Buns of steel: More than just great looks

Do you dream of having a pert and perfect bottom? With recent media attention of “bootylicious” stars such as Jennifer Lopez and Beyonce Knowles, more focus is being directed to the backside. In fact, cosmetic surgery to boost the buttocks has become increasingly common for both men and women. To get those curves you long for, behind-building exercises should be a part of your regular exercise routine.
The buttocks (behind, derriere, rump, hiney, booty- whatever you choose to call it) is composed of three muscles. The gluteus maximus-the largest and strongest muscle- forms the curve of the buttocks. The gluteus maximus functions to extend the thigh at the hip (move the thigh backward) and rotate the thigh outward. The gluteus medius and minimus are smaller in size and primarily function to abduct the thigh at the hip (move the thigh out to the side).
A strong backside means more than great curves. The glutes are vital for stabilizing the back, hips and knees during walking, standing, running, cycling, or any other physical activity. Unfortunately, the glutes are inactive or weak in many people. Inactive or weak glutes causes other muscles to overwork, and can lead to low back strains, hamstring strains, poor posture, or knee pain.
Try the following exercises to boost your athletic performance, prevent injuries and to make your behind a little perkier.
1. Hip Bridge
Lay on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the floor. Tilt your pelvis under (similar to how a dog tucks his tail between its legs) and squeeze your buttocks as you lift your hips up off the floor. Try to relax your lower back muscles and let your glutes do the work. Dig your heels into the floor for maximum glute activation. Hold for 5 seconds and slowly return to the floor. Touch momentarily and repeat the exercise 10-15 times. For an extra challenge, try lifting one leg up while your hips are up.
2. Donkey kicks
Start on your hands and knees, with your back parallel to the floor. Draw your naval toward your spine and squeeze your buttocks as you lift one bent leg up toward the ceiling. Use your glutes to lift your leg up as high as you can without arching your back. Both your abdominals and your buttocks should be working to maintain proper form. Hold for 5 seconds and return to starting position. Repeat 10-15 times and switch sides.
3. Walking lunges
Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Take a large step forward with your right foot and descend slowly until your right thigh is parallel to the floor. Your right knee should be behind your right toes; your left knee should almost be touching the floor. Keep your torso upright (do not lean forward). Push off with your left leg and immediately start the next lunge. Perform 10-15 lunges per side. For an added challenge, carry weights. If you have sore knees, you may want to avoid lunges as they can worsen your symptoms. Instead, focus on the first two exercises, and do shallow squats.
Whether you want a body that works well, looks great, or both, be sure to include buttock exercises in your routine. The result will be uplifting.

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