The Ultimate Lower Body Workout
Your butt is made up of three muscles, the gluteus maximus, medius and minimus, collectively known as the ‘glutes’. Which in addition to making you look good in jeans, facilitate the extension and rotation of the hips as well as help to stabilise the pelvis and spine.
Proper glute activation protects your back from injury, because you’re less likely to compensate for poor technique or fatigue by utilising the muscles of your lower back to aid movement.
Functional benefits aside, a well-toned butt looks good and feels great! And it’s not just a product of genetics either, with a little work a great butt is literally within everyone’s grasp.
Often overlooked in favour of its famous variation the back squat, front squats work the glutes quadriceps and hamstrings and are arguably one of the greatest workouts for your butt.
Kinder to your back and knees, they’re accessible to beginners and can help you to perfect your back squat or progression to Olympic lifts. While you may not be able to go as heavy as a back squat, front squats can provide a greater range of motion, as it’s possible to get lower than you might be able to with a back squat.
Front loading the weight forces your core and butt to work harder to counter balance it and keep you upright.
Front squats are flexible, you can lift from the floor (clean) or rack and variations can be performed with dumbbells, kettlebells or medicine balls.
Barbell front squat
Stand with your feet just wider than shoulder width apart, toes turned slightly out.
Use safe lifting technique to bring your desired weight to a front rack position
Lower down into a squat position, keeping the chest lifted, spine neutral and weight in your heels
Return to a standing position, pushing through the heels as you drive your knees out
Glute bridges are great as a warm up for firing your butt muscles, as well as a workout in itself. Bridges target the glutes with stabilising support from the hamstrings and core. They’re simple to execute, appropriate for all levels and can be intensified through the use of equipment like benches and sandbells.
Lie on your back with your legs bent
Bring your heels close to your butt, feet flat on the floor
Lift your hips and torso off the floor while squeezing your glutes
Maintain a tight core, ensuring knees and shoulders are in line
Hold for a moment then lower yourself back down to the floor
Lunges are a functional favourite that work the glutes, quadriceps and hamstrings. They’re suitable for most people and can improve motor skills and hip flexibility. With a ridiculous number of variations to choose from, you’ll never get bored of them – front, back, curtsey, lateral, 45 degrees, walking and jumping. Lunges can be performed with or without weights.
Stand with feet hip distance apart
Engage your core, keep your chest lifted through out
Step forward with one leg and lower your hips until both knees are bent at about a 90-degree angle
Keep your knees in line with your toes throughout
Push back off your front foot and return to your starting position
Plyometric exercises (jumping) are explosive full body exercises that are particularly good for the glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps and calves. Because they require a combination of power and motor skills, its best to master the basic movement before progressing onto the plyo version.
Plyometric exercises include; squat jumps, jumping lunges, box jumps, hopping and hurdles. These movements have great cross over for sports like netball, basketball, and volley ball.
Stand with your feet shoulder width apart
Keep your chest lifted throughout
Lower down into a squat position maintaining good form
Jump up, pushing through your heels as your explode into the air
Land back in your squat stance, lowering back into a squat and repeat
Sprint intervals and hill sprints are a high intensity cardio workout that provides massive bang for your fat burning buck. Hill sprints are a great progression from flat runs. They’re suitable for most abilities and can take place in the gym or outdoors. Hill sprinting works the large lower muscle groups, and as a mainly anaerobic workout can help to build muscle while burning fat.
High intensity cardio (80%+ max heart rate) can help to create a metabolic ‘after burn’ called excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. Which enables your body to burn calories hours after your work out has ended, reducing body fat and increasing lean muscle mass.
Find a hill that is at least challenging to walk up.
Perform a light dynamic warm up or walk up the hill to warm up
Run up the hill and walk straight back down as before
Repeat at least 3 times building up to 10, the sprint should last between 15 – 30 secs with a slow walk down the hill to recover
No ifs or butts
Strengthening the large lower body muscles through resistance and power based exercise, as part of a comprehensive training programme is the key to building a great looking rear end with endless functional benefits.
Your booty building programme should also include cardio and utilise an 8 – 12 rep range, over 40-70 seconds for three sets or more. By doing this you can boost your metabolism, burn fat and build muscle, which will help to lift, sculpt and shape your butt.