Second only to getting sexy abs, how to get a nice, round butt is the most asked question I get from people. I’m a living testimony that there’s definitely room for improvement and that you can mould your body to the shape and physique you want if you train correctly and wisely. There are ubiquitous gym and fitness memes that are all praises about squats being the holy grail of workouts for a juicy peach bottom. How true is it and how effective can squatting be for you? Squatting puts your entire lower half to work–hamstrings, quads, calves, and of course your glutes. It requires you to activate your core and keeps it engaged in order to be executed correctly (and to protect your back during heavy squats). A squat is performed with feet shoulder-width apart with your toes pointed slightly outwards. Keep a straight back, big chest, head up. Start to sit back (keep your core tight) while keeping your heels flat on the ground. Conventionally you’ll want to get your thighs parallel to the floor. But the lower you squat, the more muscle you’ll engage and activate.
Let’s get down to the nitty gritty Ifs and Buts of what it takes to get a nice butt.
IF your stance is narrow, with your feet only about shoulder width apart or a little less, then you’re hitting the outer hips (think Shakira). This is great for women who want a little more curve on the outside to help make their waist appear smaller.
BUT if you take a wider stance (like I usually do), you’re getting your inner thighs to work harder and by pushing yourself up with your heels as you stand, you’re targeting your glutes more effectively.
IF you stick to doing bodyweight exercises, including bodyweight squats, you won’t be able to build muscles like you would if you incorporated weights.
BUT doing bodyweight squats will help improve your muscle endurance and strength. It will also help tone and build glue muscles. BUT you’ll need to do weighted squats if you want them bigger.
IF a smaller butt is your goal, then get yourself on the cardio to lose body fat and complement it with overall strength training. You’ll want to do bodyweight squats to help you achieve a tighter and firmer shape to your butt.
BUT if you want some serious junk in the trunk, then you’ll be slapping those weight plates on. For optimal results, get yourself on the squat rack twice a week instead of just doing a weekly glute day.
Squats are NOT the only exercises that can help you get a firm and round bottom. Try the exercises below and incorporate them on your next glute and leg day for best results.
Lying Leg Raises (3 sets of 15-20 reps) This can be done on a flat bench or on the floor. Start by lying on your back flat, legs extended straight. Place your hands either under your glutes with palms facedown or by your sides holding on to the bench. Keeping your legs as straight as possible with a slight bend at the knees (keep them locked), raise your legs until you make a 90-degree angle with the floor. Keep your core tight and exhale as you raise your legs and hold the position for a second or two at the top. Then inhale as you slowly lower your legs back down to the starting position.
Butt Lift Bridge (3 sets of 10-15 reps) This is also sometimes called hip bridges. Lie flat on the floor with your hands by your side, knees bent. Make sure your feet are shoulder-width apart. Pushing your pelvis up with your heels, lift your hips up off the floor while keeping a straight back. Exhale during this motion and as you get to the top, hold that position making sure to contract your glutes for a second or two. Then slowly lower back to the starting position as you inhale back in.
A variation of this or another set can be performed with one leg extended straight thus putting more weight and work on the other leg. This will increase difficulty but will also help you progress further and more efficiently.
Sumo Deadlift (3 sets of 20 reps, light weight) Start with a loaded bar on the ground with a weight that’s easy enough for you to carry but also offers some challenge/resistance. Approach the bar until the bar is touching your shin. Stance should be wide. Bend at the hips to grip the bar with your arms directly straight below your shoulders, inside your legs. Find a grip that’s comfortable for you. Relax your shoulders and traps. Take a breath, lower hips, look straight ahead with your chest up. Imagine pushing the floor away from you with your feet, keep your weight on the back half of your feet and extend through the hips and knees. As you lift the bar past your knees, lean back and drive the hips into the bar pulling your shoulder blades together to the back. You’ll want to be exhaling throughout this motion. Lower the weight back to the ground by bending at the hips and controlling the weight on your way back to starting position.
Wide Stance Barbell Squat (5 sets of 20 reps) This is my favourite glute exercise next to weighted hip bridges because it’s been so effective for me. Pick a weight that’s easy enough to squat with but still offers resistance. Get under the bar and place it across the back of your shoulder near the rear delts (that’s the low bar position). Squeeze and tighten shoulder blades together, rotate elbows forward. Unrack the bar by creating an arch in your lower back and step backwards into position. Feet must be wider than hips with toes pointed outward and knees slightly bent. Keep your neck relaxed and neutral.
Go down into a squat by pushing your hips and butt backwards. Keep doing down until your thighs are parallel to or just below parallel to the floor. Inhale during this movement. Now to go back up, push yourself up with the heels of your feet with your knees out and not caving or bending inward. Keep going with your chest up and a tight core and back until you get back to starting position. Once you get back up, contract your glutes and quads without locking your knees.
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