Squeezing Your Glutes in Squats
“Fitness” magazine named the squat one of the top 10 most effective exercises to tone your glute or buttocks muscles. This exercise can be performed with or without weights, meaning you don’t have to be in a gym to work your muscles. To prevent injury and work at your best level, you can squeeze your glutes as you straighten from the squat, helping to take pressure off your lower back and strengthening your glutes. Always talk to your physician, however, before beginning a strength-training program to ensure you do not have a medical condition or injury that would keep you from weight lifting safely.
You can perform a squat using no weights or while holding dumbbells or a barbell. Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart with your toes slightly turned out. Contract your abdominal muscles and keep your back straight as you inhale while bending your knees and hips and lowering your buttocks toward the ground. Activate your thigh and buttocks muscles to straighten your legs when your thighs are parallel to the ground, exhaling as you do. Return to your starting position and repeat 10 to 12 times, rest for 30 seconds and repeat for one to two sets.
When to Squeeze
Your glutes, back, quadriceps and hamstrings muscles are all major muscles worked in the squat, according to the American Council on Exercise. While your glutes are activated throughout the entire exercise, the real time to squeeze them is when you are moving to your standing position, recommends “Fitness” magazine. This helps you to lift your body using force from your legs, not placing strain on your lower back.
Take a Pause
If you have difficulty engaging your butt muscles on the way up from a squat, use this tip from Shannon Dey, a personal trainer, and Jaime Baird, an author and fitness professional, interviewed in “Fitness Rx” magazine. When your thighs are parallel to the ground in the squat, take a small pause and concentrate on squeezing the upper portion of your glutes. Concentrate on squeezing all the way up to the top of your glutes, feeling your butt tighten as you stand, then releasing your buttocks contraction.
If you have difficulty effectively squeezing your glutes on the way up, try leaning back further on your heels, recommends “Shape” magazine. This technique tip adds stability while also taking strain and pressure off the knees. Pretending as if you are going to sit in a chair and leaning back on your heels can keep your glutes and thighs active during a squat.
Rachel Nall began writing in 2003. She is a former managing editor for custom health publications, including physician journals. She has written for The Associated Press and "Jezebel," "Charleston," "Chatter" and "Reach" magazines. Nall is currently pursuing her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the University of Tennessee.