Yes, it’s true – big butts aren’t going anywhere. Made popular by the likes of Kim Kardashian, strong, sculpted bottoms are still in vogue and women across the country are working hard to achieve a peachy derriere that even J-Lo would be proud of. “If we were to look at what has risen in popularity over the last few years in fitness, it has to be glute training,” Josh Silverman, PT and Head of Education at Third Space, London, says. “We are increasingly seeing more people training to achieve the legendary ‘squat bum.’” But is squatting the only way for the perfect shaped backside? Actually, no. While squats can be incredibly effective at helping you tone this part of your body, they’re not the only exercise you need in your arsenal.
To help you switch up your training, Josh has detailed his favourite bum-toning moves below. Each of these were top performers in a recent EMG (electromyogram) study and have been proven to bring about high glute activation – meaning a better bum for you.
Using a plyo box or step, hold a dumbbell in each hand at your side. Place one foot on the box and then drive your weight through the heel to step the other foot up onto it. Stand tall, ensure you aren’t bouncing and make sure the tension is going through the raised leg. Lower your body back to the ground (keeping your original foot still on the step) and repeat. Once you have completed the set number of reps, change sides.
For this exercise you can either use a thrust bench or just the floor. If you’re using a bench, rest the back of your shoulders on the surface, with your feet on the floor and keep your legs hip-width apart. If you’re on the floor, lay on your back with your legs apart and knees bent. Next, lower a weighted bar to your hips, squeeze your bum and thrust your hips into the air. If you don’t want to use a bar, you can use two dumbbells. Lower your hips back down and repeat.
This is another great exercise to strengthen your glutes. Most gyms will have a 45-degree extension (hyper extension) bench where you can stand facing down and perform this move. Grab a weighted plate that you’re comfortable with and hold it tight to your chest with both arms. Round your upper back and lock yourself into that position - this will ensure most of the movement comes from your glutes and not your lower back. Now bend forward from your waist in a controlled manner, hold, and then return to the starting position.
Using a leg press machine, adjust your foot position to find where you feel the most tension in your glutes. Generally, a higher position should yield a greater response. Brace your muscles and push the platform away from your body with your whole foot, slowly. Pause at the top of the move and do not lock your knees. You can also try this move single legged if you can’t quite feel it in the glutes, but make sure your knees do not collapse in when pushing.
Ankle-banded hip abductions
This is a good finishing exercise. Place a medium resistance band around your ankles and lay down on your side. Lift one leg directly above the other, pulling on the band and opening your hips. Go as high as you can with maximal tension. Once you’ve done the set number of reps, complete the exercise on the other leg.
How many reps should you do?
If you’re a beginner…
- Start with 10-12 reps of each exercise
- Increase the weight very slightly week by week
- When you reach the highest weight you can lift, lower your rep count to 8-10 and then repeat
If you’re an immediate or more advanced gym goer…
- Start at 6 reps and use a weight where you only have 1-2 reps left in your tank when you have finished
- Keep the weight the same and increase by 1 rep each week until you get to 12 reps at week 6
- When you reach week 7, drop your rep count to 6 but also increase the weight
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