Ever look in a magazine or at a billboard and see a stellar set of glutes and hamstrings, wishing for a moment you could make yours look that good and then quickly dismissing the model's derriere as airbrushed anyway? Well, I'm here to tell you, it isn't all trick photography.
The glutes of models and competitors you admire are a product of hard work, determination and consistency. There are four key ingredients required to sculpt the glutes you've always wanted: diet, resistance training, cardio and most importantly, consistency. Please consult your doctor before beginning any exercise or diet program.
First, let's take a look at your diet. I'm not a nutritionist, however, here are some nutrition basics that will help get you started in the right direction. If you would like more specific information about diet, please see my nutrition article.
Are you eating high glycemic, processed, fat laden foods? How often are you eating? Are you eating enough protein? The best way to get a clear picture of what your diet looks like is to honestly record what you eat, what time and how much for three days. If you're seeing a pattern of processed, high fat, poor quality, unnatural foods, you need to do some overhauling. You can also visit a certified nutritionist for a custom made plan that suits your fitness and weight loss goals.
Once you've had your diet revamped, you'll be well armored to take on the gym. A good diet will ensure you are getting the macronutrients you need to build beautiful muscle, lose body fat and keep your energy levels stable. I have found that 1600-1800 calories per day with a breakdown of calories from 50% protein, 30% complex carbohydrates and no more than 20% unsaturated fats.
Resistance training and glute/hamstring specific exercises should be next on your plan of attack. It has been said that you can't spot train, but the following exercises are sure to sculpt a fine looking fanny.
Some of the best glute/hamstring exercises that I've employed include:
Tips: Walking lunges and lots of them! (You can eventually add weight as you become stronger). Hold a dumbbell in each hand and pull your shoulders back. Lift your chest up and look straight ahead. Position your right leg forward in a long stride. Your foot should be far enough in front of you so that when you bend your right knee, your thigh and lower leg form a right angle.
Slowly bend your knees, lowering your hips so your rear knee just clears the floor. Pause briefly in this position, then slowly straighten your legs and raise your body back up to a standing position. Complete a full set, then switch legs and repeat, or alternate legs for each rep. Make sure your knee does NOT travel past your toes in the down position!
Butt Blaster Machine
Weighted Wide Leg Squats
Tips: Works more of the inner thighs. Place a barbell on your upper back. Use a comfortable hand grip. Keep your head up and your back straight with your feet about 30 inches apart. Point your toes and knees a little outwards. Squat until your upper thighs are parallel to the floor. Slowly return to the starting position.
Single Leg Squats
Tips: Use a 12 to 18 inch box or bench for this exercise. The higher the box, the more difficult the exercise.
Place a barbell behing your head at the base of your neck. Grasp the barbell with both hands with a wider than shoulder width grip. Stand approximately 2 to 3 feet from the box and turn so that the box is directly behind you. Reach one foot back and place your toe on the box. Keep your opposite foot flat on the floor and point your toes forward.
straight. Keep your back tight and your chest out throughout the entire exercise. Keep your head and
neck in line with your torso so that you are looking forward. Your shoulders should be directly over
your front foot. Keeping your front foot flat on the floor, sit your hips back (like you are going to sit in
a chair), bend your knee (of your front leg), and lean forward slightly at the waist. Lower yourself in a controlled fashion until your thigh (of your front leg) is parallel to the ground. If you have difficulty lowering yourself down this far, lower yourself until the
knee of your front leg is bent 90 degrees.
At this point, your knee should be directly over your toe,
your hips should be sitting back, and your chest should be directly over the middle of your thigh. Now,
leading with your head and chest, raise yourself by pushing your hips slightly forward and up toward
the ceiling, and straightening your leg. Return to the starting position. At this point, your shoulders should be directly over front foot.
Weighted Step Ups Onto A Bench
Tips: Place a barbell on your shoulders like you would if you were doing Barbell Squats. Step up onto a flat bench with your left leg. Then step up with your right leg so you are now standing on the bench. Step down with your left leg, then your right leg. Repeat, starting with your right leg this time. Be careful not to fall! Use lighter weights. Can also be done with two dumbbells in your hands instead of a barbell.
Tips: To really kick it up, do these single leg! Put a barbell in front of you on the ground. Standing on a box if needed, grab the dumbbell with a little wider than shoulder width grip. Bend the knees slightly. The position should be shins vertical, hips back and back straight.
