target the backside. While most exercises work many muscle groups at the same time, certain exercises can place a different emphasis on certain muscle groups. The following are all exercises that most strength coaches would call hip dominate exercises. These exercises require the muscles of the butt and hamstrings to work overtime, but not in total isolation like a machine would. Thus, you get more “bang for your buck” in terms of calorie burning and still helping to focus on the often hard to hit hamstrings and glutes.
Kettlebell swings: This might be my favorite exercise to get ready for summer. Not only does it involve the glutes to a high degree, but it also is great for cardio too. According to one study, “Oxygen Cost of Kettlebell Swings”, the researchers found that, “The American College of Sports Medicine recommends an optimal intensity of 60-85 percent to improve cardiorespiratory fitness. The average heart rate achieved during this exercise bout would classify it as ‘hard’ exercise according to ACSM standards. ” Help shape and lose inches at the same time.
How to do it: Stand with feet hip-width apart, and place a kettlebell between your feet. Hinge at the hips with slightly bent knees to lower your body down to grasp the kettlebell with both arms. Start with an explosive upward movement to swing the kettlebell returning to a standing position. Do not arch your back, but squeeze the glutes. Allow the kettlebell to swing until the arms are parallel to the floor. Remember that this is not a shoulder exercise, but an exercise to generate explosive force in the hips.
Swiss Ball Hamstring Curl: Help strengthen, tone and tighten your butt and legs with this exercise that is great for busy days at the gym. All you need is a little space and a Swiss ball.
How to do it: Lie on the floor with your calves on top of a Swiss ball, your upper back and shoulders on the floor, and your arms out to the sides. Raise your hips and your lower back off the ground so they form a straight line with your legs. Keeping your abs tight, pull the ball toward your butt by digging your heels into the ball until your feet are flat and your knees and butt are high in the air. Pause, then push the ball away from you until your legs are straight. Repeat for reps.
Single Leg glute bridge: The single leg glute bridge can be performed almost anywhere with no equipment making it a great exercise for outside or vacation. This mostly isolation exercise allows for a strong muscle contraction. If done correctly expect a serious burn in your backside.
How to do it: Lie on your back with one leg bent and one leg straight. While keeping your core still, press the bent leg into the ground and lift the hips and straight leg off the floor. Squeeze the glutes and avoid arching the low back. Slowly lower yourself back to the mat. Maintain control using your glutes. Repeat and switch legs.
As always consult your doctor prior to starting any exercise program, and if you are unsure how to properly preform any exercise seek the advice of a trained fitness professional.
—Kyler Crouse, BS, CSCS, FMS is a personal trainer and strength coach that trains at Sierra Athletic Club and a training center instructor at Barton Memorial Hospital. Kyler specializes in adult fitness over 50 and rehabilitation after injury. Visit www.KCstrength.com for more information.