The gluteus maximus is the largest and outermost muscle that makes up the buttocks. The shape and tone of the gluteus maximus, or “glutes,” can play a major part in creating a firm, strong, overall silhouette. Gluteus maximus exercises help build strength and improve the muscle tone throughout the whole buttocks, hips, and thighs. It is important to remember that spot training isn't possible, and an overall strength and exercise program may be necessary to maximize results.
It is nearly impossible to work only the muscles of the buttocks; nearly every exercise for the glutes will also work the hips, lower back, and thighs. This can be extremely beneficial, as it packs muscular work into fewer exercises. There are many different exercises that can benefit the glutes, from ballet to weight machines.
Strength training moves are often an effective way to work the glutes. Some of these require no equipment and can be endlessly modified to focus on specific muscle groups. Squats are one of the simplest and most versatile gluteus maximus exercises. To perform a basic squat, stand with legs hip-width apart and bend legs as if sitting down in a chair. Do not let knees travel over the toes; for best results, keep weight firmly in the backside.
Squats are great gluteus maximus exercises because there are so many variations. Add dumbbells for arm work, or try walking squats or lunges to work the thighs as well. Be sure to push back to standing using the muscles of the buttocks; it is important to remember that both holding a squat position and performing up-down repetitions can be beneficial. Keep the spine straight and remember to resist against the movement to provide extra work for the muscles.
Hip extensions are another type of exercise that can be done with or without equipment. For these gluteus maximus exercises, put forearms and knees on the ground and lift one leg behind the body and up. To add resistance, tuck a dumbbell behind the knee and keep the leg bent while extending. Weight machine versions of this exercise allow the user to adjust weight load to increase muscle work.
Many cardiovascular workouts are great gluteus maximus exercises as well. Almost any sport or fitness routine that relies on the legs for propulsion will provide some glute work. Hiking, biking uphill, soccer, and dance are all great gluteus maximus exercises. Many experts recommend cross training with a cardiovascular routine and a strength training workout to improve strength and fitness level faster.