By Jon Robinson, BSc (Hons) Exercise Physiology
If you haven't managed to shift those extra pounds in time for swimsuit season and some wise-ass beach bum has put you to shame, leaving you feeling like a lump of lard in your one piece or budgie smugglers, you can put that all behind you now. We're not talking a load of tush! We're not bumming around! We are, however, going to show you a stern approach as to how you can go about turning yourself in a Callipygous Rex, a real rump-shaking, buns-of-steel Beachmaster with the power to break hearts and turn heads faster than a tennis umpire.
I like big butts and I cannot lie! I like small butts and I cannot lie either: round, square, oblong, kite-shaped, snake hipped or the type you can stand your drink on, it's all good. But how do you shake that extra cellulite and target those glute muscles which, when toned properly, separate the Kylie Minogues from the Beth Dittos of the world? In recent years, the magazine and website information-pulp-pipe has been dredging the bottom, telling tales about a fancy new movement or piece of technology (the core muscle trainer for one...) that targets the glute muscles better than the one they told you about last month. It's barefaced cheek.
To really sculpt that desirable derriere and see the difference, first you have to understand what the glute muscles are designed to do. Essentially, the glutes support and balance the hips, drive walking and running, and are key to bending movements. Therefore lying-down exercises are not able to target the muscles as effectively as those exercises that mimic your day-to-day needs. So laying on your back and painting circles in the air is not the way to see the difference.
The exercises that are best to target these muscles are deadlifts followed by lunges and step-ups.
Using the deadlift, from a standing start, lower slowly down for a count of four seconds. Pause a moment to avoid rebounding, then accelerate quickly back up. Each rep should be five seconds long. Do this 12 times to exhaustion for a total of 60 seconds. Use a weight appropriate to fatigue at 60 seconds. If you still have some left in the tank at one minute, you haven't used enough weight.
The same principal applies to step-ups, lunges and walking lunges, thus hitting the type 2a and 2b muscle fibres well (the fibre types that respond best to changes in shape, thus toning more effectively). Ideally, use as many sets as possible for a maximum workout time of up to 45 minutes.
Slowly lower for a count of four; pause briefly; accelerate upwards. (Repeat 12 times).
This one is more advanced. Again, using the deadlift, this time choose a heavier weight where you fatigue after five reps. Perform these reps with as much acceleration on the upward phase as possible; do five sets of five within 20 minutes.
To finish, decrease this weight by 50% and do as many of the 60 second sets as possible (described in Method One), but this time focus on a slower, smoother down/up phase throughout. Aim to be exhausted at 60 seconds.
If weights exercises aren't your thing, why not try a cardio or sporting activity? Running, basketball, football and even volleyball are helpful in sculpting the glute muscles - anything that either propels you forward or (especially) upwards. If you live in one of Shanghai's high-rises, take the stairs for once. You'll know how your glutes should feel after scaling the 25th stairwell.
Granted, these types of exercise aren't as focused for changing the muscle shape as the ones described previously, but the greater amount of fat burnt may well offset that so you see and feel the tone to a greater degree. If you want to make your time count when you're in the gym, now is the time to put in the leg work. Get to the bottom of the issue and see the results.
Jon Robinson is the founder of web-based platform Makethisworkout. For in depth instructions on how to do these exercises properly, as well as other helpful tips on duration of exercise and routine guidance, check out his blog on www.makethisworkout.com