Get Off Your Glutes

Appears in the October 2018 issue.

By Christine Litwicki

Our daily lives include constant sitting, which causes lazy glutes, or “gluteal amnesia”: The butt muscles “forget” how to activate properly and become underused (read: weak), putting more pressure on the back and lower body. Have lower back, hip, or knee pain? Tight hip flexors and weak glutes might be the culprit. The good news? The amnesia is reversible, but you have to (literally) work your butt off. Here are six ways to keep these important muscles in shape.

The Goal To activate and strengthen glutes

The Plan Perform two rounds of 20 repetitions of each exercise

Rear-End Role Although the gluteus maximus is the largest muscle in the body—and is responsible for a booty’s shape—it’s just one of three muscles of the hip, acting together with the medius and minimus as the base of support for the pelvis and hips. This muscle group helps power through many daily activities, from walking and carrying heavy things, to rising from a seated position and climbing stairs.

Bulgarian Split Squats
Locate a step, ottoman, chair, etc. that is about knee height. Move into a forward lunge position with a vertical torso, core braced and hips square to your body, with the back foot elevated on the chair or bench. Lower until your front thigh is almost horizontal, careful not to let the standing knee move past your toes. Push through your front heel back to a standing position.
Stand straight with feet hip-width apart, directly under hips. Place hands in front of torso, clasped lightly together as a counterbalance. Tighten core and lower down as if sitting, then raise back to standing, tightening glutes at the top of the movement.
Alternating Lateral Lunges
Standing shoulder-width apart, step to the right and shift your body weight over right leg, squatting to a 90-degree angle with right knee. Push back off right knee, back to standing. Repeat on alternate side.
Forward Walking Lunges
Stand upright, feet together, and take a controlled big step forward on the right leg, lowering your hips toward the floor, bending the knees 90 degrees (back knee should not touch; front knee should be directly over ankle). Driving the right heel into the ground, push the left leg forward, with control, to perform lunge on the other side. Option: Hold dumbbells as you perform lunges.
Alternating Reverse Lunges
From a standing position, take one controlled step back with one foot (forward knee should be at 90 degrees; keep the knee from moving past toe). Push off back leg to return to a standing position, while driving through the front heel. Repeat with alternate leg.
Hip Bridges
Lie flat on back with knees bent, with feet hip-distance apart and heels a few inches from bottom. Push through heels to lift hips up while squeezing glutes, creating a diagonal line from heels to shoulders. Squeeze glutes at the top and lower with control. Option: Elevate feet to increase difficulty.