Let’s just face facts, everybody wants a better butt! Yes we want to be healthy. Yes we want to be fit and strong. But nearly every day I get asked ”How do I get a better butt?”
It’s asked tons of ways … “How do I tighten my butt”…“How do I get a bigger butt”…“How do I get a rounder butt”…etc.
When it all comes down to it, everybody seems to want a better one, but there are lots of opinions on what a “better” butt is, especially when we are discussing aesthetics (the look or appearance). Some prefer small and round, some prefer large and fruit shaped! Whatever shaped bottom you prefer, a little bit of knowledge about the muscles in your rear end can help you develop any shape you want. When it comes to sculpting a particular shape, it’s merely a question of developing the muscles you want larger while tightening the muscles you want smaller…relatively simple (in concept)!
So the obvious question then is what are the muscles and how do I change them. A full and complete answer would take way too long for this post! The simple of it is that the muscles that represent what we visually see as the buttocks are your glutes (a reference to the three gluteal muscles maximus, medius and minimus). The butt’s shape however is also affected by the abductors, adductors, hamstrings, and in certain body shapes the erector spinae. Simply (and very much incompletely), those are the outside of the upper leg, inside of the upper leg, back of the upper leg and the portion of your back commonly called your extensors (in this scenario, specifically the lower section of your back just above your butt).
Understanding what each of these muscles does will allow us to find exercises that will help develop them. To do so, I need you to go stand next to a mirror positioned so you can see your hips. Stand sideways with your right side facing the mirror. Use a support if needed for stability, and raise your right leg in the air, bending at the hip flexors (see picture at right). Now imagine a straight line down from your spine to the ground. If there is resistance, it is your glutes that would bring your leg back to the ground. When we perform a stepping motion, we use many muscles, but if we keep the knee in place, the glutes are largely responsible for raising you up. Be sure to check out the videos section (www.trainbetter.org/videos) soon as we will be adding a new video with a detailed breakdown of how to properly utilize the glutes when performing a stair stepping motion.
The adductors and abductors are much easier to understand. Adductors squeeze your legs together, abductors pull them apart. If you want an easy way to remember the differences, the names tell you everything. Adductors add, as in bring into. Abductors abduct, as in remove from. Yes, that’s a very simple and incomplete explanation, but that’s the gist of what they do.
The hamstring is the long muscle on the back of your leg and its job is to reduce the angle at the back of your knee. If you stand up and use the muscles in your leg to bring your foot towards your butt, it was your hamstring that was responsible.
Ok, now how to improve it. Simply put, if you want one of those sections larger, utilize them in the way they were designed, and for your final round, after warming up properly, perform your chosen movement slowly with as heavy a weight as you can. In another blog we will discuss how to pick a weight and how different paces matter, but for now, just focus on starting with light weight and working your way up, making sure you can perform your movements properly. Aim to make sure that the muscle is contracted for at least 30 seconds in total per set, ideally closer to 40, across 5-8 repetitions (5 repetitions X 3 seconds each direction = 30 seconds time under tension).
For the muscles you want tighter, again being sure to utilize them in the manners they were designed, post warm up aim for multiple sets (4-6+) of 12-15 repetitions at about ½ second each direction. The reduced time that the muscle is tense will help avoid creating size growth while improving strength and density, creating the “firm” muscle scenario.
For clarity, where I say that the muscles should be used in the manners they are designed, I am referencing their natural path of movement. We often perform movements that bind up muscles because we twist them in unnatural ways during exercises, and we shouldn’t. Doing this can help with muscle growth, and can have its place in a therapy program when a portion of a muscle is under developed, but utilizing these types of exercises for growth training when there isn’t a specific imbalance is a leading cause of tendonitis, adhesion issues, post exercise pain and more. This is a complex topic but simply put, you should know what a muscle is supposed to do in the human body, and then allow it to do that under resistance, while not changing how it normally functions. The hammer curl is a classic example of an exercise that causes problems because of this. The bicep flexes the elbow and supinates (turns up) the wrist. When we perform hammer curls we don’t allow the hand to rotate, binding up the bicep, commonly causing pain and tendonitis at the elbow. That is a simple way to understand an exercise that does NOT utilize a muscle in a manner they were designed for.
Ok, back to the butt! There are TONS of exercises that will help improve the esthetics of your butt, and the choices really are endless. Step ups are great. Bulgarian split squats with an isolated front knee is my personal favorite. The squat and Romanian dead lifts are by far the most popular of the glute heavy exercises (see pictures below for details on these exercises). When it all comes down to it though, whatever you choose to utilize, just remember to work the ones you want larger one way, and tighter another! Beyond, check out our ever growing video section for exercise options. Lastly, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us. We have trainers all over metro Detroit and would love to guide you through how to perform the right exercises for your goal! You can contact us anytime through the contact us page on our site (http://trainbetter.org/about-us/contact-us/) or toll free at 844-Fit-Today (844-348-8632).