With Valentine's Day just around the corner, millions of Americans are striving for a nice curvaceous shape to their glutes - but to do that you need muscle. The American Council on Exercise (ACE), America's nonprofit fitness advocate, recently announced exclusive research that determines the most effective gluteal exercises.

The ACE commissioned study was led by John Porcari, Ph.D. and Blake Ristvedt, M.A, from University of Wisconsin, La Crosse. Their research team used electromyographic (EMG) analysis to compare the muscle recruitment patterns of eight common gluteal exercises. After gathering EMG data for all participants, researchers compared the recorded amount of muscle activation for each exercise with that of a traditional squat.

"The results of this research showed that several of the exercises were as effective as the traditional squat at targeting the gluteal muscles," said Cedric X. Bryant, Ph.D. and Chief Exercise Physiologist for ACE. "This study confirmed the relative value of alternative exercises such as lunges, step-ups, quadruped hip extensions, and four-way hip extensions, providing viable options for individuals who may have difficulty properly performing traditional squats."

Quadruped Hip Extensions

-- On your hands and knees, slightly contract your abdominals to stabilize your torso and spine. Lift one leg up, keeping the knee bent at 90 degrees.
-- Lift the leg until the bottom of the foot is pointing toward the ceiling and the leg is lined up with the body.
-- Repeat on the same side for eight to 12 reps.
-- Change legs.


-- Stand with good posture behind a tall step or box [approximately 15 inches (38 cm) high] while holding a dumbbell in each hand.
-- Place your left foot on top and transfer your weight to that leg.
-- Push down with your left foot (especially the heel), straightening your leg, to come up on top of the box.
-- Use the left leg only; keep the right leg passive, especially as you initiate the step-up.
-- Repeat on the same side for eight to 12 reps.
-- Change legs.


-- Hold a dumbbell in each hand, standing tall with good posture.
-- Step forward with the right foot, keeping the head up and spine neutral.
-- Drop your left knee toward the floor by bending knees, making sure to keep the front heel down and the knee directly over the center of the foot.
-- Push down and forward through your heel to return to the starting position.
-- Repeat on the other side, alternating for eight to 12 reps per side.

Four-Way Hip Extensions

-- Stand upright and grasp the stabilizing bar of the machine. The resistance pad should be placed at the knee on the back side of the exercising leg.
-- Move your thigh to the rear until your hip is fully extended backward.
-- Repeat for 8 to 12 reps and change sides.

Complete study results and photos appear in the January/February 2006 edition of ACE Fitness Matters magazine or on the ACE Web site at acefitness.org/getfit/GlutesStudy2006.pdf.

About ACE

The American Council on Exercise (ACE), America's Authority on Fitness, is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the benefits of physical activity and protecting consumers against unsafe and ineffective fitness products and instruction. As the nation's "workout watchdog," ACE sponsors university-based exercise science research and testing that targets fitness products and trends. ACE sets standards for fitness professionals and is the world's largest non-profit fitness certifying organization. For more information on ACE and its programs, call (800) 825-3636 or log onto the ACE Web site.

American Council on Exercise