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American Council on Exercise (ACE) Certified Professionals Say Do More Squats, Lunges

SAN DIEGO - Forget about "butt-busting" fitness gadgets. A recent poll of American Council on Exercise (ACE) certified fitness professionals found simple squats and lunges to be the best ways to tone and shape the gluteal muscles.

In the May/June issue of ACE FitnessMatters, more than 36,000 ACE-certified fitness professionals were asked to name the best exercise for achieving a shapely rear end. Most of the respondents said the best overall exercise was squats – with or without weights. Lunges were named a close second.

Both exercises require core body balance and strength to isolate lower-body muscle groups. But other favorites were just as basic. Walking uphill, jogging and stair climbing rounded out the top-five. Richard Cotton, ACE’s chief exercise physiologist, is quick to point out that toning and shaping any muscle group requires incorporating a strong aerobic component into your exercise program.

"Squats and lunges will work to strengthen your gluteals, as well as most of the major muscle groups of the lower body," Cotton said, "but you will only see a change in shape if you are doing fat-burning aerobic exercise and watching your diet as well. You’ll get the strength benefits doing squats and lunges, but there will be no change in appearance without a well-rounded approach.

"Your best bet is walking uphill. It’s the best combination of aerobic activity to burn fat and anaerobic activity to shape muscles."

Here are the top gluteal/lower-body exercises, according to surveyed ACE-certified fitness professionals:

  1. Squats, with or without weights

  2. Lunges

  3. Walking, especially uphill

  4. Jogging, running, or sprinting

  5. Stair Climbing

Cotton also strongly warns against believing any specific exercise is a sure-fire way to get the body you desire. A number of factors determine body size and shape, including diet, cardiovascular conditioning, and strength training. But according to Cotton, something none of us can control – genetics – is the No. 1 factor in body shape.

The American Council on Exercise (ACE) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the benefits of physical activity and protecting consumers against unsafe and ineffective fitness products and instruction. As the nation’s "workout watchdog," ACE conducts university-based research and testing that targets fitness products and trends. ACE sets standards for fitness professionals and is the world’s largest nonprofit fitness certifying organization. For more information on ACE and its programs, call (800) 825-3636 or log onto the ACE Web site at

**Photos of the top-5 exercises are available in electronic format upon request.

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Founded in 1985, the American Council on Exercise (ACE) is a nonprofit organization committed to America's health and wellbeing. Over the past 30 years, we have become an established resource for health and fitness professionals, and the public, providing comprehensive, unbiased research and validating ourselves as the country's trusted authority on health and fitness.

Today, ACE is the largest nonprofit health and fitness certification, education and training organization in the world with more than 65,000 certified professionals who hold more than 72,000 ACE Certifications. With a long heritage in certification, education, training and public outreach, we are among the most respected organizations in the industry and a resource the public has come to trust for health and fitness education.