Today is a very special day, as it marks Day 1 of 31 Days of Fat Loss. Everything you need to know to lose body fat, sculpt a rockin' bod, and feel great in the process. Each day will cover a different theme: mindset, nutrition, habits, workouts, fit tips, recipes and kitchen hacks, and miscellaneous topics. We'll leave no stone unturned.
I thought it was only appropriate to start off this first Workout Wednesday (also Hump Day ;-)) with a kickass glute workout (pun intended!).
As a former soccer player, I've always been partial to Leg Day, and the past few years has me focusing a lot more on my boo-tay. I also competed in my first bikini competition last year, and perky glutes are a big focal point of judging. Shows are won with the glutes, only adding to my (slight) obsession. #gobigorgohome
I have to credit trainer Bret Contreras with a lot of my knowledge in this area. Known as "The Glute Guy" in the fitness industry, he has spent the past 13+ years vigorously studying the glute muscles in depth, penning the amazing book Strong Curves with fitness writer and coach Kellie Davis. Seriously, this guy is the master.
Now on to the good stuff.
The glutes are the largest and strongest muscle group in the body and are critical to core stability, as well as providing the kind of proportions and feminine shape we desire. They can make you an overall stronger and more efficient runner, golfer, yogi, lifter, athlete, and liver of life. But glutes everywhere are being neglected, even by die-hard fitness buffs. "Gluteal amnesia" is commonplace due to the sedentary lifestyles that we lead. With disuse, our glutes just stop firing on all cylinders, and in especially the case of most women, the quads take over and dominate most lower body movements.
Many people think that squats and deadlifts are all they need for strong glutes. While these are important movements to have in your arsenal, they alone won't give you that coveted round, perky booty. Even a heavy-weighted squat only activates 30-40% of the glutes, according to Contreras.
The best exercises for building strong and tight glutes place the hamstrings in a shortened position, hindering their contribution and maximizing glute activation. These include glute bridges and hip thrusts.
Proper activation is also key to getting a great pair of glutes. But you can't depend on just one exercise or rep range or routine to shape them. You have to hit 'em from all angles and with a wide range of weights and rep ranges, due to the multitude of functions of the glute muscles (flexion, extension, internal and external rotation) and the fairly even mix of both fast and slow-twitch muscle fibers. And when it comes to frequency, focusing on the glutes 3-4 times per week seems to work best for serious booty shaping.
Although the ultimate shape and size of your backside is largely dependent on your programming and execution, it's also influenced by genetics. Just look at my glutes --- I work them hard and frequently, and although they're extremely strong (my barbell glute bridge/hip thrust PR is currently at 305#), they are very modest in size. Gee thanks, Mom and Dad. ;-P All you can do (as with anything) is to work with what ya got.
In addition to improving the appearance of your posterior chain, strong glutes can improve your squat and protect your knees by preventing them from collapsing inward, can help prevent back pain and injury from everyday tasks like picking up heavy items from the ground, and (in my personal experience) make yoga feel easier (warrior pose anyone?).
Warm-up (all bodyweight) x 1 set each:
focus on activation!
Quad Hip Extension/Kick-Backs x 20 each leg
Fire Hydrant x 20 each leg
Glute Bridge x 20
Clamshell x 20 each leg
Squat to Stand x 10 (video demo here)
Hip Hinge to Wall x 20 (video demo here)
Jumping Jacks x 30
Walking Lunges x 20
A1. Barbell Glute Bridge 3-5 sets x 6-8 (work up to a heavy weight with 2-3 lighter sets )
B1. Kickstand Deadlift 3 sets x 8 each side (see video demo here)
B2. Seated Band Hip Abduction 3 sets x 20-30 (see video demo here)
C1. Reverse Lunge From Deficit 3 sets x 10 each leg (see video demo here)
C2. Stability Ball Leg Curl 3 sets x 10-15 (see video demo here)
Finisher: AMRAP (as many rounds as possible) x 5-10 minutes
D1. Kettlebell Swing x 10
D2. Monster Walk x 20 total steps forward & backward (band around ankles or mid-foot; see video demo here @ 2:20 mark)