Personal trainer, Irene McCormick loves the glutes.
"It has a tremendous amount of influence on your exercise performance, the core strength and stability. If you have a weight loss goal it plays a huge role.
That's because the muscles themselves are huge. The gluteus maximus is the largest muscle in the body. It, and the gluteus medius and gluteus minimus make up your posterior, or butt.
"It’s the largest muscle group in the lower body," explains McCormick. "So wouldn’t it benefit you to make it as big as possible? Because you’re going to burn a lot of calories if that muscle is really well-developed."
Not so fast. Bigger is better?
"We want boom!" says Irene, as she motions with her hands. She refers to a well-developed tush as an apple. The opposite is referred to as apples sauce.
Irene says becoming aware of your glutes is the fist step toward strengthening them.
"The first thing I do is I look at everyone's feet and I say toes forward."
Turning your feet outward or shifting the weight from side to side disengages the glutes.
"All those details I gave you about position and body are critical. You need to do that first," says McCormick. "Toes forward, hips level... a slight contraction in the quad and belly pulled in.
Once we're aligned, we move to exercises to strengthen the glutes. Squats are a longtime favorite. So are lunges.
"That is a huge bang for your buck move," says McCormick as we move from a side lunge to a back lunge.
From here, we move to the floor. The bridge is a great gluteal exercise, especially when it's tweaked. Irene reminds us to keep our palms up and our gluteals clenched.
"Up and hold, higher, a little more than you think you can and down," instructs McCormick.
If you want to make the bridge more challenging, try lifting a leg while maintaining good form.
Irene says doing these exercise correctly a few times a week will help you burn fat, prevent injuries and give your butt a boost, which means apples, not apple sauce.