How to Build a Better Butt
If there’s one body part that is more “in” than ever before, it’s the butt. With the “ideal” feminine body shifting from runway model stick-thin to a curvier, more voluptuous figure, this has opened the door for women who have no hope in ever being a size 2 (aka most of us) to celebrate and feel more confident in their bodies. This also means, however, that those of us who haven’t been blessed with a round, perky behind are going have to do some extra work to achieve their desired size and shape.
Why you should want a better booty
There are more reasons than just aesthetics for why you should want to start working on your bum. When you work on building your glute muscles, you are also building strength and stability through those muscles and the surrounding hip muscles and joints. This will help to keep your knees healthy, your ankles strong, and prevent falls and injury as you get older. This is because weak glutes can cause tracking problems in your hips and knees, which can then translate further down your leg into your ankles and feet. Your glutes are your base and your engine, without strong ones you’ll find yourself with knee problems after a long hike or your first aerobics class, and you’ll have a harder time staying on your feet when there aren’t any seats left on the subway or you get jostled in a crowd.
Thankfully, unlike other areas on your body you may wish you could change the size and shape of, such as your boobs, you can give yourself a DIY booty-makeover. All it takes is a little sweat and will-power.
The anatomy of the butt
While it may seem like your butt is just one big muscle, it is actually made up of 3 main ones:
- The gluteus maximus
- The gluteus medius
- The gluteus minimus
In order to change both the size and shape of your bum, it’s important to understand each of these muscles, where they are, and how to work them.
The gluteus maximus
This is not only the largest of the three glute muscles, it’s the largest muscle in your whole body. It begins near your hip and attaches to your IT band (a band of facia that attaches connects your hip and your knee), as well as has some connections through to your quadraceps (front of your thigh).
Function: The glute max is primarily responsible for moving your upper leg backward, like when you rise up out of a squat, or in driving your rear-leg forward when you are sprinting.
The gluteus medius
The second smallest of the glutes, the glute med sits higher up and attaches to your hip joint.
The gluteus minimus
This is the smallest of the 3 and is also connected to the hip joint as well as the sciatic notch.
Function: The glute med and glute min perform similar functions, including thigh abduction (turning your thigh/knee outwards), stabilizing the knee while running and walking, and rotation of the hip.
When trying to improve the size and shape of your butt, you have to work all three gluteal muscles. This means you have to do a variety of movements, both single and double-leg, in order to reap the reward.
How to grow a better butt
In order to increase the size and change the shape of a muscle, you have to hit it with a ton of volume and heavy weights. It will burn, make you sweat like crazy, and leave you sore for a day or two after each workout, but it is the only way.
This means doing at least 4-5 sets of each exercise or exercise combination, with anywhere from 12-20 reps per set, with added weight on top of it all. The best way is to start at a lighter weight and at the lower rep range. As you workout more, first increase the number of reps, then increase the weight. When you feel like a certain number of reps is becoming easier, drop back down a few reps and add on some more weight. Don’t be afraid to push yourself and make it uncomfortable!
Exercises for your glutes
These exercises target all three glute muscles differently, so it is important that you always include a variety of them in your workouts. They are:
- Split squats
- Bulgarian split squats
- Walking lunges
- Leg press
- Glute bridges
- Side lunges
- Clam shells
- Donkey kicks
Key notes: Perform all exercises at a slow, controlled pace, focusing on form and really using your glute muscles. Additionally, another way to add volume without adding reps is to add what are called “quarter reps” to each repetition. For example, when squatting, you will go to the bottom of your squat, come up a quarter of the way, go back down to the bottom, and then go all the way back to the top.
Other exercises to improve your glutes
You may be surprised to learn that improving the shape and perkiness of your butt isn’t just about working the glutes. Your hamstrings, the muscle found on the back of your thigh and that attach to your glutes, are crucial for glute development as they help to “lift” your butt. Exercises that will work your hamstrings (and your glutes!) are:
- Romanian deadlifts
- Single leg romanian deadlifts
- Full deadlifts
- Hamstring curls
Key notes: Just as with the glute exercises, all reps should be done slowly and controlled, starting with the bigger, more full-body movements and moving down towards the smaller, more muscle-specific ones. Keep your biggest movements (squats and deadlifts) on separate days.
Other considerations for growing your glutes
Beyond exercising, there are other important factors for booty growth: Food and Water. In order to grow a muscle, especially the largest one in your body, you have to eat for it. Skipping meals and not eating enough will not provide you will the calories and nutrients to repair and grow. Similarly, your muscles need water to work, repair, and get bigger, so chronic dehydration will stunt this capability.
It’s best to eat 3 meals a day with snack interspersed throughout, as needed, focusing on lean protein, healthy fats, plenty of vegetables, and whole-food carbohydrate sources such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, oats, rice, quinoa, and other non-processed grains. In general, if you are hungry, eat! Your muscles need it.
When you combine a proper diet with butt-blasting exercises, you’ll achieve the best butt lift possible without difficult surgery or uncomfortable butt-enhancing clothing. The results won’t be instant ( expect a few weeks to a few months) but they will be long-lasting, and they will provide you with better knee and hip health to boot(y)!