Warm those buns.
Let’s say you have this amazing coworker. She’s irreplaceable, but lately, homegirl has been phoning it in. Sometimes she doesn’t even show up to crucial meetings, forcing you and the rest of the team to carry her load. What an ass, right?
Not being metaphorical here—we’re literally talking about your butt. It’s the biggest and most important muscle you have, but your glutes can get a case of the lazies, forgetting to “activate” or “turn on” sufficiently during everyday tasks or workouts, says certified strength and conditioning specialist Bret Contreras, coauthor of Strong Curves: A Woman’s Guide to Building a Better Butt and Body. There’s a textbook term for this phenomenon—gluteal amnesia—and it could be dragging you (and your fitness goals) down. After all, your rear assists in every type of motion:running, jumping, lifting, you name it.
And so begins the fallout: Muscles along the back side of your body (known as the posterior chain) are forced to take charge, setting you up for all sorts of fun stuff like muscular imbalances and injury. Even seemingly unconnected things, like a sprained ankle or a stubbed toe, can trigger your butt to hit the power-down button to help the healing process.
So how do we put some fire under this slacker’s ass? Going beast mode and adding more explosive, heavy training (like barbell deadlifts) will definitely do the trick. But we realize that might be asking a lot up front if you’re not already a weight-room regular. Follow our warm-up plan, tweak your strength-training routine, and just like that, you’ll show those buns who’s boss.
Warm Your Buns
This pre-exercise routine from Contreras will energize your tuchus like a double shot of espresso. Perform three sets before any workout.
EXERCISE 1SIDE-LYING CLAMSHELL
Lie on your left side with your hips and knees bent, legs stacked, and feet together (A). Keeping your left leg on the floor, raise your right knee as high as you can without separating your heels (B). Pause, then return to start. That’s one rep. Do 10 to 15, then repeat on the other side.
EXERCISE 2QUADRUPED HIP EXTENSION
Start on all fours, hands under your shoulders and knees under your hips, your back flat (A). Raise one leg behind you, keeping your knee bent at 90 degrees, until the sole of your foot faces the ceiling (B). Lower your leg to return to start. That’s one rep. Do 10 to 15, then repeat on the other side.
EXERCISE 3FEET-ELEVATED GLUTE BRIDGE
Lie on your back with your knees bent at 90 degrees, heels propped on a bench or stool in front of you (at least 12 to 14 inches off the ground) (A). Lift your hips until you form a straight line from your knees to your shoulders (B). Hold for two seconds, then return to start. That’s one rep; do 10 to 15.
EXERCISE 4FROG PUMPS
Lie on your back with your feet together and knees out, keeping your feet as close to your pelvis as possible, elbows bent and propped on the floor(A). With head lifted and chin slightly tucked, raise your hips, keeping your feet together (B). Hold for a second or two, then lower. That’s one rep; do 10 to 15.