Looking to grow your glutes? While you should plan on spending time in the weight room, don’t forget about complementing your lifting routine with cardio. Not only does cardio boost your heart rate to help with fat burning, but certain cardio exercises can also fully engage and work your lower body, helping you toward a tighter, more toned backside.
If you’re working to build a better booty, look for cardio machines or exercises that activate your lower body as much as possible and give you the option to add resistance. These three exercises are a great starting point and will have you on your way to your best butt ever.
Stepping continuously on the StairMaster engages your glutes, calves, quads, and hamstrings, helping to burn fat while simultaneously building lean muscle mass. The StairMaster is a low-impact workout where you can get creative to add more of a challenge. Skip a step, add in kickbacks, or turn and step to the side to challenge and engage all of your glute muscles.
"The great thing about the StairMaster is you can make it into a HIIT workout," said NASM-certified Personal Trainer and O2 Fitness Wake Forest General Manager Alysia Stewart. "When you're doing steady-state cardio like long-distance running, your body uses muscle glycogen which can burn through muscle you've worked to build up. When you're doing something like the StairMaster, though, added resistance and added variations make a huge difference. You're not breaking down the muscle, you're building on it."
Supplement your weight training schedule with two 30-minute StairMaster sessions per week, or step for 15 minutes before you lift as a warm-up. Don’t forget to actively squeeze your glutes with each step, and point your toes for added glute activation.
Cycling is an excellent form of cardio because you’re forced to use your lower body exclusively. Riding a bike, whether stationary or outdoors, effectively works your hips, glutes, and thighs with each pedal.
"Biking is naturally more quad-dominant, so if you want to focus on glute-building, you need to bring yourself out of the seat a little bit, push your hips back, and lean forward. That's definitely going to work your glutes more throughout your ride," Alysia said.
Of course, don't forget to turn that knob and add resistance. The more you cycle, the more you are building muscle and burning fat in your glutes, both of which will lead to a tighter appearance. Go for a ride in a cycling class at a club nearest you.
The elliptical is another low-impact cardio option that, when done effectively, will tone and tighten your glutes. When looking to target the lower body on an elliptical, the key is to increase the resistance to at least level three. Don't worry about slowing your speed here. The higher the resistance level, the more muscle you’ll build. Embrace the burn!
Keep your entire foot in contact with the footpad and press down through your heels throughout your elliptical workout to fire up your glutes. For even more of a challenge, reverse direction and pedal backwards every so often.
"To maximize your glute work on an elliptical, definitely make sure you push your hips back," said Alysia. "Get into an almost squat position with a bend in your knees to work your glute muscles."
On your marks, get set, go! Channel your inner Olympian and try out sprinting for a more toned tush. This fast form of cardio is all about lower body power. In order to run at a maximum speed, your legs and glutes need to fire up to a high level of effort, torching calories with every stride.
"Sprints are awesome for abs and glutes. They're really a great way to build muscle and burn fat," Alysia said. "With sprints, your stride is long, you're powering through a strong push-off, and you're tightening that glute. When you stop and start again, you're shocking the body to burn fat, but not doing too much to break down muscle."
For an optimal sprint workout, set aside at least 15 minutes. Start at your own pace either outside or on the treadmill. Depending on your fitness level, sprint at 70% of your maximum capacity for 40 seconds and rest fo 20 seconds, or sprint for 30, rest for 30.
Whatever cardio you choose to incorporate into your fitness routine, make sure it's something you enjoy. Consistency is crucial when it comes to reaching any goal, and it's much easier to keep up with your workouts when you can look forward to them and enjoy them!
"Remember, you can tone and tighten your glutes with any of these exercises, but if you really want to build and grow, you need to add in weight," said Alysia. Our free 4-week Booty Challenge is the perfect start. Download it below!