On a regular basis, we get asked about how to get thinner thighs, a firmer butt, defined arms, a flatter stomach, and the list goes on. We all have parts of our body we’d like to enhance and wish that there was an easy solution. No gimmicks here. It’s just about exercise and good nutrition.
As you know, there is no ONE exercise you can or should do with the exclusion of all others. A well-rounded weight or resistance training program works all of your major muscles. However, within that well-rounded plan, there are exercises that can target specific muscles.
Starting this month, we are adding a regular blog feature in which we hgihlight a particular muscle(s) and demonstrate some exercises that can help strengthen and tone the muscle. Keep in mind that nutrition is also an important factor in the healthy and toned body equation! So, be sure to eat lean protein and a larger proportion of vegetables and fruits as part of your muscle toning efforts.
We’ve chosen to start this monthly feature with one of the most asked about muscles: the glutes.
Understanding the Gluteal Muscles
Beyonce, Jennifer Lopez and Kim Kardashian all made these muscles famous! Yes, they all like to flash their glorious booties. But how much do you know about the gluteal muscles? They are primarily made up of a group of 3 muscles:
Gluteus maximus – The largest and strongest muscle in our body, covering most of the buttocks. It connects to the thigh and helps to extend the thigh muscle. The gluteus maximus is an important muscle for walking, running and raising yourself from a seated position.
Gluteus medius – This muscle, which lies underneath the gluteus maximus, works together with the gluteus minimus to move the thigh out and rotate it towards the center of the body (medially). It lies on top of the gluteus minimus.
Gluteus minimus – As described above, it works together with the gluteus medius to move the thigh out and rotate it medially.
In addition to the above, the Tensor Fasciae Latae (TFL) is connected to the gluteal muscles (most directly to the gluteus maximus) and lies at the side and front part of the thigh. This muscle also connects to the Iliotibial Band (IT band) and helps move the hip forward and outward. The TFL also helps the gluteus maximus in extending the hip by stabilizing the hip in this movement.
As with other muscles in our body, the glutes are intricately interconnected to other muscles. They function together to create the desired movement and to provide the necessary stability to avoid injury. Hence, another good reason to work all your major muscle groups rather than just one!
Exercises to Target Glutes
Here are some exercises that specifically target the glutes which you may want to include in your training routines:
Squats – A very versatile exercise that can be done anywhere. You can perform it with our without weights, with a barbell, or medicine ball out in front. Be sure to keep your chest up and focus on pushing your buttocks back and down so that your knees don’t go past your toes in the lowered position.
Deadlifts – Lia’s personal favorite as it also works the hamstrings, which get very tight with lots of running. There are various types of deadlifts including Sumo, Romanian, stiff leg, with barbell, with kettlebells, with dumbbells, and the list goes on.
Lunges – You won’t get bored with these are there are various ways to perform them. For example, walking lunges, static, forward, backward, and lateral. As with the squat, be sure to keep your knees from going too far forward when in the lowered position. Aim for a 90 degree angle in your lunged leg.
Working Your Glutes at the Gym
There are a number of machines you can find at the gym to help work your glutes. For instance, the Glute Kick or Seated Leg Press are good ones. Hip extensions using a cable or a band are also useful for exercising the glutes.
You can also work your glutes while exercising other muscles. For example, by doing dumbbell chest presses on a swiss ball, you are challenging your glutes as you need to balance on the ball. Performing step ups on a box or chair will also engage your glutes while working on other leg muscles.
As you can see, the exercise possibilities are endless. For more examples of exercises, visit Hyperstrike’s You Tube Channel and enter ‘glutes’ in the search box.
Now, tell us in the comments….
What is your favorite glutes exercise?
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