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Female: Back Exercises
Single Leg, One Arm...
Exercises For Great Glutes
Many people find themselves very wrapped up with focusing on training their chest, shoulders, back, and quads that they forget to put some attention towards their glutes, which will help round out their backside as well as give them a great deal more strength in the lower body.
The glutes will be trained with many of the exercises you perform for the quad muscles, but by altering certain exercise you can make extra sure you’re hitting the glute muscles specifically, really zeroing in on this area. Having a well balanced lower body is not only important for helping you look better, but also for preventing injuries that could occur due to muscular imbalances.
Here are some of the main exercises to focus on.
The first exercise that is great for glutes is step-ups. These are often performed as a means for working the quad muscles, but you can target them towards the glutes simply by increasing the height of the step. The higher up you have to place the foot, the more the glutes will be recruited to propel the body upwards, lifting your weight to the standing position. The glutes will work the hardest during the earlier part of the movement, while the quads will kick in and work harder towards the top half of the motion.
Be sure when doing this exercise that you maintain the upright position with the back as this will be important to prevent pain in the spine from developing. Also, watch the tracking of the knees since with the greater step there is a higher chance of unwanted sideways movement.
Splits squats are another exercise to include in a glute workout and will also test your balancing abilities as well. Because of this, they will provide a good abdominal and core workout at the same time, making it great for calorie burning and boosting testosterone levels in the body. To put more of an emphasis on the glute muscles when doing this exercise, you will want take a longer stance with the legs, standing with the supporting leg further away from your center of gravity.
This takes some of the force off the quad muscles and transfers it to the back of the leg, stimulating the glute muscles. When moving down through the movement, also focus strictly on squeezing the glute muscles rather than the quads to lower your body down and push it back up. The mind can come in very powerful when controlling where the muscular contraction comes from, so don’t underestimate that effect.
When doing squats, most people neglect to go through the entire range of the motion, which significantly decreases the amount of tension that is then felt in their lower body. As you move from the standing position to about a ninety degree squat, most of the work is done primarily by the quad and inner thigh. The hamstrings and glutes are really only going to be recruited as you move past that ninety degree mark, lowering yourself down so you’re bum is almost touching the ground.
Some individuals will have knee problems and should be careful when doing this, but if you don’t have any pre-existing knee issues, start working on this form with a slightly lighter weight until you are used to it and then increase the poundage as you can. It will feel different than you’re used to, so expect this when just starting.
With this exercise as with the step-ups, be extra careful of your spinal position. Most people tend to lean even further forwards the lower they go down, placing excess stress on the lower vertebra. It may help to think about keeping your head looking straight forwards or upwards, as that seems to correct the alignment in most cases.
You can do full squats using either the front squat or the back squat bar position, so use whatever feels more comfortable for you. Once you adapt to the movement, you’ll want to use whatever variation allows you to lift the most weight. The back squat bar position will place slightly more loading on the glute muscles due to the bar being in the back of the body, but if you find you really struggle with balance doing back squat and can lift more weight using the front squat, that’s the way to go.
Lunges are the next exercise to focus on when trying to build up the strength of your glutes and make the lower body more proportional. Lunges can be performed with either a barbell across your back or by holding a set of dumbbells in your hand. They can also be done from a stationary position, simply moving down into the lunge position and then back up again, or you can perform a walking lunge where you move forward across the room as you go. The walking lunge will allow you to work both sides simultaneously in one set while most people will only work one leg at a time when doing a stationary lunge.
To increase the tension on the glues for the lunge, you should focus on taking a wider step away from the standing foot as you lunge down. Another way to increase the intensity of this movement for the glutes is to perform a half rep between each full rep, since it’s the last half of the movement where the glutes will be worked to the largest degree.
To do so, lunge down all the way, come up to about the halfway point, pause, lunge back down to where you were, and then complete the movement coming back up to where you started.
Single Leg Deadlifts
Deadlifts are one of the primary movements that individuals use to target the glute muscles but most individuals always perform standard deadlifts on both legs. Switching this up and doing them on one leg instead is a good way to place more stress on the glute, as well as to work the lower back and abs at the same time.
Your balance will feel very off when first starting with single led deadlifts; so for the first session or two just start with the bar until you are used to the movement pattern. Place one leg up on a chair or bench behind you so it’s between a 45 and 90 degree angle with the body. From there, reach down and grasp the barbell, moving to a standing position as you would with a normal deadlift movement. After you have completed all the reps for that leg, then you are to switch legs and repeat on the other side.
Keeping these exercises in mind and doing one or two of them with each lower body workout you perform will help ensure that you’re getting enough stimulation to show increased results as time progresses. Don’t perform them all in a single workout as that will quickly lead to overtraining, but cycling through them over a 10 week period spending two weeks on each exercise will keep the body guessing as to what’s coming next and avoid a training plateau.
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