Around here, we’re all about creating that fitness lifestyle; a life that’s centered around good health, feeling great, and moving our bodies in ways we enjoy..but let’s be real, I’m 98.9% sure you also want to look great.
Maybe you’re a tad embarrassed to even admit that, but no judging here…heck I’ve been competing in bikini fitness competitions for 6+ years where my sole focus is to look good, on a stage no less.
It’s a-okay to want to look great!
And thanks to social media, we now want a nice, tight butt too. (*slight eyeroll*)
And I want to help you get that butt! 😛
Plus, a tight, round butt doesn’t just look great, it’s also really important for injury & pain prevention. Strong glutes are as important as a strong core.
So let’s dive in:
1.) Why you need a strong butt (I once had very weak glutes…not fun)
2.) Why you have a flat, jiggly butt (that was me!)
3.) The 5 things you must do to build and strengthen your butt (at one time I wasn’t doing these)
4.) My top 4 exercises for a strong, tight butt (they work like a charm!)
1.) Why you need a strong butt
You know that a strong core is important (you may not know why, but you know it’s ‘important’), but without a
strong butt too you become kind of, lopsided.
See, your core (think: abs) and glutes work together to hold your body upright and keeping your pelvis in its proper place. If you neglect one (i.e. glutes) you’re going to have trouble doing both of these things. And this leads to poor posture and a greater chance of pain and injury.
If you try to have perfect posture with weak, disengaged glutes, you’ll never get there.
Test your glutes and posture right now:
- Stand up where you are
- Pull your belly-button in and brace your ‘core’ like someone is about to punch you. But keep looking forwards (not down).
- What happens to your posture?
You began to round forwards, even though your core is braced, right?
- Stay in that braced-position, but now squeeze your glutes as well
You should feel yourself starting to stand up straight again.
If you only had a strong and tight core you’d be rounded forward with terrible posture, we need our glutes to balance out our core and keep us upright. Anytime you’re standing (or walking) you should be engaging (i.e. Squeezing) your glutes slightly to stay upright in that amazing posture.
(Your Mom told you to stand up straight but she forgot to tell you to squeeze your butt too)
Injury and pain prevention:
Your glutes are connected to your pelvis (along with your core) and your pelvis is a main ‘mover’ in your body. Take 30 seconds right now and think of all the movement you can do that originates from your pelvis (bend forwards, walk, swing legs, hip circles in case you’re hula-hooping).
As aforementioned, if we have weak glutes our pelvis won’t be able to sit in its proper position. I know from real-world experience (i.e. Injuries) that a rotated pelvis is no fun and really no fun if you try and do weighted exercises with a rotated pelvis.
A poor-positioned pelvis can often be the cause of SI-joint related pain (ie. that joint that is opposite of your hip-bones; where your pelvis attaches to your low back). But when you have strong glutes that you actively use (along with a strong core) your pelvis stays in place and helps stabilize you as you do really cool movements like jump over fences and lift heavy objects off the ground.
Strong glutes= nice butt AND pain prevention!
2.) Why you have a flat, jiggly butt
At one time this was me, so I feel for you. Thing is, it’s not 100% your fault but rather is partly due to your circumstances combined with sleepy glutes not ‘turning on’ anymore (more on that later).
In general a muscle becomes weak when you don’t use it.
Many of us are in a seated position for 70%-90% of our day (desk-work anyone?). When we’re seated our glutes are 100% NOT working (very difficult to squeeze and engage your glutes as you sit. Give it a try).
And when we are standing or walking how often have you squeezed and engaged your glutes?
(I’ve even let my glutes fall asleep as I stand and write this. Now engaging my glutes… 😀 )
The more we don’t use our glutes the harder it becomes to engage them and put them to work. Glutes are notoriously lazy, so even if you’re doing all the butt-exercises you may not be using your glutes much at all (more on that later).
So we know they’re weak because we don’t use them, typically from too much sitting, so how do we change that? Read on!
3.) The 5 things you must do to build and strengthen your butt
Back in my pancake-butt days (even before Instagram-butts became a ‘thing’), I was doing all the squats and deadlifts (you squat to get a nice butt, right?).
But it definitely was not helping.
Then I discovered the hip thrust and glute bridge! That was the key to a nice butt.
Yet I still wasn’t progressing in either my strength or my butt-size (it was still very pancake-like.)
What was I doing wrong?!
