“Sir Mix-A-Lot” had two enlightening realisations about himself. The first, was that he was incapable of fabricating a deviation from the truth. The second, was that he liked big butts. But what Sir Mix-A-Lot didn’t inform us of is that there is an aesthetically noticeable difference between a toned, firm, trained butt and one that has just been inflated with cheese and biscuits for a decade or two.
Luckily we have moved-on in popular culture away from the malnourished zombie models of the 90s and embraced the mantra that “strong is sexy”. You only have to look around at people like Jen Seltzer who seem to have am-ass-ed a cult following on social media (even if there has been some digital ass-istance).
So why is training your butt important? Well, from a nerdy anatomical and functional performance perspective, strong glutes are crucial to executing a whole range of movements effectively. Essentially, reaching maximum voluntary isometric contraction in both single and multi-joint movements will theoretically ensure the gluteus-maximus is activated, elongated and contracted, ideally with significant time under tension to produce a cellular stress response favourable to eliciting a hypertrophy response, programmed intelligently to facilitate super-compensation of target tissue… But that’s not why you’re reading this, is it?
I’m making an ass-umption: That you are looking at this article for one of two reasons:
- That beautiful butterfly tattoo on your left butt cheek has, over the years, felt the effects of gravity – and now resembles some kind of upside-down fruit bat, hanging on for dear life.
- You find yourself wearing performance compression leggings while shopping, at brunch, going to the movies, and a whole range of non-fitness-related activities. We know why. You’re not the first person to realise the “favourable support benefits”.
So in light of overwhelming demand from women for a formula to create secondary career options as hip-hop booty dancers, we have our “TOP 5 BUTT-BUILDING EXERCISES”
1. TRX hamstring curls
This is a brilliant movement to perform at the beginning of a booty-focused workout as it will both ensure maximal peak contraction in glutes, and acts as a pre-exhaust exercise on the hamstrings – placing a higher stress on the glutes in coming exercises.
Place heels in the strap of TRX, and simultaneously drive the hips skywards as you explosively drive your heels into your ass. Pause and consciously squeeze your butt for two seconds, before slowly lowering to the starting position.
Effective rep schemes around 10-15 reps. The term “kicking your own ass” is ironically poignant with this movement…
2. Curtsey lunges
By placing the rear leg at a very unorthodox angle, this lunge variation places a significantly higher stress on the glutes. Place the knee of the rear leg on the outside of the heel of the front foot – ensuring a very steep and deliberate angle.
This movement is best performed in a “pump” style, sticking to a higher rep scheme around 15-25 reps. Think of yourself like a piston going up and down. If it feels like Satan has sliced the middle of your butt-cheeks with a lava-coated samurai sword, you’re doing it properly.
3. Paused partial-range squats
By sticking in the bottom 3/4 range of a deep squat, the goal is to have the glutes under tension for the entire duration of the working set. Go down slowly and under control, then pause for three seconds whilst ensuring posture upright. Drive up to a 3/4 lockout before going back down slowly again. This exercise will be sticking to a lower rep scheme as the isometric (paused) loading will significantly diminish strength quickly throughout.
Imagine yourself doing an emergency pee on a hiking trail – go down behind a bush slowly while keeping an eagle eye out for anyone approaching. Pause, do your business, and come up only to a height that allows you to check that the coast is clear.
4. Hip thrusts
Possibly one of the greatest glute developers, but also one of most commonly butchered exercises. It is also one of the riskier movements to perform in a commercial gym setting, as making eye contact while performing will take you from super-athlete to creep… instantly.
Place your upper back resting perpendicualr across a bench. Of course you can use any kind of resistance (barbell, bands, chains, bulgarian bag), but barbells work very nicely. Use some kind of padding (unless you are a sadist) and place barbell in the “fold” or “crease” of your hip. Ensure your feet are placed directly under your knees, giving a 90 degree angle in your leg or a vertical shin position. Drive the weight up by pushing through the heels and contracting glutes hard at the top. Lower slowly under control until your butt is a few inches from the floor and repeat.
Ideal rep ranges between 10-15, using relatively heavy weight. If you feel socially awkward while possibly bruising your pelvis and feeling significant butt trauma all at the same time, you’re probably getting the movement right.
5. Stiff-legged deadlifts.
A brilliant movement for those who have the structural balance to perform it correctly. Starting from the top of a conventional deadlift position, ensure the legs are very close together. Pull your shoulder blades down and engage the lats. Now push the hips back slightly and travel down while maintaining a neutral spine and keeping the legs locked out. You should feel a massive stretch in the hamstrings. Flexibility and lower back strength will dictate the range, so if you feel back rounding out don’t go any lower.
Consciously squeeze the glutes as hard as possible to return to starting position. If you are profusely bleeding from the shins from dragging the bar against yourself – perfect! That’s how they should be done.
Now, with these workout moves and fitness tips, you can now learn how to train your butt to perfection! Good luck.