As a Pilates Instructor I like to see a woman with a well-shaped posterior. The buttocks make the connection between your legs and your back and are very important for supporting the pelvis and spine. We don't tend to work them enough in modern life which can cause back problems and postural issues. Good Pilates classes always have a lot of buttock work included to improve your posture and help with improving your shape.
The natural weight of your legs provides the perfect resistance for training your backside. Your bum muscles are there to move the leg in the hip joint, so the best thing to do for your backside is to use your legs against the force of gravity in a few different ways as I have described below.
The group of muscles that make up your butt are called the Gluteals or 'glutes' for short.
Anyone can improve the shape of their butt with these easy exercises. Stick with it and enjoy the burn for best results!
Jane Fonda is back
This exercise was made famous by Jane Fonda in the early 80's. She still looks great and so can you!
Start in a Four Point Kneeling position with your knees directly below your hips and your hands directly below your shoulders. Maintain a 'neutral spine' (naturally curved) and keep drawing your bellybutton towards your spine.
Send one leg out behind you with a 90 degree bend at the knee so that your heel points straight up. This is your Starting Position!
From here pulse the upward heel towards the ceiling 20 times, making sure that you don't change the shape of your spine or twist your hips. Squeeze those Glutes!
Repeat on the other side!
Try the Oyster
Facing a chair or a window sill start with your feet parallel and slightly apart. Bend your knees a little, lean on the chair with your arms, and then transfer your weight to the right, bending your left foot up behind you.
Keep both your knees in line with each other and maintain a 90 degree bend at the left one.
From here slowly lift the left leg out and up like an opening oyster shell, making sure that you don't change the shape of your spine or twist your hips. Reach the left knee away from you the whole time! Repeat 20 times and then do the same on the other side!
Note: your right buttocks will also be burning from just holding the position!
Ballet Squats 'Plies'
Start in what the ballet dancer calls 2nd Position - your legs are stepped wide and the feet, knees and thighs are turned out to the sides. As you stand there squeeze the buttocks and you will get a little more 'turn out'.
From here lift the slowly left bend both legs at the knee, squatting down into what is called a 'plie'. Keep you buttocks squeezing and push your knees backwards. The important safety note is that your knees and your toes should always be pointing in the same direction.
Try to stay tall and upright with your spine and don't stick your bum out behind you. Repeat 10 times and you can eve add some pulses at the bottom of the movement for extra bite!
Pretty ballerina arms are optional!
Make a Lunge for it
Start facing a barre, banister, chair or windowsill. Step your left foot behind you and allow the body weight to shift backwards to be balanced between your feet.
Slowly bend all your leg joints and sink down, making sure that you keep your right knee directly above your right ankle. As always, stay tall and upright with your spine and move up and down 10 times. Squeeze with the buttocks at all times! Pulses at the bottom of the movement are an added option.
Repeat on the other side to keep your backside even!
Squat to it
The squat is the queen of all leg exercises and there are many variations. While you are in the theme of looking like pretty ballerinas I have chosen this 'legs together' version.
Start facing a barre, banister, chair or windowsill. Keep your legs, knees and inside thighs together throughout and only use the hand support as little as you need to stop yourself falling over.
Squat down as far as you can go while still keeping your heels on the ground, and then straighten back up again. On the way back up, squeeze with your buttocks as if you have collected a walnut on a chair behind you and you're going to crack it as you stand upright.
The added bonus is that you will feel this squat in the thighs as well as giving you 'buns of steel'.
After all this hard work it is important to stretch out your buttock muscles as well. Lie on your back and pull your knees up to your chest and gently rock back and forth for a few breaths.
Keep up the good work!
Always stay within your own limits and never push through pain (burning in the muscles while exercising is not pain). If you have any doubts contact a professional Pilates Instructor, Personal Trainer or Sports Therapist.