How to Get the Summer Booty and Legs We All Want
Attention ladies: Shorts and swimsuit season is just around the corner! Unlike protein shake and detox tea companies, I will never advocate that you need to go on a diet or hit the gym to be ‘beach body ready’. However I will provide tips for everyone that wants to achieve firmer thighs and a perkier ass.
The purpose of your glutes’ is greater than just creating a curvy silhouette in a tight dress. You will notice that sporting champions usually have nice perky butts. This is because strong well-developed glute muscles assist with athletic performance. By emulating some of the exercises utilized by athletes you too can build your butt to epic proportions.
My 3 Favorite Leg Exercises
Squats are heralded as the king of booty exercises but they aren’t the be all and end all of butt building. I’ll let you in on a secret; I prefer lunges to squats (shock! horror!). While every fitness professional has their own preference, we can all agree that both squats and lunges should be staples in every lower body sculpting program.
I use the following exercises with my clients and they can be added to your leg day too! What these exercises lack in razzle dazzle they make up for in effectiveness. Complete each exercise for 10-12 repetitions on each leg and for 3 sets. To see the quickest results, I’d recommend completing leg exercises 2-3 times per week. Ensure between each workout you allow the muscles to rest for at least 48 hrs.
1. Bulgarian Split Squat
Bulgarian split squats work in a similar way to normal two legged squats however they provide less stress on the back. Be warned these look absolutely harmless but can cause real booty burn when completed properly. I love this exercise because you can really feel it working your glutes, quads and core.
Beginner: Start without any weight or light dumbbells either side.
Intermediate: Placing your foot in TRX handles instead of a bench will challenge your balance and core further.
Tips for success:
- As you push up from the bottom of the squat you should be feeling it mostly in the glutes. Standing too far from the bench will work your hip flexor muscles but too close will work your quads while adding pressure to your knee.
- To prevent knee damage, ensure at the bottom of the split squat your front knee isn’t passing over your toes.
2. Hip Thrust
When I was a fitness newbie, I found doing this exercise quite cringey. But once you get over the awkwardness of the movement you will realise how effective this exercise is. In terms of glute activation, hip thrusts when completed properly are the one of the best.
Beginner: Start without any weight and once comfortable with the movement use a barbell.
Intermediate: Progress with single-leg hip thrusts.
Tips for success:
- Keep your back straight and don’t curve your spine
- At the top of the thrust squeeze your glutes
- Load barbell, on the hips (directly above the butt), if the weight is on the thighs, the emphasis will be on the quads
- For added comfort, use a barbell pad
3. Single Leg Deadlift
Deadlifts primarily work the hamstrings and back muscles. Not only do strengthened hamstrings lead to a better looking butt but also prevent imbalances that may occur from just doing squats (a quad-dominant exercise). The single leg deadlift has the slight edge over the two legged version as it places more emphasis on the glute muscles.
Beginner: You may find it tricky balance on one leg and move at the same time. Start with normal deadlifts.
Tips for success:
- Look forward
- Brace abs for balance
- Squeeze glute at the top
- Weight placement options: hold a single dumbbell in opposite or same side to the supporting leg, hold two dumbbells or barbell in front
Leg Sculpting Strategies
Running tends to be is a popular go-to for weight loss. However for efficient fat-loss results, I prefer to use High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) over steady-state cardio. Why run for 30-60 minutes when you can achieve similar (arguably better results) in 20-30?
My favorite form of HIIT is hill sprints. Hill sprints can result in toned legs due to its awesome fat-burning and muscle-building powers. If you increase the incline on the treadmill you can target your hamstrings, calves, butt and inner thighs as you keep propelling yourself forward.
Hill sprints: First, warm up by walking or slowly jogging for 5 minutes. Next, run with maximum effort for 20-30 seconds, then take a rest for 30-60 seconds, repeat 5-10 times. Finally, walk for 3-5 minutes to bring down the heart rate.
Notes: I would advise you complete hill sprints before hitting the weights. This type of training can be taxing on the body so don’t do it more than three times a week.
Feeding Booty Gains:
A common dieting tactic is cutting carbs, but if you want to grow your glute muscles you need to feed them more than just a side salad. It is essential that after the workout you fuel your body with protein AND carbohydrates. An example of this would be a banana with Greek Yoghurt or chicken breast with baked sweet potato. Don’t worry your body won’t store them as fat but will be used to aid recovery and growth of your muscles.
Are you guilty of over-complicating your workout? With the prevalence of social media, it is easy to feel that your current workout will not work unless you incorporate more intricate exercises. Instagram has all kinds of gismos you simply must use and elaborate routines you should do for the ultimate ‘glute activation’. All the resistance bands in the world won’t help you achieve your #bootygoals if you haven’t mastered the basics. So before you get all fancy, get comfortable with lunges, squats, deadlifts and hip thrusts.