According to Khalil Kelley, a personal trainer at Crunch Gym in Burbank, California, having strong glutes and a strong core can help with the day-to-day activities that we do. “[The core and glutes] are key components in almost every compound movement that we do throughout our day.” Both muscle groups are critical to your posture, lifting heavy items like your kids and groceries, and even the way you walk down the street—which is why it’s important to keep ’em strong.
Aside from your daily activities, having a strong core and glutes can also help you up the ante in your workouts. “A strong core allows you to lift heavier weights and can help exercise form and execution,” says Ashley Joi, CPT. “And strong glutes allows us to not only to be able to jump higher or run faster, they’re part of our posterior chain—made up of the hamstrings, glutes, and low back—which help keep us upright.”
Because these two muscles work so closely together off the mat, pairing them in your workouts can be even more beneficial than targeting them individually. “The benefit of targeting both glutes and core in the same workout is that those muscles work together in a number of natural movements that we do, so it makes sense to find movements that work them together,” says Kelley.
While alternating between crunches and squats is certainly one way to target these muscles individually, there are plenty of bodyweight moves that give you double the bang for your buck in working them both at the same time. Below, Joi and Kelley share their favorite two-for-one exercises that will help you build an “abs and ass” class of your own.
1. Reverse lunge with twist
Add a little abs action to this go-to lower-body move to fire up your side body. “This is a good way to work both muscles and get some all-important oblique work in,” says Kelley. As you step back into your reverse lunge, use your core to twist your torso over your front knee. As you return to the center, plant your front foot and draw your back knee up toward your chest. Complete a full set on one side before switching to the other.
2. Plank glute kickback
When you’re doing them right (engaging your core and creating a straight line from your head to your feet), standard planks are a solid way to work both the front and back sides of your body. Kick things up a notch by adding a glute kickback, which involves raising one leg at a time off of the floor. “It activates your full body,” says Joi. “Your core is the target, and your glutes are activated once the kickback is included.” Hold your plank for 20 to 30 seconds, and if you really want a challenge, try doing a push-up between each rep.
3. Single-leg Romanian deadlift
“Changing your deadlift to be executed on one leg adds an element of instability and balance, which will activate your core while still working your glutes and hamstrings,” says Joi. Standing on one leg, lean forward while raising your other leg back behind you, then engage through your glutes and core to return to stand. To make things even harder, try to keep your back toes off of the floor (aka suspended) the entire time you’re moving, or hold a weight to your chest.
4. Single-leg glute bridge
Kelley is a big fan of this move, thanks to the fact that it isolates one side of your body at a time, which means you can really focus on working those particular areas. Lying on your back with your feet planted firmly on the floor, raise one foot up toward the sky. Press through your heel to lift your butt off the ground, and squeeze through your glutes when you reach the top. Finish your reps one one side before switching to the other.
5. Single-leg multi-planar reach
“This move is a great one to activate your core with the balancing element and your glutes with the hip extension,” says Kelley. Standing on one foot with your hands on your hips, kick your leg out in front of you, then off to the side, then back behind you. Though it doesn’t look like much (it’s a great one to do on the mat, but also while you’re standing in line at the grocery store), this exercise will hit every single corner of your booty, and you’re pretty much guaranteed to feel its effects the next day.
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