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If you want to really turn heads, give them something to look at both coming and going. Your goal may not exactly be “junk in the trunk,” but if you have a pancake butt or just too much sag and drag, a few simple resistance exercises can perk things up and round out your rear view.

The primary muscle that defines the shape of your buttocks is the gluteus maximus. The glut muscle attaches to the lower spine and the top of the femur, or thigh bone. The gluteus maximus works with the hamstrings to extend the hip joint. The glute also extends the pelvis on the upper leg when standing and rotates the femur outward. Movements that straighten the hip against resistance engage the gluteus maximus and stimulate muscle growth.

  • Squats - there are one of the best exercises to tone all your leg muscles including your gluteus maximus. Stand with your feet shoulder-width, chest lifted. Look straight ahead as you sit backward, keeping your heels anchored, until your thighs are parallel to the floor, knees over the ankles. Return to upright, squeezing the buttocks as you extend the hips. For added resistance, use dumbbells held at your sides or a weighted bar across the tops of your shoulder blades.
  • Traveling Lunges – this will take the hip joint through its full range of motion in the frontal plane, engaging your gluteus to its maximus. Stand with feet shoulder-width, toes pointing forward. Keep the chest lifted, spine perpendicular to the floor. Take a giant step forward with your right leg, landing on your heel. Keep the toes of the back leg pointing forward, allowing the back heel to lift off. Bend both knees until the front leg is parallel to the floor, knee at 90 degrees. In one smooth motion, push off with the front heel, extending the knee and hip as you step through and forward with the left leg. Alternate right and left, use dumbbells held at your sides for added resistance.
  • Trunk Extensions – using a roman chair or stability ball with your feet anchored, position your body face down so your hip bends at the crest of the ball or the edge of the chair pads. Hold a weight plate or medicine ball across your chest. Keep a flat back as you tighten your hamstring and gluteal muscles and straighten your hips. Keep your chest lifted as your torso moves upward. Hold briefly at the top, squeezing the glutes. Slowly lower to your start position.

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