It's bikini butt season...
February 27, 2011 6:15 PM   Subscribe

Butt Filter: Please share your best exercises for lifting and tightening of the female glutes. I am going to Mexico in 6 weeks and I look ok, but have always been cursed with a disproportionately flabby/droopy/flat ass. I am determined to do something about it finally. I have been doing the "ultimate butt and thigh" workout on Your Shape: Fitness Evolved for the Kinect, but I really am hoping for some advice for my specific, er...problem. I do not have access to a gym, so I am looking for things to do at home. I am mid 30s, 5'2, 125lbs, and yes I know you cannot spot train :)
posted by virginia_clemm to Health & Fitness (28 answers total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
Squats, squats, and more squats. I'm sure someone will expand on all the many variations...
posted by unannihilated at 6:17 PM on February 27, 2011 [2 favorites]

Lunges too
posted by backwards guitar at 6:25 PM on February 27, 2011

I have been doing Pilates a few times a week for about 6 months now and the mister informs me that my butt is rounder and tighter.
posted by rhapsodie at 6:30 PM on February 27, 2011

Kettlebell swings. 3 sets of 25 swings 3 times a week, enough weight that you can do 20 but not 30 without taking a break. I'd try a 20 or 30 lb kettlebell, depending on how strong you are.
posted by jeffkramer at 6:34 PM on February 27, 2011

Squats, lunges (lots of them). It will hurt like hell to start with, but that will pass. Walking (fast)/jogging will also help, but not as quickly.
posted by dg at 6:36 PM on February 27, 2011

Squats--make sure you do not being your knees closer together as you rise from a squat, as you want to work your thighs and glutes, not your knees.

Lunges, reverse lunges and crossover lunges--(for crossover lunges, pretend you are playing tennis and have to hit the ball backhanded at the back corner of the court and you'll get how your legs should go).
posted by misha at 6:37 PM on February 27, 2011

Squats. Keep your knees over your feet when you go down. If they move too far forward, you're not sticking your ass out enough. The first step of any good squat is to stick that ass out like a slut. It will help you keep your back straight.

Another good movement is the touch-your-toes stretch. If you do it right it will stretch the ever living crap out of your lower ass (the part that meets the leg). The key? BACK STRAIGHT. Keep that back straight as an arrow. If you have to arch or bend your back at all you're going too far. Just concentrate on your form and keep your back straight. You should feel the stretch at the back of your legs between the top of your hamstrings and the bottom of your glutes.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:49 PM on February 27, 2011

Seconding squats and kettlebell swings - but do 75 total reps of kettlebell swings in as few sets as possible. Start with a 16 kg bell and once you can hit 75 in two sets or less - move up 4 kg.
posted by cinemafiend at 6:53 PM on February 27, 2011

Squats. Full knee bend barbell squats loaded with a non-trivial amount of weight.

Ditto deadlifts (particularly Romanian deadlifts) and lunges. Sprinting (up a hill if possible) and pushing/pulling things will also do wonders in a short amount of time.

And since it greatly affects the shape and functioning of the glutes, you may also benefit from a postural assessment for pelvic tilt, either anterior or posterior. It's not nearly as complicated as it sounds, and it's an extremely common condition that you can easily check yourself for and remedy with some smart, consistent training.
posted by Kandarp Von Bontee at 6:58 PM on February 27, 2011 [2 favorites]

nthing squats and also bridges I've also heard that regular distance runners have fantastic glutes but thats a longer term commitment I think.

a friend had to do a LOT of bridges as PT after a surgery and her butt was noticeably loftier after a month or so
posted by supermedusa at 6:59 PM on February 27, 2011

Everyone is right about squats etc.

Walking up steep inclines always muscles my butt up, (walking up hills) as does walking up lots of stairs. You need to make sure you're really using those specific muscles, though--focus on them and make sure they're doing the work.
posted by the young rope-rider at 7:03 PM on February 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

There are a couple of fitness DVDs I have that really do a number on the rear:

Self: Your Best Butt Fast
Jillian Michaels: No More Trouble Zones

If you have Netflix instant play, you can watch the Self workout in its entirety.

