You don’t want junk in your trunk -- you just want a butt that looks good when you’re wearing jeans. But even exercises such as lunges and deadlifts can’t right-size your butt without some cardio on the side. So put down the weights, lace up some comfortable shoes, turn on a treadmill and start walking your butt into shape.
You have three large muscles to thank for the shape of your butt -- the gluteus maximum, medius and minimus. These muscles not only help give your butt shape but also help you lift your legs, move your thighs, stand on one leg and support your lower back. A fourth gluteal muscle, the tensor fasciae latae, has little to do with the size of your butt. Getting your butt into shape may be an uphill battle, since genetics plays as much a role as your diet and activity level, but muscle-specific exercises such as walking on a treadmill can help strengthen and tone your butt.
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A surefire way of increasing the challenge of walking on a treadmill is raising its incline. The more incline you walk against, the harder your glutes work to keep you upright and moving, which you’ve likely experienced firsthand while walking uphill and downhill. But you don’t have to climb a mountain when you use a treadmill to target your glutes. In fact, walking at an incline shifts some of the benefit from your glutes to your calves and hamstrings, since these muscles have to work harder to go against gravity. Walking on a level treadmill won’t minimize your workout, and you can make up any ground you think you've lost by walking faster or walking longer.
Dave McGovern of “Walking Magazine” has plenty of tips for making the most of your treadmill workout without raising its incline. Walking backward on the treadmill, for instance, will force you to keep your glutes tight throughout the workout, since they will help you remain stabilized and balanced. Side-stepping on a treadmill will also challenge your glutes without going at an incline. And a third treadmill trick to try is give yourself a goal, such as walking the circumference of the Earth, and track your distance each time you use a treadmill until you’ve made it around the world. This walking tip may not intensify your gluteal workout, but it will keep you on your toes and walking, no matter the weather outside.
Keep In Mind
Before starting any workout program, even one that seems as simple as walking on a treadmill, check with your doctor to make sure this exercise is right for you. Drink plenty of water during your workout so you stay hydrated, wear comfortable shoes, stop if something starts to hurt during your workout and spend between five and 10 minutes warming up and stretching before you turn on the treadmill and get your walk on.
William Henderson has been writing for newspapers, magazines and journals for more than 15 years. He served as editor of the "New England Blade" and is a former contributor to "The Advocate." His work has also appeared on The Good Men Project, Life By Me and The Huffington Post.