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Photography by Robert Reiff
It’s Tuesday in Las Vegas, and that means one thing for pro Bikini competitor Amanda Latona: glute day. Well, one of them at least: Latona trains her lower body twice a week and always puts an emphasis on her glutes. “Every leg move I do, I tweak it just a little in order to make it more glute-intensive,” says the four-time Sacramento Pro champ. “And I like to do things heavy — no 20- or 30-rep sets for me. If you’re going to work the glutes, then work them hard and mean it.”
Latona typically does eight moves for each of her lower-body workouts and takes very little rest between sets, making her workout intense and cardiovascular. “This helps keep my body fat low and gives me a good boost of endurance,” she says.
But with eight moves per workout and four sets per move, how does Latona keep her quads under control?
“It’s all about foot placement, especially with compound motions like squats and presses that involve a lot of quad action,” she confides. “I always have my feet far forward on a machine platform and spread them wide apart with my toes turned out. It’s also super-important to have a good mind-muscle connection with your glutes and to drive through your heels with every rep.”
Latona is full of advice like this. Check out this glute workout from her training log, and use her detailed tips to make the most of every move.
Setup: Position yourself on the hack platform and spread your feet wide, toes turned out. Position your shoulders underneath the pads and unlock the stops.
Action: Lower down slowly until your thighs come parallel or just below. Reverse the move and drive through your heels to power back up to the start.
Latona Says: “I like to do multi-joint movements like this one in the beginning of my workout when I am strongest. With this move, I place my feet wide apart on the platform and turn my toes out. Then you can really get the glutes.”
Walking Dumbbell Kickback Lunge
Setup: Stand with your feet together and hold a set of dumbbells at your sides.
Action: Take a large step forward and bend both knees to lunge straight down. When your front thigh is parallel to the floor, push off your rear foot and extend both legs, standing on your front leg and lifting your rear leg straight up behind you. Squeeze and hold for two seconds, then swing that leg through and go right into the next lunge.
Latona Says: “Lunges are the No. 1 move for glutes in my opinion, since they incorporate balance and unilateral training, both of which really target the glutes. I do at least one kind of lunge in every lower-body workout. With this one, I don’t bring my feet together and stop the forward momentum. Instead, I swing my leg straight through to the front and go right into another rep.”
Setup: Hold a set of dumbbells at your sides and stand facing a flat bench. Place one foot fully on the bench.
Action: Step onto the bench and extend that leg completely. Then step back off the bench with your trailing foot and briefly touch the ground. Repeat right away, doing all reps on one side before switching.
Latona Says: “This superset is super hard and really pushes the cardio aspect of my workout, burning a ton of calories and fat. I use a lighter weight for this move than I do for the walking lunges, so I will take a few seconds to trade out my dumbbells and then get right back to it. I like to keep a constant tension on my working leg at all times, so I never bring it down off the bench to rest.”
Bulgarian Dumbbell Split Squat
Setup: Hold a set of dumbbells at your sides and stand a few feet in front of a flat bench with your back to the bench. Extend one leg behind you and rest your foot on the bench, laces down.
Action: Bend both knees and lower straight down. When your front thigh comes parallel to the ground, reverse the move and push through your front heel to return to the start. Do all reps on one side before switching.
Latona Says: “I love this squat because the range of motion is greater than with a two-legged squat. The more range of motion you have, the more glute fibers you recruit and the better your results. To put more emphasis on my glutes, I lean forward slightly with my upper body — with a flat back of course — shifting my weight over my working leg and putting more of a load on my butt.”
Barbell Hip Thrust
Setup: Position your upper back and shoulders across the broad side of a flat bench and hold a barbell across your hips. Lift your hips up to come in line with your knees and dig your heels into the floor.
Action: Lower your hips slowly until your glutes touch the ground, then press them back up to come in line with your knees once more. Pause and squeeze for two seconds before going into the next rep.
Latona Says: “Putting this kind of hip bridge up on a bench gives you a much bigger range of motion and isolates those glutes like crazy. The squeeze is important here, so take your time and hold it for a full two seconds at the top every time. Also, use a pad across your hips like a towel or something so the barbell does not roll — and so it does not dig into your body!”
Setup: Stand beside the cable machine. Attach an ankle cuff to the lower cable pulley and secure it around your left ankle. Keep your eyes facing forward.
Action: Raise your left leg out to the side. Pause and squeeze for two seconds before slowly lowering to the start.
Latona Says: “I like to keep my foot flexed as I raise it out to the side. The trick here is to keep your focus on the working muscle and pay attention to proper form throughout the entire exercise. Don’t lean over as you raise your leg; make sure only your lower body moves — no upper-body movement at all.”
Setup: Attach an ankle cuff to the lower cable pulley and then secure it around your ankle. Stand up straight and face the weight stack, holding on lightly to the machine for balance, abs tight, shoulders back.
Action: Lift your leg straight back as high as you can without arching your lower back or tilting forward. Pause and squeeze for two seconds before slowly lowering to the start.
Latona Says: “A lot of people tilt forward with their upper bodies when doing this move, but then it gets your lower back and even your hamstrings. I prefer to stand up straight as I can and simply draw my leg straight back as high as I can. And remember: Constant tension is your friend with glutes; never let your working foot touch the ground to rest.”