Q: OK, so I've been trying to work my butt and it's just not happening. It continues to stay saggy and flabby. I tried working it everyday like you said in this article --- OK, I admit I do it 3-4 times a week, not every day. Do you have some other techniques/ideas?
A: Sure! When it comes to working out a weak body part, there are tons of techniques out there! Some work better than others, and it really depends on several factors, but basically boils down to the body part, that is, your specific body part, and the time and energy you are willing to devote to getting it where you want it to be.
That being said, let's delve into...
8 WAYS TO WORK YOUR GLUTES.
Technically, you can use the following techniques for ANY WEAK BODY PART.
1. Do an Isolation Exercise Followed by a Compound Exercise. As described in this article HERE, you want to first pre-exhaust the glute muscles (as well as activate them) by doing an exercise solely for the glutes before then moving onto doing a compound exercise in which several body parts are being worked. A good example is doing a glute bridge before doing a squat.
2. Go for High Reps. Usually when people hear high reps they think in the 12-15 range, which is what's recommended for endurance. Here we're talking high reps 30 to more like 50 reps, even a 100 reps. The idea behind this is that with an area like the glutes which tends to have more fat, there is less circulation than in, say, the shoulders. By going for high reps you are increasing the circulation in the area, which will allow for more nervous tissue activation. Remember that the muscular system works hand in hand with the nervous system, so sometimes the issue is that the nervous system needs to get revved up first and then the muscular system can catch up.
3. Pyramid Down. Start by using a heavier weight and start doing some reps. When you can't do any more, reduce the weight and continue to crank out more reps. You can continue to drop the amount of weight you are using again and again until you are using body weight only.
This idea of using different weights when paired with using high reps in idea #2 above is an excellent technique to target the glutes. A simple way to illustrate is to start with TWO 10-pound ankle weights attached to the leg and doing donkey kicks or leg raises. When the glutes are toast, drop one of the ankle weights and continue to crank out more reps. When you can't get in any more, go for body weight only until your glute says "that's it!" then repeat on the other side.
Another way you can do drop sets (aka pyramiding down) is to use a pulley machine (OR different resistance bands) and continue to drop the weight (OR go down a band) each time you can't do any more reps. The great thing about using cables/bands is that they let you work each glute one at time. Since most of us have one side which is weaker (and on compound movements like squats the stronger glute will take over), this will allow you to effectively make sure each side is getting its "fair workout dose."
4. Go for Triple and Quadruple Sets. Instead of just doing one butt exercise and then going to work another leg part, the inner thighs let's say, do 3 or 4 butt exercises one after the other. You can go for high reps for each exercise as in idea #2 OR just stick to the usual 6-8, 12-15 reps. The idea here is to really target the glutes with several different exercises to work the muscle differently but to really fatigue the muscles. Working with machines, cables/bands and dumbbells adds further variation by targeting the muscle in different ways.
5. HIIT Glutes/Legs. Similar to idea #4 above, make your next HIIT routine leg focused. Don't bother adding in abs and upper body exercises. Make every exercise a leg exercise, such as: front, side and back lunges; switch lunges; squats and plyo squats; front, side and back kicks; jumping jacks, etc. Bodyrock has some great leg HIIT workouts :)
6. Add in the Pulse. You'll notice this technique in a lot of aerobic classes, but it's also used in weight lifting: you reduce the range of movement of the exercise by doing little pulses. Often this involves doing pulses at the "sticking point," which is the point at which the exercise is the hardest. Not always, though, as you can do pulses at the top, mid or bottom range of the movement, depending upon which needs more work. Here's a 20-min workout vid demonstrating the pulse for glutes and legs :)
7. Work It Every Single Day With Different Exercises. OK, so let's say you are a pilates fan. There are lots of different ways you can work your glutes. So, on the first day choose a few pilates exercises that work the glutes and then on the next day, do different pilates exercises that still target the glutes. On the next day after that, you repeat the exercises you did on the 1st day (OR if there are still some other different pilates moves you haven't done, you can do those). On the 4th day, repeat the exercises you did on the 2nd day and so on for the 5th, 6th, etc days. If you're wondering just how many reps and sets to do, it really depends on how much time you have (and how sore you are!).
If you're thinking, wait a minute, I don't do pilates, no worries! You can do different track and field exercises OR ballet exercise OR cross fit exercises. The idea is to work the glutes every day but using different exercises that will target the muscle in a different way. You can do body weight only or use some weight and see how it goes. If your glutes are sore the next day, you can always try body weight only.
