Hip mobility and strength are essential for many daily activities, such as walking. Examples include reaching down to pick up an object or small child from the floor, climbing stairs, or simply getting up from a seated position. In addition to providing an attractive shape, the glutes play an essential role in optimizing the human performance of athletes, dancers and others who exercise for a living. The main function of the hip extensors, which include the hamstrings and hamstring adductors, is to extend the hip during gait (walking or running) and provide dynamic stability in one leg. The hip extensors are responsible for lower body strength and distributing force from the ground to the rest of the body. It's important to note that a lack of adequate hip strength can lead to lower back pain, so glute exercises not only help improve your appearance, but also help reduce your risk of back injury.
While the squat is an excellent exercise for improving athletic performance and cosmetic appearance, it can cause lower back discomfort and possible knee injury if done incorrectly. If you're interested in strengthening your hips and developing an attractive butt, but want to reduce your risk of injury, try these six lower-body exercises that can help you get the results you want.
1. Gluteal bridge
Performed on the floor or on a bench, glute bridges use the hip extensors in a safe position for the back and knees. To increase the difficulty, place a weight on the bony part of the hip (the ASIS of the pelvis). For best results, focus on pressing your heels into the floor and lifting your hips toward the ceiling, keeping your lower back stable. Do two to three sets of 12 to 15 repetitions (or until exhaustion), resting 45 seconds between sets.
2. Hip hinge
(aka Romanian Deadlift)
This is a safe lower-body exercise that targets your glutes, hamstrings, and adductors, making it great for not just your butt, but your upper and inner thighs as well. During this movement, the lumbar spine (lower back) must remain stable and rigid, and the movement must come directly from the hips. As you learn this exercise, place your hand behind your back as a reminder NOT to drop it. Start by keeping your spine stable and your knees slightly bent. Lean forward and press your butt against the wall behind you until you feel tension in the back of your legs (don't let your back sag). Return to the starting position by pushing your feet toward the floor and your hips forward. Learn to perform this movement with your body weight before adding resistance.
Climbing stairs or stairs, or simply doing step-ups on a box, is a great way to engage all the muscles responsible for hip extension and dynamic stability during vertical movements. Use a box the same height or just below your knees. Place your right foot on the step and push your foot into the box to step up. When you reach the top, lift your left knee into the air (this creates additional right hip movement, essential for using all your muscles), lower your left leg and repeat all reps on one side before switching legs. Do 10-12 reps on one leg before switching to the other leg; Repeat for two to four sets. To increase the intensity and build muscle faster, hold dumbbells in your hands.
4. Lunge on the back
Squatting or lunging can be painful for the knee joint, especially if the knee flexes more than the hip or ankle during the movement. Taking a step back eliminates the risk of moving the knee too far forward, transferring most of the movement to the hip. Start with both feet hip-width apart. Step back with your right foot and slowly lower your right knee toward the floor while leaning slightly forward (keep your spine stable during this forward bend). Return to a standing position by pressing your left foot into the floor and pulling yourself back to a standing position with your left leg. (To further emphasize your inner thigh muscles, consider pushing your left knee back.) Perform 10 to 12 reps on one leg before switching to the other leg; Do two to three sets with 30 to 45 seconds of rest between sets. To increase the difficulty, hold weights in your hands or a medicine ball in front of your chest.
5. Lateral lunge
The benefit of side lunges, or side lunges, is that you not only use your hip extensions, but you also engage your quadriceps muscles, which help shape your outer thigh. Start with both feet parallel. Step directly to the right, keeping your left foot planted on the floor. When your right foot touches the floor, push your right hip toward the wall behind you while holding your right foot in your left hand. (This gripping movement increases the hip's range of motion and places more emphasis on the glutes.) Return to a standing position by planting your right foot on the floor and pulling with the inner hamstrings of your left leg. Perform 10 to 12 reps on one leg before switching legs; Do two to four sets with 30 to 45 seconds of rest between sets. To increase the intensity, hold a dumbbell (upright) or medicine ball in front of your chest.
6. Kettlebell Swing
WARNING: This exercise can cause rapid glute development, but it is often done incorrectly. First, DO NOT attempt this exercise until you have mastered the hip joint. After doing two to four sets of 10 to 12 hip joints without discomfort, you're ready to continue with the kettlebell swing. When done correctly, this exercise is a dynamic version of the hip joint (which is why it's important to master this movement before learning it). Start with feet hip-width apart and knees slightly bent with the kettlebell between your legs. Lean forward and push your hips back (DO NOT STRETCH BACK OR FEVER KNEES) to swing the kettlebell lightly behind you. Explosively push your feet into the ground and hips forward to swing the kettlebell in front of your body. (Support the weight with your hands, but avoid using your shoulders—the movement comes from your hips, not your torso.) Drop the kettlebell between your legs as you lean forward to lift the movement to slow down. R for eight to 12 reps without lowering your back or knees.
If you want a lower-body focused workout that targets your butt without squatting, pick three of these exercises, and after a good warm-up, do three to four sets of 10 to 12 reps of each exercise, resting about 30 to 45 seconds. . between sets. For best results, do all reps on one leg before switching to the other leg. If you look closely, only one of these exercises requires the use of equipment, making them a great option if you can't make it to the gym or just want to work out at home. A great added benefit of focusing on your lower body is that you can build lean muscle mass quickly, which increases your resting metabolism and increases the number of calories you burn outside of your workout.
You can train your lower body most days by doing strength training with weights one day and cardio the next. However, if your goal is to build optimal size and definition, you should rest at least 24 hours after a good strength workout. For example, you could do a three-day split with lower-body work on day one, upper-body work on day two, and cardio on day three (make sure you rest at least one full day per day). day). allow for optimal performance). Leisure).