Building a better booty seems to be all the craze these days but does it really warrant all the attention it’s getting? Is it really worth all the effort? That’s going to be a yes from us.
Over and above giving you an impressive derrière, you will find that your body functions better and your workouts will be more effective going forward. We break down a few of the benefits of building a better butt and give you three exercises that you can do next time you hit the gym for leg day.
What are the glutes?
The glutes are in the buttocks, and are one of the largest muscle groups in your body consisting of three muscles:
· Gluteus maximus
· Gluteus medius
· Gluteus minimus
Did you know?
The gluteus maximus, in particular, trumps all other muscles in your body when it comes to size, being recognised as the biggest muscle in the human body.
Matching form to function
While the glutes have garnered more attention for their aesthetic appeal they are equally as important when it comes to function.
The gluteus maximus is responsible for the movement of the hip and thigh. Specifically, it moves your leg backward, to the side (moving one inner thigh away from the other) and assisting with the outward rotation of the thighs.
The gluteus medius brings your leg out to the side and rotates it both inwards and outwards. It is assisted by the gluteus minimus, which helps move your leg out to the side as well as rotate your thigh inwards. These small gluteus muscles are the strongest abductors and adductors of the hip joint, also playing the critical role of stabilising your pelvis.
The benefits of stronger glutes
· Improve posture
· Enhance your ability to perform movements that require the engagement of the hips and thighs such as standing, sitting and climbing steps
· Stronger glutes reduce the likelihood of injury
· Better athletic performance, particularly running (Liebermann D.E. et al, 2006)
3 exercises to build a better butt
· The barbell hip thrust
This exercise is not exclusive to women and carries considerable benefits for either men or women. In order to perform the movement, you need to sit on the ground with your back against the bench and your feet planted firmly in front of you. The barbell should lie across your waist, which is to be raised as you push your hips upwards by engaging your glutes. The key is to thrust your hips up until your body, from your shoulders to your knees, is parallel to the floor. Get a good squeeze of the glutes at the top of the movement and then slowly descend back to the ground to complete your first rep. The main muscles targeted are the glutes and hamstrings.
Walking lunges are an excellent way to add volume to your workout. They also provide a great means to actively stretch your hip flexors.
They can be performed a number of different ways to add weight; with a barbell on your shoulders, kettlebells in each hand or dumbbells, or even freehand using bodyweight only.
To carry out the movement stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Take a step forward with one leg and flexing the knees so that your front leg forms a right angle while your back leg also forms a right angle to the point where your rear knee nearly touches the ground.
The primary muscles engaged are the glutes, hamstrings and quadriceps.
Widely renowned as the holy grail of exercises, the squat is a compound exercise that recruits a variety of muscles. In fact, it targets your glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, abs, calves and abductors. It will help grow jaw dropping glutes, develop overall leg and hip strength while also encouraging stability and mobility. Getting your form correct is critical with this movement because while the benefits are plenty, improper form can result in injury.
Things to remember: keep your head facing forward, feet planted and flat on the ground with knees pointing in the same direction as your feet throughout the movement.
Once you have lifted the barbell off the rack and onto your shoulders, stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Squat down by bending your hips backwards allowing your knees to go forwards. Descend as low as is comfortably possible then extend back up until you are back in the starting position to complete one rep.
· The step-up
The step-up not only mimics an everyday movement but also allows you to target each side of your body separately ensuring that one side doesn’t overcompensate for the weaknesses of the other. This ensures you build a balanced body. The exercise focuses on the glutes and hamstrings but similarly also works the other muscles in your lower body.
To perform this movement, stand upright with one foot placed on a bench in front of you while holding either kettlebells or dumbbells. Use the foot placed on the bench to step up onto the bench so that both feet are on the bench. Now step down keeping one foot on the bench. That is one rep. Repeat the movement to perform your remaining reps.
Daniel E. Lieberman, David A. Raichlen, Herman Pontzer, Dennis M. Bramble, Elizabeth Cutright-Smith, The human gluteus maximus and its role in running, Journal of Experimental Biology 2006 209: 2143-2155; doi: 10.1242/jeb.02255
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