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How to get your butt in shape for summer

The Secret To A Sexy Butt

By Alex James

We all might feel the cold at the moment but our South African winter cannot last forever so its time to start working on our summer bodies already.

Which better body part to start off with than the second thing most of us notice on the beach. Yes.. You too can have a sexy butt.

I’ve compiled a list of the top six exercises for getting your butt in shape.

Literally.

And, before you get all whiny on me, I should mention that all of these exercises will also improve athletic performance, as well as have carryover to stuff like squats and deadlifts.

So, are you ready to get your ass into gear? Awesome. Here's my gaggle of exercises for glorious glutes.

1) SINGLE-LEG ELEVATED GLUTE BRIDGE
We’ll start with the exercise that is the easiest to perform and requires the least equipment, the bodyweight glute bridge.

While you can do this bilaterally, I specify the single leg version simply because -- though it’s a tad more advanced -- it’s really the only version worth doing if your goal is posterior development. In addition to allowing your body weight to serve as a greater load, allowing for all the benefits of unilateral training, you’ll need to stabilize anti-rotationally so you get some core work, too.

When performing this, it’s important to focus on two things: recruitment and position.

In order to make sure you activate and recruit the glutes to the fullest extent, don’t just think about lifting your hips; instead, think about driving your heel into the bench and focus on using your posterior chain to raise your body. Also, remember to flex and squeeze the working glute throughout the entire rep. To increase activation, lightly rest your hand on the cheek -- it’ll look silly but will help out a bit.

As for position, how you finish the exercise is important here. Don’t just drag your ass off the ground and stop when you’re in the air -- a fully executed rep ends when your hips are completely “locked out.” To make it simple, raise your hips as high into the air as you can. In the finished position, you should be able to follow a straight line from your knee to your shoulder.

This exercise is great for development, but I find it works best as both an activation exercise during a warm up and a teaching tool for helping people understand and develop increased awareness and activation.

2) BARBELL GLUTE BRIDGE/HIP THRUST
Staying with the same theme, let’s look at barbell glute bridges.

There are a number of variations of the BBGB, the main difference between them being the number of benches used, which varies from 0 to 2. Using multiple benches increases the range of motion, the difficulty and the name. Once you add in a bench, the name generally changes from a glute bridge to a hip thrust.

Difference in names notwithstanding, the movements are similar in a few ways, not the least of which is that they both involve using your tuckus to drive your hips up while loaded with a barbell.

Moving on to the hip thrust, you need to have your shoulders elevated, increasing the range of motion and lines of force. The hip thrust is more difficult, and because of that, perhaps more effective in a number of ways.

3) HALF-SQUAT FROM THE BOTTOM
I don’t think there’s a butt in the world that can’t benefit from squats. Moreover, I don’t think that there are many great butts that have been built without them.

Today, we’re going to take that one step further.

This highly specialised version of the squat is done for just half a rep -- the bottom half. You see, the glutes are recruited more heavily as squat depth increases; therefore, it is the bottom half of the squat that involves them the most. By limiting the movement, you focus on the goods.

Here’s how it’s done: In a power cage, set the pins at just above where your shoulders would be if you were in the “rock bottom” position of a squat. Load it up, climb under and ignore the looks you get. As you come up, focus on flexing the glutes. Halt your ascent at roughly one-half of the way up, pause for half a second and come back down. Allow the bar to come to a stop on the pins. No bouncing!

This is a killer exercise because you’re moving the bar from a dead stop for every rep, there’s no possibility of cheating, and you completely take away any effect inertia would have had. The movement becomes much harder and is very effective.

Now, this variation of the squat is very specific. While useful in the context of glute training, in general, you should be doing regular squats as well.

4) KETTLEBELL SWINGS
I’ve often heard people say things like, “I do the stair climber for cardio because I also work my butt.” While that’s not totally untrue, it’s also not the best option. If you want to get your ass in shape figuratively while getting your ass in shape literally, KB swings are the way to go.

Now, I’ll say right off the bat that I’m not really a kettlebell guy. I like kettlebell exercises as a conditioning tool, and I see some value in terms of specific applications. This differentiates me from pure kettlebell gurus, a number of whom are so passionately dogmatic about kettlebells that I suspect KB swings are part of their masturbatory rituals. A hyperbolic assumption, perhaps, but it made you laugh, so deal with it.

Anyway, that brings us to the topic at hand. Kettlebell swings, not masturbation.

Again, KBs are good for condition and specific application, one of those applications being glute training.

For a simple movement, it’s hard to beat the KB swing. Done with proper form, it works the majority of the posterior chain and hits the glutes like little else. (It also teaches the hinge quite well, having carryover to other stuff.)

You can use the swing with mildly heavy weight as part of a more complete program, or you can use lighter weight and higher reps for a cardio/conditioning effect -- each effective for different goals, but both effective with regard to your butt.

5) GLUTE-HAM RAISE
I don’t know why I even bother to include the GHR, other than the fact that if I don’t, other fitness pros will lambast me for leaving it out.

Don’t get me wrong: It’s an awesome exercise, if you’re part of the small 2% of people who don’t f*ck it up. Since I’ll assume that all of my readers are in that group, we can discuss.

There are two ways to perform the glute-ham raise: on a machine and without one, which is called a natural glute-ham raise. The machine version is generally easier for setup -- at least in the sense that you don’t need a partner for it -- but executing it is murderously difficult.

Most gyms don’t have a GHR machine, so let’s talk about some modifications.

The first of these is to use a friend. I don’t do this version that often because I don’t have any friends. (Just kidding -- everyone loves me.) It’s somewhat difficult to manage, though.

To perform, kneel down on some padding and have your partner secure your feet behind you. Keep your trunk upright (your back straight and in line with your hamstrings) and lower yourself to the ground as slowly as possible. If you can pull yourself back up, do so. If you cannot, simply use your hands to work back into the starting position and perform another negative.

If you don’t have a partner, there is another variation that makes use of the lat pulldown. Essentially, you’ll be using the knee rollers to hold your ankles in place and perform the GHR. This is the first version that I ever tried, and in most gyms, it's the one I do when traveling.
Looks easy? Nope.
All variations of this exercise are murderously difficult. And pretty easy to screw up.

Now, here’s how it’s awesome: While in many ways this is a hamstring exercise, it still works the glutes, oddviously. Specifically, this will work what we in the biz call “the gluteal fold,” or the glute-ham tie-in, the often-saggy flap where your butt meets your leg. Meaning that the GHR is going to help your ass look awesome when you’re naked more than almost any other exercise. Making it exceptionally important.

You’re welcome.

Bonus: HILL SPRINTS!
Yeah, hill sprints. These are pretty much the most awesome form of cardio you can do. Hill sprints are convenient, effective and make you look awesome. They’re hard but worth it.

Also, because of the incline, they work the gluteal fold and make you bootylicious.

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