There’s a reason that the peach emoji is blowing up. People aren’t using it to signify that they’re about to nosh on the fruit for breakfast—rather, everyone’s got butts on the brain (and that big, juicy peach has come to represent it, in case you didn’t know). Seriously—fitness studios use it to lure you into classes (hello, New York Pilates), Kim Kardashian launched a fragrance shaped as the emoji (because: of course), and the emoji pops up in text chains amongst friends to signify that it’s butt day.
It’s super important to work your bum, after all—it makes up the core of your body, and is responsible for a lot more than you probably realize. “Your butt as a whole is a major muscle group that powers the body,” says Ashley Rosenberg, a NASM-certified trainer and The DB Method (an at-home squat machine) master trainer. “Not only does working your bum make your backside look great, but it strengthens the entire backside of the legs as well, enabling your legs to power stronger, longer workouts.”
And exercising that tush helps to take pressure off of the spine. “High functioning glutes prevent stress from rotational movements—present in almost all exercise—to manifest as spinal pain,” says Dan Cohen, MD, a Mt. Sinai spinal surgeon in Miami Beach.
“[Squats are] one of the best functional exercises at building muscle throughout your body, helping your muscles work more efficiently, as well as promoting mobility and balance.” —Erika Rayman
And the best way to keep those glutes, the largest muscle in the body, highly functioning and strong? By doing squats, the OG butt-sculpting move of the fitness world. Of course, now you can use squat modifications to help your tush look more lifted, more toned, or more sculpted.”Squats work your complete lower body, including glutes, quads, hamstrings, hips, and calves, and they also work your abs and core,” says Erika Rayman, founder of The DB Method. “They’re one of the best functional exercises at building muscle throughout your body, helping your muscles work more efficiently, as well as promoting mobility and balance. Squats also improve the range of motion in your hips and ankles.” Basically they’re one of the best things you can do in terms of exercise.
The best part of it all is that there’s a whole world of squats that you can employ into your fitness routine—you’re not just stuck with the basic move. “Your position changes everything,” says Rosenberg, who notes that by simply switching up where you place your feet, you can work all different areas of your rear.
Ready to sculpt that bum? Keep scrolling for 4 squat variations to try ASAP.
1. OG Squats: Keep your feet 6 to 8 inches apart, hold your abs into the spine, and push your butt back and down a few inches. “You’ll activate the butt, inner thighs, and lower abdominals,” says Rosenberg.
2. Alternating Heel-Tap Squat: From the previous position, rev up the intensity by putting all of your weight on one leg. “Start by picking up your right heel, keeping the toes on the ground,” says Rosenberg. “Continue sitting your butt back and down with small pulses. Now pick up your right foot completely off the ground, holding your abs right to maintain your balance and continue to sit on the left leg. Place the right foot back down and repeat picking up the left foot.”
3. Bulgarian Split Squat: “This challenges balance while also focusing on one leg at a time,” says Charlee Atkins, founder of Le Sweat. “As a cyclist, this is my favorite squat variation because it feels good on the quads and allows for a deep stretch through the exercise.” Start with your front foot on the ground, rear foot on a bench (with toe pointed or foot flexed), and lower into a deep lunge while keeping the chest up. Make sure the front knee doesn’t pass the toes, and then return to the starting position by driving up through the front foot quads.
4. Goblet Squat: “If you use an added weight, it allows for stabilization in the upper body, plus it can relieve tension in the lower back,” says Atkins. Start with feet shoulder width apart, sit back through your hips while keeping a flat back. Then lower down until the hips are between the knees, without losing the upright chest. Your knees drive out on the way down and on the way up.
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