It’s been a while since I’ve added to the list of best butt exercises, but I was going through some exercises the other day, and surprisingly felt this one a lot in my glutes!
After wondering why it’s seems like such a good butt exercise, I realized that the benefits are two-fold. Not only do you get a good workout from using the muscle, but an excellent stretch is also built into the move. So you’re really getting both a good stretch and a good work-out in just one move… not bad right?!
Exercise: Straight Leg March
Muscles worked: Glutes, quads, core (including balance)
Jolie Recommends: 3 sets of 15 per side
Difficulty rating: 6
Effectiveness rating: 3
Best Butt Exercise #43: Straight Leg March
This exercise will challenge your flexibility and if you’re not that flexible yet, you might not feel it in your glutes straight away, but I promise you it’s worth sticking with! When you get the full range of motion of a 90 degree straight leg march, you’ll definitely feel it in your glutes of both your standing leg and the raised leg (which coincidentally also gets a great stretch).
I would recommend doing this exercise without weights at all for a while first, until you can get the correct technique and make sure you are feeling the move in your butt. I haven’t tried it with weights yet, but at most I’d be donning a pair of ankle weights to make this a little more challenging once I felt that the unweighted version became too easy.
This exercise will also challenge your balance and surprisingly it takes a lot of muscle power to complete this move – which brings me to a key point. This exercise MUST be done in a slow and controlled manner. You simply won’t get the benefits if you are swinging your legs up or using momentum to complete the move.
How to Do the Move
Being a standing exercise, this one requires a bit of core strength to help you balance on one foot while ‘marching’ with the other.
Take a look at the video below to see what the march looks like (but don’t worry about using weights at all for this one!):
- Start from a standing position with feet about shoulder width apart.
- Engage your core muscles to keep your back and spine in a neutral position, and torso tight.
- With knees locked straight, slowly raise your right leg up in front of you, aiming to bring it to horizontal position without kicking forcefully or using momentum to swing it up. The right arm swings forward along with your right leg, and your left arm swings backwards for balance.
- Keeping your core tight and torso straight, squeeze that little bit more to try and get your raised foot just that little bit higher. You should need to squeeze both sides of your glutes to help you achieve this!
- With your knee still locked straight, drop the leg down and back and continue to arc it back behind you until it is horizontal in the reverse direction. As you swing your leg back, lower your torso by hinging forward from the hip – your body should be horizontal in a straight line while balancing on your standing leg. With your arms, swing the left arm forward to meet your torso, and the right arm back to meet your raised leg.
- Repeat from step 3 – 5 again which represents one full rep on one side. You can then repeat all reps on one side, then do it again on the other side; or just switch sides between each rep.
Perfecting Your Form
- Slow and controlled movements are essential for this one! You definitely don’t want to be swinging your leg up using momentum.
- You’ll need to keep your core and abdominal muscles engaged fully the whole time. Make sure your torso is straight (either horizontal or vertical) and never rounded, which can happen if you’re not that flexible in the hamstring area.
- If you can’t kick that high in front of you because of poor flexibility, just go as high as you can! You will find that your range of motion improves with practice.
It can be tough to get the balance right with this one, so just start slow and focus on squeezing the glutes at the top and bottom of each swing! If you really struggle, start small with just 5 reps per side for 3 sets, and build it up to 3 sets of 15 per side over time.
I wouldn’t suggest using weights for this one for a while, but once you get the hang of it and feel that it’s become too easy, it may be time to don the ankle weights. You should find that you won’t need much, but it should add a bit of resistance to really beef up this exercise’s effectiveness!