Hey everyone, welcome back!
Today we’re going to take a close look at you legs and butt. Well, you know what I mean.
What I mean is it’s time to check out exercises that’ll not just give you some shape, but also give you a more active, functional body.
I know everyone gets obsessed about round butts, but a strong active butt (again, you know what I mean) is a vital part of a healthy active body.
We need a strong posterior chain – that’s butt, hammies and calves – for powerful and dynamic movement.
If our posterior chain isn’t doing its job, then we can’t do much at all.
So read on to find out how we can get our posterior chain working, and stay on for some great exercises!
How to get an active butt
Sadly, our butts like to take a lot of time off.
The gluteal muscles have a unique behaviour where they’ll ‘switch off’ if we have any kind of injury in our legs, feet or toes.
The thinking behind this is that because our glutes so much power, they ‘switch off’ to stop our injury getting worse from sudden movement.
This can happen even with a stubbed toe!
Which is great, but they can stay ‘switched off’ long after whatever injury they were protecting has healed.
And when they’re off, the rest of our body tries to compensate. This can lead to a variety of problems with various muscles trying to do everything our glutes used to do.
While this is a very common problem, it’s also a solved problem.
There are a series of exercises we can do to activate, or re-activate our glutes.
The guy who’s become synonymous with glute health is Brett Contreras, ‘The Glute Guy.’
I’ll provide a quick rundown of some of the glute activation exercises he recommends with some videos.
I’ll repeat what Contreras suggests in his book, ‘Strong Curves’: when you’re doing these exercises, ‘palpate’ (poke) your glutes to make sure they’re activating.
When you’re doing the hard part of the exercise your butt muscles should feel strong and hard under the skin.
If they’re not, then some other muscle is doing the job.
Repeat the exercises and concentrate on isolating your glutes as much as possible to help them activate.
Glute Activation Exercises
Remember when you’re doing these, give your butt a poke to make sure it’s working!
Do 10 of each exercise each side.
Glute bridges (a bit shouty, but good advice):
Side-lying leg raises (hip abduction):
Donkey kick (quadruped bent leg hip extension):
Single leg glute bridge:
Lower Body Exercises
Remember, before you start on these exercises, make sure you’ve warmed up and have done some of the activation exercises I described above.
This will really help you get the most out of these exercises.
I’m presenting variations of each exercise, in order of difficulty. Start with the easy ones and work your way up.
Later on I’ll be publishing an article that’ll combine these and other exercises into a full-body workout.
But for now, try incorporating these exercises into your workout. If you’re not working out yet, just try 10 of each a couple times a week. See how you go!
Squats are a great exercise for your legs. They condition your quads, hamstrings, glutes and calves.
I’m a big fan of squats because there’s a squat for absolutely everyone.
I’ve got videos here for every squat level: a squat for absolute beginners with a chair, through to advanced squats that’ll challenge anyone.Box Squat (use a chair!): Regular squat: Jump Squats:
Lunges are a classic manoeuvre for both bodyweight and resistance training.
They’re often the first thing trainers will assign a gym beginner because they’re such a good conditioning exercise.
Lunges work the hamstrings and glutes, quads, and their special bonus: the legs adductors and abductors. These are the small but vital muscles on the inside and outside of our thighs. They contribute toward hip stability and help us perform better athletically.
For a much more intensive and effective exercise, try jumping lunges. They’re great for building shape and power. But definitely not for beginners!Basic Bodyweight Lunges Jumping Lunges
Bodyweight Step Ups
Step ups will work your quads with a low step and your glutes and hamstrings with a higher step.
Like the lunges, step ups are also great stabilising exercise.
We also have a tougher variation for you with a reverse lunge after descending from the step.Regular step up Step up and back into reverse lunge
I hope you’ve enjoyed our introduction to some great exercises for a lower body workout.
I think they’re great for at-home exercise without special equipment (unless you don’t count chairs or steps!).
We’ll be looking at how we can combine these exercises into a whole lower-body workout in a while.
For now I hope you can incorporate them into your current routine.
Are you doing any of these exercises currently? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.