A strong set of buns are not only visually appealing, they create the foundation for sound movement mechanics. By increasing posterior glute strength and function we often reduce knee and back pain, avoid injury and increase physical performance.
Here are seven exercises to help build a strong backside. These exercises can be completed together as a lower body workout for one day. So get out your forks kids, ’cause here comes the cake!
1. Donkey Kicks – 20 reps, 3 sets each leg
On hands and knees, extend one leg off the floor and bend the knee back to 90 degrees, holding your leg in place for 15 seconds. This will help deactivate overly tight hip flexors and engage the core. The front surface of your hip on this leg should be flat. Lower your leg just two inches and then extend the hip and kick your foot into the air while engaging your tush. Repeat for 20 reps on each leg.
2. Clamshells – 20 reps, 3 sets each leg
On hands and knees, lift one leg with bent knee at a diagonal angle to the rear (roughly 45 degrees). Some might say this looks like a dog’s way of “lifting his leg” to pee. Pardon my cue but you got the visual, didn’t you? From here, lower your leg six inches and then raise again. Repeat for 20 reps on each leg.
3. Lateral Band Hops – 30 reps (15 each leg), 3 sets
Secure a small, looped resistance band around your legs, aligning the bottom of the band with top of your knees. Keeping your toes pointed forward, take big hops from side-to-side, landing and stabilizing on one leg each time. Repeat for 30 total (15 each leg) and feel the booty fire ignite. If you do not have a looped band you can use a regular resistance band. Stand on the band and cross the handles in front of your hips so the band makes an “X”. Keeping toes forward, step laterally 15 times all in one direction before going to the other side. Three sets each side.
4. Romanian Deadlift – 10 reps, 4 sets each leg
Stand on one leg holding a barbell or dumbbells at your hips. Stand tall and find your balance — this is your starting and ending position. Keeping a micro-bend in your standing knee, hinge your hip as you slowly control the weight down the front of your leg, holding chest up and back flat. Just beyond the knee drive through the bottom of your foot, engaging core and glutes while you lift back to your starting position. Back toes should face the floor through this entire range of motion and you must never allow your back to round. Repeat for 10 reps on each leg.
5. Kettlebell Swing – 15 reps, 4 sets
Swings are a compound movement which require good technique. When done properlyn however, they are one of the most effective posterior-chain exercises you can do. Translation: a nice set of cakes. Begin holding a kettlebell at your hips with elbows fully extended. Press your feet to the floor as you engage your core and glutes. Hinge your hips as you start swinging the bell back and forth, generating momentum, lightly extending the arms to shoulder height, keeping shoulders down. The kettlebell should “backswing” between your legs toward your butt, followed by a thrust of the hips forward and up as you engage your core and glutes. Complete 15 reps.
6. Pistol Squat – 10 reps, 4 sets each leg
Stand on one leg. Keeping the heel down, chest up and back flat, hinge your hips back slightly as you lower down into squat position, working to get your butt all the way down to your heel.
Drive through your foot as you engage the core, glutes and thighs back to the top. If you can’t complete 10 don’t get discouraged; these are tough! Do as many as you can and then repeat on the other leg. For a modified version you can stand in front of any post or pillar and hold onto it for support as you squat down, using it for assistance as you squat up. If this is too challenging still, try standing and sitting out of a chair on one leg for 10 per leg.
7. Weighted Squats – 10 reps, 4 sets
No matter how you like your squats (on a barbell, kettlebell or just bodyweight), one thing remains the same — form matters. So listen up. Set your feet just slightly wider than shoulder width with toes ever-so-slightly turned out and hips fully extended. As you lower down, rock the hips back and drive the knees outward keeping back flat and chest up. Drive through the feet as you fully extend the knees and hips back to the top. Stay controlled in your squats and challenge your resistance load – occasionally working with heavy weight will help stimulate new muscle growth.
Lower body function is crucial in every exercise so no matter what your goals, keep those glutes firing y’all.
The Phoenix Effect, a metabolic bootcamp that gets you in shape fast, is offered exclusively at Mansion Fitness, 7914 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood.