How to tone your butt with weighted glute bridge
You can tone and shape your butt by performing glutes exercises such as squats, lunges and glute bridges.
These exercises are particularly effective and helpful in toning your butt because they target the largest muscles in your butt, the gluteus Maximus.
Like every other exercise, the effectiveness lies in how you perform them.
Meaning if you want to see your gluteal muscles to develop and grow to its potential, you need to make sure you are really activating those butt cheeks when you work them.
It’s the exact reason why many women perform squats but never achieve a toned butt.
It’s not the exercises to blame, but it’s how they perform the exercises that fail them.
Why Your Butt Is Flat
According to Bret Contreras, CSCS fitness trainer, glutes are dormant and underused. They are one of the laziest muscles that don’t fire up without sufficient load.
When most women perform butt toning exercises such as squats, lunges and glute bridges, they perform them the calisthenics way, using just their body-weight.
If you are performing the exercises for the first time, it’s perfectly fine to work just with your bodyweight. The chances are, going from no activity to some activity is sufficient enough to get your butt moving and working.
However, once your bodyweight exercises become less of a challenge, your glutes need additional load to get moving again.
Fast and Slow Twitch Muscle Fibers
This load dominance is due to its higher percentage of slow muscle twitch fibers. As defined by Menno Henselmans, ISSA’s personal trainer, “glutes are slow-twitch dominant“.
They handle lower intensity workload and are great at preserving energy. But “fast-twitch fibers, on the other hand, handle the heavier load in small bursts.”, says Elizabeth Quinn, a sports medicine expert.
Your butt tones up when these fast twitch fibers are at work. However, most butt workouts (even the ones with the right exercises) don’t give the butt enough workload for those fast twitch fibers to fire up and take over.
Failing to stimulate the fast twitch fibers is the ultimate reason behind failing to achieve a toned backside.
One way to make sure you stimulate the fast twitch muscle fibers in your glutes is to add more load.
NYU Professor Julia Evergreen Keefer writes in her Anatomy and Kinesiology report that “fast-twitch fibers are recruited […] if the force demands are high enough.”
Adding more demands to your glutes is certainly the way to go and easier to do.
You can do it two ways:
- Add weights
- Decrease your base of support
The extra weights can be any free weights including dumbbells, medicine ball, barbell and weight plates.
You can also reduce the base of support just as easily by going from two legs to one leg.
Either way, your workload becomes bigger and result in recruitment of the fast twitch muscle fibers.
The best part is, almost all glutes exercises can be intensified using both methods and used to firm and tone your backside.
However, when certain exercises are done with added weights, they can cause more harm than good.
Squats can easily be one of them.
When they are performed with external weights by individuals with weaker knees, joints and core, they can strain your back muscles and cause back pain.
It’s because with squats, the loads heavily rely on the strength of your core and lower back.
Glute bridges on the other hand place no pressure on your back and rely solely on your gluteal muscles to extend the hips.
This not only saves your back from getting hurt, but also help strengthen the lower back muscles.
It is in fact one of the few lower body exercises that accommodate weak knees as your knees stay unaffected while you work your glutes.
It also improves core stability and body awareness, allowing you to progress to more advanced strength exercises.
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All in all, glute bridge is a safer, better option when working with external weights for beginners.
To perform this exercise, you need a yoga mat for added comfort and a weight plate.
The amount of appropriate weight is different depending on your strength; however, as a general rule, use the size that allows you to perform 10 repetitions.
To perform, follow the 3 simple steps.
How to Perform Weighted Glute Bridge:
- Position your heels shoulder width apart firmly on the floor. Place a plate on top of your mid section and support it with both hands. Tighten your abs.
- Lift your hips off the floor to the point where your body is making a straight line from knees to the shoulders.
- Hold at the top for 2 seconds.
- Lower your hips to return to the starting position. Repeat for 10 repetitions and complete 3 sets.
Coaching Key: Use your heels as an anchor.