Strength training is definitely having a moment, and with good reason. It’s one of the best ways to get stronger, burn more calories, and even improve your endurance. In terms of toning trends, weightlifting workouts are pretty focused on enhancing your butt right now, which we probably have celebs like JLo and the Kardashians to thank for. All kidding aside, most people know that squats are a great exercise for your backside, but beyond that, they’re pretty stumped about which exercises to incorporate into their weight room workouts for the best results. We chatted with Lacey Stone, fitness professional and celebrity trainer, to find out which moves to add into your routine when you want to switch things up.
While it’s true that squats are the best exercise you can do for your butt, according to Stone, it’s *not* true that they’re the only exercise you need to reach your booty goals. Here’s why: “The gluteal muscles are a group of three muscles that make up the buttocks: the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus,” she explains. “The hip is a ball and socket joint, which means it can move in the highest range of motion. That also means there are tons of different ways to lunge, squat, and pulse your way to a sexy back. Moving your body in the way it’s meant to function will make you strong from the bottom to the top.” In other words, you need to use your body’s full range of motion in order to get the most effective workout.
As for how often to work specifically on your butt? Stone says three times per week, with a rest day in between each session, is a good guideline if you really want to focus on that area. Those rest days are key, she notes, because when you weight train, you’re creating tiny micro-tears in your muscle fibers, which your body needs time to repair. That tearing-and-repairing process is actually what makes you stronger and lifts your booty, so you need to give your body time to recover before attacking it with more exercise.
LACEY stone’S TOP 4 BOOTY EXERCISES for a toned tush
1. Glute Bridge, 40 Reps, 3 Sets: Lie flat on the floor on your back with your hands by your side and your knees bent. Your feet should be placed about shoulder-width distance apart. Pushing mainly with your heels, exhale and lift your hips off the floor while keeping your back straight. Slowly go back to the starting position as you breathe in. Try for three sets of 40 reps. It might sound high, but Stone says that since it’s just your own bodyweight you’re lifting, you can do more reps.
2. Deadlift, 12 Reps, 3 Sets: The deadlift is one of the most classic barbell exercises out there, and it’s great for working both your glutes and hamstrings. Walk up to the barbell and stand with the middle of your feet under the bar at approximately shoulder-width distance apart. Bend your knees until your shins touch the bar, and then grab it with a hook grip (thumb over index finger). Now, lift your chest and straighten your back. Take a big breath in and hold is as you pull the bar up with you to a standing position. As you stand up, make sure the bar stays close to your body, and hold your breath until the bar is safely back on the ground. Because this is such a complex movement, it’s a good idea to ask a trainer to help you out the first time you do it on your own.
Stone suggests doing three sets of 12 reps at a weight you feel comfortable with. When it comes to choosing a weight, remember that it needs to be heavy enough to challenge you, but not so heavy that you can’t complete the exercise. Stone says that if you can easily do over 15 reps with a weight, it’s probably too light and won’t create those micro-tears and thus won’t give you the results you’re looking for. More reason to start pushin’ it at the gym.
3. Dumbbell Step-Up, 12 Reps, 2 Sets: Grab a set of medium-weight dumbbells and find a sturdy bench or box to step up onto. To start, place your entire right foot onto the bench or box. Press through your right heel as you step up, bringing your left foot to meet your right foot, so that you’re standing upright. Return to the starting position by stepping down with the right foot, then the left so both feet are on the floor. Repeat 12 times on each side, alternating as you go along.
4. Kettlebell Swing, 12-15 Reps, 3 Sets: Prepare yourself for a long explanation, but this one’s worth it once you have your form down. Start by standing over the kettlebell with your feet hip-width apart, chest up, and shoulders back and down. The bell should be in line with the middle of your feet. Next, squat down and grip the kettlebell with palms facing you and your thumbs wrapped loosely around the handle. Now, stand tall while still gripping the bell. Keep your arms long and loose while retracting your shoulder blades and engaging your core. Soften your knees, shift your bodyweight into your heels, and tilt your rear end back and down toward the wall behind you. “At this point you should be ready to spring — er, swing — into action,” says Lacey.
Driving through your heels, explode through the hips to send the kettlebell swinging upward from your quads. Ideally, you’re aiming for the kettlebell to reach chest height with your arms extended. “Achieving this finish position requires you to snap your hips through and contract your core while squeezing your cheeks,” explains Stone. As the kettlebell swings down, don’t resist. Let the weight do the work as you ready your body for the next rep. Shift your weight back into your heels while hinging at the hips as the kettlebell falls between your legs. Then, repeat the whole thing over again!
For this exercise, Stone suggests three sets of 12 to 15 reps, but the heavier the weight, the fewer reps you should do. “Choose a kettlebell that allows you to swing with perfect technique while still challenging you,” Stone suggests. “Consider starting and practicing with a bell much lighter than what you’ll eventually use to work out so that you can practice your form,” she adds. Sounds like a plan to us!
Have you ever tried any of these exercises? Which is your fave? Tell us about it @BritandCo!
(Photos via Getty)