The gluteus medius
The gluteus, also known as your booty, is the biggest muscle group in the body. There are three glute muscles that comprise your behind, including the gluteus medius.
No one minds a good-looking rear-end, but a strong booty is worth so much more to your overall health than just aesthetics: Your glutes are the most powerful muscles in your body and responsible for any movements of the hip and thighs. These include sitting, walking, running, and more.
Unfortunately, sometimes you may forget to use your glutes properly and instead rely on your back.
Have you or someone you know ever hurt their back from lifting something heavy? Chances are, the injury was caused because the glutes weren’t engaged. Your glutes should be doing the heavy lifting, not your spine!
Strengthening this area requires good form and concentration. You must “tell” your glutes to work—they can be lazy.
- Stand with your feet parallel and hip-width apart. If you feel comfortable, you can hold light dumbbells.
- Keep your spine long and your gaze forward. Your shoulders should be back and down.
- Squeeze the glutes as you fold from the hips, bending your knees so that your seat reaches back past your heels. Resist the urge to round your spine in order to “give in to the weight.”
- Allow your glutes and belly to control your descent and ascent.
You can increase the weight gradually as you begin to feel stronger and more comfortable.
Tip: To help keep your spine from flexing, imagine you have a pole strapped around your torso.
Try a single-leg version:
- Reach back with one leg, flex your foot, and use your glutes to lift your leg as you fold forward from the hips.
- Watch your hips. Keep them level and avoid letting your body weight settle on your standing hip.
- Start on all fours with your knees directly under your hips and your hands under your shoulders.
- Keep your belly drawn in, shoulders back and down, and your spine in a long line. Place a light (3- to 8-pound) dumbbell in the crook of your left knee.
- Use the power of your right glute to balance and the power of your left glute to lift up your leg.
- Flex your foot and raise your knee up a little higher than your hips. Maintain your balance by distributing your body weight equally over both hands and your lowered knee.
- Repeat 10 times and switch sides. Repeat 2 to 3 sets.
Tip: Exhale as you lift your leg. Keep your neck long. To keep your ribs from sagging toward the floor, imagine you are balancing a teacup on your back.
Add 10 to 15 pulses on the leg lift. Also, you can use a resistance band. Anchor it with your hands and loop it around the arch of your foot. Repeat the same movements with this added resistance.
This is a great move that tones your legs and glutes. Sometimes just lunging correctly is challenging, so before you add weights, practice a few lunges first.
- Start with your feet parallel and one foot about 2 to 3 feet in front of the other. Square your hips straight ahead.
- Try to keep your front shin vertical and right above your ankle.
- Lower about halfway to the floor by bending both legs equally and keeping your torso upright. Resist the urge to power through these. Slow is better for your form and requires more stamina.
- Do 5 to 10 lunges on each side.
Tip: Imagine your back is sliding down a wall and keep your gaze focused on something straight ahead to help you maintain balance.
Try alternating lunges and increasing your repetitions. Be aware of your knee-to-hip and knee-to-toe alignment. Keep your front knee behind your foot, tracking straight out of your hip socket.
This move is a staple of any glute workout. You use your core, legs, and arms. It also provides your upper back with some much-needed extension.
- Start on your back with your arms straight along your sides and your knees bent. Your legs should be approximately fist-width apart.
- Peel your spine off the mat, starting with your tailbone, and lift your hips until you feel most of your weight on your shoulder blades. Keep your core engaged.
- Squeeze your glutes and keep your inner thighs engaged. As your body stays lifted and your hips stay level, reach one leg toward the ceiling.
- Start with alternating leg lifts, 4 on each side. Lower your body and then reset into your bridge. Repeat 3 to 6 times.
Keep your leg lifted and glutes toned by pulsing your toe toward the ceiling 10 times. Repeat 3 to 5 sets.
This move is a major booty blaster. It also has the bonus of being dynamic, which means it can burn major calories.
- Start with your legs shoulder-width apart. Hold a kettlebell or dumbbell in the center of your torso, with your elbows reaching out to the sides. Keep your shoulders down and engage your core. Keep your chest upright.
- As you descend, think of reaching out with your knees. Allow your seat to reach slightly back as your hips flex as if you were about to sit down.
- Start with 3 sets of 8 to 10. As this gets easier, increase the weight.
Lateral squats are the same basic squat, but after you stand up, sidestep to the left and then squat again. Return to center, sidestep to the right, and squat. Be mindful of your leg, knee, and foot alignment. Make sure you keep your knees and toes tracking in the same direction.
It’s important to start slowly with any exercise routine that’s new to you. Allow your body to build up the appropriate strength and endurance before you add additional weight and reps.
We all get excited about starting a new program, and sometimes it’s hard not to go “all-out” when we want immediate results. Be patient and work your way up.
Remember that injuries occur when the body is fatigued. Also, allowing one to two days for recovery before repeating this workout gives you the best chance for results.
Most importantly, love your body and remember to rest, eat well, and stretch. Take care of your body, and it will take care of you.