Tone that tush! Exercises for a defined, more functional derrière

These four moves combine isolated and functional strength exercises that target all the muscles in your glutes and hamstrings

Vahdaneh Vahid

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A perfect rear end is not all about appearance, but more importantly about optimal function so you are less at risk of injury or back pain in the future. These four moves combine isolated and functional strength exercises that target all the muscles in your glutes and hamstrings, to help give you that gravity-defying functional backside.

Swiss-ball hip raise and leg curl


- lie on the floor and place your lower legs and heels on a Swiss ball
- place your arms by your side, palms facing up (this will prevent you from cheating by using your arms to push yourself up)
- push your hips up so your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your knees - without pausing, pull your heels toward you and roll the ball as close as possible to your derrière
- pause for one or two seconds
- reverse the motion by rolling the ball back until your body is in a straight line, and slowly lower your hips back to the floor
- perform three sets of eight to 12 reps

Single-leg deadlift


To make this more challenging, you can use a pair of light dumbbells. If dumbbells make this too hard, just use your body weight, as seen in the illustration.

- stand on your left foot
- lift your right foot behind you and bend your knee so your right leg is parallel to the floor
- bend forward at your hips, and slowly lower your body as far as you can, or until your right lower leg almost touches the floor
- pause, then push your body back to the starting position
- if this exercise is too difficult, let the toes of your shoe rest on the floor for balance instead of raising the foot of your non-working leg
- perform three sets of eight to 12 reps

Alternating reverse lunges


- stand tall with good posture, your feet hip-distance apart
- hold a light pair of dumbbells or kettle-bells at your side
- take a large and controlled step backward with your left foot
- lower your hips so your right thigh (front leg) becomes parallel to the floor, with your right knee positioned directly over your ankle
- your left knee should be bent at a 90-degree angle and pointing toward the floor with your left heel lifted
- return to standing by pressing your right heel into the floor and bringing your left leg forward to complete one rep
- alternate legs and step back with the right leg
- continue alternating for 20 reps total, and perform three more sets

Single-arm kettle-bell swing


- stand with your feet wider than hip-distance apart
- keep the weight on your heels
- hold the kettle-bell with one hand at the center of your body
- hinge your hips back and allow your trunk to slightly rotate, passing the kettle-bell through the legs
- the empty hand should swing behind, and you should keep the palm turned out
- allow the movement to bring the kettle-bell up vertically to the sky
- follow the swing on the way down and repeat the hinge on the hips, powering from your glutes and rotating the trunk again at the bottom phase
- keep your palm close to the groin on the inside of your thigh, and do not allow the kettle-bell to fall low to the ground at the bottom phase (refer to image)
- perform 15-20 reps on each arm, with a total of three sets