Get the best bum

How to strengthen your glutes

Is your peachy bum losing its firmness? If you're looking to tone and strengthen your behind, here’s a bum exercise workout that targets those below-the-belt bits that other exercise routines just don’t reach.

Try lifting your leg in the air while lying straight for a firm bum

These six bum exercises will work all three of the bottom or ‘gluteal’ muscles — the gluteus maximus, medius and minimus — to make your rear end firmer and shapelier.

Although the glutes work as a ‘team’, they all perform slightly different roles in terms of the movements they enable. For example, exercises in which you lie on your side and lift your leg will work the minimus and medius, but you need to externally rotate the hip to bring in the maximus.

Equally, the medius and minimus work hard to keep the pelvis stable during walking, but the hip doesn’t extend far enough behind the body to involve the glute maximus. However, running, hopping, stepping or skipping — where weight is transferred explosively from one leg to the other will work a treat.

Alongside these toning and strengthening exercises, you are going to need to step up your cardio, in order to burn extra calories and ensure your newly honed and toned bottom isn’t buried under a layer of blubber!

Exercise plan for the best bum

  • Aim to do the bum workout three to four times a week, and use the alternate days to do 30 to 60 minutes of aerobic exercise.
  • See the box below for some ‘kick ass' cardio ideas.
  • Ensure you take one day off completely a week. In week one, perform the exercises with no weight, to get a feel for correct technique and gear your glutes up for action.
  • Aim for three sets of ten of each double-legged exercise and two sets on each side for single leg exercises. In week two, add enough resistance to enable you to do eight to 12 repetitions at a level where you feel you couldn’t continue by the end of each set. Remember to rest for a minute between sets.
  • As soon as you feel comfortable with the weight, repetitions and sets you are performing, it’s time to up the ante don’t settle into a comfort zone. Provided you keep challenging your muscles, and work up a sweat in your cardio exercise, you can expect to be making a very grand exit eight weeks from now!

The squat exercise for the best bum

Stand with feet eight to 12 inches (roughly 30cm) apart, arms across the chest and hands on opposite shoulders. Take your weight back into your heels and lower your body by bending the legs, leading with the bottom, and with knees directly over the middle toes. Aim to lower to 90 degrees. Pause for a moment, then raise yourself back up and repeat.

To progress:
Use a weighted bar across the fleshy part of your upper back, or a dumbbell in each hand, with arms at your sides, to add overload. Suggested starter weight: 10kg.

Image of position in squat

Image of position in squat

 

Side lying leg raise for the best bum

Lie on your right side, with hips stacked one on top of the other, and your head supported on your outstretched right arm. Keep the body in a straight line (you can lie against a wall to ensure you are straight) and lift the left leg up, toes pointing forwards, without allowing the pelvis to roll open. Pause then lower and repeat.
 
To progress:Tie a resistance tube around both ankles so that lifting the top leg requires you to work against the resistance of the band. Alternatively, use an ankle weight.

Image of position in side lying leg raise

Knee drive exercise for the best bum

Stand with one foot on a step or stair, knee bent, and the other foot on the floor behind you, in a lunge position. Drive up onto the front foot, bringing the back knee up towards your chest, using your arms in an opposite action (as if you were power walking). Come right up on to the ball of your foot, pause, then go straight back down into a lunge position. Repeat all repetitions and then change sides.

To progress:
Add an element of power by allowing the supporting foot to leave the floor altogether as you drive up with the other leg.

Image of position in knee drive
Image of position in knee drive

Prone lift exercise for the best bum

Lie on your tummy with forehead resting on hands, legs outstretched and tummy gently contracted. Bend your knee to 90 degrees and then squeezing both buttocks, lift the right knee a couple of inches from the floor. Don’t arch the back or rotate the leg. Pause lower and repeat all repetitions before changing sides.

Image of position in prone lift

To progress: Increase the range of motion by performing the exercise on all fours. Keep your back straight and tummy contracted. Start with the knee drawn in towards the chest and then keeping it bent, extend the hip as far as you can without arching the back. When you can perform this comfortably, add ankle weights.

Lunge exercise for the best bum

Start with feet eight to 12 inches apart. Take a big step forward with your right leg, bending both knees so that the right knee aligns over the right toes, and the left knee travels towards the floor. Keep the torso upright. Pause, then, pushing up through the front heel, straighten the legs and return to the start position. Complete all repetitions. Remember; do not allow pelvis to tip forwards and tailbone to stick out.
 
To progress: Hold a dumbbell in each hand, with arms at your sides. Suggested starter weight; 5kg dumbbells.
 

Image of position in lunge

Image of position in lunge
 

External rotation with resistance for the best bum

Sit back on the floor, with weight supported on elbows and a resistance band tied around your thighs, just above the knees. Keeping feet close together, open the knees by pushing against the resistance of the band. Pause when you can’t extend any further, then slowly bring the knees back and repeat.
 
To progress: Once you can do this exercise comfortably, try this traveling move: Standing up, tie the resistance tube around your ankles this time, bend your knees into a plié position with your feet turned out to at least 45 degrees. Take a step to the right, working against the resistance of the band, and then bring the left foot in. Repeat with the right foot until you finish the set or run out of space and then return by leading with the left foot.

‘Kick-ass’ cardio for the best bum

  • Step machine: 380 calories in 40 minutes
  • Step class: 635 calories in an hour (providing step is at least 10 inches high)
  • Walking uphill: 200 calories in 20 minutes (10 per cent incline at 4mph pace)
  • Kickboxing: 475 calories in a 45-minute class
  • Rowing: 270 calories in 30 minutes
  • Running: 360 calories in 30 minutes (at 8-minute-mile pace)

Figures based on a 140lb (63.5kg) woman

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