You probably take your butt for granted; you just sit on it all day after all! However, your butt is one of the most important muscles in your body and needs to be looked after properly.
Correctly called your gluteus maximus or glutes for short, your butt is your primary hip extender and works with your hamstrings to drive your leg backward when, for example, you are climbing a flight of stairs or back-heeling a soccer ball.
It is the largest muscle in the body but, because you spend a lot of time sat on it, it can become weak and dysfunctional. A weak butt can cause all sorts of problems including back pain, hip pain and even knee pain. How? Let’s take a look!
Why you need a strong butt
When you bend over to pick something up off the floor e.g. a heavy bag of shopping, your legs, butt and lower back all work in concert to share the load. However, if your glutes are weak, more of the load will be forced onto your back muscles. If they are weak too, and inevitably they are, this can cause your lower back to become rounded and that increases your risk of suffering a lower back muscle or even spinal injury.
Additionally, your glutes work hard to stabilize your hip and an unstable hip can put a lot of stress on your knees. When you walk, there is a tendency for your knees to drop inward which places a lot of stress on the inside of your knees joints. This stress can result in excessive wear and tear of the hyaline cartilage within the knee which could lead to osteoarthritis. Strong glutes, in contrast, will ensure your hips remain properly stabilized and aligned and there will be less stress on your knees as a result.
Too much sitting is bad for your butt!
And, of course, strong glutes are frim and shapely rather than soft and flaccid so if you want to look good in your jeans or fitted skirt, you really do need to stop ignoring your butt!
As mentioned at the outset, the main function of the glutes is hip extension and the most obvious reason so many people have weak glutes is that they spend too much time sat down which places their glutes muscles in a relaxed and flexed position. To remedy this, you need to get up and off your butt and do some glute-specific exercises. Here are FIVE of the best glute exercises around combined into a great single butt-busting workout ideally completed once a week.
The Stepz App Butt-Busting Workout
|1||Supine hip bridge||1-3||12-15||60 sec|
|2||Single leg deadlifts||1-3||8-10||60 sec|
|3||Band side steps||1-3||12-15||60 sec|
|4||Barbell deadlifts||2-4||6-8||120 sec|
|5||Kettlebell swings||2-4||15-20||90 sec|
Supine hip bridge
How to perform: This is a great exercise for waking up your glutes before moving onto more demanding exercises. Lie on your back with your legs bent and feet flat on the floor and your heels close to your butt. Push down through your feet and lift your hips up toward the ceiling until fully extended. Pause for a second and then lower your butt back to the floor. Make this exercise more challenging by placing your feet on a raised surface or holding a weight across your hips.
Single leg deadlifts
How to perform: Another exercise that will help fire up your glutes, working one leg at a time will also enhance hip stability. Stand with your feet together and your hands clasped in front of your hips. Shift your weight over onto one leg and bend your supporting knee slightly. Hinge forward from your hips and lean over to touch the top of your supporting foot. Extend your opposite leg out behind you for balance. Stand back up and repeat. Do the same number of reps on both legs. Make this exercise harder by holding a weight.
Band side steps
How to perform: Loop and tie a resistance band around your knees and then stand with your feet together. Take a large step to your left and then back to your right; that’s one rep. Keep going until you have completed the prescribed number of reps. This movement focuses on the outside of your butt, specifically gluteus medius.
How to perform: Place a loaded barbell on the floor and stand with your feet hip-width apart, toes under the bar. Bend your knees slightly and hinge forward from your hips to grab the bar with an overhand or mixed-grip. Straighten your arms. Lift your chest, arch your lower back and drop your hips so that they are slightly below shoulder-height. Without rounding your lower back, push hard with your legs, drive your hips forward and stand up straight. Do not bend your arms. Push your hips back, bend your knees and lower the bar under control back to the floor. Reset your position and repeat.
How to perform: This explosive exercise is not only great for your butt, it’s also a superb fat burner and also works your hamstrings and lower back too. Hold a kettlebell in both hands and then stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend your knees slightly. Push your butt back and hinge forward from your hips without rounding your lower back. Lower the weight between your knees. Drive your hips forward as though you were doing a standing long jump and use this momentum to swing the kettlebell forward and up to shoulder-height while keeping your arms straight. Lower the weight and repeat. No kettlebell? No problem! Just use a single dumbbell or even a medicine ball in a strong bag.
Working on your glute strength will impact positively on everything from your posture to your lower back health so don’t neglect this often overlooked muscle. Glute training is for men and for women so make sure you include butt-specific exercises in your weekly workout routine.