A Physical Therapist Gave Me This Ab and Butt Workout – After 5 Months, I Can See a Difference

Getty / Vladimir Vladimirov

When I started feeling burning pain in my left hip last December, it was just the latest in a series of discouraging lower-body injuries. It all started with my feet, then my ankle started to twinge, then my hip started flaring up. By the time I started seeing a physical therapist for the hip problem, it had been nine months since I’d been able to do any of my normal workouts, and I was ready to explode with frustration.

What I first thought was a hip strain actually ended up being a rotated pelvis, my physical therapist told me. Months of poor sitting habits at my home desk paired with weakened ab and glute muscles from months without exercise had thrown off my posture and alignment, allowing my pelvis to slip out of place and cause pain and tightness in my hips, glutes, and lower back. The tilted pelvis was what initially freaked me out, but after several physical therapy sessions and some realignment exercises, that part resolved pretty quickly.

No, the really tough part turned out to be strengthening my abs and glutes. I had lost so much strength that I was basically starting from scratch, so my physical therapist created a 20-minute foundational workout meant to help me slowly build up and engage my muscles again. I started off doing this workout twice a day. As I got stronger, I was able to drop down to once a day and progress to more difficult exercises. After a few months, I could see the difference as my abs started to look more defined and feel the difference as my core and glutes were engaging and working during walks and short workouts.

Related: I’m Shocked That This 5-Minute Ab Workout Made Me Feel Stronger After Just 2 Weeks

Now that I’m easing back into a regular workout routine, I still do this workout once or twice a week, usually before going for a run. I’ve been doing pre-run ab workouts for a few years now, and my physical therapist customised this routine to help me strengthen core muscles that are important for running, so it feels like the perfect match. While I’m happy to be able to get back to a more varied routine again (how I’ve missed my barre and yoga workouts!), I still love how well this quick, low-equipment routine gets all the muscles in my core and butt firing. It’s suitable for beginners (hence my PT’s “foundational” description), but I find that the moves continue to light up my muscles even as I’m getting stronger. Check out the full workout below, and try it for yourself to build strength or just get these important muscles engaged before a workout.

Foundational Workout For Butt and Abs

Equipment needed: Resistance bands are optional on some exercises.

Directions: Complete the reps and sets for each exercise listed below, doing the full amount of sets for each exercise before moving on to the next. Take rests as needed throughout the workout. You can do this workout up to twice a day if you’re trying to build back core strength, or do it before a workout to activate your muscles.

Exercise Reps and Sets/Time
Leg raise 2 sets of 10 reps
Clamshell with resistance band 2 sets of 10 reps
Single-leg glute bridge 2 sets of 10 reps
Fire hydrant with resistance band 2 sets of 10 reps
Frogger 2 sets of 10 reps
Bird Dog 2 sets of 10 reps
Elbow plank 2 30-second holds
Side plank 2 30-second holds on each side
Bodyweight squat 2 sets of 10 reps
Standing kickback 2 sets of 10 reps
Superman 2 sets of 10 reps

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