Bench Press. The bench press is about as American as apple pie, fireworks, or bald eagles. If you’re in a gym on a Monday, then you can pretty guarantee at least 85% of the males in the building will be benching. With good reason though, variations such as the flat bench barbell or dumbbell press and the incline bench barbell or dumbbell press are very effective mass builders for the chest, shoulders, and triceps.
If you’ve been training longer than 6–12 months, you can split your workouts into upper- and lower-body days. The most common setup is to train upper body one day and lower the next so that each area gets trained twice in one week. If you train four days per week, you can train upper body on Monday, lower Tuesday, rest Wednesday, and then do upper body again on Thursday, lower body on Friday, and then rest on the weekend.
The three players that make up your glutes are the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and the gluteus minimus. The maximus is pretty much the M.V.P. It creates the shape of your butt and works anytime you raise your thigh to the side, rotate your leg, or thrust your hips forward. The other two, the medius and minimus, work together to aid your gluteus maximus in raising your leg to the side. Plus, those smaller glute muscles help rotate your thigh outwards when your leg is straight, and inwards when your hips are bent. Talk about a dream team! (To learn more about the workings of your glutes, check out The Women's Health Big Book of Exercises!)
Bench Press. The bench press is about as American as apple pie, fireworks, or bald eagles. If you’re in a gym on a Monday, then you can pretty guarantee at least 85% of the males in the building will be benching. With good reason though, variations such as the flat bench barbell or dumbbell press and the incline bench barbell or dumbbell press are very effective mass builders for the chest, shoulders, and triceps.
Stand on your right foot and lift your left foot off the ground. Inhale as you step your left foot backward into a lunge, so that your left knee hovers above the ground. Exhale as you drive through your right heel to rise to a single-leg stance, bringing your left leg forward and up to hip height. Do 10-12 reps. Switch sides. Optional: Load this move by holding a kettlebell at your chest or a dumbbell in each hand.
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"Your glutes are made up of three different muscles, the gluteus maximus, medius, and minimus," says Lefkowith. "They externally rotate your hip, abduct your hip, extend your hip, and even posteriorly tilt your pelvis." Because of this, it is important that you not only work one or two of these muscles, but rather, focus on showing all of them some love. "If you were only to do moves in one plane of motion, say a front lunge or squat, you wouldn't work your glutes to strengthen all of the joint actions they can perform."
If your fitness goals are to get strong and build hard, visible muscle, then you’re going to want to train in three phases according to Heath. Strength, conditioning, and a blend of the two that works for you. “If you can get to the gym 4-5 days a week, that would be perfect,” he says. “You can still do chest/tri’s, back/bi’s, legs, shoulders, and make the fifth day a cleanup day, meaning focus on body parts you may be weaker in.” Check out Heath’s guide to finding your best muscle-building routine.
The function of the gluteus maximus is primarily upper leg (thigh) extension, such as moving the upper leg backward—think rising from a squat position. Another way of thinking about this is bringing the torso upright after being hinged forward. Think of a kettlebell swing and you’ll get a good visual for the major action of the gluteus maximus muscle.
Aim to eat roughly 250 to 500 extra calories per day. To make sure that any weight gained is from muscle, Fitzgerald recommends that the bulk of those calories come from protein. In a 2014 Pennington Biomedical Research Center study, people who ate a high-calorie diet rich in protein stored about 45 percent of those calories as muscle, while those following a low-protein diet with the same number of calories stored 95 percent of those calories as fat.
And not to drop a truth bomb but, most of us need to be doing glute exercises — and aren’t. “Lack of use is the biggest reason so many people tend to have weak glutes,” says Cassandra York, PhD, MS, RD, CSCS, best-selling fitness author and a professor at Central Connecticut State University. “We don’t walk as much as we used to. We don’t take the stairs. And when we do move, we tend to be quad dominant,” says York.
Place a band around your ankles. Shift your weight into your right foot and place the toes of your left foot on the ground about an inch behind your right foot, so there is tension in the band. Exhale as you kick your left leg back about six inches. Avoid arching your back and keep your knees straight. Inhale as you return your left foot to the starting position. Do 10-12 reps. Switch sides.
Want to know one of the top reasons runners end up hurt? Look at your backside. Underutilized gluteal muscles are to blame for a large percentage of injuries, says Nirav Pandya, M.D., assistant professor of orthopedic surgery at the University of California San Francisco Medical Center. And it’s a weakness that often occurs because runners are hyperfocused on building strong quads and hamstrings.
How to do it: Begin with one foot firmly planted in front of you with your other leg extended back. Keep balance by putting your weight in the ball of your front foot and the back heel of your back foot. Hold a dumbbell in either hand, arms at your sides. Or, place a resistance band under the foot of your working leg, up, and around the same shoulder. Stand tall and bend your front working leg to approximately 90 degrees, keeping your knee directly over your ankle so it doesn’t over-extend. Return to the start position and repeat. Do both sides.
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