Five serious sculptors that will lift your butt and torch fat for a sexier rear view in no time.
If your idea of shaping a great derriere consists of pounding out hours of killer cardio sessions, hit the stop button and jump off that treadmill ASAP. You’re missing out on the most critical component for building higher, rounder, tighter glutes: weights. “Weight training offers benefits that you simply cannot get with traditional cardio,” says Eric Daye, personal trainer and owner of Trubody Fitness in Burlington, Canada. “When you lift weights, particularly at loads that push your strength limits, you activate what are known as high-threshold muscle fibers. These fibers have the most potential for increasing muscle size, which is the best way to firm up your glutes for a more defined, toned behind.”
There’s another benefit to all that heavy lifting, too: Muscle is more metabolically active than fat; so, the more you have, the more calories that muscle will chew up, even when you’re not sweating it out in the gym. Numerous studies have shown that hoisting heavy weight further amps up the metabolism-boosting effect of muscle, by kicking excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, or EPOC into gear. When you challenge your muscles with heavier loads, you inflict more ‘damage’ onto your muscle fibers, so they require more oxygen and energy to repair them. All that extra work gives your metabolism a hefty boost, keeping it cranked higher for longer after your workout, which results in even greater fat burning. Simply put, your fanny will continue to give fat the boot long after you’ve racked the barbell from this super-sculpting strength-training challenge your glutes are about to take on.
The workout, which Daye designed exclusively for HH, targets your rear from every angle and focuses on multiple deadlift variations to maximize fat-melting muscle mass and help you shape a leaner, perkier booty, stat.
THE DEADLIFTING DIFFERENCE
Deadlifts will be a staple in this booty-boosting regimen. “Few exercises target the back side of your body like the deadlift,” says Daye. “It’s a hip-dominant movement that thoroughly engages the posterior chain—especially the lower back, glutes, and hamstrings.”
Like all other body parts, Daye stresses the importance of targeting the glutes from various angles. For this reason, he has tailored the workout to focus primarily on three variations of the deadlifts, incorporating both bilateral and unilateral movements to ensure muscle balance and improve stability.
While deadlifts are a great compound movement for glutes, you’ll also want to utilize isolation exercises, too. Daye has included two isolation movements in this routine to ensure the muscles are trained from a shortened position, providing a unique training stimulus that you don’t get from movements like the deadlift.
WORKS: Glutes, hamstrings, adductors (inner thigh), quads
The sumo deadlift is a multi-joint, compound exercise that emphasizes your glutes and hamstrings while also activating your quadriceps and core. Because of the wider stance used, it also increases stimulation of the adductor (inner thigh) muscles.
THE MOVE: Stand with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart, toes pointed outward. Tilt your upper body slightly forward, bending at the knees and hips (as if to sit in a chair) and grasp a loaded barbell using an overhand grip. Drive up through your heels, pushing your hips forward and squeezing your glutes to stand up straight. Hold for a count, then bend at the waist and push your hips back to return the weight to the ground.
TIP: Don’t round your lower back at any point throughout the movement.
DO THIS: Perform two sets of 15 reps. On the last three reps in each set, focus on squeezing your glutes hard and lowering under control for a three second count. This is your warm-up. Then, complete three additional sets of eight reps each.
WORKS: Glutes, hamstrings
Although the terms stiff-legged deadlift and Romanian deadlift are often used interchangeably, the two moves are distinctly different: the Romanian maximizes the use of glutes and hamstrings, while the stiff-legged is best for developing the lower-back muscles (erector spinea). During the Romanian, you keep the knees bent, back slightly arched, and bar close to the legs, placing the majority of the stress on the glutes and hamstrings. When you straighten the legs, round the back, and allow the bar to travel a away from the legs—like in the stiff-legged version—the emphasis is shifted away from the glutes and hamstrings to the lower back.
