Men often neglect the all-important gluteus maximus, instead focusing on more “masculine” movements for a bigger upper body and six-pack abs, as well as killer calves and quads.
But building a better butt is arguably one of the best things you can do for your overall fitness. The gluteus maximus is the largest and most important muscles, and keeping it strong will help you perform other movements with much greater ease.
And if you play any regular sports like football, soccer, hockey or rugby, you’ll definitely want to make sure your butt is in tip-top shape.
Next time leg day rolls around, make sure you incorporate these glute-focused moves into your workout routine.
One-Leg Glute Bridge/Hip Bridge
Begin with a few warm-up exercises to get the glutes ready for movement.
One particular glutes exercise that is underused by many men is the hip extension or glute bridge. Not only does this movement require no equipment, but it’s excellent for your back muscles as well.
Tip: Whatever level of hip extension exercise you choose, at a minimum, perform glute bridges before your leg workout. These will warm up your glutes and make them more active in your squats.
- Lie flat on the floor with your knees bent and your hands by your sides.
- Lift your hips off the floor, keeping your back straight.
- Raise one leg straight into the air to form a line with your torso.
- Hold the position at the top for a moment, breathing out, then slowly return to the starting position.
- Do two sets of 15 to 20 for each leg.
- For added resistance, place a weighted plate on your pelvis.
One-Leg Glute Kickback
Again, this is a great warm-up movement to really target your glutes. If you want to get the most out of this exercise, consider adding resistance with a band or ankle weights. A one-legged cable kickback or cable hip extension will also get the job done.
- Begin on your hands and knees.
- Push backward with your foot in a motion like a horse kicking backward.
- Press back until your leg is straight or nearly so, then return it to your starting position.
- Perform 15 to 20 reps on each side.
- To add intensity, incorporate a resistance band. Loop the band around the foot that you are kicking back (you’ll really feel the burn).
Now we’re ready to really work those glutes. Squats are not only a killer workout for your glutes, they are also one of the best full-body exercises you can do. To perform a barbell squat:
- Start with your feet about shoulder-width apart.
- Use a barbell resting across your shoulders, and bend your waist and knees slightly, lowering yourself until your quadriceps are parallel to the floor, then return to the start position.
- Keep your back straight and your chest out, and make sure not to use more weight than you can handle.
- Make sure your toes are pointed slightly outward; never extend your knees past your toes.
- Do three sets of 8 to 10 without breaking form.
Lunges work your glutes and quadriceps, while also activating your hamstrings.
- To perform a lunge, start with one foot about 12 to 18 inches in front of the other.
- Keeping your hips and shoulders straight, lower yourself down by bending your knee, until your forward quadricep is parallel to the floor, and your rear knee almost touches the floor.
- Return to the starting position and repeat 10 to 12 times.
- Do two sets.
Box jumps are one of those excellent, plyometric movements that really target the fast-twitch muscles in your legs and glutes (plus you’ll get a killer cardio workout out of it).
- Stand in front of a plyo box, with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- From squat position, jump on to the plyo box, landing gently on the balls of your feet. Jump down take a two second rest, and repeat.
- Do two sets of 15 each.
No Ifs, Ands Or Butts About It
Strong glutes aren’t just about having a firm-looking backside (though that is a welcome side effect). Glutes are an essential muscle, and keeping them strong will help you perform better at practically everything, including sports and daily, functional activities.
Don’t just focus on bulging biceps or six-pack abs; when it comes to building real strength from the ground up, your glutes are everything.