Working Your Butt
The lower body is made up of a variety of muscles, including the largest or the gluteus maximus. The gluteus maximus is the most visible gluteal muscle, but there are two smaller muscles underneath it: the gluteus medius and gluteus minimus. The glutes are responsible for hip movements, such as extension, rotation and abduction (moving the thigh away from the body). It's also heavily involved in that dance many of us have tried - shaking your booty.
Below the glutes and on the back of the thighs are the hamstrings, which include three different muscles: The biceps femoris, the semitendinosus and the semimembranosus. The hamstrings work to bring the heel toward the butt (knee flexion) and to move the leg backward (hip extensions).
The quadriceps make up the front of the thighs and include the rectus femoris, which is a larger muscle in the middle of the thigh, and the vastus lateralis, intermedius and medialis, which lie under the rectus femoris. These powerful muscles are involved in a variety of activities (walking, running, jumping, squatting, etc.) and work to extend the knee as well as flex the hip.
Why Should You Work Your Butt, Hips and Thighs?
The lower body includes some of the largest muscles in the body, muscles that are involved in almost every movement we make, from standing and walking to running and squatting. Working these muscles means you'll not only build strength and lean-muscle tissue, but you'll also burn more calories. Strong legs will also make daily activities easier and help protect you from injury.
How Often Should You Train Your Lower Body?
Like all muscles in your body, you can perform lower-body exercises up to three nonconsecutive days a week. If you're lifting heavy weights (enough that you can only complete six to eight repetitions), you'll need two or more days of rest before you perform the exercise again. For this reason, you might only work your lower body once or twice a week. If your goal is endurance and strength, stick with 1 to 3 sets of 12 to 16 repetitions and at least one day of rest before you perform the exercises again.
What Exercises Should You Do?
The most common exercises for the butt, hips and thighs are squats, lunges and deadlifts. Try to include a variety of exercises that target all the lower-body muscles for a well-rounded routine. These lower-body exercises offer a variety of options for working your butt, hips and thighs.
Next page: Cardio for Your Butt