We live anterior-dominant lifestyles; everything we do is in front of us: think picking up kids, pushing shopping carts, and lugging laundry up and down stairs. As a result, our anterior muscles (pectorals, biceps, quads) are overdeveloped, and our posterior muscles (back, glutes, hamstrings) are neglected.
Working out doesn’t always help. It’s so much easier to focus on our “mirror muscles,” which also happen to be our anterior muscles, because we look at them daily. Popular workout moves like push-ups, crunches, and squats have only exacerbated the problem.
Perhaps the most neglected posterior muscle group of all is the glutes. Your butt muscles should be the foundation upon which you build a strong, functional body. By strengthening your butt, you are able toprotect yourself from back, hip, and knee injuries; not to mention, develop a good lookin’ booty.
Here are some of my favorite moves to strengthen the forgotten backside:
Hip Thrust with Elevated Feet (aka Glute Bridge)
Lay down on the ground or on a mat with your head and back flat. Bend your knees and place your feet on a sturdy bench or step shoulder-width apart and parallel. Squeezing through your glutes, push your butt off the floor so that your head, hips, and knees are in line. Hold for one beat, and lower with control back to start.
Hip Thrust with Upper Body Elevated
Sit on the ground with your back to a bench. Lean back against the bench so that your shoulder blades are near the edge. Clenching your glutes and driving through your heels, bring your hips up so that you’re flat like a tabletop. Bring back with control to start.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. With your right leg, step back and across your body, dropping your right knee behind your left heel, as your left knees bends into a lunge. Return to the beginning stance and do the opposite—step your left leg back and across your body, dropping your left knee behind your right heel, as your right knee bends into a lunge. That’s one rep.
Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, a dumbbell in each hand in front of you, with your palms facing in toward the front of your thighs. Inhale and, bending at the waist but keeping your back straight, push your butt backward and slide the dumbbells down the front of your thighs. Push your hips back as far as you can, feeling a stretch in your hamstrings. When you can no longer push your hips any further back, slide your hips forward back to standing.
Lay on your side with your knees bent, legs stacked, and feet in line with your back. Keeping your feet together, hinge at the top hip, squeezing your glutes and opening your legs like a clamshell. Return with control back to start.