Keeping your back completely straight at all times, use your hips to lift the bar. The movement should not be fast but steady and under control. The arms should remain straight. Once you are standing completely straight up, lower the bar by pushing the hips back, only slightly bending the knees, unlike when squatting.
Take a deep breath at the start of the movement and keep your chest up. Hold your breath as you lower and exhale as you complete the movement. Start with light weights to get used to it and be careful!
Tips: Lie face down on a leg-curl machine and hook your heels under the roller pad. Your legs should be stretched out straight so that the pads rest on the back of your ankles. Grasp the handles under the bench for support. Remaining flat on the bench, curl your legs up until your hamstrings are fully contracted.
Release and lower the weight slowly back to the starting position. Concentrate on using a full range of motion and do not SWING the weight up. You can point your toes to intensify the burn in your hamstrings.
Tips: The inner thighs are tough to work effectively,
and the adductor machine is a welcome addition
for both body-sculptors and serious
bodybuilders alike. Angles are crucial in
getting the most out of this movement.
Keeping your back and butt where
they belong, wedged well against the backrest
and on the seat, respectively, is key. The
movement is elementary in that you simply keep
the inside of your knees pressed firmly against
the pads as you move them together.
Tips: Sitting on a leg press machine, position your feet together against the crosspiece about should-width apart and toes pointed slightly outward. Grasp the handle grips or sides of the seat. Bend your knees and lower the weight as far as possible without changing the position of your hips.
Do not lower the weight so far that your hips start to curl up off the seat! Then slowly push the weight back up using your heels, not your toes. Do not lock your knees at the top, but rather take the weight to just before lock. Then being to lower the weight again SLOWLY. You can change your foot positions to vary the angle on the muscle.
Try it with feet high on the foot pad (you can also add a medicine ball between your knees to add increased adductor involvement).
Weighted Back Extension
Tips: Lie face down on a hyperextension bench, tucking your ankles securely under the footpads. Adjust the upper pad if possible so your upper thighs lie flat across the wide pad, leaving enough room for you to bend at the waist without any restriction.
Start with your body in a straight line. Cross your arms in front of you or behind your head. You can also hold a weight for extra resistance. Slowly bend forward at the waist as far as you can while keeping your back FLAT. Do not round your back. Slowly raise your torso until your legs and upper body are in a straight line again. Do NOT arch your back past a straight line!
Try with pad placed low on your hips (squeeze your glutes and hamstrings to lift the upper body-holding at the peak contraction).
Weighted Hip Raises*
Tips: 1. This exercise is great because unlike crunches, this works mostly the lower abs.
2. Use your abs to pull your legs up.
Rotate your pelvis foreward to really
"crunch" your abs.
3. Try not to swing. Using momentum in
any exercise is cheating!
4. Squeeze your abs at the top! Keep
your legs together.
* Shown without weight. Use a Grizzly Leather Dipping Belt to add resistance.
This can be a dangerous exercise if not done correctly or done with weights that are too heavy. Can also be done standing on a bench or box (so that plates don't touch the floor) or with dumbbells.
You can add a few of these exercises in during your regular leg workouts. I try to work on these, three at a time, twice per week. Once I get to a satisfactory point, once per week for maintenance. I try to do 3-4 sets of 20 repetitions.
Your glutes and hamstrings are a very large group of muscles and are directly tied into each other. One doesn't usually work without relying on the other. So I naturally train them together. It is so critical to really employ a mind to muscle connection when working the glutes. You need to squeeze HARD at each peak contraction. Your glutes go deep and you need to reach those far removed fibers to really see results.
You want to use a weight heavy enough to make you struggle through those last few reps of each set. You'll just be adding insurance that your glutes are getting a seriously awesome workout. It takes many years of heavy, hard training to build hulking muscles.
Slowly build your endurance by increasing your sprint times and decreasing your recovery times. Do this for a series of 10 sets of sprints/jogs. You'll really feel the burn. You can also employ this technique on a spinning bike or elliptical machine for added variety.
The final piece to those coveted glutes and hamstrings is consistency. I can't emphasize enough how important careful attention to your diet will be. It's the most critical pawn in this game. If you truly stick to your diet for at least 6 weeks, you will see changes.
In order to maintain energy levels, lose body fat and create beautiful muscles, your diet is the number one factor to your success. Now get going on those gorgeous glutes!