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HeartButt Week 10 - Advanced Heart Butt Exercises

by Ashley Black

I want to bring home the Heart Butt Challenge in a big way, so this week we’re kicking it up a notch! We’re taking the exercises you’ve been doing throughout the challenge to the next level. These variations are specifically for those who have been doing the exercises for several weeks and faithfully working on hip extension and glute activation. If you need to start with the basics, you’ll find them here. It’s amazing that we can grow glutes and get the booties we want, but I really want to stress the importance of having pelvis and hip stability. If you need to stick with the initial exercises a bit longer, that’s fine! 

Let’s talk about why we’re adding these variations. If you remember from the original Heart Butt exercises, we focused on building the bigger glute muscles that are on top, because they have the most influence on growth and our shape. We’re adding movements now that will also help fire the fibers of the six smaller muscles that lie underneath, too.

 Glute Max 

We keep the setup from the original Heart Butt series: scapular depression, engage the transverse abs. At the end of your set, hold your leg in hip extension (the top position of the exercise with your leg behind you). Check in with your transverse abs and glutes to make sure you really have both of them working, and then you simply rotate the working leg internally and externally. This is basically keeping the bigger muscle on top contracted while also firing off the little guys underneath. 

Do you feel it in a new way?

Glute Med 

Remember that for the medius we combined hip extension with abduction (moving outward from center). We’re going to add internal and external rotation as we’re lifting in the movement. Lift in external rotation; drop in internal. And then reverse that: lift in internal, lower  in external. 

*** We’re not separating the lifting and rotation into different steps. You want to weave the rotation as you lift and lower.

 Glute Min 

As you change directions in the exercise above, then you’ve actually covered this step, too! You can always end this set with a hold up in extension in abduction while rotating internally and externally. We want to get all those fibers!


After doing your regular set for this exercise, then you’ll add the internal and external rotation. You want to keep the leg straight and pelvis steady. As you rotate, really keep the movement as small as you need to in order not to let the pelvis move. Then we’re going to lift and lower with  the weaving rotation both ways, internal on the way up and external on the way down, and then reverse it.

As an example, you could do 12 straight reps, then add the weaving, then hold up in extension and give it a good contraction to end with the rotations in extension.

Pelvic lifts 

Surprise, surprise - I’m adding rotation!. First, full external rotation. If you can put your feet together in a butterfly position, go ahead. If you don’t have the range of motion, put your feet on the ball and work with the external rotation you have. We want to maintain this as a glute exercise - NOT A BACK ARCH - so pull up from the pubis in a posterior pelvic tilt (if you had a tail, you’d imagine you’re trying to put your tail over your head). Then, separate the feet to get into internal rotation, knees together squeezing, and add the lift with the same tail-over-your-head positioning.

Do you feel these rotated one direction more than the other?


I want to get you guys really going with firing up the lower rectus abdominis as well as the transverse abs, so I have two exercises for you to try. If you remember, I gave you guys the inverted pelvic tilt for this lower abs area. To advance it, make sure you have good control and feel the muscles, and then we’ll add a greater range of motion. The transverse abs have to pull in to protect the spine. I’m not going into a back bend when I go down but rather open at the hip flexors. Plank, pull pubis toward your navel (try to get that tail up to your face), engage core, drop down, then when you pull up act like someone is pulling you up from your low back. This is straight down and straight up. It should be a pain free range of motion with no back compression. The key here is to slide up and down an imaginary pole like a carousel horse. 

I usually don’t take people supine or face up until they have the transverse abs firing in the plank exercise. Face up has less contraction of transverse abs, because on our back they’re assisted. If we’re sitting or standing, they’re neutral. If we’re face down against gravity, they’re weighted. We’re going to really get that lower piece of surface muscles from the pubis to the belly button supine on the ball with a full-range crunch. Start doing this exercise in 2 parts: lift the lower abdominals first (imagine that tail going up over your head again) and then meet it with the upper. When you have good control of each motion, you can try putting them together in one movement. 

***Be sure you pull up with the abs and not push with the glutes.

I really want to urge to to stick with the original Heart Butt exercises as long as your body needs. You want good control of the glutes and abs before you add these advanced variations! And don’t be surprised if you need to do fewer sets when you add these, or if you need to put down the resistance bands while you master these new exercises!

Be sure to watch the full live feed here!

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