When it comes to shape, there is no body part or area more focused on than our backsides. Our glutes. Everyone wants to have nice shape. Sure perhaps it’s vain, but it’s not necessarily a bad thing to want to look your best.

So how do we deal with our glutes? There is an army of machinery that is available for this, right? While you might employ the use of some amount of equipment, defining your glutes is more about exercise selection that it is about equipment.

First of all, let me start out as I often do, with a quick look at body structure and function. If we do both, we will find the most effective movements for a muscle group, and we will find that these movements are probably the safest as well.

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So let’s look at the glutes. As upright creatures, we are built for locomotion–built to walk and run. Our hips have to extend in order to provide the “push” needed to move forward.

Just look at a track and field sprinter. They usually have large, powerful glutes. This hip extension is accomplished by muscle synergy, and we know that this includes more than one muscle group firing, but let’s focus on the glutes for this discussion.

When the hip extends, the “hinge” is covered by the glutes. They must contract to do this movement. They must develop for adequate strength and power.

In doing this, the hips begin to shape nicely. They are not loaded with useless fat due to being a couch potato, rather they are now comprised of adequate, active muscle which leaves them looking nice.

How to work out glutes with simple exercises

Stationary Lunge

I prefer the stationary version as this is more precise (safe) and allows full focus on the glutes. Start with one foot forward, the other behind. The two feet should be separated by a distance of about two shoe lengths.

Raise the back foot up onto its toe. Focusing on the front foot heel, allow knees to bend and descend downward. Stop just prior to front thigh being parallel to the ground.

That’s plenty of range of motion. Next, push from the front foot heel back up to start. Repeat for reps and make this a bit more quick moving so that it becomes a “bobbing” up and down.

You may need to allow the hips to travel back as you descend. This keeps the front knee from traveling forward. This isn’t a “sliding forward angle movement,” rather a dropping down of the hips. Best movement for the human leg!

Smith Cage Squat

By using the sliding “Smith” bar, you will not have to rely on balance and you can safely get a bit lower on range of motion. Load the bar with a very, very light load..no more than 30-80 lbs.

Now, get under the bar and descend down for reps. As you go through the reps, try to get a little lower each time. The idea here is to get all the way to the ground. This forces the hips/glutes to flex/lengthen, and contract back up to Start.

Now, there’s a lot of discussion about how low to go safely. Here’s the physiology: when the knees flex to about 55-60 degrees, the stress is at maximum. Continuing downward doesn’t necessarily mean it’s getting less safe.

The trick is simply to not overload things! That’s why it is imperative to stay light here. It’s about range of motion, not weight.

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Standing Leg Swingback

Stand completely upright with your feet directly beneath your hips. Helps to have something to grab onto for stability… an upright, a door jamb, a medium height bar, etc. Allow one foot to raise up off the floor. Just remove the standing pressure.

This will allow that foot to “float” and not scrape the floor. Now, standing on the other (support) leg, lock the knee and move that floating foot backward. Do not bend the knee.

You’ll find that you can’t move that foot/leg back very far until you feel a strong contraction through the glutes. It’ll spread from the hamstrings, through the glutes, and up into the lower back in fact. Try to get 20 reps on this one.

Leg Press

Now here’s a good one using machinery. This works best using one leg at a time. What I like about this one is the fact that by sitting on the machine and putting your foot up onto the press platform, you’re starting in a flexed position with your hip bent 90 degrees.

The glutes are stretched before you even start. Lower your hip toward the platform to a point where the knee is bent about 50-60 degrees…about the same as the lunge so your knees are safe, but the hip is again bent far enough to really stretch the glutes, then push back to start. Don’t lock out the knee, stop short then repeat for reps.

Try these simple movements. Your glutes will really feel them!

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