One common goal among most of my female clients is to have a bigger butt. But wait… it gets better, they also want a smaller waist, “toned” arms, and don’t want to touch a weight heavier than 5 pounds.
What do I do? I EDUCATE them!!!
This blog is going to concentrate on the “larger booty” portion of the previous mentioned goals, but stay tuned for a blog about why lifting won’t make women “huge” or “bulky”.
The booty is made up of a muscle group called the Gluteals (Minimus, Medius, Maximus). These muscles are responsible for hip extension, lateral rotation, and hip/pelvic stabilization during movement or gait (walking). They are one of the most powerful muscle groups in the body. This muscle group is used when walking, standing up, sitting down, and any type of locomotion movement. (bike, skateboard, swimming, running, etc)
So why is it that some people tend to think strapping a five pound ankle weight on and lifting their leg behind them will make their glutes larger? It won’t. When we walk, the forces at the hip are 3x our body weight! When we go up stairs, that force increases to 5.5x our body weight. Do you really think 5 lbs will affect these powerful muscles?
So how do you get a larger butt?
I’m going to outline a few key concepts;
Hip Loading is one of the most important concepts you will ever learn to do in the weight room. This can be done during a movement like a squat or dead-lift with a “hinge-like” movement of the hip area rather than taking the brunt of the load with your knees, or low back. Not only is this important for glute activation, not doing this can be detrimental and cause injury. Any decent trainer should be able to properly demonstrate this for you.
Glute activation – I mentioned this in the previous paragraph this is the actual ‘turning on’ of your gluteals. Many people tend to use their low back or hamstring muscles over their glutes. One way to test this is to do a floor bridge a few times. Do you feel it in your glutes? If your hamstrings are cramping up or your lower back hurts, you aren’t turning on the right muscles. This can be fixed easily with proper form and cues.
Basic Strength Principles:
The term used for increase in muscle size due to effects of training is hypertrophy; and is a result of an increase of the cross-sectional diameter of a muscle. (in this case, the glutes)
Lets refer back to some basic strength principles from the NSCA (National Strength and Conditioning Association). Specific exercise stimuli yield specific muscle adaptations. Hypertrophy requires large muscle stimuli to increase protein synthesis and create a big booty. The NSCA reports the best way to get bigger muscles is to use a load that is 67-85% of your 1RM for 6-12 repetitions with short to moderate rest.
What is 1RM? It is the heaviest weight you can lift one time and one time only. Most of us do not actually test for this, so how do we know the correct weight? It is simple. If your repetition goal is 12 for a specific exercise, you should be able to lift the weight 11-12 times. The last repetition should be difficult! If you can lift it for 2 or more additional repetitions, it is too light, and if you can’t come close to 12 reps, its too heavy. The weight must be heavy enough to stimulate the muscle on the cellular level to achieve hypertrophy. If you are lifting too light, you are only cheating yourself.
When one is proficient in weight training, and ready to progress her program plyometrics are a great addition! (Jumps, box jumps, squat jumps, SL hops, etc) This is a way to produce power and achieve muscular growth by activating fast twitch muscle fibers in addition to standard weight lifting.
With any muscle hypertrophy program, eating carbohydrates and protein post-exercise will assist protein synthesis and muscle growth. Also allow 24-48 hours of rest for that specific muscle group, in this case, the gluteals.
Yes. its true. A nice round booty is not just muscle, it is also FAT! Somehow fat got a bad reputation, but guess what! We need it!!! Women especially need fat to assist with the physiological role and regulation of estrogen. Fat protects our organs, creates plasma membranes, cell walls, absorbs vitamins, and can be used for energy. But mostly, at the right percentage, it can give women a feminine shape. When women dip below 12-13% body fat, they can go through ammenorhea, have hormone imbalances, and even acquire osteopenia. (Precursor to osteoporosis). In turn, any female with a body fat percentage near 30% of higher is considered obese.
The areas in which we store fat is specific to each individual, based solely on genetics and cannot be changed without liposuction or fat injections. We are born with a certain number of adipose cells, these cells can swell or shrink depending on our diet and body composition. Some ladies store all of their adipose tissue in their backside and will never have to worry about squatting 200lbs or completing 50 box jumps to grow an ass through hypertrophy.
***There are ways to get healthy fat in your diet. (Omega 3 and 6 are very important for many functions in our body). Healthy Fats come from things like avocados, coconuts, seeds, nuts, and fish.***
In conclusion, there are many ways to shape and grow your gluteals, backside, booty, ass, bum, butt, or whatever you like to call it!
If you have questions or want to try some of these principles, please do not hesitate to reach out to me!!! Thanks!
Amelia Sofis, M.S ATC/L, CSCS