Resistance training machines are an easy way to get a strong, sexy butt, once you know how they work. There are so many machines in the average gym, though, it can be challenging enough just to figure out which ones work the butt, let alone learning out how to use them. The truth is, your options are pretty limited when it comes to the machines that work the glutes -- but that's OK. You only need a few exercises done with proper intensity and weight to get a kick ass butt workout.
When you want a bigger, firmer, more lifted rear end, you only need to know three words: squats, squats, squats. Squats are the best exercise for working your rear, no buts about it.
Smith machines feature a barbell on fixed vertical rails with safety lockout points up and down the track. For beginners, Smith machines offer a little more support and stability than free weight squats; advanced lifters will be able to lift more without a spotter with the lock out feature.
While Smith machines, because of their fixed plane, are not as good as doing free weight squats, they'll still help you get the results you want and help you build the strength and confidence to graduate to free weight barbell squats.
How to use the Smith machine:
- Adjust the barbell, so it hits at upper chest height. Load your desired weight onto the bar, evenly distributing it between the two sides. If you're not sure how much weight to use, start light and increase the weight accordingly.
- Step under the bar and position it across your shoulders. Grasp the bar a few inches outside your shoulders. Unlock the bar and lift it off the rack as you straighten your torso.
- Position your feet shoulder-distance apart with the toes slightly turned out.
- Slowly lower down, sending your hips back and bending your knees forward. Squat down until your thighs are just past parallel.
- Check the alignment of your toes and knees. Your knees should not come past your toes. If they do, adjust your foot positioning before the next rep.
- Contract your glutes as you push through your heels to rise back up to standing. Squeeze your glutes at the top.
- When you need to exit the machine, lock the bar in place and step out from underneath it.
Leg Press Machine
Leg presses mimic squats in many ways, but you can often achieve a deeper range of motion because of the orientation of your body. There are a few different types of leg machines -- some seated, some almost lying down -- but they all work the glutes and are performed in the a similar way. The key is not to load on too much weight but rather to focus on maximizing range of motion and contracting your glutes throughout the movement.
How to use the leg press machine:
- Select your desired weight by loading plates onto the machine or by inserting the pin in the stack.
- Get into the machine and sit squarely in the seat with your hips all the way back and your back pressed firmly against the pad. Press your head against the head rest if there is one.
- Position your feet on the platform so they are shoulder-width apart. Your toes should align with your knees.
- Grasp the side handles. On machines with a weight stack, you won't need to release a locking mechanism; on machines you load plates onto, you will. For most of these machines, you will simply adjust the handles out as you press up with your feet to release the lock.
- Press into your feet to push the platform away from you, extending your legs. Straighten your legs almost all the way, but do not lock out the knees. Contract your glutes at the top of the movement.
- Slowly bend your knees to come back to the starting position.
- To exit the machine you will simply step out of a machine with a weight stack. For a plate-loaded machine, lock the safety bars in place, then exit the machine.
Single-Leg Cable Kickbacks
Cable machines can be confusing with all the different weight stacks and the variety of exercises that can be performed. You're going to have to get friendly with it if you want to do one of the best butt exercises out there. Cable kickbacks target the glutes like no other. You can really focus on squeezing the glutes to get full activation. But you have to be particularly careful with your form so you don't hurt your back.
How to do cable kickbacks:
- Locate an ankle cuff and hook it to a cable pulley lowered all the way to the ground. Stand facing the machine, and secure the cuff around one ankle. Select your weight on the weight stack by inserting a pin. Start with a low weight until you get used to the movement and can contract your core to support your low back.
- Grasp the steel column for support and step your feet back about 2 feet. Take a slight bend at your hips and knees, and contract your abdominal muscles.
- Slowly extend the leg with the cuff around it behind you in a semi-circular arc, as high as it will comfortably go without your lower back arching.
- Pause for a moment at the top squeezing the glute muscle, then slowly return the working leg forward. Resist the pull of the cable as you do so without letting the leg swing forward.
- After the desired number of reps. switch sides.
You can also do standing cable hip abductions to target the upper glutes. To do these, simply stand perpendicular to the machine with the outer ankle in the cuff. Slowly bring the leg out to the side as far as you can, then return it to the starting position with control.
While you're at the cable machine, do a couple sets of cable pull-throughs. This is the only other cable exercise that primarily targets the glutes.
How to do cable pull-throughs:
- Locate a rope handle and attach it to a low pulley. Turn to face away from the machine, straddling the cable, with your feet wider than hip-distance apart.
- Keep your knees slightly bent as you bend at the hips and reach though your legs, allowing the pulley to move back toward the machine with control.
- Pause, then pull the pulley away form the machine keeping your arms straight and extending at your hips to stand up straight. Contract your glutes at the top of the movement.