Lifting and toning the glutes is probably the most common goal for people who walk into a barre studio, but you don’t have to attend a class to get that dancer definition. You can build stronger glutes at home, and it might be easier than you think! As a barre instructor and personal trainer, I want to share my secrets for sculpting the seat.
I often see my barre students struggling with seat exercises, using the momentum and strength of their legs — instead of their glutes — to get through those butt-sculpting moves. If you want to tone your glutes, you have to try not to let that happen. It’s all about targeted muscle movement, which takes time, focus, and patience to achieve. Trust me, it’s still my struggle, and I’ve been teaching barre for 10 years. The good news is, your glutes are the largest and most powerful muscle group in the body, and with the right routine — one that works all three muscles that make up the gluteal muscle group — your booty can be lifted, toned, and tightened.
The glutes are especially challenging because they’re designed for activity, and unless you work them regularly, they become weak or “lazy” and happily allow other muscle groups, like the hamstrings and quads, to do the heavy lifting. Have you ever been working your glutes and realized that the place you’re actually feeling the burn is in your stabilizing leg? That’s your lazy glutes letting your hip flexors do the work. And it’s no wonder: office jobs and long periods of sitting can soften, weaken, and flatten the glute muscles, tighten the hips, and affect our posture. Those lazy glutes can also cause the spine to be less supported, resulting in back pain and other imbalances in the body, like instability in the knees and hips.
This is the secret: moving muscle is how we change muscle. To get the butt you want, stay focused on having the effort of the movement come from your glutes. Initiating the movement in the muscle can take practice. If you’re feeling the work in other muscles, adjust your body position and alignment until you can feel the glutes activating and becoming engaged, which will make your workout more effective. Try one of my favorite tricks: as you move, press your fingertips into the glute muscles you’re targeting. This will help your brain make that mind-muscle connection — feeling the muscle pressing back at your fingertips lets you know it’s working.
When you finally get that “barre burn,” you’ll know you nailed seat work, activating the muscles to the point that your body can begin to change. You’ll definitely be feeling it the next day! Try to recreate that same feeling of effort each time you practice and be consistent, and you’ll see results. Ready to get started? Keep reading for seven of my favorite barre exercises that will help tone and lift your booty in no time.