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Many treadmills come programmed with incline settings.
Cardio training is an effective method for burning calories, but you can also build muscle by attacking your body from different angles. Depending on the angle of attack, your lower body will emphasize different muscles during an aerobic workout. To get a more shapely, stronger butt, you need to work out at an incline to increase natural resistance.
Activating the Glutes
The key to developing a bigger, stronger and more shapely butt is to activate the muscles that make up your backside. The major muscles of your butt are the gluteal muscles. This includes the gluteus maximus, which is the big, meaty part of your rear, and the gluteus medius, which is the smaller section that makes up part of the hip flexor. A traditional jog or bike ride just isn't going to give you any meaningful contraction of those muscles unless you change up the angle of attack and increase the resisting force of your workout.
All About the Incline
One of the simplest ways to increase the effort of your cardio workout without increasing your pace is to work at an incline. You can set your treadmill to a higher grade, run hills, increase the resistance on your stationary bike or use a stair climber. All of these exercises target your butt muscles and force them to undergo intense, repeated contractions. Running uphill forces your body to recruit two or three times the number of muscle fibers as running on level ground, according to notable U.K. track coach Brian Mackenzie.
It's important to keep in mind that your butt will likely shrink in outward appearance when you first start a new butt-targeted exercise routine. This is because higher-intensity workouts burn more calories even as they increase muscle mass. Although your glutes will get larger and stronger, the outer fat surrounding the glutes will decrease, slimming you down a bit before you start to see noticeable growth. Walking 3 mph on a 12 percent incline can result in a heart rate equal to running twice that speed on a flat surface, according to a 2008 study conducted by researchers at A.T. Still University. The higher your heart rate during exercise, the more calories you'll burn.
Shaping Your Butt
When you make the decision to introduce incline training to your cardio routine, you don't want to go all-out right away. Exercise expert Dr. Nina Cherie Franklin, PhD, recommends a 3 percent incline to start out. Then, you can increase or decrease the incline depending on how you feel. If you want to get more growth out of your glutes, you need to attack them head-on by performing supplemental exercises such as lunges, squats and box jumps.