On building that booty
Gluteus maximus. Bum. Buns. Booty. Arse. Ass. Buttocks. Derrière. Fesse. Matako. Mahaga. Thutha.
Lately, there has been major hype when it comes to the rear end. Long gone are the days when you could let nature run its course on your behind and hope for the best. Not today! Even Angela Bassett who's clocking 60-years-old, has a well-shaped, perky behind.
So what is it that makes a beautifully rounded yet plump rear end? It's a combination of well-developed gluteal muscles and a relatively low body fat percentage. We all know how to drop body fat through consistent diet and exercise, but even if we lose the fat covering our bums, do we truly know how to build a round well-toned booty?
The truth is that if your glute muscles are not properly activated, one million squats will not lift up and round out your buns. Here's why:
If you have a desk job or you spend most of your day seated, chances are you glutes have shut-off. This means that due to inactivity, the muscles are dormant. What happens when you attempt to do squats or lunges is that your stronger more developed muscles, such as your quadriceps (the muscle running along the front of the thigh), and hamstrings (the muscle at the back of the thigh below the glutes), take the bulk of the workout.
I used to squat about 120 lb, but my thigh muscles dominated and powered my lift. As a result, I had little to no glute engagement. My bum was fast asleep. With some good research and consultation with a fitness trainer, I learnt how to activate my gluteal muscles by doing the following:
1. Stretching and foam rolling- Tight hips and leg muscles may be preventing you from activating your glutes. Performing hip stretches and foam rolling along muscles such as your iliotibial band ( IT band), quads, calves and hamstrings before and after a workout can unlock tightness that may be preventing you from working your gluteal muscles.
2. Glute activation exercises - These are exercises aimed at firing up the glutes. If performed correctly, they isolate the glutes through slow and controlled movements which 'wake up' those muscles.
Below are some of the glute activation exercises that I perform regularly.
What you need:
- Ankle weights - 5lb, 10lb, or 20lb.
- Booty band
- Yoga Mat
- Water bottle
1. The Donkey Kick (using ankle weights)
Start on all fours, with your palms planted on the floor (as shown below), or on your elbows. Find which position is more comfortable for your lower back. Raise your right leg with your knee bent at a ninety-degree angle. Engage your core and push your leg up as high as you can and lower it back down to parallel, keeping your right glute squeezed. Be sure that this exercise is performed slow and controlled versus using momentum. (15 reps per leg)
2. The Kickback (using ankle weights)
Start on all fours. Extend your right leg out straight till your toe touches the ground, your starting position. Again, you have the option to be on your palms or on your elbows. Raise the extended leg upwards as high as you can for two counts. Hold the leg up and squeeze your right glute, then slowly lower it down till it hovers just above the ground. (15 reps per leg)
3. The Side to Side Kickback
With this kickback, you start with your right leg stretched out on the ground, but instead of directly behind you as with the kickback above, you extend your leg slightly right. Raise your leg slowly up as high as you can, then cross leftwards over your resting leg in one round wide arch, all the while squeezing your right glute. Then extend it back in the same motion around to starting position. You should feel a serious burn after five reps. (8 reps per leg)
4. The Bridge
Start lying down flat. Plant your feet as close to your glutes as you can. Elevate your body off the ground as shown above. Once you're properly elevated, raise your toes off the ground and keep your weight on your heels, which ensures that your glutes are engaged. Slowly lower your body down till you're hovering above the ground in three counts, then push weight upwards back to the starting position in one count. (15 reps )
5. The Standing Kickback (using resistance band)
This exercise is similar to the kickback described above, except it's done standing. Some people perform these exercises when standing upright, but I always find easier to really isolate my glute muscles when I'm slightly bent. I use my booty bands for added resistance. Like the other exercises, be sure to squeeze your glutes as hard as you can while performing the exercise.
If you're a beginner, your body weight may be enough to activate your glutes and feel the burn as you perform these exercises. However, as your glutes strengthen up, feel free to add ankle weights and booty bands for further resistance. Booty bands can also be used while performing weighted squats or hip thrusts to ensure that glutes are engaged.
These booty exercises are perfect for people that may have knee issues and may not be able to perform exercises like squats and lunges.
I ordered my booty bands here, a pretty affordable price for 5 different colored bands. I bought my ankle weights on Amazon for about $15 and they weigh about 10-lb per piece. Amazon has several options that range in price, weight, and color.
Remember ladies, the booty of your dreams is not going to build itself, so start activating your buns!