The way to get great glutes is easy if you have a plan. It is important to tone and shape the muscle through exercise and lose the extra body fat through a combination of cardio workouts and a proper diet. You cannot burn the extra fat off of the area by working the muscle unusually hard and you can’t spot reduce either.
Beginners can work their legs 2-3 times a week, sometimes even more, because the workload intensity is less. This is due to the fact that most beginners cannot use heavy weights, thus, they need less time to recover.
A simple beginner's workout would consist of floor exercises and would look something like this:
|Beginner Workout (Weeks 1-4)|
|Outside Side Leg Raises||2-4||15|
|Inside Leg Raises||2-4||15|
You can start off by doing single sets and resting in between each set. As you progress, you can group the exercises together performing a set of 2, 3, or all 4 exercises at one time, resting and then performing your next group set. Doing a sets of several exercises at one time without resting is referred to as circuit training.
At the intermediate level, you can add in step-ups, walking lunges, free weight squats, or stationary lunges to your floor routine and drop out some of the easier exercises. These exercises are considered basic exercises which means that they work the whole leg, but you can modify these movements to concentrate on the glutes by pressing through the heel of your foot when performing the action. This shifts the intensity to the back of the leg.
You have the option of adding weight or using no weight at all. To use weight, hold dumbbells in your hands at your sides or rest them on your shoulders when doing the step ups and walking lunges. If resting the weights on your shoulders seems to be digging into your skin, then you can put a thick towel on your shoulders to cushion the area for the weights. For beginners, it’s better to do these exercises in a circuit. That means doing a single set of 3 to 5 exercises without stopping, then resting and repeating the sequence 3-5 times.
Another option you have is to use a weight vest. You can buy one that weighs as little as 40 lbs. or as much as 150 lbs. They all have little removable plates in them, so you could easily purchase a super duty heavy weight vest and take out some of the plates to start out with only 30 or 40 lbs. That way, if you want to work up to a heavier workload later, you can just add some of the plates back in.
Many people will shy away from using a weight vest because it looks like a bullet-proof vest that a police officer would wear to avoid getting shot. They’re also expensive, but they last forever, and it's convenient because you can use it at home. I have used it while performing walking lunges up and down my long driveway, but have also used it in the hallway of my home.
By using the weight vest, I was able to concentrate on pushing through my heels instead of straining my arms and grip by holding onto heavy weights. For added intensity, you can hold light dumbbells in your hands.
An intermediate routine would look something like this:
|Intermediate Workout (Weeks 5-8)|
|Walking Lunges||3-4||15 each leg|
|Free Weight Squats||3-4||15|
|Step Ups||3-4||15 each leg|
|Leg Kickbacks||3-4||15 each leg|
As you become advanced, you can start to workout with machines for variation or because you want to use heavier weights on some of the exercises. The most popular basic exercises for the legs are performed on the leg press, Smith machine, and hack squat. Exercises performed on any of these machines will work the entire leg, but you can modify them to put the emphasis on your glutes by pushing through your heels and changing your foot placements.
With the leg press, you can place your feet high and close so that your tippy toes are sticking off of the platform. This helps take the emphasis off of the quads and shifts the workload to the back of the leg. When performing squats on the Smith machine or hack squat, it is better to have your feet slightly forward when performing the exercise and to go either at 90 degrees or slightly lower. If you go slightly lower than 90 degrees, use less weight and do the exercise slowly so that you can really feel the muscle working.
Finally, the best exercise that I have found for the glutes is to perform sets of backwards lunges on the Smith machine, focusing on one leg at time. You would do 10-15 reps of lunges for one leg, then 10-15 reps for the other leg. That would be considered one set. The workout takes longer when you do single sets, but by concentrating on one leg at a time, you will really feel the burn.
An advanced routine would look something like this:
|Advanced Workout (Weeks 9-12)|
|Leg Press - Feet High And Close||6||10-pyramiding weight|
|Backward Lunges On The Smith Machine||4||10 each leg|
|Cable Kickbacks||4||10 each leg|
|Glute Flexor||4||10 each leg|
As you continue to perfect your physique, you may want to try a few other methods which will help you advance your workouts even further. One would be to pre-fatigue your glutes before you start a heavier workload with your basic exercises.
For example, you could reverse the advanced workout by performing the isolation exercises first (cable kickbacks and the glute-flexor). You can also pyramid the weight up which means starting your first set with a lighter weight, then adding weight to each consecutive set thereafter.
I have found that by slowly and steadily increasing the workload with each set, you will be able to push slightly heavier weight than what you would normally be able to do. Pyramiding the weight up also makes it less likely that you will develop injuries in your knees and joints because your body has a chance to become acclimated to the heavier workload needed for larger body parts like the legs.
Some other advanced techniques involve the addition of plyometric exercises to your leg workouts. Plyometrics take a basic exercise and add jumping movements to them. For example, instead of doing a regular squat, you would jump up in the air and then as you are landing, squat down. Just make sure that you step down from the box, to prevent injuries.
Another option would be to jump on and over a 12" or 14" box. I have found it best to do this particular exercise outside because I perform it after doing walking lunges up and down my long driveway. Being outside also gives me the extra space I need because I get a running start before I perform plyometrics with my 14" box.
If you are very advanced, you could also just jump over the box. You can also apply plyometrics to lunges by starting in a lunging position, then jumping in the air and switching leg positions while still in the air, and then landing with the opposite foot forward. Many women benefit from adding jumping movements into their workouts because they add more of an aerobic component to the workout which adds intensity and has the benefit of burning extra fat and calories.
However, as you continue with your training, you may find that you need some shock therapy for your glutes as you exhaust many of the basic and advanced training methods. One technique in your arsenal would be to perform drop sets.
For example, you would start out with the prescribed poundage and perform the usual amount of reps for a particular exercise, but when you hit failure, you would drop the weight one pin level and perform as many reps as you could do until you hit failure again. You can drop the weight once or you can do it several times to add to the intensity. If you are going to drop the weight several times, then delete some of the other exercises in your usual routine to avoid overtraining the muscle.
Working and perfecting the legs is a challenge because they are the largest muscle of the body and the most difficult to sculpt. It takes a combination of weight workouts, cardio, and a good nutrition program to really get noticeable results. As you become more advanced, you can add drop sets or plyometric exercises to make your workout more fun and exciting. Finally, after several weeks or months of hard work, it' all worth it when you can wear your favorite style of jeans, look good at the beach, or look your best at your next competition!