Work Your Butt Off

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The latest fitness craze is a fit behind. The truth is, that’s actually a pretty good measure of overall fitness because if you have neglected your health and fitness for very long at all, it’s going to show up in your butt very quickly. The good news is that these muscles are the largest muscles in our bodies and they do respond to losing body fat and exercise. It won’t happen quickly but if you’re faithful to your program, it will happen. You can get a great booty.

One way that women set ourselves up for disappointment is to forget that fitness is about being the best that we can be. It’s not in cutting a picture out of a magazine or screen shooting an IG model and saying, “I’m gonna get that butt.” No, you will get YOUR best butt and the only way that you will get someone else’s butt just might be the way that they got it, with invasive treatments and surgeries or some great photo shopping.

Interestingly enough, our butts are not just for looks! The gluteal muscles are the largest muscles in our bodies and when they are strong, we are strong. When they are weak, we are weak overall and much more prone to falls and injuries of all sorts. While the gluteus maximus does create the shape of our butt, it also enables us to raise our leg to the side, rotate our legs and move our hips forward. Imagine how feeble you will be if you allow this major muscle to atrophy. Your range of motion will become severely limited and you will walk with that stiff, old lady scissor walk instead of a nice, smooth sway in your hips. The gluteus medius and the gluteus minimus aid the larger muscle to perform various finer movements. The piriformis lies underneath the gluteus muscles and helps to shift your weight from one leg to the other while your thigh is flexed, such as during running. Keeping these muscles strong is mandatory for adequate range of motion during exercise and in everyday activities. Our glutes support us when we are standing and give us balance. If they become weak, merely walking across a room can become perilous. They help us push off with every step that we take.

While function is not what most people are concerned about when they consider their butt, function is paramount to good health and good looks. If you become debilitated and unable to work out, your health and the appearance of your body will spiral downward very quickly. Since the butt muscles are so big, when we engage them in a workout, they really burn a lot of calories, so a workout aimed at giving you a good butt will also torch some all-over body fat. If the butt muscles are weak, the hamstrings and knees will try to compensate, which sets you up for injury in these parts. Again, we’re looking at a possible immobility issue. When I first started heavy weight training, I did all kinds of crazy things to avoid just letting that Iron drop me low, forcing me to engage my butt to stand up . One of the things that I realized was that my knees were taking a beating when I was trying to cheat that squat. When I resigned myself to squat deeply and allow my glutes to bear the brunt of the iron, my knees never hurt again. Believe me, your big butt muscles are more able to take that descent and rise than your little bony knees. Drop it like it’s hot, Sista.

Exercise your glutes at least three times per week. While I only train heavy on my glutes two days, I walk as often as possible and that is a glute exercise. I have recently added weighted hip thrusts or glute bridges to my routine before squatting and deadlifting and it has improved my range of motion on my first rep. I don’t have to warm up. The weighted thrusts do that for me. My glutes engage better and my squat is deeper right off the bat. I love those weighted thrusts. Thank you, David. I also consciously engage those muscles with every rep. It makes a difference. My lifts feel easier and my body gets stronger.

While we all want a shapely rear view, we must remember, we can’t shape fat! In order to have a well defined backside, it’s imperative to shed the fat layers first. Yes the extra padding will make your butt bigger but it won’t give it a good shape. It will give you cellulite and sagging and a spongy texture. Lose the fat and shape the glutes and whatever you’re left with will be a fine behind. I love heavy squats and deadlifts for sculpting. Again, heavy weight training is not for everyone so find a good weight bearing exercise that works your butt and get your doctor’s approval and work it. Lose the fat though or otherwise you will never have what you want in a rear view.

Your muscles release energy in two forms but in three different ways.(1) Energy is released as heat when the muscle maintains a contraction, again as heat when the muscle shortens and as work when the muscle shortens against a load. This means that muscles stoke your metabolism with every movement of your body so when you work out to shape the muscle, you are increasing your metabolism as the muscle grows. This is a win-win situation. It becomes a bit self-perpetuating in that as you work to lose the fat and shape the muscle, you are igniting a metabolic fire that increases your basal metabolism, or the amount of calories you burn while sleeping. Get your doctor’s permission and start stoking your fire today! You will look and feel better and your entire body will benefit from the increase in your metabolism.

Remember, genetics determine the basic shape of your butt, however you can finesse that shape into your unique version of perfection with enough hard work, good nutrition and time and,as David  always says, “Trust the process.”

(1) https://www.nature.com/articles/142907c0

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