You might wonder how you can get a more firm and shapely buttocks without doing millions of squats or taking a trip to the plastic surgeon. Achieving a more toned butt can be as easy as putting one foot in front of the other. Some of the many benefits of running include toning and lifting your butt, if you know how to do it properly.
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The Butt-Shaping Mechanics of Running
Movements that require the hyperextension of the hip engage the gluteus maximus, which is the major muscle group in your buttocks. Such movements include throwing, lunging, walking, running and sprinting. According to Bret Contreras, CSCS, "The gluteus maximus muscles contract the hardest from zero to 20 degrees of hyperextension." So the full-stride movement required for running effectively exercises the glutes, resulting in a more firm and lifted appearance.
One of the best ways to tone your glutes with running is by doing sprints. This fast-paced form of running requires the glutes to contract quickly with each step. The glutes have to work harder to keep up with this pace and, in turn, become more toned. In fact, sprinting activates the glutes 234 percent more than vertical jumping and other hip extension exercises like squats, deadlifts and stationary lunges, according to Contreras. By having to propel you horizontally at such a quick pace, the glutes become stronger with sprinting than they would with many traditional glute exercises.
Turn Up the Incline
Running at an incline will also help tone your buttocks. This is because your glutes have to work harder to get you uphill. If you are running outside, find an area with plenty of hills, and don't be afraid to go for the big ones. If you are running on a treadmill, increase the incline setting. "Fitness Magazine" recommends doing a warm up by walking for three minutes before turning up the incline to level eight and picking up the pace for intervals of two minutes with a two-minute recovery period in between. When running at an incline, bend your knees and dig your heels down to really activate the glutes.
If you can't get to the gym to use the treadmill or weather does not permit you to run outside, there are other butt-sculpting workouts you can do that activate the glutes in the same manner as running. Since all hip hyperextension exercises mimic the same movement as sprinting by initiating horizontal propulsion, they can be used in place of running. These exercises include glute kickbacks, walking lunges and hip extensions. Bent-leg hip hyperextension exercises minimize activation of the hamstrings and focus the exercise more on the glutes.