Get Your Butt Bikini Ready!

Summer is here, and so are those little bikini bottoms! So it is time to get your BUTT IN SHAPE! Here are the 10 best exercises for a great looking behind:

1. Squats- Squats are one of the best exercises you can do for your hips, butt and thighs. There are many different types of squats, including the Chair Squat pictured here. Stand with feet hip-width apart and squat, keeping back straight, abs in and knees behind your toes. Let your butt lightly touch chair and squeeze butt to stand up. Repeat for 2-3 sets of 8-12 reps and add weights for more intensity. This gallery of squat images shows a wide variety of squats you can add to your current routine.

2. Lunges- Lunges are a challenging exercise because they work so many muscles at the same time. On the front leg, you'll work the glutes and hamstrings and, on the back leg, you'll work the quads and calves. What's nice about lunges is that there are a variety to choose from such as:

  • Side to Side Lunges
  • Reverse lunges
  • Front lunges
  • Walking lunges
  • Wheel lunges (front, side, reverse)

You can also elevate the back foot on a step or platform to really challenge both legs. This is a great move for the glutes and thighs, but please avoid this move if it aggravates any knees problems.

3. Step Ups- For step ups, you simply place one foot on a step or platform and push through the heel onto the step. This is an excellent exercise for the glutes, providing you use a step that's high enough...just make sure your knee is bent to 90 degrees or less to keep it safe.

The other key to making this move work is to concentrate all your weight on the stepping leg. In other words, lower down gently, barely touching the toes of the other leg to the ground. You'll really feel this when you take it slow and concentrate on the working leg.

4. Hip Extensions- While I'm fond of more compound moves (like the squats, lunges and step ups listed above) since they work more muscle groups, the hip extension is an exercise that targets the largest muscle in the body...the gluteus maximus.

For this move, you can hold a dumbbell behind the knee or use ankle weights for added intensity. Another interesting variation is to lie with your hips and torso supported by a ball, hands on the floor, and bend the knees. Then squeeze the glutes to send the feet straight up to the ceiling.

5. One-Legged Deadlift- Deadlifts are great for your hamstrings, butt and lower back, but form is critical and you should skip this exercise if you have any back problems.

To do this move, take the left leg back just a bit, lightly resting on the toe. With the weights in front of the thighs, tip from the hips and lower the weights as low as your flexibility allows. Keep your back flat or with a natural arch and make sure you keep the abs contracted to protect the back. Squeeze the glutes of the working leg to raise back up. Do 2-3 sets of 8-12 reps.

6. Hiking- Now the exercises listed above aren't the only strength moves for the glutes, but we often forget that there are cardio activities that will also engage the backside.

Hiking is one of those activities and it also burns tons of calories because you're typically going up steep mountains and maybe even getting into thin air, which requires lots of energy. Also, walking up an incline automatically gets your glutes more involved and, if you're wearing a backpack, you're really getting a workout. Plus, you get to see nature at its best. A 140-lb person burns about 390 calories in about an hour!

7. Biking- Riding a bike is great for your heart and it also targets almost every muscle in your hips, thighs and butt. On a stationary bike, alternate 3 minutes at 70-80 RPM with 2 minutes at 100-110 RPM for a calorie-blasting 30 minute workout. You can also try Spinning at the gym or riding outside. Gear up to really work your glutes! A 140-lb person burns 335 calories in 45 minutes.

8. Running- Running, like walking is accessible, easy to learn, reduces stress, helps in weight loss, and it makes you feel good. Plus, it really works your butt, especially when you add a few hills to your regular running route. Sprints are another option for folks wanting to both burn more calories and tighten up the old tush. A 140-lb person burns 475 calories during a 45 minute jog.

9. Kickboxing- Kickboxing was a hot item back in the day, but it's still a great workout. Controlled kicks work your hips, thighs and butt while complex combinations that include punches will target your abs to make them stronger. A 140-lb woman will burn up to 500 calories with 45 minutes of kickboxing.

10. Walking- Walking is easy: you can do it anywhere, anytime with no special equipment. There's no learning curve and it's something you can incorporate all day long. If you walk up hills, you can really target your glutes and, if you pick up the intensity, you'll burn some of that extra flab off your buns! A 140-lb person burns about 300 calories an hour during a brisk walk.

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