by Janelle Pavao
In exercising, we all know how important it is to hit those glutes. Many people want to do a glute workout for aesthetic reasons, but they don't always know how crucial they are for stability reasons.
The gluteus maximus is the largest muscle in the human body. It is responsible for holding the body upright as much as the core muscles in your midsection. It does the lion's share of the work when you walk upstairs or uphill. It stabilises your legs for running and when it and the other glute muscles are underdeveloped, you are much more prone to injury by overcompensating with your psoas and other muscles.
The workouts on this page will help strengthen the gluteus muscles. There are a few things to keep in mind.
- Really concentrate on the glute muscles. If they're unused to being worked out, you might unconsciously use other muscles to make up for the weakness in your glutes.
- Start as small as you need to, to ensure you're not compensating once the glute muscles are tired.
- However, this muscle strengthens pretty quickly once you begin working it out. Don't cheat yourself! Don't be afraid to use heavier weights once you've been working it out for a little while and you're sure you're actually working out your glutes and not your back.
If you're a beginner, try 3 or 4 rounds of 10 to 12 reps with a break of about 1 to 2 minutes between rounds.
Hold a kettlebell or dumbbell, as shown in the picture, or a weighted bar over your shoulders.
Do as many as you can, but stop when your feel your form being compromised.
Without further ado, these are the exercises I recommend for working your glute workout.
I list two kinds of squats on this page. For another glute workout, check out our squats page.
As with all workouts, it is important to be sure you are using proper form when you do your squats.
If this is your first time, do these in front of a mirror so you can keep an eye on your form.
- Your feet should be pointed straight in front of you.
- Your legs should spread far enough for them to make a straight line with your hips.
- Sit directly down like you're trying to sit on an imaginary chair. Go slowly, using the muscles in your glutes and quads, not momentum.
- As much as you can, keep the angle of your shins as close to the angle of your torso (don't bend your head over your knees, and don't bend your knees over your feet).
- Stand back up slowly. You should feel a burn in your quads and glutes.
Closed Leg Squats
For a more direct glute workout, try a closed leg squat much like the classic squat above.
- Keep your legs together and your toes pointed straight forward.
- Sit down, like you are sitting on an invisible chair, keeping your legs together the whole time.
- Keep your back straight and lean forward as much as you need to feel a burn all the way through your gluteus.
To increase the intensity of these squats, you can use a weighted bar over your shoulder.
If you don't have a spotter, and you're not sure of your form, try using a smith machine (assisted weight machine--it looks like a a bar connected to a pole on both sides, and can add weight to both ends of the bar). It keeps the bar straight and the weight distributed evenly across your shoulders. It also won't collapse on you if you get tired and can't stand up on your final round. I have been working out for a long time, and my form is quite good, but I still use the smith machine for this one.
You've probably figured out by now that many glute exercises also hit your legs. Lunges are no different. Your quads will help you go down, and your gluteus will help you get back up.
There are a few ways to do this. If you have room, you can do walking lunges.
- Step forward. A small step is fine. You don't want to go too far or you might pull your hamstrings uncomfortably and cause pain when you stand up.
- Squat down and make a right angle with your front leg. Don't let your knee cross over your ankle and foot. Keep them in a straight line.
- Stand slowly, pulling your back leg forward and repeat the process, stepping forward, one leg at a time. Avoid the temptation to pull your leg in or out to help you stand.
- If you don't have the space for walking lunges, you can do them in place, lunging forward, then pushing yourself back up, then lunge forward on the alternate leg.
Too easy? Make sure you're going as low as you can go and as slow as you can, not using momentum to stand back up. If it's still too easy, carry dumbbells in both hands or a weighted bar over your shoulders.
Deadlifts are normally considered a lower back exercise, but these deadlifts are a little different.
- Stand with your legs together and your feet straight forward
- When you bend over to lift the barbell, bend your knees ever so slightly. Lift straight up. You should feel this all the way through your gluteus and hamstrings.
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