Everyone wants to have a firm set of "glutes," meaning gluteus maximus, an unpretty Latin word for something that, when you have good ones, can really be a head-turner and indicator of being in great shape and having a solid foundation for health.
Lots of exercises will whip the glutes into shape, says personal trainer Carol Garner of Snap Fitness in Ashland, but the main ones are:
Leg press — sitting and pushing weights away from you on a machine
Lunge — taking a long step forward from the standing position, bending the front leg to a 90-degree angle, then recovering
Straight-legged dead lift — lifting a barbell from the floor by bending at the waist, with legs slightly bent, and raising the weight to below the waist
Back extension — lying facedown on a padded bench, letting the upper body dip below horizontal then raising back to horizontal, but not farther
Standing leg pull — securing yourself with your hands and lifting one leg at a time to the rear and the front, going side to side or in circles. It also can be done on hands and knees
Garner says she does four sets of 10 to 15 repetitions for each exercise and slightly increases the weights, if any, each time. All of these, she notes, should be done while pulling in the abdominals, keeping a natural arch in the lower back, lifting the rib cage and tightening the glutes. This is good form, and it takes time to get in the habit, adds Garner, who after decades in competitive body-building has the glutes to show for it, even at 65.
These butt-firming exercises also work on the quadriceps (the big thigh muscles), lower back and smaller muscle sets, such as gluteus medius. So while firming those buns, you're actually doing yourself a lot of good, says Garner.
"Women, especially, always want to have good glutes," says Garner, who works with the 60- to 90-year-old set. "It helps them fill out their clothes and feel strong, as well. We women want to feel strong and have confidence. A lot of women have a hard time with this and can get very depressed. But good glutes give you a youthfulness and make you vibrant and full of energy."
Men also want a great butt — and the vitality and stamina that go with it — she notes, adding that strong glutes are key to aging well.
"No one wants to be vulnerable," she says. "If the hips go out with age and osteoporosis, or you break a hip, who wants a hip replacement? No one. It's not just about having a nice butt."
Mahalath Gordon, a trainer at Hidden Springs Wellness Center, shows her "butt blaster" moves, getting on hands and knees and raising one leg at a time to the side (the fire hydrant) or lifting it way to the rear and then back forward.
Ashland trainer Becky Hacker also helps people develop the posterior region, demonstrating seven positions in her "Butt Workout" app, available for 99 cents at http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/coach-hacker-butt-workout/id460836170?mt=8
It starts with "glute blaster" and clamshell exercises, both done on hands and knees, followed by pliť squats, a helicopter on a big workout ball, one- and two-legged bridge and butt rotations.
One review gives it the greatest possible accolade: "My butt is sore!"