The gluteus maximus is your main hip extensor. The glutes as a muscle group perform more than one function, but lying down and moving your hips straight backward targets the biggest glute muscle, the gluteus maximus. A backward movement of the hip is called hip extension, and it doesn't matter if you're standing, kneeling or lying down--it's still hip extension. Lying down may help you concentrate more fully on the glutes, and there are a few hip extension exercises that may be done this way.
The Superman exercise works both sides of your glutes at the same time. Your upper body also gets some work with this exercise, though you can leave your upper body lying on the floor. The Superman would then become the reverse back extension exercise, which also is a lying hip extension exercise. To perform a Superman, lie on your stomach with your legs straight and the tops of your feet on the floor. Place your arms on the floor in front of you with palms turned inward. From there, lift both legs a few inches in the air as you raise your arms and head a few inches off the floor. Lie back on the floor to complete a Superman.
Lever Lying Hip Extension
The lever lying hip extension exercise is done on a hip extension machine. This exercise targets the gluteus maximus. Lie on your back on the machine's bench to do the exercise. Bend your knees and place them onto the leg pad. Relax your upper body onto the bench and put your arms at your sides. Hold the sides of the bench. Squeeze your abs and push your lower back flat onto the bench. Then, press your legs forward and straighten them as you push against the leg pad. Finish one repetition by bending your knees and pulling them back to the starting position.
Contralateral Limb Raises
The contralateral limb raises exercise allows you to work one hip at a time. This way, you can focus on activating one glute muscle to ensure each is working. Sometimes muscles don't activate completely, and if you isolate a particular muscle during an exercise you can ensure you're squeezing it tightly. Begin lying on your stomach with your legs straight, and your arms straight over your head and on the floor. Lift just your left leg straight into the air as high as you can without rolling your pelvis off the floor. Squeeze your left glute as you do so, then relax your leg back to the floor. Repeat this with your right leg. Once you're sure both glutes are working, lift one leg and its opposite arm together. For example, raise your right leg and your left arm, and then do the same with your left leg and right arm.
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