I know I get lost in the health research I’m doing sometimes and end up not spending enough time discussing the basics. Research can take us a long way, of course. It helps us know how to get ourselves in the right frame of mind for a workout. It helps us prepare for a workout with the right combination of drinks and meals. It helps get us to the gym, and it convinces us to keep going there, even on days when we don’t feel like it.
However, with all that said, at the end of the day, the exercise you do will be the most important aspect of just how fit you’re going to be. Are you already convinced your technique and workout routine are perfect? Well, then, you’re not alone. I think nearly everyone else at the gym agrees with you, but many of those people are dead-wrong!
I’m not saying you personally are. Just consider that you could perhaps benefit from a refresher course on the finer points of your workout. One muscle I haven’t covered specifically is your backside. So let’s look at how we can firm it up.
Always mix it up.
Anyone with extensive experience at the gym has seen someone there who “skips leg days,” and this phenomenon has become a long-running joke online and on sitcom TV. However, the amusing aspect of this shouldn’t take away from the very real lesson to be learned—you should always be looking to diversify your workouts. Don’t skip leg days, but also, change up the format of your exercises, not just the exercises themselves.
What do I mean?
To get the best results from your workout, you must also prioritize recovery. No one can push themselves to high-intensity workouts seven days a week and expect to achieve the best-possible results. Our bodies need enough time to recover from the damage we do to them. That time is when our muscles can actually grow. However, if you don’t work out enough, you won’t make any progress either, right?
The key is to find the sweet spot in the middle, but to not get stuck in too much of a routine. If three days of arms and two days of legs is what’s best for you, that’s great, but you should avoid doing the same exercises with the same number of sets and weights as much as possible.
For instance, squats are probably the first exercise we think of when we want to lift our butts, right? That’s for good reason, as squats deliver proven results. However, for maximum effect, don’t do 20 squats a day without any weights for seven days a week.
Instead, a better workout plan would be this: Do squats for three days of the week. On the first day, do as many squats as you can while maintaining proper form, then stop. Repeat this two times.
On the second day, pick up some free weights (or a barbell, if you’re more experienced) and do three sets of squats (eight, 10 and 12 repetitions per set), while maintaining the weight for each set—for example, eight squats with 10 pounds, 10 squats with 10 pounds and 12 squats with 10 pounds.
On the third workout days of the week, do three sets again, but this time, increase the weight but not the number of repetitions—for example, eight squats with 10 pounds, then eight squats with 15 pounds, then eight squats with 20 pounds.
The point is variation.
Of course, plenty of men and women can do a lot more weight for squats than what I used as an example above. If you’re used to going to the gym, you know what your limits are much better than I could ever tell you. The point is the general theme itself, and that is the necessity of variation. Although it may seem like heavy weight all the time is the best way to get the results we’re after, it’s simply not the case. We absolutely need to have days where we go all out and lift every last pound our bodies are capable of lifting, but by varying between this and other workouts, we make sure all of our muscles get a turn being pushed to their limits.
It’s easy to think about the major muscles alone—biceps, triceps, pectorals, abdominals, quads, hamstrings and so on—but they’re not the only ones we have. There are over 600 muscles in the human body, most of which you’ve probably never heard of. But even if you can’t see them, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be working them out.
The best butt exercises
In addition to squats, some of my favorite exercises are the standards—leg lifts and lunges. I know I didn’t get into the specifics of all the types of exercises you can try, but if you’re reading this, chances are you know how to use Google. There are pages and pages full of the best exercises for your glutes, which will help strengthen and lift your backside.
The list of exercises here is a great place to start, and there are several more excellent examples here as well. Cosmopolitan has more for you to try. You can find more on social media and YouTube too, but you already knew that, didn’t you?
I try my best not to be a broken record of the information you’ve already seen. Try lots of exercises until you find the ones that work best for you. Once you do, though, just be sure to stay consistent, but also vary the exercises as often as you can.
Jay McKenzie loves soccer, history and feeling great. He’s on a quest to eat better and exercise more, and he wants to share his experiences along the way. You can email him at [email protected] with comments or questions. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.