If you're an apple-shaped woman, you tend to carry and gain weight around the middle, as opposed to the hips, thighs or butt. During exercise, some apple-shaped women tend to work on the "problem area" around the abdomen, at the expense of working those lower parts of the body. While that's one way to work toward a more hourglass shape, another is to strengthen and tone the muscles of the trunk, including the gluteus maximus, medius and minimus -- better known as the butt.
Doing strength training exercises will tone the butt muscles you're working, but if you want to decrease the overall amount of fat in your apple-shaped midsection, you'll need to work on cutting calories by decreasing the number of calories you eat and increasing your overall physical activity.
Warm up your muscles by doing light cardiovascular exercise, such as walking, jogging or cycling for five to 10 minutes. Warming up promotes blood flow and prepares your body for the other exercises ahead.
Perform the strengthening exercises most likely to increase your butt muscles. According to a report published by the American Council on Exercise, squats can do a lot to work the gluteus, but almost as effective are lunges, single-leg squats, step-ups, and quadruped and four-way hip extensions. Following the warm-up, perform 10 to 12 repetitions of each of these exercises. When one set feels easy, you can do a second set of each exercise. Do these exercises at least two times a week, either on their own or before your cardio workout. To increase the intensity of your workout, hold a set of small barbells at your sides while you do lunges, step-ups and squats.
Do cardiovascular exercises known for toning the butt. According to a study published by the Madonna Hospital in Nebraska, jogging on a treadmill engages about 48 percent of your gluteus muscles. To make the workout better for your butt, be sure you're jogging in a heel-toe fashion, so the heel hits the treadmill first, advises "Women's Health" magazine. Also, increase the incline on the treadmill -- you'll feel the burn in your butt almost immediately. According to the same Madonna Hospital study, the elliptical machine engages about 32 percent of your butt muscles. To feel the burn in your butt even more, push down with your heels and push your butt outward as you move on the machine.
Increase your protein intake. If you want to build muscle in your gluteus, you need to consume the foods that build muscle, such as lean meats, beans, nuts, fish and whole grains. Just how much protein you require can depend on your gender, age, frame and other factors. For example, a 160-pound person needs about 58 grams of protein per day. If you're not sure of your needs, use a protein calculator to determine how much you need.
- Doing strength training exercises will tone the butt muscles you're working, but if you want to decrease the overall amount of fat in your apple-shaped midsection, you'll need to work on cutting calories by decreasing the number of calories you eat and increasing your overall physical activity.
Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.