Everyone wants perfect glutes — those high, rounded, bounce-a-quarter-off-’em bums. And while the J-Los and Beyoncés of the universe were simply born with genetically gifted rear views, others had to fight tooth and nail for every last muscle fiber they’ve got.
Tabitha Klausen is allowed to sing the booty blues because, at nearly 6 feet tall and naturally thin and lanky, she was born with no butt to speak of. “For my butt to look this way today is the result of a lot of hard work and lots of weights,” she says, laughing. “This butt was NOT God-given!”
When Klausen first began lifting, she was hanging with a group of bodybuilders and hence, she was into super heavy weights. “I remember once I was leg-pressing 700 pounds and I felt like my hips were going to snap,” she says. “I was like, this is not worth it!”
Klausen has had to declare several things “not worth it” in her lifetime, including a long bout with eating disorders that began when she was only 14 years old. She became bulimic and anorexic as a control tactic to cope with a bad childhood and an extreme case of self-consciousness. “I was always so tall that I constantly felt big and just wanted so badly to be small,” she says.
By her 20s, she had somewhat gotten control of her disorders by educating herself on health and nutrition and getting into lifting weights. After a few years in the gym, her circle of friends encouraged her to compete. Klausen did a bikini competition as a way to prove to herself that she could push her limits, but she never anticipated that she would win her first show and turn pro at her second. “That is where I should have left it — at two shows,” she says. “A lot of girls in the sport were gymnasts or cheerleaders, and they were out there smiling and they enjoyed it — and I did not.”
Being onstage in front of people and being judged only brought back her feelings of inadequacy, and Klausen felt her eating problems beginning to rise up again. “The disorder never really goes away completely, and the on-season and offseason swings in weight and mood were not good for me,” she says. “It was not worth it.”
So she left competition in favor of physical health and mental balance. “Now I am into lifting moderate weight and challenging myself with new and different activities, like going to the batting cages or rock climbing,” she says. “At this point in my life, I have really gotten things together and am feeling completely balanced and healthy. I am taking care of my body in ways I never thought about before because I want to have kids in the next few years and create a healthy human being. That is my ultimate goal.”
Setup: Stand behind a loaded barbell with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart, toes turned out. Keeping your back straight, kick your hips back and sink down until you can grasp the bar in a shoulder-width overhand grip. Your shins should be perpendicular to the ground, back straight, focus forward and core braced.
Move: Extend your legs, pulling the barbell up in a straight, vertical line as you come to a standing position. Squeeze your glutes at the top, then slowly lower back to the floor under control.
Tabi’s Tip: Your toes and knees should point in the same direction the whole time.
Setup: Stand on one foot with your other foot extended in front of you. Draw your shoulders back and look forward.
Move: Bend your standing knee and squat all the way down until you bottom out while keeping your other leg lifted in front of you above the floor. Extend your leg to return to the start and repeat right away.
Tabi’s Tip: Start by doing these with a box or begin at the bottom and practice rising up from there to get stronger.
Setup: Hold a barbell across your traps and shoulders and stand with your feet wide, toes turned out slightly.
Move: Bend one knee deeply while keeping your opposite leg straight, chest lifted, shoulders back. When your thigh comes parallel to the floor, push through your heel and extend your leg to the start. Do all reps on one side before switching.
Tabi’s Tip: Keep your chest up; don’t lean forward to keep the weight shifted back and into your heels and glutes.
Banded Lateral Squat Walk
Setup: Secure a band loop around your thighs just above your knees and stand with your feet hip-width apart, hands clasped in front of you with your elbows bent. Kick your hips back and bend your knees to lower into a deep squat.
Move: Hold your squat as you take small steps to the side, using slow, controlled movements and perfect form. Repeat in the opposite direction to complete one set.
Tabi’s Tip: Stay as low as you can to really get that burn in your glutes and hips!
Single-Legged Box Bridge
Setup: Lie faceup and place one foot squarely on the edge of the box, foot flexed, arms along your sides. Extend your opposite leg straight up into the air and lift your hips several inches off the floor, abs tight.
Move: Press through your foot and lift your hips toward the sky as high as you can without arching your back until your knee, hips and shoulders are in line. Squeeze your glutes, then lower back to the start. Do all reps on one side before switching.
Tabi’s Tip: Beginners can do this on the floor or a lower box. The higher the box, the more challenging the move.
Donkey Kick/Fire Hydrant Combo
Setup: Get on all fours with your hands underneath your shoulders and your knees underneath your hips, head neutral.
Move: Keeping your knee bent 90 degrees, lift one leg behind you and press the sole of your shoe toward the ceiling until your thigh is parallel to the floor. Lower to the start, then immediately lift your leg — still bent 90 degrees — up and to the side, raising it as high as you can while keeping your hips square. Lower to the start to complete one rep. Do all reps on one side before switching.
Tabi’s Tip: Don’t rush through this move. Do each part of it through the full range of motion to make the most of it.