THE MOVE: Stand erect with your feet a few inches apart, knees slightly bent. Grasp a barbell using an overhand, shoulder-width grip, holding it at arms length in front of your thighs. Keeping your chest high, abs tight and lower back slightly arched, bend at the hips, pushing your glutes back and lower the bar toward the floor stopping about mid-shin. Pause, then slowly reverse the motion by extending your hips and contracting your glutes and hamstrings to return to start.
TIP: Do not let the bar track away from your body; the bar should remain in contact with your legs throughout the entire range of motion.
DO THIS: Superset with barbell glute bridges (see next page), performing three sets of 10 reps for each exercise.
BARBELL GLUTE BRIDGE WITH FEET ELEVATED
WORKS: Glutes, hamstrings, calves
The barbell glute bridge is a single-joint, isolation exercise that is similar to a regular glute bridge, only made more challenging by adding weight. By increasing the load placed on the hips, the glutes have to contract harder throughout the full range of motion. Compared to the butt-boosting power of the barbell hip thrust (performed with your upper back resting on top of a bench), the advantage to using the barbell glute bridge is that you are able to place a heavier load on the hips due to the shortened range of motion.
THE MOVE: Lie on the floor holding a barbell centered across your hips and place your feet flat on a low-rise box, knees bent. Keeping the barbell in place, press through your heels and extend your hips upward by squeezing your glutes forcefully until your body forms a straight line. Pause briefly at the top, then slowly lower your hips back down, stopping when your glutes are about an inch off the floor.
TIP: Be careful not to hyperextend your lower back at the top of the movement, as this can lead to injury. Keep your abs braced and back straight throughout the range of motion.
SINGLE-LEG DUMBBELL STRAIGHT-LEG DEADLIFT
WORKS: Glutes, hamstrings
Deadlifts are challenging enough using both legs to perform the movement; perform unilaterally (using one leg instead of two), and you’ll not only call more on your core and smaller stabilizer muscles, you’ll ramp up the activation of your glutes. In fact, research shows that the single-leg version is one of the most effective exercises for developing the glutes.
THE MOVE: Grab a dumbbell in your right hand and hold it at arm’s length in front of your thigh. Stand with your weight on your right leg, knee slightly bent. Bend at your hips and lean forward, lowering the dumbbell in front of you and pushing your hips back until your torso is parallel to the floor. As you lower, extend your left leg behind you for balance. Pause briefly, then thrust your hips forward, raising your torso and squeezing your glutes and hamstrings to return to start. Repeat for reps, then switch sides.
TIP: Use a wall or the backpad of a 90-degree bench to help you balance until you become comfortable with the movement.
DO THIS: Start with four mini sets of five reps each leg. So, this means you’ll complete five reps at a quicker pace within the mid to end of the range of motion of the exercise before returning to the start position. (At the mid-range point your torso should be approximately parallel to the floor; the bottom of the movement is the end-range point.) Then, you’ll return to the starting position and do five reps of the exercise through the full range of motion. Repeat, switching back and forth between shortened- and full-range reps of five until you’ve completed 20 reps, then switch legs and repeat. Continue with this sequence for a total four sets of 20 reps each leg, resting 30 seconds between legs.
BOX CURTSY LUNGES
WORKS: Glutes, hamstrings, adductors (inner thigh), quads, abductors (outer thigh)
This twist on the classic lunge steps up the intensity, engaging your glutes, hamstrings, quads, inner and outer thighs, and core while also improving your coordination and balance.
THE MOVE: Stand on a box with your feet together and grasp a kettlebell with both hands, holding it up in front of your chest, elbows bent. Keeping your hips and shoulders square, lunge back diagonally with your right leg, crossing it behind your body and to the left, placing it on the floor. Bend your knees until your left thigh is parallel to the floor. Push through the heel of your right foot to return to standing. Repeat, alternating legs.
TIP: Keep your shoulders and chest up and abs engaged throughout the movement.
DO THIS: Perform three sets of 10-12 reps on each side; alternate sides to add a cardio challenge.