We have spoken many times on this blog about the importance of getting your butt in gear…
but we are going to go through it once again.
There are some things that I like to overdo, this is one of them.
Your butt is ultra important for a happily functioning body. The problem is, that a lot of us will have a lot of difficulties activating it by itself, let alone getting it strong and using it in important movements. It is a very big part of the kinetic chain, and has a large effect on the workings of the rest of your body in motion. I like to look at the bum as doing two great things. As an athlete, this is the way I look at most things, but you need to apply the same principles to real life. Yes, a nice, tight and big bum looks great in a pair of jeans, but at the end of the day, a strong arse is going to help you prevent injuries, and increase your performance immensely.
A healthy bottom does a lot more than just turn heads on the street. There are a lot of problems that arise from a lack of strength and control in the gluteals. When our bum muscles are not up to scratch, then the hamstring muscles and the lower back muscles need to work extra hard to make up for it. This overuse can lead to injuries in these areas, and it is why you see a lot of people with tight hamstrings and bad lower backs. If they got their glutes firing and functioning correctly, this can greatly decrease not only the soreness and tightness, but the risk of injury.
Having a great bottom will not only help you decrease your risk of injuries, but it will also increase your performance, way more than you think. Just take a step back and think about how often your glutes are being used in exercises and in daily life. A major walking muscles is your glute. You want to run faster? Bang, you need to have strong glutes. Jump higher? Get your butt working mate. At the end of the day, for athletes, this muscle is imperative to performance. For non- athletes, well mot of you reading this are active gym goers, we all want to be able to get stronger, and move more efficiently. Getting a strong arse will help you reach most of your goals, if not directly, then it surely has a large effect on something else.
Glute Activation 101
Check out my previous post on glute activation. This is really important to do before your workout, to make sure your glutes are firing and optimized. The more ready they are, the more likely you are to recruit them, and hence the more likely you are to get a better workout. Not only will it help you work your butt muscles more efficiently, but it will ensure that during many different movements in the gym, you will be working optimally and taking pressure off troublesome areas. Check out the video and implement this stuff into your plan. Yet another tiny little reminder!
So here we go finally, eight of my favorite glute exercises. Unfortunately I couldn’t get videos and pics myself, but here are my explanations and some very good videos to help you along. Add these into your program and you will be sure to have a rock hard arse. These are all part of a great leg workout.
Simple, get a bench or a specified box. Step up onto said box. There is nothing complicated about this very effective exercise. It recruits your glutes big time, as do many single leg exercises. Boxes are better simply for stability, however this bum exercise can be done on a normal bench as well.
There are a couple of ways to progress with the step-up. The first way, and another very effective way to overload your butt, is by putting some weight on your shoulders. I do this exercise a lot for power, and it gets pretty tough when you start putting some heavy weight on. The video below demonstrates this.
You can also do step up jumps, which is exactly the same thing, but explosively. Same thing, progress to doing jumps with a weight on your back. Tough gig I tell you. But if you are after a bigger jump, then this is what you need.
A very popular and very well known exercise for the bum. Although it may look easy, and with two legs it is for some people, it is very effective at activating your glutes. Here is a basic bridge.
You can progress by using one leg at a time, putting the leg up on a bench and doing a bridge, or putting them on a Swiss ball and doing the movement. Easy as it looks, it is a hard exercise and for many of you, it is going to hurt a lot the next day.
This is a very important bottom exercise that you should include in your program. Not only will it activate your glutes and teach you to control them better, but it will also help immensely with back pain problems. As we mentioned before you want to learn to move through your hips and keep your lower back stable, this exercise is perfect for low back pain sufferers, and as simple as it looks, it is very effective. Throw it into your warm up, or put it in with your ab work and you will feel the benefits. Be sure to stay stable though your lower back and only move through your glutes.
Readers here will have seen this before in my glute activation video, however it is important that you continue to keep this in your program. For those with good bum control already, this might be a bit easy, but it is certainly worth keep in your program in the warm up, to make sure your glutes are firing. For those of you with a weak butt, this is the perfect exercise to start with. Do a few of these before heavier and more demanding exercises, and you will be sure to move more efficiently.
The lunge is a very demanding exercise and one that recruits your glutes very well. Here is a basic lunge.
This is where is gets interesting. You can of course just increase your number of reps, but there are a lot of other things you can do to get this exercise to be more challenging. The first and most obvious is holding weights. Most people like to hold weights beside when they lunge, however I am a big advocate of holding it above your head, or on your back, On your back, i.e. on a barbell, means you are able to shoulder a lot more weights, hence overload a lot more. Holding it overhead, means you are stretching your fascia out and getting a good hip flexor stretch too, which a lot of us need.
The next step is to do jump lunges. There are many different names for this exercise but the fact is that it is tough, and if you are after power, then this is a perfect exercise for you. Here is an example video. Make sure you master the lunge before you start on this.
Single Leg Squats
Another single leg exercise that focuses a lot on your glutes. This is great for control, and because it is being done with only one leg, it is very difficult and will recruit your glutes first, as they want to stabilise.
You can do with weights, holding them by your side, or simply just do a few more reps. Going deeper will make it a lot harder and if you can do more than 15 single leg deep squats, then your bum is more than strong enough! Jump on a wobble board to for extra stability work, and you will find your glutes getting even more involved.
Scary for a lot of people, but a great butt exercise. The deeper you go, the more glute you will recruit. The trick is to lead out with your bottom when you first start the squat. Drift your hips out backwards. If you are getting pain in the knees then only go as deep as you can, before the pain. If you are pain free, then get low, because this is an ultimate glute strength exercise.
Check it out here.
More weight! Get stronger by putting more weight on your back. I have recently been doing these explosively, with a jump at the end. This is a progression you need if you are looking to jump higher or to get more powerful, but make sure you master the squat first.
This is a great exercise to work your glutes and teach you to keep your lower back stable. There are many different ways to progress it. The best is if you have a specific machine, you can add a lot of weight. If you don’t then you can use a swiss ball on a bench to do the exercise, you will find it pretty tough at first and won’t need to progress anyway. When you do you can hold a dumbbell or a medicine ball in between your legs for extra resistance. Check out these three vids, one of using the machine I speak of, one is using a back extension machine, and one using a swiss ball. No machine, no excuses.
Keep Your Hips Mobile
If you have read even one page of this blog before then you would have come across me telling you how important it is to keep your hip flexors loose. Well, here we go again. Tight hip flexors will inhibit your bum muscles, as they are antagonists. If your hip flexors are overactive, then your butt cannot activate properly. Before you do a workout, and after, do a good, long and hard stretch of your hip flexors. This will ensure that you are giving your glutes every chance to activate. So there is it, 8 very effective bum exercises that you can put into your program for a rock hard, super efficient and ultra powerful arse.
Don’t forget to check out 41 more exercises to do at home.