Want A Better Butt?
As a personal trainer, I’m often asked, “What are the best exercises for toning my butt?” Before I knew better, I’d always recommend squats and lunges. Unfortunately, our modern-day lifestyle complicates things. It has become quite obvious that we suffer from a lazy butt epidemic: our lifestyle discourages use of our glutes, and as a society, we’re losing them. The glutes are one of the strongest muscles in the body; it would be a shame to diminish their power.
Sitting deactivates the glutes, decreasing our brain’s ability to communicate with them. Most of us stand with our hips extended, knees locked, and weight shifted too far forward. This posture sends a signal to the brain that the glutes are no longer needed and they turn off.
Women’s health magazines promote the idea that hitting the gym three to five times a week, doing the most cutting-edge, butt-sculpting exercises, is the method to a better butt. While those exercises certainly won’t hurt, they aren’t the full answer. A few hours per week won’t do much to transform your glutes --- you need to focus on how you use your butt on a daily basis, outside of the gym.
The average American bends over 2,000 times per day. But guess what? Most people aren’t bending properly --- they’re using their lower back instead of their glutes. Ah ha! Why do you think that 90 percent of us will suffer from chronic back pain?? The solution? Avoid sitting for long periods of time. Learn how to bend over by using your glutes. Make sure you’re standing properly.
Proper movement patterns ensure that the posterior chain (hamstrings, glutes, lower back, and calves) is working correctly. By mastering movement, constantly using your butt, your glute muscles remain active. And that’s when the rear-end magic takes place!
Here’s my top three better butt tips:
1. ACTIVATE your glutes! The first step to a better butt is retraining the glutes to turn on and stay on.
The majority of us stand with our knees locked, hips extended forward (shown below). This posture turns off the glutes.
Instead, try this: when standing, unlock your knees, shift your weight back to your heels, and push your butt back (slightly extending your hips). This allows the glutes to remain active.
2. USE your glutes! If you don’t use them, you’ll lose them.
Learn how to hinge at the hips. This saves your back and works your glutes overtime.
Here’s how: when bending forward or downward, shift weight to the heels, slightly bend the knees, and extend the hips back, all while keeping a neutral spine (this is super important). Moving this way forces the glutes to do all the work while sparing the lower back. Hip hinging makes all the difference. Learn it. Master it. Your glutes will love you, and you’ll love your glutes!
3. WORK your glutes!
Using your glutes for normal daily activities is the first step to a stronger butt. Next, you can target the glutes with focused exercises. My favorites are hip bridges (single and double leg), split squats, and dead lifts (hip hinging with weight). Please remember: dead lifts, done incorrectly, can lead to back pain and injuries. Master the technique before adding weight.