I don’t want you to go through the same long butt-shaping journey I went through, so read below for the 5 specifics of what you must do to build and strengthen a kick-ass butt.
But first, there is 1 over-arching thing you need to start doing if you want to see any results in your backside (you could do all the Instagram exercises and still never get a tight, round butt).
Glute engagement (i.e. The ‘butt pump’)
You need to actually feel your butt doing the work; not your quads nor hamstrings (I was 100% guilty of this!)
Onto the 5 specifics of what you must do to build and strengthen a kick-ass butt:
1.Warm them up
Before you do any exercise for your glutes you need to start with a warm-up to activate them. Glutes are notoriously lazy; why should they do the ‘work’ when you have quads and hamstrings that can do the same work?
So it’s up to you to tell them, “Hey, wake up! We have work to do here’.
A great way to warm them up is with lateral (side-side) banded walks
2. Feel your glutes!
Okay, you don’t need to literally pet your bum, but you need to actually feel your glutes working to build and strengthen them. As you’re doing a glute-focused exercise, really think of using your glutes to do the movement.
Once you no longer feel them working (and your hamstrings and quads takeover), stop. Re-position and try again or take a rest.
3. Squeeze your glutes
This goes with #2, but one reason you’re not feeling your glutes is you’re not squeezing them in their most shortened state (ie. When you push your butt and pelvis forward). In all exercises where you want to target your glutes, you need to be squeezing them at that ‘top’, shortened position.
Even right now, if you’re standing up you should be (slightly) squeezing your glutes.
(Put them to work, lady!)
4. Position them properly
To be able to achieve the last 2 points, you need to position your glutes properly to be able to work ’em.
Caveat: This isn’t 100% black and white as everyone is a little different. So play around with the positioning that works best for you and where you feel your glutes working the most.
In general, tilting your pelvis forward (a posterior tilt) will engage your glutes. This position will also keep your core engaged (which you want!)
5. Move in all directions
Your body moves in all sorts of ways, so we need to strengthen it in all those ways. Hip thrusts and glute bridges are great, but that’s moving your glutes in just 1 direction (up/down). Make sure you add in all the planes of movement (i.e. All directions).
In simple terms that means:
- Side-side (side-side band walks)
- Up/down (hip thrust)
- Angle (kickbacks)
- Forward/back (cable pull through)
4.) My top 4 exercises for a strong, tight butt
You’ve made it this far in the article and you’re dying to know what the top 4 exercises are that I use to build a butt I’m proud of (it may not be the biggest booty in the world but it’s strong and I like it).
I’ve ranked the exercises in order of preference so if you’re short on time (or patience), just stick with exercise #1. You’ll also notice we’re working in all the planes of movement.
Without further adieu, the top 4 exercises:
- Glute bridge (or hip thrust)
This is should be your first go-to exercise when adding in glute exercises. I always say, exercise is never 100% black and white, what works for 1 person may not work for the next, but glute bridges are a really great place to start.
Since they’re a ‘bigger’ exercise (they recruit more muscles to perform), it allows you to easily load them with extra weight to really build strength and size. Plus they’re an easy movement to learn and can be done anywhere (no equipment needed!).
Definitely start with bodyweight glute bridges (shoulders and feet on the floor) in a 12-20 rep range before adding weight or raising the shoulders (which becomes a hip thrust).
These can be done with a cable (my preference) or a resistance band. These target the hamstrings as well but are fairly easy to feel your glutes on.
Play around with how you position your body so you can really feel your glutes working. I’d recommend standing upright, kicking your leg back as far as possible, and pausing at the ‘top’ of the rep (squeeze your glute). Kicking your leg back at a 45 degree angle is also worth a go.
- Lateral band walks Or Seated abductions
Although a smaller movement, both are excellent at targeting the glutes and nothing else. So if you’re struggling with feeling your glutes work, give these a go (plus they should be in your warm-up routine anyway 😉 )
These can be done with a cable (my preference) or a resistance band. These really target the hamstrings as well (important to help make your butt look great). Make sure you really squeeze your glutes at the top of the movement by pushing your hips forward.
With a bit of smart training you can (and will) build a tight and strong butt you’re proud of!
But hey, sometimes you don’t have 1 hour to spend in the gym (I see you, never-ending to-do list!). Make sure you grab your 0 Minute Workout Game Plan, so when you only have 5, 15, or just 0 (yep!) free minutes you can still get a great workout in!
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