You likely have numerous reasons to improve the tone, strength and shape of your behind. For appearance's sake, a tight, taut derriere can give you confidence when you're wearing a revealing swimsuit, form-fitting dress or body-hugging designer jeans. Physically, strong glutes help stabilize the body during movements such as walking, running, lunging and balancing on one leg. The glutes are among your largest muscle groups, but they don't require an over-the-top intense workout. Simple moves, such as scissor kicks, can help strengthen and tone your backside.
Lie on your stomach on a workout bench or a similar platform with your hips at the edge and the legs extended straight behind you. Pull your abdominal muscles in toward your spine to protect the lower back and prevent it from arching.
Wrap your hands around the top of the bench on either side of your head; point the elbows toward your legs. Push the shoulder blades down your back. Place your forehead on the bench while keeping the neck straight and in line with your spine.
Engage your glutes and lift both legs to hip height with your toes pointed back. Raise the right leg by 6 inches as you simultaneously lower the left leg by 6 inches. Switch the position of your legs, raising the left and lowering the right. Continue to shift the legs up and down in a flowing, recurrent kicking movement.
Continue to kick for 30 seconds, then rest your legs on the floor. Repeat the exercise twice more, for a total of three sets. Pause for 30 to 60 seconds between each set.
- Press your hips and pelvis into the bench to prevent your butt from sticking up; keeping the buttocks in alignment will help to better activate the glutes.
- Kick with straight legs; however, keep the knees soft to avoid locking them out.
- Vary the exercise by lying prone with your stomach on a stability ball and your hands flat on the floor directly in front of the ball.
- Improvise if you do not have an exercise bench or stability ball by lying prone on a bed, with your legs hanging off of the edge. The floor or an exercise mat are also alternatives; lift your legs 6 to 12 inches off of the floor to perform the scissor kick.
- Maintain the abdominal engagement to protect your lower back. Arching the lower back when lying on the stomach is a common tendency. Keep your back straight from the neck to the tailbone.
- Discontinue the exercise and consult with a physician if you feel pain in your lower back while kicking.
Beth Rifkin has been writing health- and fitness-related articles since 2005. Her bylines include "Tennis Life," "Ms. Fitness," "Triathlon Magazine," "Inside Tennis" and others. She holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Temple University.