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A great glutes combo

Personal Trainer Julien Bertherat exercising his glutes.

A lot of people, when they exercise regularly with weights or resistance machines, tend to divide their training sessions between upper and lower body workouts. Some people also follow a full-body strategy, but for many, focusing on different body parts and exercising them in rotation works as a way to balance their gym routine.

I understand both approaches and can see their benefits.

When focusing on the lower body, the legs and glutes are the centre of attention, and the number of exercises available is pretty established when exercising these body parts.

For myself, I am a great enthusiast for lower body workouts, as they strengthen the foundation and stability of the body and enable us to move with confidence. This is particularly important as we grow older, recover from injury, or just want to enjoy a full and active lifestyle.

The glutes, at the top of our legs, are the strongest and longest muscle group in the body, commonly referred to as hips or the backside. There are three muscles that make up the glutes: gluteus maximus, gluteus medius and gluteus minimus.

Below is a simple and effective four-part combo’ which targets these muscles and which have been proven to deliver strong and balanced muscles in this region, delivering rounded and solid glutes in the bargain!

The single-leg Smith Machine squat

Personal Trainer Julien Bertherat working his glutes.

  1. Stand erect on one foot with a bar weighted to a degree you can safely manage on your shoulders and the other foot on a step positioned beside you.

  2. Your free foot should be bent a few inches.

  3. Hold your hands on the bar. This will be your starting position.

  4. Keeping your hips as square as possible, descend into a deep knee bend and pause for a moment.

  5. Stand back up by extending at the hip and knee and repeat for a number of reps before switching to the opposite side.

  6. Perform 3 sets of 8 or 10 reps of the exercises, pausing between each set.

Wall squat with a stability ball

Personal Trainer Julien Bertherat working his glutes.

  1. Place a stability ball against a wall and gently lean against it, positioning the top of the ball into the small of your back, but making contact with your tailbone, low- and mid-back.

  2. Your feet should be positioned 6 - 12 inches out in front of your body, feet hip-width apart and facing forward or turned out slightly.

  3. Depress and retract your scapulae (pull your shoulders down and back) without arching your low back and gently lean into the ball, while loading your weight through your heels.

  4. Place your hands on the front of your thighs.

  5. Inhale and slowly lower your body, rolling the ball down the wall simultaneously, but keeping contact with your tailbone, low and mid-back against the ball.

  6. Focus on dropping your hips under the ball and pushing your hips back to reduce potential stresses placed across your knees.

  7. Continue to lower yourself until challenged or until your thighs align parallel to the floor and hold this position briefly.

  8. Exhale and slowly push your body up away from the floor, focusing on extending your hips to bring them back underneath your body. Continue pushing upwards until your hips and knees are fully extended.

  9. To help develop the foundations of good squatting form, emphasise dropping your hips down and slightly under the ball, and avoiding driving your knees down and forward.

  10. Perform 3 sets of 8 or 10 reps of the exercises, pausing between each set.

Lateral lunges

  1. Start in a standing position with your feet hip-width apart.

  2. Step forward longer than a walking stride so one leg is ahead of your torso and the other is behind. Your foot should land flat and remain flat while it’s on the ground. Your rear heel will rise off of the ground.

  3. Bend your knees to approximately 90 degrees as you lower yourself. Remember to keep your trunk upright and core engaged.

  4. Then, forcefully push off from your front leg to return to the starting position.

  5. Your lead knee should not go past your toes as you lower toward the ground.

  6. Your rear knee should not touch the ground.

  7. Aim to keep your hips symmetrical (at the same height, without dropping the hip of your back leg or hiking the hip of your front leg).

  8. Contract your abdominals during the movement to help keep your trunk upright.

  9. Your feet should stay hip-width apart during the landing and return.

  10. Perform 3 sets of 8 or 10 reps of the exercises, pausing between each set.

Single leg box step-up

Personal Trainer Julien Bertherat working his glutes.

  1. Stand with a box or step in front of you and place one foot resting on the box.

  2. Keep this foot on the box and push off the floor to step up with the other foot squeezing the glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps to help stabilise the leg.

  3. Step back down to the floor keeping the same front leg on the box.

  4. Switch legs and repeat.

  5. You can bring your feet together at the top before preparing to step back down again or to make it even harder don’t let the second leg touch the box as you step up, requiring better balance from the loaded leg.

  6. Adding in dumbbells can ensure your core muscles also engage to maintain your balance.

  7. Perform 3 sets of 8 or 10 reps of the exercises, pausing between each set.

These four exercises will improve strength, coordination, and stability, plus will also build solid and firm glutes.

Keep in mind that, as with all such similar exercises, when embarking on such a combo, begin light and at a controlled pace to master the techniques required, and allow time for rest between sets.

In the meantime, if you have any queries about this or any of the combos’ on my blog, let me know.


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