This 30-Day Challenge Will Transform Your Rear View

Photographed by James Farrell.
This article was originally published on November 24, 2015.

An actual first-world problem: Basically everyone who sits a lot has a lazy ass. The glute muscles deactivate, because they get used to being underused and simply stop pulling their own weight. "For a lot of people, it’s hard to even activate the glutes in the first place,” says NYC-based celebrity trainer Josh Holland, CPT. He suggests a little test: From standing, try squeezing your glutes together for 10 reps. Now, try squeezing one cheek and then the other. See what he’s talking about?

So why is having lazy butt muscles such an issue? The glutes are (or should be) a major initiator of most lower-body movements, including walking, climbing stairs, running, and jumping. “If you have well-developed glutes, you’ll move better,” Holland explains. And, of course, along with improved function comes improved aesthetic.

Plus, having stronger muscles around the hips can greatly reduce your risk of knee injury. The hips are responsible for keeping your knees in line when you're walking or running, and preventing those knees from going out of whack in the event of a sudden, unexpected movement — such as missing a curb or being jostled on the train.

To kick your butt into shape, try our 30-day challenge. It incorporates movements in multiple directions, to hit all the muscles of the hips and butt. For the moves separated by a comma, do all reps before moving on to the next exercise. For moves connected with a plus sign, do the exercises one after another. With multiple sets, denoted by x2 or x3, rest one minute before repeating. And enjoy those rest days — you’ll need ‘em for recovery between the harder workouts.
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Illustrated by Mary Galloway.
Check out the calendar in full, and good luck!

Download the PDF here.
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Photographed by James Farrell.
Single-Leg Glute Bridges (“Bridges”)
These start our challenge and are included every day, because they’re an excellent way to isolate the glutes and really wake them up. Start on your back with your knees bent and your feet planted on the floor. Extend one leg out, so it’s straight and both thighs are parallel. Push into the foot of the bent leg and squeeze the glutes together to lift the hips up, making the entire front of the body — from shoulder to knee — a straight line. Slowly lower the hips down. That’s one rep. Do all prescribed reps on one side before switching sides.
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Photographed by James Farrell.
From-The-Ground Step-Ups With Knee Drive (“Step-Ups”)
Or, "how to do step-ups if you don’t have a step." Start by kneeling tall. Pick up one leg and plant the foot in front of you, with your knee close to a right angle. Lean forward slightly to press into that front foot. Without pushing off the back foot, come up to stand on the front leg, driving the back leg’s knee up, so it’s high in front of your belly button. Slowly bend the standing leg and lower the high knee down to the ground, so its shin is back on the floor. Return the bent leg to the floor as well, so you’re back in an erect kneeling position. Complete a full step-up/drive cycle with the other leg. That’s one rep.
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Photographed by James Farrell.
Side Lunge With Lateral Leg Lift
This is a great move to work the glutes from side to side for improved knee stability. Start standing with your feet together. Step out to the side with one foot, bending that knee and sending your hips back, as if you’re aiming to sit on a stool behind you. Important: When you’re lunged to the side, your hip, knee, and ankle should be in the same plane, and you should be able to see your toes in front of your knee. Press the foot of the bent leg firmly into the floor to push off the ground, raising the leg up and out to the side; the arch of your foot should be parallel to the ground. Then, replace that foot back on the ground next to your standing leg. That’s one rep. Repeat all to one side before doing the other.
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Photographed by James Farrell.
Single-Leg Kickbacks
Talk about kicking it up a notch! Start down on all fours, with your hands right below your chest. Pick up one foot and bend the knee in toward the belly button. In one fluid motion, extend that leg fully straight and up diagonally, toward the sky behind you, slightly hyper-extending at the glute — but not so you feel it in your lower back. Lower the knee back under you, resting it on the ground only if you need to. Do all reps with one leg before going to the other.