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Train the Butt and Thighs with Weights

Tone the Butt and Thighs with These Exercises

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Updated June 25, 2007

The butt and thighs are probably the most targeted regions for weight loss and firming up after you've conquered the abdominals and the waist -- particularly for women. Men, however, will certainly look better with good muscle definition in the rear end as well.

Some people carry weight in this region as a matter of gender and genetics. Women have a tendency to concentrate weight there while men often put it on preferentially around the waist. No problem : whether you wish to lose it or make it firm, below are some butt exercises that can help.

Muscles of the Butt and Upper Legs

Here are the main muscles to target to get those attractive buns. Note that you can't directly lose fat from a particular spot but you can target muscle building, which is what will give you that "tighter" look -- all without excessive bulk for the women who might be worried.

  • Gluteus maximus (largest butt muscle)
  • Gluteus minimus
  • Gluteus medius
  • Biceps femoris (hamstring)
  • Semitendinosus (hamstring)
  • Semimembranosus (hamstring)

These exercises emphasize the gluteus maximus, medius and minimus (butt), and the thighs, particularly the back of the thighs, the hamstrings. The front of the thighs will also get worked with some of these exercises such as the squat and the deadlift.

  • Lunges, weighted or not
  • Squats - body, dumbbell or barbell
  • Deadlifts
  • Good mornings
  • Cable kick backs
  • Cable hip abductions
  • Stepups
  • Swiss ball leg curls and bridge
  • Angled leg press
  • Standing leg curls on machine

Lunges. Thrust each leg forward alternately while bending at the knee. Make sure the knee does not extend over the toes. Modify this with dumbbells in each hand held at the side or with a light barbell on the shoulders. You can do lunges forward or backward, single step or walking.

Squats. Squats can be done with dumbbells, barbells or just with the weight of your body. See how to do the squat. This is one of the best exercises for butt and thigh development done correctly, which means you should not get too far forward. Doing so emphasizes the knee and front of the thigh excessively. Also descend until the upper thighs are parallel with the ground.

Deadlifts. The deadlift is a great all-round exercise for building shape and strength around the butt and upper legs. You need to practice good form with this one to ensure your back is not in a vulnerable position.

Good mornings. This exercise emphasizes the gluteals and the hamstrings. Hold a barbell on the shoulders in the squat position or rest dumbbells on the trapezius shoulder muscle with dumbbell pointing to the front. Bend forward with back straight and feel the hamstrings and butt stretch. Legs can be straight or bent according to trunk flexibility.

Cable kick backs. With the cable pulley machine, wrap a cuff extension around an ankle with the cuff and cable at the bottom of the machine. Facing the weight stack, take the leg back to the rear against the weight as far as comfortable and return.

Cable hip abductions. Using the same cable machine and cuff, position yourself so that you are side on to the weight stack. Cuff the leg farthest from the stack and move the leg outward against the weight and return to the center. Alternate legs for both exercises.

Stepups. Stepping up onto a step of at least 6 inches (15 centimeters) and down again with alternating legs works the glutes very well. You can add more work by holding dumbbells in each hand.

Swiss ball leg curls. Lie on your back and rest your heels on a ball. Bridge your back and butt with hands flat on the floor for support and roll the ball back and forward from straight leg to knees at an angle. This is a more advanced exercise that you can try when you have more control and strength.

Angled leg press. The angled leg press is similar to the standard leg press but with a more reclining seat position. This makes the gluteal butt muscles work harder.

Standing machine leg curls. Leg curls on the machine are a standard exercise for the muscles at the back of the thigh, mainly the hamstring group. The lower gluteals, the gluteus maximus, get some work as well.

There's plenty here to choose from yet it doesn't end there. The variety of butt and thigh exercises is quite extensive. Here are more buns, hips and thigh exercises to choose from if you get bored.

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