10 Moves to Tone and Strengthen Your Glutes

 
10 Moves to Tone and Strengthen Your Glutes by Jennifer Diaz // How to tone your glutes // moves for strong glutes // the best lower body exercises // why you should lift lower body // best butt exercises

The glutes are having their moment in the spotlight lately, and I can't say that I hate it. It may be due to playing volleyball growing up, but I've always enjoyed doing lower body resistance training. Having strong glutes is not only nice for filling out our pants, it's essential for our body to function optimally. Our glutes are made up of approximately 22 muscles, all of which play a role in everyday movements (14 to be exact) and overall stability. Weak and/or overly tight glutes can lead to a variety of problems, such as lower back pain, knee pain, sciatica, bursitis, and plantar fasciitis.

Some of our largest, most powerful muscles reside in our lower body, and strengthening them offers many benefits. You'll increase your fat-burning metabolism, burn more calories during your workout, increase your overall stability and range of motion, become more efficient at other activities (running, biking, chasing your kids, or simply going up the stairs), and decrease your risk of injury. 

So how can we build our lower body to not only look good, but to also funciton well, so we can take part in our favorite every day activities? My favorite way is by performing a combination of movements that challenge each muscle group through a full range of motion. And since stretching is a crucial part of hip health, I've included two extremely important stretches at the end!

Start by warming up well (check out this dynamic warm-up) and then perform the following, resting as needed in between exercises. Try performing these 2-3 non-consecutive days each week for maximum results.

1. SINGLE-LEG HIP RAISE

10 Moves to Tone and Strengthen Your Glutes by Jennifer Diaz // How to tone your glutes // moves for strong glutes // the best lower body exercises // why you should lift lower body // best butt exercises

Lying on your back with one knee bent and the other leg straight, push through your heel and lift your hips as high as you can keeping them level. *Lowering your raised leg so that your quads are even and lifting your arms off of the ground will make this move more challenging. 

Perform 2 sets of 20 repetitions on each side.

2. HIP ADDUCTION

10 Moves to Tone and Strengthen Your Glutes by Jennifer Diaz // How to tone your glutes // moves for strong glutes // the best lower body exercises // why you should lift lower body // best butt exercises

Laying on your side, bend the top knee and place your foot in front of the bottom leg. Then, lift the bottom leg as high as you can. This exercise works the hip adductors (inner thigh muscles), which can help you have a healthy foot strike when you run and walk. 

Perform 2 sets of 20 repetitions on each side. 

3. Lunges

10 Moves to Tone and Strengthen Your Glutes by Jennifer Diaz // How to tone your glutes // moves for strong glutes // the best lower body exercises // why you should lift lower body // best butt exercises

Keeping your abs contracted and shoulders back, step back and lower down into the lunge. Make sure your front knee doesn't go past your toe and press into your heel to stand back up.

Perform 2-3 sets of 8-12 on each leg.

4. RDLs

10 Moves to Tone and Strengthen Your Glutes by Jennifer Diaz // How to tone your glutes // moves for strong glutes // the best lower body exercises // why you should lift lower body // best butt exercises

Start by standing on one leg, keeping your knee slightly bent and the kettlebell in the opposite hand. Keep your shoulders back, abs tight, and lean over by hinging at the hips. Engage your hamstrings and glutes to stand back up. Raise the kettlebell to the top of your chest by lifting your elbow up and out to the side, keeping your elbow higher than your hand. You could also do this with both feet on the ground and holding weights in each hand.

Perform 2-3 sets of 10-12 on each side.

5. Step ups

Place one foot on a stable surface and slowly, pressing through your heel, step all the way up onto the surface. Kick you opposite leg back for a full glute flexion and then slowly lower back down to the starting position. Complete one side before switching.

Perform 2-3 sets of 10-12 on each leg.

6. Glute Kickbacks

10 Moves to Tone and Strengthen Your Glutes by Jennifer Diaz // How to tone your glutes // moves for strong glutes // the best lower body exercises // why you should lift lower body // best butt exercises

Start with your elbows under your shoulders and knees under hips. Keeping your hips square to the ground, kick one leg back and as high as you can until you get a full flexion in your glute. Then lower back down slowly.

Perform 2-3 sets of 15-20 on each leg.

7. LATERAL STEPS

This is a great move for your hip stabilizers (the glute minimus and medius). Put a resistance band around both ankles. Keeping your shoulders back and knees bent, step to the side making sure your toe points forward at all times. Slowly bring your other foot back to the starting position. 

Perform 2 sets of 20 repetitions on each side.

8. Single Leg Squats

10 Moves to Tone and Strengthen Your Glutes by Jennifer Diaz // How to tone your glutes // moves for strong glutes // the best lower body exercises // why you should lift lower body // best butt exercises

Stand two feet in front of a chair or stable surface and prop one foot on it. Keeping your shoulders back and head up, sit down and back into a squat. Press into your heel and stand back up to the starting position.

Perform 2-3 sets of 10-12 on each leg.

9. SEATED PIGEON

10 Moves to Tone and Strengthen Your Glutes by Jennifer Diaz // How to tone your glutes // moves for strong glutes // the best lower body exercises // why you should lift lower body // best butt exercises

In a seated position prop your ankle on the opposite knee. Make sure you keep your foot flexed and back straight during this stretch!

Hold for 2 sets of 30 seconds on each side.

10. LOW LUNGE

10 Moves to Tone and Strengthen Your Glutes by Jennifer Diaz // How to tone your glutes // moves for strong glutes // the best lower body exercises // why you should lift lower body // best butt exercises

Start in a low lunge position and make sure to flex the back foot so your toes are on the ground protecting the knee. Then, keeping your torso upright, move forward into your front leg, making sure your knee stays behind your toes. You should feel this stretch in your hip flexors on the back leg. If having your back knee on the ground is too uncomfortable, lift it off the ground for a high lunge and keep the back leg straight as you move forward.

Hold for 2 sets of 30 seconds on each side.

Try adding these exercises to your normal routine and you'll be feeling strong and stable in no time!

*All photos by Kelsey Cherry.