Photo from earnspendlive.com
By Akanksha Kar
Summer is merely 2 months away and guess what? Most of us are too busy to look outside our schedules in college and work life to take time out for exercise.
I am an absolute gym rat so even in the most ridiculous circumstances, I will probably fit in a workout for at least 20 minutes. Apart from abs, the one thing I absolutely need is a firm and perky butt. I like to wear a lot of tight clothing, especially denim and shorts so it is imperative to look taut. My dad being as clinical as he is about fitness and looking good, probably would not let me go out of the house if my shorts did not make me look good.
Glad to have him around for that kind of constructive, tough love type of criticism.
I used to be a very fat kid growing up. So when I was 10 years old and I decided I was sick of all the bullying, dad went out and got me a treadmill. I ran my literal ass off every day till I shed off all that unnecessary weight, and I cannot thank him enough. Since then our mini home gym has been ever growing. I went from an XL to a XS. I have had my fair share of injuries along the years, like breaking the same ankle twice, breaking a knee, dislocated shoulder, slipped disc and countless sprains and tendon tears all over my body and more than enough boring visits to physiotherapists all over the world. However, I still did not back down. I just worked out harder, with professional trainers, and learned numerous tips and tricks along the way.
So, with a whole lot of personal experience and sometimes even being a guinea pig, here are some of the best ways to look your absolute best self down there, for the summer.
A lot of people are scared to do this and I used to too before I started weight lifting. Then I realized I only hated it because I was doing it wrong all this time.
When it is done right, it is one of the most effective exercises for the glutes (butt muscle), and it also works out the quads. Put your feet hip width apart and facing straight ahead, making sure that the knees do not bend over the toes. Then just simply squat down like you are about to sit on a chair.
The most common mistake that attributes to lower back injuries or just make it hurt in the wrong places is that people use their core or back to lift up. This is a leg exercise so use your quads and keep the back straight and the butt pushed outwards while going down. You should feel the burn on your quads and glutes as you go down and come up.
Beginners should try this weightless to achieve perfect form first. Then proceed to use a barbell without weight to squat. Then bump up to small weights starting with 10lbs on each side. If a barbell is being used, place the bar on your trapezius muscle. It is along the shoulder line just a few inches below the very top of the shoulder. Work your way up as your legs strengthen with time.
It is best to do 4 sets with 12 repetitions per minute or two with a break in between each set. This allows the muscle to tear (in the right places, which causes the burn) and also build back up in the rest periods, so it grows back stronger and more efficient than fat.
2. Dumbbell Walking Lunges
I personally try to avoid this kind of pain, but it is really effective so for the sake of a good butt, I will bear it for a few minutes.
Grab 2 dumbbells, not over 20 lbs even if you are an expert (I stick to 20 lbs max) and stand with legs hip width apart. Then take one big step ahead with the right foot and slowly come into a leaning forward position while the right leg is bent in a perfectly 90-degree angle at the knees and the left leg is stretched back enough to facilitate this movement easily without strain on the knees.
Hold the weights in each hand and keep them straight down. Adjust the body accordingly to the legs. Come up from the down position and walk forward into the same position, alternating legs. Keep the back straight while doing this and shoulders relaxed. Do 20 reps for 3 sets and you should feel the burn on the glutes and quads, not the back or the knees.
3. One-legged Cable Kickbacks
This is one of my favorites because this one really burns. This usually requires gym equipment.
Find the multi-variant exercise stand and attach a cable with the ankle strap to the hook. Push it all the way to the lowest slot and set the weights according to your personal strengths. Stand an arm’s length from the stand with feet close together. Hold the stand with the right hand and slowly raise the right leg backward, and keep it straight at the knees with toes pointed outward as you do a kick motion. Go as far back as you can kick. Keep the stationary leg straight as well. Alternate legs and repeat this for each leg for about 20 reps for 4 sets.
It will really burn right in the glutes but keep breathing through it. If the knees are giving out, reduce the weight. Even if you do not have a gym, just get down on all fours and raise the leg the same way and you can even use ankle weights. Same kind of burn, so no excuses!
4. Jump Squats
Yes, more squats. You want a good butt? Then just trust me and bear the pain. You will thank me later.
There are a few ways to do this. For a stationary jump squat, keep the feet a little bit farther than hip width apart with the knees facing outwards. Then just jump up while lifting from the toes and control the landing on the ball of your feet, lower down into a squat position and immediately jump up again and repeat for 12-15 times for 3 sets.
To make it slightly harder, each time you jump squat, turn whilst jumping and land in the opposite direction, so turn 180 degrees every time you jump. I personally like doing these on a treadmill (especially after leg day), because I like maximum power in my workouts. Plus, I fit in some cardio as well. Set the treadmill on an incline at at least 7%, you may go higher, (this is indicated on the machine) and the speed at about 1.5 mph. Not too fast. Grasp the handles of the treadmill really well on either side and jump up with the same technique and land into a squat.
The only thing here is that now you have an incline uphill and a moving platform, so you have to keep going with it. Hence, I only recommend it for advanced workouts.
5. Barbell Hip Thrust
I saved this for the end because not only does it tone, but also protects your back muscles. Thus, it is a great exercise to end a strenuous workout with.
Grab a barbell and clip on at least 10lbs on each end (none if you are an absolute beginner). Find a flat bench and sit with the barbell on your lap and knees outward with legs hip width apart as usual. Then slowly slide down from the sitting position till only the shoulder blades can align flat with the bench, while the legs are bent at a 45-degree angle, holding the barbell at the hips. Then, thrust the hip up, straightening the legs to a 90º angle. You should be squeezing the butt as you go up to give support to your body. Repeat this movement for about 20 reps for 4 sets.
And there you have it! Some of my most favorite butt exercises and also my personal secret to always having a toned butt all year round. Some, if not all of these moves will really burn but it is really important to just picture the end result because it really is worth the hard work and everyone can do these, so no ifs, ands or BUTTS!