Besides looking great in leggings, a built-up booty does wonders for your body (nixing knee pain, for one). Here, four great glute exercises to get you going

By POPSUGAR Fitness
August 28, 2015
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You might be concerned about sculpting a strong booty to fill out your favorite pair of jeans, but there's so much more to a tight tush than the way your pants fit! Your backside consists of three major muscles: the glute maximum, glute medius, and glute minimus. This important group of muscles extends the hip (pulls the thigh behind you), abducts the hip (your lateral movement to the side), and does internal and external rotation of hip. In short, they're incredibly important, but they're often weak and underworked.

So many of our jobs require us to spend so much time sitting that our glutes "turn off" or stop firing as efficiently, effectively, and strongly as they should. Once our glutes stop firing, our hip flexors (the muscles that pull the thigh forward) get tight and can lead to injury. When you build a stronger booty, here are a few of the benefits you can expect.

Beat back pain: I couldn't believe how much of my lower back pain dissipated after I started concentrating on building up my glute muscles. Your glutes work to stabilize the pelvis and keep integrity of movement in the hip joint. When they're strong, your lower back doesn't bear the brunt of your motion.

Increase athletic performance: If you want to be a stronger athlete, it's time to start squatting. Stronger glutes will improve your speed, agility, and jumping skills, and quick side-to-side movements will also become much easier. Every time you take a step, your glute max shores up your pelvis and SI joint for stability. When you run, this is even more important, since the force of impact increases exponentially on each foot strike.

Prevent knee pain: Strong glute meds keep the pelvis stable from swaying side to side. When your pelvis isn't stable, it puts a lot of pressure on your knees and ankles to compensate. When your backside is strong, it helps prevents this naturally, keeping you safe from injury.

Now you know what your glutes do for you, so here are four moves you can do for them!

Elevated Split Squat

Whether on the ball or outside on the bench, the elevated split squat (aka Bulgarian split squat) really works your butt. Specifically, it works the glute max as you press to standing, and the glute med keeps your pelvis even while your feet are on two different planes:

A Begin by placing the top of your right foot on the bench, with your left leg straight. Bend your left knee, engage your right glute, and lower your pelvis toward the ground. You want your left foot out far enough so that when you lower your hips, your knee stays directly over your ankle.

B Straighten your left leg and rise back up to the starting position. This completes one rep.

Single-Leg Bridge

Love this backside move that works the hamstrings, too! The glute max helps push your pelvis up with your hamstring while the glute med keeps your pelvis level in this move:

A Lie on your back, and place your hands on the floor for stability as you bend one leg and lift the other leg off the ground.

B Pressing your heel into the floor, lift your pelvis up, keeping your body in a stiff bridge position.

C Slowly lower your body to the floor to complete one rep.

The Clam

The clam targets the glute med and helps build hip control. See the clam in action in this video:

A Start by lying on your left side. Bring your knees and hips to a 45-degree angle bend. Position your top pelvis away from your head to bring your waist off the floor. Maintain this neutral position throughout the entire exercise.

B Lift your top knee up, keeping your heels together. Lower back to starting position, ensuring that you're not moving your pelvis or torso.

C Repeat for 30 seconds to one minute, then switch sides.

Single-Leg Touch

In this one-legged move, the glute max is worked as you stand, and the med gets utilized for stabilization. Your core will need to be working to maintain your balance!

A Begin standing with all your weight on your left foot.

B Keeping your spine long, reach forward, bending your left knee and touching your right fingers to the ground. Keep your abs engaged to keep your torso stable. Your right leg will go behind you to help you balance.

C Press your left heel into the ground as you lift your torso up to return to standing, bringing the right toes to touch next to the left foot. This completes one rep.

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