Does your backside needs a boost? We all know that squats can work some serious magic to lift and tone the bottom. But there’s something extra special about doing single-leg exercises that gives your butt that perky look everyone wants. The secret is working on one leg at a time to engage a small stabilizing muscle called the gluteus medius. The gluteus medius is a tiny muscle located at the top outer portion of the hip area. Unfortunately, this muscle gets left out of a lot of workouts because most people work both legs at the same time. You can locate it pretty easily by doing what I call the perky butt test. This is also the test I do to help my clients locate the muscle and show them how it engages when they shift their weight off both legs and on to just one leg. Start by standing on both feet. Put your hands on your hips. Using your pointer fingers, locate the front of your hipbones. This should position your thumbs over the top outer portion of your backside. Now, shift your weight from side to side, using your thumbs to locate the muscle that’s contracting and relaxing as you shift your weight back and forth. You should feel the muscle tightening on the same side as your weight-bearing leg. Ta da! That’s your gluteus medius. This little muscle can help to completely change the shape of your derriere. Without a nicely developed upper-glute area, your bottom can look more like a pear. This is especially true if it’s coupled with excess body fat. However, you can build this muscle to give your bottom a more rounded appearance by adding just a few single-leg exercises. Here are three of my favorite one-leg exercises, along with a glute circuit you can do with or without weight. As you can see below, you can even use gallons of water (which weighs 8.33lbs) as added resistance.
#1: Static Lunge
#3 Repeater Knee
20 Static Lunges (Left Leg) 20 Curtsies (Left Leg) 20 Repeater Knee (Left Leg) 20 Static Lunges (Right Leg) 20 Curtsies (Right Leg) 20 Repeater Knee (Right Leg) -30 seconds rest- Repeat for a total of 3 sets.
• Keep most of your weight on the working leg. If you rest on the back leg at all (even for a few seconds), it can totally change the feel of the workout. Try really hard to limit pressure on the back leg so you get the most out of this workout. Ideally, you should have approximately 80 percent of your weight on the working leg, and 20 percent on the non-weight-bearing leg. • Maintain good posture, keeping your back flat while doing each move. If your back starts to round, that means you’re taking pressure off the area we’re trying to target. You should almost feel like you’re sticking your bottom out and arching your back. • Maintain a wide stance and stay low to the ground during your lunges and repeater knees, as demonstrated in the photos. This helps to isolate the muscle groups we’re targeting. Unlike lunges and repeater knees, the back foot should stay tucked in close to the front weight-bearing leg, with very little weight on it. Only kick the leg out to the side, with just enough pressure on the toe to maintain your balance. • Try not to rest between exercises until you’re done with the leg you’re working. This will take your workout up several notches and ensure you really work at the intensity you need to get results. You can take a quick rest when you switch legs. • You’ll likely feel a slight burn in your quadriceps (thigh muscles) at first, but it won’t take long before you will start to really feel it where it counts…your bottom! • If you can’t get through all 60 reps (on each leg) without taking a break, either go down in weight or repetitions. Increase your repetitions and weight as you get stronger. • Repeat this workout 2-3 times a week for optimal results.