I recommend the Jillian Michaels DVD if you're interested in toning abs and arms as well as the rear. Both incorporate several different types of squats and lunges. The first few times I did both of these, I had a hard time walking and sitting for a few days.

I also like that the instructors in both of these aren't terribly annoying or decked out in makeup and super tiny "outfits."
posted by shiggins at 7:06 PM on February 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

Here's how to build your own (equivalent of an adjustable) kettlebell.
posted by cinemafiend at 7:11 PM on February 27, 2011

The main function of the gluteus maximus is to extend the hip, so exercises that involve hip extension are the ones that will work the glutes.

Deadlifts would be my first go to exercise, but they can't be done without weights.

Unweighted squats would be better than nothing, and they may make a difference if you're very weak to begin with, but they won't get you that far in terms of building your glutes -- for that you're going to need a weight on your back. The best way to do that is with a barbell.

Realistically, if your problem is a lack of glute muscles, I don't think any exercise is going to build them all that much in the next six weeks, especially if you don't have any weights. You'll probably be able to make more of a difference by fixing up your diet and spending six weeks dropping fat.
posted by Anatoly Pisarenko at 7:11 PM on February 27, 2011 [2 favorites]

2nding your diet is far more of a priority here than what specific exercise you do.
posted by P.o.B. at 7:14 PM on February 27, 2011

Skipping and 'galloping' are good for your butt, and great cardio workouts, too. If people giving you strange looks bothers you, try it after dark.
posted by martianna at 8:32 PM on February 27, 2011

Do you drive? If so, park your car. Bike everywhere you need to go for the next six weeks. Make it a priority to get from A to B via bicycle. If you need help or advice with winter bicycling, here are some folks you can talk to.

There's no ass like a biker's ass.
posted by aniola at 8:46 PM on February 27, 2011 [3 favorites]

Regarding square and deadlifts, please be careful and learn the proper technique if you're going to be using non-trivial weights. It's better to have your form be better and left less than to risk catastrophic injury. I suggest watching YouTube videos by mark rippetoe and checking yourself in a mirror, also: my friend is a javelin thrower amateurly and she does square and deadlifts religiously. Her ass is amazing. We're talking bookshelf, "set a martini on it and let her dance to mix it" amazing.
posted by kurosawa's pal at 9:06 PM on February 27, 2011

I have the same curse. And I have ridden my bicycle hard and fast in the hardest gear for 13 miles every single day for months, and at the same time done 100 leg lifts with 10 lb ankle weights every single day, and been skinny to the point of near anorexia and only achieved moderate improvement. The only thing that has finally made a difference is a pair of MBT shoes worn continually. They are expensive, although you can find them on sale online for half price. (go through the official website to be sure you're not getting counterfeits.). I can't vouch for the effectiveness of the knock offs like Skechers - but my experiences with regular Skechers in the past is that they don't hold up well. Also, the various knock offs don't seem to have as extreme a slope as the MBT's.
posted by MexicanYenta at 9:13 PM on February 27, 2011

I'm gonna take a different path, and recommend swimming.

Anecdotally, I had an ex with a bad knee who had to quit running and decided to swim an hour a day for cardio, and the first thing that changed for her was an incredible definition of the gluteal area. Three weeks into it and there was a noticeable difference. Five weeks in and her shoulders were incredible.

Imma gonna go see if I still have her number, brb.
posted by Sphinx at 9:59 PM on February 27, 2011

I know you say you want to do your workouts at home, but do you have free weights? If not, it might not be as easy to build the mass you desire.

1) Jump rope circuits. Jump for 30 to 45 seconds, and then cycle squats/walking lunges with weights for a minute. Do this for 30-50 minutes.
2) Do 1 hour of intense yoga or pilates.

Do 1 and 2 twice a week each, and do a 20-30 minute jog once a week. I really urge you to consider a gym membership, though. Real squats with heavy weights will help you more than anything else.
posted by 200burritos at 10:15 PM on February 27, 2011

You need Brett Contreras!

