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A step aerobics class is great for your glutes.
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Many factors affect the size of your rear. Your genetic makeup plays a role, but that's not something you can control. What you can do to maintain or improve the size and look of your rear is manage your weight and train your gluteal muscles. When you do step aerobics, your glutes -- or hip and buttocks muscles -- help propel you upward, over and across a raised platform. Over time, step workouts can give your butt a firmer, more shapely look.
Step training offers great strength benefits for the entire lower body. When you step up, your glutes bear the brunt of the work, but your quadriceps, hamstrings and calves also do their fair share. Higher up, your core muscles -- including your back, abs and hips -- work hard to keep you stable as you fly over and around the step. Working out with a step regularly can help improve your cardiovascular health, develop coordination and agility, and boost your mood. Stepping can also help with weight management. Working without risers, a 120-pound person stepping at a rate of 120 beats per minute can expect to burn about 135 calories in 30 minutes. That rate increases if you boost the intensity by raising your step, moving your arms overhead or using larger or more powerful leg movements.
Growing Your Glutes
Like any muscle or muscle group, your glutes can get bigger if you combine targeted weight training with adequate calorie consumption. If you're already carrying around extra weight and you start doing step aerobics regularly, you might see a broadening of your backside if you don't also lower your calorie intake. If, on the other hand, you combine frequent step training with a healthy diet that reduces body fat, your butt might take on a higher, tighter and more curvy appearance.
You can tweak your step workout to increase or decrease gluteal involvement, boost aerobic output and increase caloric burn. In general, adding risers to your step, picking up the pace of your music or wearing a weighted vest means greater exercise intensity and more work for your lower body, including your butt. You can add glute-specific exercises -- such as side and rear leg lifts or squats straddling the step -- to better target your rear. Your position off the step also makes a difference. Stepping onto the platform from farther away puts the onus on your gluteals. If you prefer to deemphasize your glutes, stay closer to your step. Standing closer to the platform shifts emphasis to your quadriceps, the large muscle group in front of your thighs.
Whatever your goals are for your step workouts, safety should be your top priority. Bumping up the height of your step might boost gluteal involvement and help strengthen and tighten your buttocks, but a higher step also puts more pressure on your hips, knees and ankles. When you set up your platform, follow guidelines outlined by Cedric Bryant of the American Council on Exercise regarding height. As you step up, the knee of your lead leg shouldn't be higher than your hip, notes Bryant. Avoid stepping up or down with your back facing the platform and don't stand too far away from the step, which can throw off your alignment. Ankle weights are not generally recommended for aerobic activities, including step aerobics, according to Bryant.