Firm, strong gluteus maximus muscles, or glutes, not only create a shapely backside, but also they make everyday tasks, such as lifting your groceries, picking up your child or climbing stairs, easier. Strong glutes are a back and knee saver too, helping to prevent injury by keeping your hips and spine stable.
Bridges and Hip Extensions
As their name implies, glute bridges target your tush. Start on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Without arching your lower back, contract your glutes to raise your hips off the floor, then return to the starting position. For another body-weight butt-blaster, try hip extensions. Start on all fours, with your knees and forearms on the mat. Bring one knee toward your chest, then extend that leg into the air behind you. Don't allow your back to arch. Straightening your knee as you lift it will hit your hammies as well as your glutes. Keeping your knee bent makes the exercise easier, but isolates the glutes. To make hip extensions more challenging, add ankle weights.
Squats are a versatile derriere developer that can be done anywhere. Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart. Reach your arms forward at shoulder level. Squat down, bending your knees and moving your hips back until your thighs drop past parallel. Stand up, extending your hips and knees. Your spine should stay straight, with your chest lifted, the whole time. Keep your feet flat, and track your knees in the direction of your toes. To boost the challenge, hold dumbbells in your hands.
Deadlifts are a great way to build posterior power. Begin with your feet hip-width apart and centered under a barbell. Flex at your hips to take hold of the barbell with a shoulder-width overhand grip. Extend your spine and lift your chest. Keeping your elbows straight, stand up, then lower the bar back to the floor. Deadlifts can stress your spine, especially when using heavy weights. To keep your back happy, don't allow your spine to round at any point during the exercise.
To hit one cheek at a time, try lunges. Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Take a giant step forward with one foot. Bend both knees until your front thigh is parallel and your back knee almost touches the floor. Center your front knee above your foot and keep your torso upright. Push off with the front foot to return to the starting position. To target the gluteus maximus, focus on taking long steps. Shorter strides work the quads more. Add resistance by holding dumbbells in your hands.
- Kinesiology of the Musculoskeletal System: Foundations for Rehabilitation; Donald A. Neumann
- ExRx.net: Gluteus Maximus
- Women's Strength Training Anatomy; Frederic Delavier
Joe Miller started writing professionally in 1991. He specializes in writing about health and fitness and has written for "Fit Yoga" magazine and the New York Times City Room blog. He holds a master's degree in applied physiology from Columbia University, Teacher's College.