My clients often ask what are the key exercises to do to keep them strong, fit and that can work with their busy schedule. So I suggest doing these four exercises four times a week as they will not only help to strengthen your butt but they will work your core as well.
Often our weakest muscle is the Gluteus medius in our butts. This is because we are less active and sit more frequently during the day, leaning over a computer. This causes poor posture and consequently poor gluteal muscles. The figure below shows that a weakness in the right Gluteus medius can cause the left hips to drop when standing on the right leg. Sometimes those who are more athletic can become masters of compensation and will keep the pelvis in neutral while working other muscles, which then causes muscle imbalances.
The Gluteus medius muscle role is to dynamically stabilize the pelvis in a neutral position during single leg stance such as running or walking. So these four exercises will help strengthen your butts and core.
The plank works the deep Transverse abdominus muscle, as well as the other key stomach muscles. I personally avoid doing loads of sit ups since these exercises work the Rectus abdominus and the hip flexors. This exercise is great for cyclists but does not really give you true core strength. There are other stomach exercises that are more effective and if you are struggling for time then forget how many times you can do a sit up.
To perform the plank, lie on your front and active your core. Draw your stomach back towards your spine and keep breathing. Do not work your back muscles or elevate your ribs but focus on your core. Either lift up onto the front of your knees (avoid your leaning on your patella so you are not putting too much pressure here). Make sure your body alignment is correct, so your back is straight and your head is looking down and your knees, hips, shoulders, neck and head are in a line. Hold for 20 seconds and gradually increase this to 60 seconds.
Once you feel stronger progress onto the next level by balancing your feet in the plank position. Again hold for 20 seconds and gradually increase to 60 seconds or more. Again when you feel comfortable holding this, start making the plank harder by balancing on one leg, moving up to rest on your hands, or moving an arm out to the side.
2. Clams / Oysters
Start off lying on your right side, bend your knees so they are out infant of you. Again check your body alignment, so your ankles are in line with your hips and shoulders. Rest on your head on your elbow and slowly raise you left leg up and down, keeping your ankles together. The key to this is to make sure your hips are perpendicular to the floor. Do not hurry this exercise.
Switch sides and repeat. You can do a a variety of different movements with this exercise, such as holding for a time, moving slowly up and down or slowly pulsing your leg up and down.
Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Activate your stomach by drawing this back in towards your spine. Do not hold your breath. Activate your gluteal muscles and then raise your hips up off the floor, holding in this position for 45 seconds.
If you feel strong enough then extend your right leg out in front of you, keeping your thigh in line with the stabilizing leg. (See diagram below.) Hold this for a count of 2 and then switch legs. The key here is to not allow your hips to drop, keep working you gluteals so they are controlling your hips.
As you get stronger you can hold the bridge and leg lifting for longer.
Oh I love squats. They are one of my most favourite exercises. You can perform so many different varieties to work your lower body. These can be done with weights, or adding a jump or sumo squats. Here I will describe the most basic squat for you.
Stand with your feet parallel and about hip width apart. Make sure you have weight on both feet and you can feel that you are evenly balanced. Activate your stomach and slowly lower your butt to the floor while keeping your head looking forward and shoulders facing forward. (It is as though you are about to sit in a chair.) Return to your starting position and repeat. Do either for a time or do 2 x 10-20.
The squat works a combination of muscles and joints, while helping with stability.
Let me know how you get on and enjoy!