Because many of us spend so much time sitting, getting our glutes to fire efficiently can be more difficult than it should be. A solution? An effective buttock finisher that you can easily attach at the end of your workout or run as a quick, standalone routine.
Your buttocks are one of the largest and strongest muscle groups in your body. They help transfer energy from your lower body to your core, and they also help protect your hips and pelvis from injury, certified personal trainer Alicia Jamison, CPT, trainer at Bodyspace Fitness in New York City, told SELF.
However, if they can’t activate themselves properly – again, often due to a lot of sitting – your glutes may not be able to perform these functions properly. And that’s where a dedicated glutes finisher comes in to change that.
What Makes an Effective Buttock Finisher? For starters, Jamison says it involves high rep volume with minimal rest, getting you to the point of temporary muscle fatigue or feeling like you’ve trained your muscles so hard you can’t believe it, do another rep in good shape . If you push yourself to this point (safely, of course), you can achieve all three strength training benefits, which include strength, hypertrophy (muscle building), and endurance, Jamison said.
An effective glutes finisher will also work all of the muscles in your butt, including your gluteus maximus (largest buttock muscle) as well as your gluteus medius and gluteus minimus (the two muscles that make up your side buttocks), says Jamison.
Many popular butt-centered exercises, such as glute bridges and deadlifts, refine your glute max, which is involved in hip extension and internal and external hip rotation. This is great, but showing some love to your glutes and glutes as well, as these muscles play a huge role in stabilizing your pelvic area and moving your legs sideways (hip abduction). An example of why gluteus med and min are important? Suppose you are picking up a heavy box. Of course, when you’re standing, your knees want to bend inward, but when your gluteus med and min are fully activated, your knees stay in line with your hips and ankles, making movement safer and more efficient, says Jamison.
The stronger your hip abductors, the stronger your gluteal complex will be as a whole. Think of the gluteus complex as a chain that is only as strong as its weakest link. Often times that weak link is the gluteus med and glute min. So if you take the time to strengthen these smaller muscles, you will improve the overall function of your buttocks (and in turn the muscle groups that are connected to your buttocks, such as, thighs, Back and abdominal muscles).
Do this finisher that Jamison created at the end of the leg day to really emphasize your glutes. In this context, “it’s like an exclamation mark,” says Jamison. This finisher also goes well with a stomach-focused routine. Since your glutes are technically part of your core, this combo would be a great way to really work that entire area, says Jamison.
You can also use this finisher as a quick stand-alone workout if you don’t have the time, she adds. (Make sure to warm up first so you don’t jump in with cold muscles. A quick and easy way to warm up is to do the first set – see below – with light or no external resistance, suggests Jamison.)
However you approach this finisher, be sure to keep your movements small. It may sound like a contradiction in terms, but in this scenario, “smaller movements are better and stronger,” explains Jamison. Because the greater the movement, the higher the likelihood that you will target other muscle groups that are not the focus. Take the hydrant exercise, for example: making extra large circles with your knees puts strain on your lower back and hips – rather than your glutes as intended.
Another tip: make sure you are actively engaging your glutes at all times. Actually patting your butt with your hand (when it’s free) can help, Jamison says. “That will help the neuromuscular system to synchronize a little more.”
Are you ready to seriously activate and strengthen your glutes? Keep scrolling to find out how.
What you need: An exercise mat for comfort and a mini-band (or resistance band that you can tie). Choose a band with enough resistance so that 12-15 reps of each exercise will challenge yourself to the point where you think you couldn’t get many reps in good shape, but not so challenging that you did the entire workout can not complete.
- Fire hydrant
- Gluteal bridge
- Conch shell
- Standing buttocks kickback
- Do 12 to 15 repetitions of each exercise in the set without resting between exercises. After doing all four exercises, rest for 45 to 60 seconds. Complete a total of 2 to 4 sentences.
The following steps are demonstrated by Crystal Williams (GIF 1), a group fitness instructor and trainer who teaches in residential and commercial gyms across New York City; Salma Nakhlawi (GIFs 2 and 3) the founder of StrongHer Girls and strength trainer; and Hejira Nitoto (GIF 4), a mother of six and a certified personal trainer and owner of a fitness apparel line based in Los Angeles.