Male or female, if you're working out for sex appeal, these exercises will really help. For more movements from the Element Training program, click on the figure at left.
Exercises for Strength
Lunges & Squats
These are described in the quads section, and are great ways to work the buttocks as well. Add intensity to lunges or squats by holding dumbells in your hands. For some great cardio, combine squats with lateral dumbell flies; pumping blood to two different muscle groups simultaneously will be rewarding and hard work for the heart.
Lying on your stomach, quickly tighten and release your glutes in a pumping motion. This can be done from Locust Pose, Bow Pose, or Locust Pose with knees bent and apart and feet together. You might also try squeezing your knees together in bow pose, if your quads have enough flexibility. All of these exercises can be done as static holds: simply assume the pose and contract your glutes as hard as possible.
The Fire Hydrant
This actually targets the abductor or outer thigh muscles. Begin on your hands and knees, and lift your leg out to the side and up, keeping the knee bent and shoulders level. For an extra challenge, hold your leg up and extend at the knee in a roundhouse kick.
From the hands and knees or from Downward Dog Pose, kick one leg backward and up, then contract it to bring your knee to your chest. Ankle weights will make this significantly more difficult.
Stretches for Flexibility
Beginning on your hands and knees, bring one foot between the opposite hand and knee, thus turning your leg inwards at the hip and bending it at the knee. Lower your body over your stretching leg by inching your opposite leg backwards and bringing your torso down. You can deepen this stretch by starting with a greater angle between stretching calf and thigh, holding the foot forward with the opposite hand if necessary. Alternately, you can lower your opposite leg and raise your torso by arching your back into a modified Pigeon Pose.
Standing Glute Stretch
Stand and touch a wall with the assisting hand. Bring the stretching leg's lower, outer shin against the assisting leg's lower, front thigh. Lean forward, allowing the assisting leg to bend at the knee, bringing your chest toward the stretching leg's shin. For an adventure or two, try to reach down and touch your fingers to the floor, then catch the stretching leg's foot and knee in your elbows, link your hands in front, and be mindful of your back as you stand up.
Glute Stretch from Hero Pose
From the Hero Pose, lift one leg's lower outer shin onto the other's lower front thigh, and lean forward over the legs.
Inverted Glute Stretches
These follow naturally from the inverted hamstring stretches. Take care not to strain your lower back or knee. Lay on your back, raise your legs and roll up onto your upper back. (One) Bend one knee and bring its foot towards the opposite shoulder, catching it inside the opposite elbow if possible. (Two) Hold the foot in position while you push up on the stretching leg's knee with the matching forearm. (Three) Slowly release forearm and knee and bring the knee closer to your body; use the released hand to grab the free foot above you, and hold that foot as you bend the matching knee, thus bringing the stretching leg closer to your body. (Four) Hold the stretching leg's foot in the opposite hand, and bring the knee towards the armpit and the foot towards your forehead. If possible, tuck your shoulder under your knee and your foot behind your head.
Reclining Glute Stretch
A more back-friendly version of the first inverted glute stretch. Lay on your back and bring the assisting heel near your butt with the knee up. Place the stretching leg's ankle in front of the raised knee, and either grip the assisting leg's thigh in both hands and pull it towards you, or push forward on the stretching leg's knee.
From the Hero Pose, cross your legs to place one knee on top of the other, with the top leg's calf pointed toward its opposite side. Now shift your hips to sit down between your heels. To intensify the stretch, lean forward over your legs.
Static Holds for Endurance
Bridge Pose Variations
The Bridge Pose is normally done for the lower back, but can be focused on the glutes instead. Assume the bridge pose and lift one leg off the ground, bearing as much weight as possible with the grounded buttock. For a nice challenge, try making big circles with the straight lifted leg, and for even more challenge, place the grounded leg on a yoga ball as well.
Stand with your back against a wall and feet together about 18 inches in front. Slowly lower your back down the wall, ending with the legs bent 90° at the hip and knee joints. You can also do this away from the wall with legs apart in a martial-arts style Horse Pose.