A few examples:
8. Cross Train the Glutes. Similar to idea #7 above, do different exercises to work the glutes, not necessarily specific to just one sport. For example, let's say you do cardio 3x a week. One day you do the stairclimber, another day you do a HIIT routine with lots of leg work and the last day you run at various speeds on a treadmill (e.g. 2 minutes running at 10 mph followed by running or walking at 5 mph per hour and then repeating for 30 minutes).
When it comes to doing weights, you could vary it up by one day doing machines, one day doing pilates, and one day doing ballet. OR, as another example, let's say you work your legs 2x a week. Do heavier weights on those 2 days and the other days which are "off," go for body weight only exercises and do a 5 minutes pilates routine on those days. OR do some ballet exercises for 20 minutes (different options here depending on what you like and how much time you have on your off days). Ballet, ballet barre and pilates, FYI, are great ways to work in a lot of those small stabilizer muscles in the legs and use high reps to bring circulation and tone the area.
As you can see, there are lots of different options. In fact, if you're wondering if there are still other ideas out there, the answer is, of course! Some might find pyramiding up works for them while other while others are really keen on working the legs with low reps and high weight. Still others might really enjoy the cardio route and find skating or rollerblading is really what does it for them. And since there are lots of yummy options out there, there is sure to be 1 or more ways that you'll find to "hit the spot!"
To great glute days ahead,
Q: So recently I was talking to a friend and he noticed my flabby butt. I work out and always knew my butt to be flabby, but never really understood why. I mostly go on the cardio machines at the gym, but would like to incorporate weights, especially for my butt! My friend started talking about glute activation and saying if you're glutes aren't firing, you aren't working out properly. Can you tell me more about glute activation and recommend some butt exercises?
~Flabby in the Rear
A: The gluteus maximus is one of the strongest muscles in your body. Unfortunately, many of us spend most of our time during the day sitting on our butts instead of working them out! Glute activation means that you should be able to squeeze your butt muscles, one cheek at a time. So, if you are sitting all day, a good exercise is to "activate" your glute muscles by squeezing one cheek, holding for 5-10 seconds, then releasing and squeezing the other cheek. Repeat this a few times throughout the day. You can also do this exercise while you are standing, like when you are waiting in line at the grocery store.
Some people can only squeeze both cheeks at the same time, and that's fine, just work your way to being able to squeeze 1 cheek at a time. If you can't squeeze your butt at all, that's when you really need to start incorporating a few exercises in order to recruit muscle fibers to the area. Excellent exercises to help with glute activation are the clamshell and glute bridge (one 1 leg or on both legs ---> read more about those exercises HERE); and donkey kicks, hip circles and fire hydrants (you can read more about those exercises HERE).
Now, if your butt muscles aren't "firing," this can lead to or be a sign that you have problems, tightness and/or pain with your back, hips and knees. And that means that when you do go to work out your butt and legs, other stronger muscles will take precedence in your workout and your butt will continue to be weak (most commonly, the quads tend to get stronger and take over in exercises like squats and lunges).
Speaking of working the glutes, when it is "leg workout day," you want to be able to squeeze your glutes while doing an exercise. For example, when you are coming up from doing a squat, you want to be able to squeeze your butt muscles as you are coming up. If you are NOT able to squeeze your glutes, then they will continue to be weak and underdeveloped. If this is your case, do one of the exercises mentioned previously (the glute bridge and clamshell, for example) BEFORE doing squats, lunges, dead lifts, etc.
Besides traditional leg exercises such as squats, lungs and dead lifts, excellent exercises that target your butt include hip thrusts, split squats and kettlebell swings (you can use a dumbbell for that last exercise). Read more about those exercises HERE. Be sure to work your legs 2-3x a week.
Last tip: as mentioned in THIS POST, if your butt is your weak body part, then you can work your butt EVERY SINGLE DAY. Take 1 or 2 exercises like the hip thrust, glute bridge or clamshell, and do as many as you can 1-2x a day, every single day. By using bodyweight only exercises, you will be gentle on your body while at the same time telling it to get those muscles activated, fired up and strong again!
To tighter tushies,
Fit Tips & Workouts by Cat Wilson
Go ahead, Get Fit! Your Body Deserves It...and So Do You :)
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