Here is an excellent introductory article to glute work from him. Ignore the testosterone-laden surroundings, this is good information. The crucial thing to remember about glute work is that most sedentary people have something physical therapists call "dumb glutes." That is, your glutes, and often hamstrings, just don't kick in like they're supposed to. It comes from a lifetime of primarily sitting instead of running away from lions while carrying an animal you just killed. It leads to short hip flexors, often an anteriorly rotated pelvis, and inactive hams and glutes (which can also contribute to lower back pain and injury).

So it's important to start with light, bodyweight, glute targeting exercises to teach you how to flex them as well as exercise them.

When you're feeling like you've gotten all you can out of the exercises he lists up there, move on to things like one-legged deadlifts/RDLs, lunges, step-ups, etc. Complex movements like squats, deadlifts, and whatnot aren't going to help you unless your butt muscles are actually working.

Checking to make sure your spine is in neutral position and not anterior pelvic tilt is important to making them activate as well--this article has some good information.
posted by schroedinger at 10:22 PM on February 27, 2011 [3 favorites]

Squats, squats, and more squats. Suitcase squats (hand weights held at your sides like briefcases) in particular, with your butt stuck out like a Sir-Mix-A-Lot video star. Make sure to stand up all the way at the end of each squat. Split squats are also great, as are regular/reverse lunges.

Deadlifts are fantastic but you can hurt your lower back pretty badly if you're not totally sure what you're doing.
posted by elizardbits at 5:39 AM on February 28, 2011

Back during my brief flirtation with step aerobics, that was the area that showed the most improvement, and quite quickly too. I'm sure you can get a step and some DVDs at your local thrift store.
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:28 AM on February 28, 2011

I'm the same height and weight as you are, with the same flat-ass problem. My ass has always been flat, and relatively flabby. However, when I got back from hiking the Inca Trail (stairs, stairs, and more stairs), my ass was perfectly toned and firm, and just a bit round. Of course this only lasted for a few days after I went back to my cushy desk job, but nevertheless, my advice to you: stairs. Lots of them.
posted by booknerd at 8:01 AM on February 28, 2011

Bicycling, yes yes yes. It will only work if you get a good bike with a moderately aggressive posture: no beach cruisers or mountain bikes or silly BMX things. You want a real road bike that will make you ride in a way that uses your whole leg and glutes, not just your calves. Ride hills and learn to pedal out of the saddle. Make sure the bike fits you; you can get a used bike and just replace a few parts as long as it fits.

When I am riding at least 30 miles a week, I am all muscle from the hips down.
posted by slow graffiti at 8:33 AM on February 28, 2011

Learn to do the yoga pose "Balancing Stick". Do it between every or every other set of whatever exercises you're doing. Camel does it too, less intensely on the butt but a great pose..
posted by vito90 at 11:30 AM on February 28, 2011

Yeah, squats, lunges, and swings. Tim Ferriss (4 hour workweek, 4 hour body etc) on kettlebell swings:
He told me the story over a bottle of Catena Malbec. His obsession started when he saw a professional samba dancer in Brazil balance tequila shots on top of each butt cheek in a dance club. Lamenting the lack of similar scenes in his own country, he set off on a mission to isolate the best exercises for creating buttocks worthy of tequila shots.

By 2000 he had refined his approach to a science. In four weeks, he took his then-girlfriend, an ethnic Chinese with a surfboardlike profile, to being voted one of the top-10 sexiest girls out of 39,000 students at the University of Auckland. Total time: four weeks. Other female students constantly asked her how she’d lifted her glutes so high up her hamstrings.

If The Kiwi could have answered for her, he would have said, “Add reps and weights to the swings.”
By the way, yes, everything he writes sounds like this. But apparently the swings work, so.
posted by AceRock at 12:13 PM on February 28, 2011

« Older Grad-school-Filter-Again:   |   How do I bundle cardboard boxes most efficiently? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.