The buttocks muscle, or gluteus maximus, is essential in helping the body to move as well as maintain good posture. It is these muscles that make bipedal walking possible for the human species. When we walk, the buttocks muscle pulls the leg upward and over with each step. Movies have often portrayed gorillas standing and walking like us, but that is not really possible for them because their buttocks muscles are not as well developed. The best that this animal can do bipedally is a shuffle.
Because of its central importance, it is crucial that you devote a large part of your workout routine to this part of your body. The twelve workouts described below will enable you to maintain better posture, which is important for the overall functioning of your body. It will also get rid of unwanted flab and, in the words of Denise Austin, make you “look fabulous in those jeans.” It is important not to attempt any of these without consulting your physician as they may, depending on your physical condition, be hazardous to your health. Do not overexert yourself; if the exercise hurts, then you should reduce the intensity.
1. The only-legged Romanian deadlift
Besides toning the buttocks, this exercise is good for the back part of the upper thighs. Look straight ahead and balance on one leg, while kicking the other one out behind you slightly. All during this exercise, be sure to keep your knees slightly bent. As you bend forward, kick your leg out behind you and try to touch the foot on the floor with your hands. You should feel the stretch in the back of your hamstrings. Concentrate on compressing your muscles at the receiving end. Do three sets of five to ten repetitions each.
2. Leg raises
This is a motion that was featured on Bodies in Motion, a fitness program of the 1980s starring Gilad Janklowicz and which I always loved when I was young. Get down on your elbows and knees, bend one leg and lift it up and down. Repeat the motion ten times and then cut the movement in half, thus making it more intense. The next two exercises formed part of the same routine.
3. Leg extension and flexion
With the body in the same position as in (2), straighten your leg and bend it. As you do this, imagine that there is a rubber band around your leg against which you must work in order to straighten it. As with all exercise movements, you must not rely on momentum; the entire range of motion needs to be carefully controlled so that the exercise does what it is supposed to do. Again, do ten repetitions and then cut the movement in half. You should be able to feel your gluts burning as you work out. Then switch sides.
4. Extended leg lifts
To finish off the routine described in subsections (2) and (3), extend one leg out behind you and lift it up and down. Do ten of these movements and then cut the movement in half. Remember to press and not bounce as you move. Switch to the other leg and repeat. Finally, get up into a kneeling position, hands on the floor, and stretch the buttocks first to one side, then to the other. On this last part you should be nice and relaxed. Concentrate on your breathing as you stretch.
5. Marching hip raise
Like many of the others featured in this article, this exercise was designed specially for women, who in general store more fat in their buttocks than men do. To perform this one, you lie on your back with the knees bent and the feet flat on the floor. Raise your hips in such a way that your body will form a straight line that leads from your shoulders all the way down to your knees. Lift one knee to the chest and lower it, then alternate with the other leg. Do three sets of ten each.
6. Barbell deadlift
In order to do this exercise, you will need a barbell. Load it with as much weight as you will need and roll it up against your shins. Bending at the hips and knees, take hold of the barbell using an overhand grip, placing your hands just above shoulder width apart. Pull the torso back and upward, taking care not to allow your back to round, thrust the hips forward and stand up, holding the barbell. Squeeze the buttocks muscle while you do the movement. Keeping the barbell as close to your body as you can, lower it to the floor.
7. Single-leg hip raise
As in (5), lie flat on the floor, face up, bending one knee while keeping the other straight. Raise the straight leg until it is in line with the thigh of the bent leg. With that leg still in the air, raise the hips up off the floor. Hold that position for a second or two, then slowly lower the body to the floor until you are in the position that you started. Do the number of repetitions that your doctor has prescribed and then switch to the other leg.
8. Side kick with bent knee
Position yourself on your hands and knees with your back straight and your abdominal muscles tight. Raise your leg to the side while keeping the knee bent, then return it to the starting position. Inhale on the upward motion and exhale on the downward motion. Do not execute the movement too quickly or arch your back.
Lie on the back with your legs bent. Raise the buttocks until your abdomen and legs are in a straight line with one another, squeezing the muscles as you do so, and then lower them. Do three sets of thirty repetitions each.
10. Forward lunges
Here is an exercise that you do standing up. Put your hands on your hips, knees slightly bent, and step forward, coming down on your rear knee. Return to standing position and switch sides. Do two sets of fifteen reps on each side.
Stand with your hands behind your head. feet hip width apart. Bend down from the hips and do not allow your knees to protrude beyond the toes. Return to standing position. Inhale as you go down. Do ten of these.
12. Leg crossovers
This is yet another variation on Gilad’s buttocks workout. As in the three exercises described earlier, you get down on your elbows and knees, raise one leg while keeping it bent, cross it over the lower part of the leg on the floor and return to the raised position. Then switch to the opposite leg. Do two sets of ten each.
Many of the movements described in this article, particularly those that require you to use your legs, can be made more challenging if you do them with weights attached. Put on the maximum amount that will allow you to do the movement comfortably, and after you have been doing it that way for some time, gradually increase the weight. A good idea might be to start with five-pound weights and move up to ten.
After a week or so of a daily routine consisting of exercises like these, you should start to see the results. If you are serious about your appearance you will want such a workout because as Ms. Austin likes to say, “Your buttocks are the last part of your body that leaves the room.”