This article originally appeared on Oxygen
Warmer weather is just around the corner, which means we'll be trading our jeans and sweatpants for bikinis and shorts. Sure, having shsapely glutes is great when you peel off some layers, but there are plenty more reasons why growing those muscles is important. Hello, fitness longevity.
For starters, strong glutes can help make sure the rest of your lower body and your back stay stable and injury-free. When you have strong glutes, you have better stability during exercises and won’t put as much strain on your lower back or knees to compensate during squats, for example. Working those glutes can take your athletic performance up a notch. The gluteus maximus is the largest muscle in the human body and has the potential to increase speed and power during high-intensity exercise.
Considering how popular glutes are, there’s a lot of information out there about how to fine-tune them. But sometimes, you just want straight-to-the-point advice. IFBB Bikini pro and Olympia and Arnold champion Ashley Kaltwasser has eight tips to train your glutes, plus a workout to try.
1. Use Your Mind-Muscle Connection
Don't just go through the motions. Think about the exercise you are performing. It's easy to lose focus when you're on your last few sets. Concentrate on which muscle you should be activating and where you are feeling the burn.
2. Vary Your Feet Placement
Instead of keeping your toes forward, place them out at an angle. Try widening your stance as well as narrowing your stance. These will work exceptionally well with squats and deadlifts! You also can do one-legged reps. When lunging, don't forget to try diagonal lunges and curtsy lunges.
3. Pre-Exhaust Your Glutes
Try a quick high-rep, low-weight set of a glute exercise before you begin your workout. An example would be doing 20 cable kickbacks (each leg).
4. Vary Reps and Weight
Don't let your glutes become accustomed to a certain weight/rep amount. It's always good to switch things up and surprise your body. This is also great as a mental refresher, too, leaving you far less bored with your regimen.
5. Keep Weight in Your Heels
You may not be thinking much of it, but focusing on pushing your weight through your heels can significantly increase the activation of your glute and hamstring muscles for certain exercises such as squats, lunges and deadlifts.
6. Incorporate Glutes Into Your Cardio Regimen
Instead of standard running on the treadmill, why not try walking lunges on an incline on the same machine? You may find that this will take less time, and you will certainly feel the burn. You could also try the StepMill (don't hold on) and Jacobs Ladder. These machines do a fantastic job of activating the glutes if used properly.
7. Keep Your Toes in Line With Your Knees
Take this tip to prevent injury and get the maximum result from your lifting. Make sure your knees don't bend in or out. If this happens, consider lowering the weight so that your form doesn't suffer.
8. Incorporate Plyos in the Mix
Plyometric exercises are great for tightening and toning your glutes. Not only are they convenient to perform, they also can be done almost anywhere and can get your heart rate up. Plyos can be an efficient pre-exhaust exercise, as well.
Use These Tips in This 10-Step Glute Workout
*Pre-exhaust your glutes with 20 cable kickbacks on each leg.
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