Maintain strength, stability, and function through the years by showing your body’s biggest muscles some extra love.
By K. Aleisha Fetters, C.S.C.S.
You might not be able to see it in the mirror, but your backside is home to your body’s largest, strongest muscles.
These muscles—including your glutes, hamstrings, and lats in your middle back—are all important on their own, but they link up to help control total-body strength, stability, and function. And unfortunately, these muscles are prone to losing strength over the years, especially if you spend a lot of time sitting or hunched over a computer, tablet, or phone screen.
The solution: Try this four-exercise routine that targets all the muscles from the backs of your ankles to the tops of your shoulders.
How the Build-Your-Backside Workout Works
The key to all of these exercises is performing them slowly and under control. At the end of each set, you should feel like you could do one or two more reps, but no more than that. If you feel like you could knock out three extra reps with good form, that’s your cue to increase the amount of resistance you use for that exercise.
Do all sets of each exercise before moving to the next, resting for 30 to 60 seconds between each.
Ready to get started? Here’s how to perform each movement. As always, safety is key. The exercises here may be different or more advanced than those you’ll experience in a SilverSneakers class. If you have a chronic condition, balance issues, or injuries, talk to your doctor about how you can exercise safely.
And if this workout doesn’t work for you or you want to mix things up, you have other options as part of the SilverSneakers Million Pound Challenge. You can take a SilverSneakers class or other group fitness class that incorporates strength training, or try this week’s strength move for walkers.
Exercise #1: Bird Dog
Do 3 sets of 6 to 8 reps
Start on all fours with your hands below your shoulders and knees below your hips. Engage your core, keep your spine neutral, and gaze down or slightly forward.
Lift your left arm and extend your right leg until they are in line with the rest of your body. Pause, then lower back down, and repeat on the opposite side with right arm and left leg extended. That’s one rep. Perform three sets of six to eight reps, resting for 30 to 60 seconds between sets.
Exercise #2: Hip Hinge
Do 3 sets of 10 to 12 reps
Stand with your feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent, and hands on hips. Brace your core—imagine you’re about to get punched in the stomach. Without changing the position of your knees, bend at your hips and lower your torso until it’s almost parallel to the floor (or as far as you can comfortably go without rounding your back).
Pause, then lift your torso back to the starting position. Be sure to squeeze your glutes and push your hips forward to lift your torso back to the starting position. This ensures you’re engaging your hip muscles instead of relying on your lower back. That’s one rep. Do three sets of 10 to 12 reps, resting for 30 to 60 seconds between sets.
Exercise #3: Bent-Over Row
Do 3 sets of 10 to 12 reps
Grab a pair of dumbbells, and stand tall with your feet shoulder-width apart. Pushing your hips back and allowing your knees to bend slightly, lower your torso until it’s almost parallel with the floor. Let the dumbbells hang at arm’s length from your shoulders, palms facing in.
From here, squeeze your shoulder blades together as you bend your elbows and pull the dumbbells up to the sides of your torso. Pause, then slowly lower the dumbbells to return to start. That’s one rep. Perform three sets of 10 to 12 reps, resting for 30 to 60 seconds between sets.
Exercise #4: Glute Bridge
Do 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps
Lie on your back with knees bent, feet flat on the floor about hip-width apart, and heels a few inches away from your buttocks. Press your arms into the floor for support, and brace your core to minimize the arch in your lower back.
From here, push through your heels and squeeze your glutes to lift your hips up until your body forms a straight line from your knees to shoulders. As you get stronger, focus on getting your shins as close to vertical as you comfortably can at the top of the movement. Pause, then slowly lower your hips to return to starting position. That’s one rep. Perform three sets of eight to 10 reps, resting for 30 to 60 seconds between sets.
Looking for more ways to support your backside? Watch the video below.