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.