Butts are huge right now (pun intended). Celebrities bums are getting bigger by the minute and pretty much every rap artist has at least one song that’s an ode to ass. While I can’t promise that you’ll look like a Kardashian, I do know a thing or two about muscle growth. I’ve been working on growing my glutes for a couple of years now and have made a decent amount of progress. Behind the progress was a ton of trial and error to figure out what really works. Lucky for you, I already made the mistakes and discovered the tricks so you don’t have to! Here are 9 of my best tips to get that booty popping.
- Glute Activation
Before hitting the weights it’s a really good idea to do some glute activation exercises. Not only does it reduce your chances of injury, but it also makes sure your glutes are awake for your workout! According to 2mealday, if your glutes aren’t firing properly then you can become what’s known as “quad dominant” – which means the muscles on the front of your thighs become overworked and tight, and your butt never gets perky!” To avoid this disaster spend 5-10 minutes doing exercises that get the glutes going such as shin boxes, donkey kicks, or clam walks.
- Glute Isolation
I first found this tip on Instagram by bootyking, a man who has earned his handle and became Instagram famous by training women for the specific goal of growing glutes. His workouts include a lot of moves that hit the glutes directly, including glute bridges, kickbacks, and split squats. While you shouldn’t neglect your legs, if you want to add inches to your booty, getting that weight directly to the glutes is essential.
- Squeeze, Squeeze, Squeeze
Whether you are coming up from a squat, kicking back, or holding a glute bridge, squeezing your glutes is essential for growth. Besides activating the muscle, the squeeze is ensuring you are in the right position and protecting your back, which can very easily be injured during leg workouts. If you have a hard time figuring out how to squeeze, check out this video.
- Eat Enough
It is a common misconception that women’s fitness goals should always be accompanied by a caloric deficit. I was in the same boat as I began working on my glutes at a time when I didn’t have a strong appetite. I thought eating less than I burned would compliment my work in the gym when, in reality, I only started seeing glute growth after returning to a normal diet. Now I focus on eating 3 meals and 3 snacks a day. To keep track of what I’m eating (without worrying about calorie counting because nobody has time for that crap), I use the app See How You Eat. I simply take pictures of what I eat which helps me make better choices and get enough protein. Protein is the biggest issue for me because I don’t eat meat, and I have found this app very helpful in making sure I’m getting enough to support my workouts. I am in no way suggesting this app as a way to restrict yourself. Sometimes I have pictures of ice cream sundaes and sometimes I have pictures of salads, and both of these things have an equally important place in my diet.
- Switch It Up
Switching up what you do at the gym is important for two reasons. The first simply being that if you are going to be training 3-4 times a week, doing the same workouts the same way every day will quickly become dull. Once you get bored, your motivation will decrease, and you will likely start skipping days or maybe even giving up altogether. The second reason is that if you do the same workouts all the time your body will get used to them, and you will no longer be challenging your muscles, which is the key to making them grow. During my booty workouts, I often do circuits of exercises that use resistance bands, kettlebells, dumbbells, body weight and machines so that I am challenging my muscles in different ways. It also helps to change your rep amount of workouts you do often. If I want to work on strength, I will add weight and subtract reps; if I want to work on endurance, I will lower the weights and add reps.
- Chill With the Machines
It can be tempting to go to the gym and knock out a bunch of machines, especially at the beginning when free weights might be daunting. Machines are great additives to workouts, but when used alone can do more harm than good. When completing workouts like lunges or squats, your body is using much more than your leg/glute muscles. This is because your body is forced to stabilize itself, causing different muscle groups to work together and prevent muscle imbalances. Having correct muscle balance has many benefits, such as improving posture, and preventing injury. Why is this important to growing glutes? If you don’t know how to properly workout and injure yourself, you’ll be on the couch watching The Office and losing progress before you know it.
- Cut Back on Cardio
When I was in high school, the majority of my workouts consisted of cardio. During the summer and fall, I would burn a bazillion calories a day at soccer; during the winter, I would go for long-distance runs and in the spring, I competed in track. I really enjoyed cardio but once I got to college and found weights, my body changed for the better (and by that, I mean my butt got bigger). According to Nick Nilsson, this is because “[T]oo much cardio can actually hamper your muscle gain by slowing recovery and burning up calories that your body needs for the process of building muscle.” I still incorporate cardio into my workouts. I do a lot of HIIT training and even run a couple of miles here and there. The important thing is to focus mainly on weight training.
- Cooldown & Foam Rolling
At the end of my workouts, I like to spend 5 minutes walking with an incline on the treadmill. Walking gets my heart rate back to normal, and the incline lets me get a little extra work in before I leave. After that, I spend 5-10 minutes stretching. I hold each stretch for about 15 seconds, but if I feel an especially sore muscle, I’ll spend extra time in a stretch that targets it. Finally, I use a foam roller. I am not being dramatic when I say foam rolling has changed my life. Before I discovered this technique, I often struggled with intense soreness the day after a workout. According to Jane Chertoff, foam rolling can help “relieve muscle tightness, soreness, inflammation and increase your joint range of motion.” The sooner you recover from a workout, the sooner you can get back to the gym. You can find a great video on foam rolling here.
- Get Enough Sleep
In 2011, a study was done to test the connection between sleep and muscle growth. Each night, the first group slept 5.5 hours while the second slept 8.5. By the end of the study, the first group had 60% less muscle mass than their starting points while the second group increased their muscle mass by 40%. Lilian Chifley explains the science behind this “[W]hen brains reach the REM phase of sleep, the body “unlocks” the ability to recover organs, tissues, and bones, as well as regenerate immune cells and stimulate human growth hormone secretion.”