Over the years, the great, gorgeous glute quest has inspired the creation of a constantly evolving selection of complex, high-tech butt exercise machines. Sometimes, however, the back-to-basics approach trumps all others. Convenient, affordable and portable, elastic resistance bands facilitate efficient, effective and versatile butt workouts. The bands come in different shapes, sizes, textures and resistance levels.
Band Training Benefits
Position is everything in butt training. Many gluteus machines use a position that only targets the gluteus maximus, your largest butt muscle. When you change your body position, your other gluteal muscles take center stage, creating a more balanced butt workout. The bands also allow you to work at different speeds and in varying planes of motion. This freedom of movement inspires buttocks routines that tone your glutes while enhancing your sport-specific skills.
Squats and Lunges
Squats and lunges boast an ability to engage your gluteal, hamstring and quadriceps muscles simultaneously. As compound exercises, they teach your gluteal muscles how to play well with others. Placing the resistance band under your feet and bringing the band's ends to your shoulders increases the intensity. The smaller, circular ankle bands add variety to the basic squat. Place the band around your ankles. Bend your knees and sit back into the squat. As you straighten your legs, kick your right leg out to the side, against the resistance of the band.
Standing abduction exercises work your gluteus medius, the muscles on the upper, outer part of your butt. These muscles externally rotate your hip and move your leg away from the center of your body. Attach one end of the band to a stable object and the other to one ankle. Step away from the attachment point, stand upright, lift your working leg and press it out to the side. The lateral band walk offers a more dynamic gluteus medius workout. Place a small band around your ankles, take a big step to the side, then bring the other leg in to meet it.
Some manufacturers make a special type of power band, which attaches to a stable object and/or a weight belt around your waist. This allows you to perform plyometric butt exercises, such as squat jumps, lateral jumps, squat thrusts, burpees and sprints. Combo plyo and strength-training workouts boost your athletic butt power. Begin with any variation of the band squat or lunge, and follow it with a band plyometric exercise. The strength-training exercise wakes up your fast-twitch muscle fibers and allows them to perform efficiently during the jump. Combo training works best when you use a heavy resistance band during the strength-training segment.
The Quadruped Classic
Squats and lunges may target more muscle groups, but the American Council on Exercise surprised everyone when one of their studies revealed that the quadruped hip extension as the most effective buttocks exercise. "And this was without any external resistance!" exclaimed the research team. This throwback to the Jane Fonda days is performed on all fours, and involves lifting one leg so the foot faces the ceiling. Place a circular band around your ankles, and have some fun.
Other Floor Exercises
The hip bridge evolved from the same era as the quadruped hip extension. It involves lying supine, raising your hips to a bridge, then doing little butt-squeezing hip lifts to the rhythms of Michael Jackson. Make it more challenging by placing a wide, flat resistance band over your stomach, holding the ends down to the floor, and pressing your hips up against the bands resistance. Follow it with the supine band leg press. Extend your legs to the ceiling, wrap the band around your feet and hold the ends of the band down to the floor. Bend your knees, then press against the band's resistance to straighten your legs.
Inspect the bands periodically for tiny tears. Using a band that's too heavy will alter the way you move through the exercise and make it less effective. Using a band that is too light has its own issues. During powerful movements, a light band might snap and bite you in the leg.
In 1999, Lisa Mercer’s fitness, travel and skiing expertise inspired a writing career. Her books include "Open Your Heart with Winter Fitness" and "101 Women's Fitness Tips." Her articles have appeared in "Aspen Magazine," "HerSports," "32 Degrees," "Pregnancy Magazine" and "Wired." Mercer has a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the City College of New York.