Many years ago, Destiny’s Child first sang of the power of the butt — putting men in a trance and being a sign of “the baddest chick inside.” Makes your butt sound pretty empowering, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, many women don’t target their glutes while training their legs, which is a pity considering the glutes are one of the largest muscle groups in the body.
To help get your backside in spellbinding shape, Muscle & Fitness Hers enlisted Los Angeles–based exercise physiologist Harley Pasternak, who works with the celebrity set to complete “dramatic physique transformations” for speciﬁc ﬁlm and TV roles.
Pasternak’s strategy is what he calls “five-factor fitness.” The idea is that all of your workouts should consist of five phases, the sum total of which takes no more than an hour to complete. Phase 1 is a five-minute cardio warm-up — he suggests nonimpact cardio, such as the elliptical machine or a stationary bicycle; Phase 2 is five minutes of supersetting two strength exercises (in this workout, it’s ham-quad supersets); Phase 3 is five minutes of two more exercises, also supersetted; Phase 4 is core training; and Phase 5 is 30 minutes of cardio. For the latter, Pasternak suggests an incline treadmill walk, which helps sculpt the behind.
“There’s no one exercise that gives you a great butt,” Pasternak says. “You have to attack the whole body.” First, he says, develop great glutes (which you get from lunges and step-ups in this routine). Second, you need strong hamstrings, stimulated in this routine by romanian deadlifts. Next, you have to strengthen core muscles. Then, add some weight and you’ve got the right mix for a well-rounded program.
“Most women overwork certain muscle groups,” he adds. “This routine keeps you balanced and injury-free. Getting a great body is a side benefit. Your own genetics will dictate your general figure, but this workout will create great shape. It’ll make everyone’s butt look more toned.”
Whether you use this program as your leg workout or add these moves to your existing routine, get ready to enjoy the perks of being “Bootylicious.”
SEE ALSO: The Best Jeans for Your Butt
Targets: Glutes, hamstrings and quads
Start: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your hands clasped behind your lower back. For extra resistance, hold a couple of light dumbbells at your sides, as shown.
Execution: Keeping your torso upright, step forward with one leg. As you bend your front knee, drop your back knee toward the floor without letting it touch. Push up through your front heel, straightening your leg. Bring your back leg forward and past the opposite leg to take the next step, making sure your knee doesn’t pass your toes in the bottom position. Repeat for reps, alternating legs to move forward.
EXERCISE-BALL LEG CURL
Targets: Glutes and hamstrings
Start: Lie faceup on the floor with an exercise ball under your heels. Place your palms flat on the floor at your sides.
Execution: Lift your hips so your body forms a solid bridge from your heels to your shoulders. Keeping your torso lifted, bend your knees to roll the ball under your feet toward your hips, then roll it back out.
Advanced technique: Leave one heel on the ball, lifting your other heel a few inches. Roll the ball in and out with only one leg. Repeat for reps, then switch legs.
Tip: To keep your glutes from sagging, think of a string pulling up your body.
Targets: Quads and glutes
Start: Place one foot on a bench, block or step that’s about 12 inches tall. Make sure to keep your foot stationary on the platform.
Execution: Press through your heel to rise onto the platform, bringing your back foot up onto it, then squeeze your glute to raise that leg behind you. Bend your front knee and lower yourself back down. Repeat for reps, then switch legs.
Pasternak says: All power should be generated by the raised leg; don’t push off the floor with the opposite foot.
CORE CABLE TRUNK TWIST (not shown)
Targets: Abdominals and obliques
Start: Attach a D-handle to a high-pulley cable that you’ve already lowered to just below shoulder height. Stand sideways next to the weight stack so your hands are even with the line of pull when your arms are outstretched in front of you.
Execution: Grasp the handle with both hands. Keeping your lower body and head still, rotate your body away from the stack, twisting only at your waist. Continue for reps, then repeat on the other side.
Tip: Keeping your head still, twist from the waist only.
Targets: Glutes and hamstrings
Start: Stand up straight with your shoulders back and arms extended, holding a barbell (or dumbbells) with a pronated grip (palms facing you). Leave a small bend in your knees; don’t let them lock.
Execution: Bend at the waist and push your hips back as far as you can while keeping the weight close to your legs and your lower back arched. When your hips can’t go back any farther (the weight should be at mid-shin level), return to the starting position. You should feel your hamstrings get tight as you perform the move.
Pasternak says: Imagine someone is standing behind you, and you want to knock them over with your butt.
Don’t Forget Nutrition
No matter how hard you work in the gym, you can’t get the body you want without flexing your fork a bit. That’s why Pasternak has come up with an eating philosophy to help you reach your goals. In his book, The Five Factor Diet, he outlines a plan that has you eating five meals a day, with each meal containing each of these criteria: 1) low-fat protein, 2) low- to moderate-glycemic carbs, 3) at least 5 grams of fiber, 4) healthy fats such as avocados, olive oil and nuts and 5) non-sugared beverages. “There’s no calorie-counting, no weighing food, no portion regulation and no carb-cutting,” he says. “When you meet these five criteria, you can’t overeat. What are you going to overeat? Too many servings of broccoli? It’s a voice of moderation in a time of extremity.”
Here’s an example of what a day’s menu would include: For breakfast, eat a burrito made with a nonflour tortilla, scrambled egg whites, low-fat mozzarella cheese, a couple of slices of avocado, beans and salsa, plus a fat-free cappuccino. A morning snack would be a half-cup of high-fiber cereal topped with one-quarter cup of low-fat milk. For lunch, have a large salad of chickpeas and grilled chicken drizzled with a small amount of olive oil, and a San Pellegrino to drink. In the afternoon, snack on low-fat plain yogurt with fresh strawberries. Finally, dinner is a grilled salmon fillet with mashed sweet potatoes and a beverage of flavored water.