Let’s face it, we all want a firm, toned butt, right? But why? What’s all the fuss about booty, thigh gaps, tight butts, strong butts and the like? Heck, there’s even a Miss Bum competition in Brazil! Well, the good news is there are more benefits than you realise to having a well worked butt than just fitting it perfectly into your favourite pair of jeans. And, the great news is that you can have the great butt you’ve always wanted! But first …
What are my butt muscles?
You may have heard your butt referred to as your glutes. This is an abbreviated term for the group of three major muscles known as gluteus maximus (the largest muscle in your body), gluteus medius and gluteus minimis. The large and powerful glute muscles have an important role of keeping your trunk upright, extending your hips (pulling your thigh behind you), abducting your hips (movement from side to side) and both internal/ external rotation of your hips.
Unfortunately, given our modern ‘sitting’ lifestyle, our glutes often become weak and under-worked. Apart from a less than desirable looking butt, this weakness and lack of tone can then impact your posture, decrease your mobility and contribute to back pain.
What are the benefits of having a strong, toned butt?
So, it stands to reason that if weak glutes can cause the issues mentioned above, then having a strong butt can benefit you too. There are many indirect ways having a strong, toned butt can benefit your health, but here are 4 direct ways your toned butt can improve your life:
1.A strong, toned butt can help you avoid back pain
Your glutes work to stabilize your pelvis and maintain appropriate movement of your hip joints. When the glutes are strong they ‘fire’ when you’re in motion. This takes the burden of stability away from your smaller lower back muscles. Over use of these smaller lower back muscles is often the root of back issues. If you’ve ever suffered from back pain you’ll know I needn’t say more!
2. A strong, toned butt can improve your posture
Your glutes can help you improve your posture by allowing you to stand taller, as well as making functional movements like sitting down, picking up heavy objects and climbing stairs a whole lot easier. Strong glutes (in combination with other core muscles) contribute to better posture. Improving your posture will not only help your breathing and digestion but will make you look leaner. Sounds like a win-win!
3. A strong, toned butt can help with weight loss
You can get a fat-burning, weight loss bonus by building your booty! There are no shortcuts when it comes to losing weight, but there are certain hacks you can do to make the process more efficient. Of course, losing weight is 80 percent about your diet, but doing adequate cardio workouts and building lean muscle can accelerate this. Simply, muscle burns more calories than fat. So, by putting your largest muscle group (your glutes) to work, you will aid in losing fat and get that toned butt in one go.
4. A strong, toned butt can decrease risk of knee injury
Strong glutes (in particular, glute medius) keep your pelvis stable, which in turn allows your lower extremities to do their intended work of movement. Unfortunately, in the case of weak glutes, your knees and ankles compensate and must work harder to keep you stable. This can lead to knee injury, especially if you’re heavier and dramatically increasing your movement. Strong glutes will take the pressure off your lower extremities resulting in better stability, and often in better athletic performance.
5. A strong, toned butt will improve athletic performance
This doesn’t apply to ‘athletes only’. This applies to everyday moving. Building stronger glutes will improve your functional movements in everyday life as well as your speed, agility and ability to change direction quickly. Your body thrives when it is moving and running efficiently. But, it will also function based on the neural paths or patterns that you have used in the past. Often, we have movement patterns that rely on lesser muscle groups to compensate for what we have neglected to teach the larger muscle groups to do! By improving your glute strength and recruiting your glutes for the movements they were intended, you can see a marked improvement in athletic performance, often with little else changing in your training.
6. OK, and a strong, toned butt looks good!
Need we say more …
Now you know what your glutes can do for you, here are 3 moves you can do for them!
1. Squats for a toned butt
The humble squat is a simple and effective exercise for working your large muscle groups. You can start by using your own body weight as resistance and as you become stronger add hand weights, kettle bells or a barbell. Checkout the technique masterclass on how to do squats. Do 15 reps for 2-3 sets, adjusting your weight depending on how advanced you are and how good your technique is. Remember to breath evenly as you do the squats, don’t hold your breath!
2. Bridges for a toned butt
The bridge exercise is a great way to isolate and strengthen your glutes and hamstrings (back of thigh). Lie on your back, with your hands by your sides, knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Tighten your abdominal and butt muscles by drawing your belly button to the floor. Then raise your hips to create a straight line from your knees to your shoulders. You want to avoid your hips sagging. Hold this position for 20 to 30 seconds, then return gently to the floor and repeat 10 times, for 2 sets.
3. Lunges for a toned butt
Like squats, lunges are a great compound exercise. This means it will give your quads, hamstrings and core a workout, as well as your glutes. Lunges are a versatile activity with variations of static and dynamic repetitions. Pay special attention to your stance and posture (hips forward) when doing lunges, as this ensures the correct muscle groups are activated. Check out this free technique master class for lunges before doing 15 Reps each leg for 2-3 sets. You should feel your butt start to burn, if not, readjust your stance!
Now, get your butt into gear!