While many people strengthen their butt and low back muscles just to look better in their jeans, exercising these areas of your core can actually have many other benefits as well. Not only can a strong core help you recover from low back pain, strengthening these muscle groups also enhances your posture and may improve your running performance, as determined by research published in a 2009 issue of the Journal and Strength Conditioning Research.
Combine simple exercises into a workout that targets the butt and low back muscles.
Hip thrusts use an exercise ball to target your abdominals, glutes, and back extensor muscles.
How To: With your feet on the floor, lean your upper back and head against an exercise ball. Begin with your buttocks sagging towards the ground and your arms crossed over your chest. Then, lift your butt upwards until it is in line with your spine. As you do this, activate your abdominals to maintain stability. Hold this position for 5 to 10 seconds before lowering back down towards the floor. A weight or kettlebell can be held near your stomach to increase the intensity of the exercise.
Hip Extension Plank
This exercise requires your glute and abdominal muscles to work together to maintain stability on a ball.
How To: Get onto your knees and rest your forearms on an exercise ball in front of you. Lift your knees off the ground and assume a plank position keeping your spine straight and your pelvis level. Then, lift one leg into the air and slowly back down again without allowing your pelvis to drop. Alternate lifting each leg while keeping your abs engaged and continuing to breathe.
This variation of a standard squat targets both the glute muscles and your quadriceps.
How To: Stand with your right leg in front of you and your left foot propped onto a chair behind you. Slowly bend your right leg and lower your left knee towards the floor. Your trunk should remain erect and your right lower leg should remain vertical throughout this entire exercise. Do not allow your right knee to move beyond the end of your toe. When your left knee is just about to touch the ground, hold this position for 1 to 2 seconds and then rise up again. After a set, repeat with the left leg in front of you.
Single Leg Bridge
This variation of a bridge helps to sculpt the glutes while also activating your low back and abdominal muscles.
How To: Lie on your back with your left knee bent and your right leg extended. With your stomach muscles engaged, lift your buttocks and right leg into the air using your left leg. Hold this position for 1 to 2 seconds and then lower your body back down again. Repeat the exercise using the right leg to lift your body when are have completed a set with the left leg.
Side Plank Leg Lifts
This version of a side plank activates both your oblique muscles and your gluteus medius. The gluteus medius sits on the outer portion of your pelvis and plays a crucial role in stabilizing this area while walking or running.
How To: Lie on your left side with your elbow beneath your shoulder and your legs extended. With your forearm making contact with the ground, lift your left hip in the air until it is in line with your spine. Raise your right leg away from your body without allowing your pelvis to sway. Hold the leg here for 1 to 2 seconds and then lower your entire body back to the starting position. When the set is complete, perform the exercise lying on your right side.
Straight Leg Dead Lift
Dead lifts are a great way to strengthen the butt while also using your core and low back muscles to keep stability.
How To: From a standing position, bend your trunk forward as you simultaneously lift your left leg in the air. Your legs and back should move in a straight line and your pelvis should not dip as you do this. Once your back and left leg are horizontal, as though are forming the letter "T", hold this position for 1 to 2 seconds before returning to standing. After a set, repeat the exercise using the other leg.
Each muscle group should be strengthened two to three times each week. When doing a workout for a larger muscle group like the buttocks or low back, select two to three of the exercises above and complete two to four sets of eight to 12 repetitions of each one. To keep the workouts challenging, it is best to vary which exercises are performed during each workout. In addition, focus on doing your workouts in a slow, controlled manner and be sure to skip any exercise that causes you increased pain.
- American College of Sports Medicine: Quantity and Quality of Exercise for Developing and Maintaining Cardiorespiratory, Musculoskeletal, and Neuromotor Fitness in Apparently Healthy Adults: Guidance for Prescribing Exercise
- Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research:Does Core Strength Training Influence Running Kinetics, Lower-Extremity Stability, and 5000-m Performance in Runners?
- American Physical Therapy Association: Low Back Pain: Clinical Practice Guidelines