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Study Finds Most Effective Gluteal Exercises

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There is no disputing that a toned butt is a happy butt, firmly spreading joy to owner and passersby alike. Even those who — as for example Sir Mix-a-lot — prefer more expansive hindquarters to diminutive derrieres, nonetheless give the nod to the packed and sculpted over the sprung and sprawling. Clearly heredity, age, and maternity (which primarily affects women) are all nontrivial variables on the road to buns of bouncing steel, but everyone can benefit from a reasonable rump routine.

The traditional squat exercise has always been the definitive glute blaster, but squats are hard on many a lower back, particularly those not dripping with youth, like say, mine. With that in mind, the American Council on Exercise, the nation’s self-declared “workout watchdog,” commissioned a squat replacement study by John Porcari and Blake Ristvedt of University of Wisconsin, La Crosse. Their crack research team used electromyographic analysis — electro-ass analysis — to compare the “muscle recruitment patterns” of eight common gluteal exercises.

“The results of this research showed that several of the exercises were as effective as the traditional squat at targeting the gluteal muscles,” said Cedric X. Bryant, Ph.D. and Chief Exercise Physiologist for ACE. “This study confirmed the relative value of alternative exercises such as lunges, step-ups, quadruped hip extensions, and four-way hip extensions, providing viable options for individuals who may have difficulty properly performing traditional squats.”

The four-way hip extensions require specialized equipment, but the other three exercises do not and make up a blazing butt buffing routine that can be done by most anyone, any time, anywhere – well, not in a phone booth, or during a funeral because you wouldn’t really be dressed for it, but you get the idea.

Quadruped Hip Extensions – On your hands and knees, slightly contract your abdominals to stabilize your torso and spine. Lift one leg up, keeping the knee bent at 90 degrees. Lift the leg until the bottom of the foot is pointing toward the ceiling and the leg is lined up with the body. Repeat on the same side for eight to 12 reps. Change legs.

Step-Ups - Stand with good posture behind a tall step or box — approximately 15 inches high — while holding a dumbbell or similar object in each hand. Place your left foot on top and transfer your weight to that leg. Push down with your left foot (especially the heel), straightening your leg, to come up on top of the box. Use the left leg only; keep the right leg passive, especially as you initiate the step-up. Repeat on the same side for eight to 12 reps. Change legs.

Lunges – Hold a dumbbell in each hand, standing tall with good posture. Step forward with the right foot, keeping the head up and spine neutral. Drop your left knee toward the floor by bending knees, making sure to keep the front heel down and the knee directly over the center of the foot. Push down and forward through your heel to return to the starting position. Repeat on the other side, alternating for eight to 12 reps per side.

So get on it: you’ve got less than a week to put a smile on your butt’s face before Valentine’s Day.

About Eric Olsen

  • sal m

    there’s nothing inherently bad about squats…the problem is that too many people do them incorrectly which leads to some injuries…another problem is that most people have weak lower backs and abdominals which makes it tough to perform squats properly. also, people focus on adding weight to the squat which leads to potential injury.

    at my facility we have people of all ages – up to 90 years young – and ability levels performing squats. the key is to have clients follow a progression that allows them to strengthen themselves in preparation for squatting.

    there’s nothing wrong with lunges and step ups, but there are technique issues to be aware of so as to avoid injury. a 15 inch step up box is too high for a beginner and for people under 6 feet tall…the rule of thumb with the step up – especially if carrying weights – is that the knee should be no higher than the hip when that foot is up on the box.

    the other reason people don’t like squats is that they are hard to do, but proper instruction and guidance can get even the most recalcitrant lifter to peform squats properly and without discomfort.

    the squat is the granddaddy of all lifts and to truly get the most our of your workout, you need to squat properly. even if you can’t handle anything more than body weight squats, this exercise will do more for your bod than any other exercise.

  • http://w6daily.winn.com/ Phillip Winn

    Sal, did you read the article?

    “The results of this research showed that several of the exercises were as effective as the traditional squat at targeting the gluteal muscles,” said Cedric X. Bryant, Ph.D. and Chief Exercise Physiologist for ACE.

    I hear you saying “to truly get the most our of your workout, you need to squat properly,” and I wonder what that’s based on? Have you conducted any research that compares the effectiveness of squats vs the exercises described in the article?

  • http://- o

    Yay! A firm butt is on the horizon!

  • Eric Olsen

    yes, keep your eyes to the horizon

    Sal, no one is disputing the primacy of squats, but especially if you exercise on your own, there are a lot of people who just can’t won’t do them. I wear a belt, do them right, and with any weight at all it STILL causes me discomfort in my lower back.

    So the point of this is you can still get a thorough lower midsection workout without doing squats and these were the exercises they found most effective.

  • name

    what you eat, says what ur but looks like, eat well and jog for a healthy @55, at least walkj if ur older

  • damon

    Has anyone ever seen a really strong olympic lifter or powerlifer using Quadruped Hip Extensions as a training tool to squat 600 lbs? Neither have I. And you don’t need to wear a belt all the time either. If you wear them to much they weaken you because instead of getting stronger abs and lower back muscles they get weaker because the belt doesn’t allow your stabilizer muscles to get stronger.