Many women are aware of the exercises that lift and tone the dreaded trouble spots -- the thighs, the arms, the love handles, the muffin top, the butt. Some even assign an exercise to work these specific trouble spots. Running, for example, is often the designated fat burner. V-ups and situps work those love handles. Pilates and yoga tone and firm the thighs and arms. And swimming can actually lift and tone the butt.
The Gluteus Medius
Nearly every swimming stroke works the triceps, upper back muscles, shoulder muscles and quadriceps. Some strokes, however, target the outer bum muscle: the gluteus maximus, most commonly referred to as the butt. And some strokes target the gluteus medius. What’s that? It’s the inner bum muscle that sits right on top of the hip bone. It’s responsible for keeping the hip bone level or even, so that one hip isn’t higher than the other. It’s also responsible for abduction -- moving the leg away from the body sideways -- and the opposite action, adduction, which brings the legs close again. The gluteus medius is considered the second largest of the bum muscles, with the gluteus maximus being the largest. The gluteus medius, however, is an inner gluteal muscle, and two-thirds of it is covered by the outer bum muscle, the gluteus maximus.
Tone the Butt
Why target the gluteus medius? Working the gluteus medius muscle helps to tone the bum. Since the muscle is under the gluteus maximus, toning the gluteus medius could theoretically plump, firm and tone the buttocks area. In other words, toning the gluteus medius could lead to a firmer and more shapely butt. So for those that want to tone the butt, it may be time to swap out the running shoes for a swimsuit and cap. But, wait. Before you hop in the pool, you should know the answer to this question: Which swimming exercises work the gluteus medius?
Generally, the swimming strokes that require side rotation and a side kick work the gluteus medius because this action performs abduction and adduction. The trudgen, for example, uses a freestyle arm stroke and a rotated side kick to propel the body forward. The side kick mimics abduction by opening the leg from the side. Then, adduction occurs by snapping the legs back together again. To do the trudgen stroke, freestyle as usual with the arms. Rotate each arm in and out of the water, as if winding up to throw a softball -- but do it slowly. Next, rotate the body to one side and kick. Then, snap the legs back together again.
The Frog Kick
The frog kick is another stroke that can work the gluteus medius muscle. As its name implies, the stroke mimics the action of a frog when it is gliding through the water. The stroke requires bending the knees about 90 degrees, opening the hips so that legs are horizontal, and then snapping the legs back together again. Opening the legs horizontally is the action that mimics abduction; snapping them back together mimics adduction. Together, these actions work the gluteus medius. So hop in the pool, do some frog kicks and tone those buns.
Based in Atlanta, Mya Passmore has been writing since 2010, covering health and business topics. She holds a Bachelor of Science in exercise science from George Washington University.