A shapely backside and great looking gams are obvious benefits of toned butt and leg muscles. But having strong glutes and thighs will also help to keep your knees, hips and lower back healthy, as well as make everyday tasks from lifting your groceries to picking up your toddler easier.
With floor exercises, you can get a tush-toning, thigh-burning workout without ever standing up. Floor hip extensions target your backside. Start on all fours on a mat. Lift one leg into the air behind you and then return to the starting position. Keeping your knee bent targets the glutes, while straightening the leg works your hammies more. To tone your outer hips, lift one knee out to the side and then return to all fours. Repeat the movement using the other leg. Add resistance with ankle weights or elastic bands to make these body weight exercises more challenging.
Squats do it all. They work your glutes, hammies, quads, inner thighs and calf muscles. Start by standing with your feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart. Your toes should be angled out slightly. Reach your arms forward. Tracking your knees in the direction of your toes, flex your hips and knees until your thighs are parallel to the floor, and then stand up. Keep your spine extended and your chest lifted throughout. To up the challenge, add weights, either by holding dumbbells in your hands or resting a barbell across your upper back. Other squat variations include wide-legged squats, split squats and one-legged squats.
The deadlift is another exercise that gives you a lot of bang for your buck. Although they primarily target your backside, including your glutes and hamstrings, they also work the quads and calves. Start by standing with your feet about hip-width apart and centered under a barbell. Bend down, pushing your hips back and flexing your knees enough to grasp the barbell using an overhand grip with your elbows straight. Your hands will be a little wider than shoulder-width apart. Lift your chest, and while keeping your spine extended, stand up with the weight, letting it come to rest against the front of your thighs, and then return the barbell to the floor. Other types of deadlifts include sumo deadlifts, stiff-legged deadlifts and one-legged deadlifts.
Lunges work one leg at a time, targeting the glutes, quads, inner thighs and calves. Start standing and take a giant step forward with one leg, landing first on the heel, and then the toes. Bend both knees until your back knee almost touches the floor. Push off with the front leg to return to the starting position. Keep your upper body upright, and track your front knee in the direction of your toes. A longer stride will hit your glutes more, while a shorter stride will work your quads. To add resistance, hold dumbbells in your hands or place a barbell across your upper back. To add variety to your lunge workout, try back lunges and side lunges.
- Women's Strength Training Anatomy; Frederic Delavier
- ExRx.net: Hips
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.