Damn! How did you get that ASS!
Here is a story I did, at my editor’s request on the muscle group Glute. Since you have to subscribe to EDGE Magazine to read it, there’s no link but there is a screen grab of the story as it appeared in print.
Have you ever looked at an ice skater or a ballet dancer and thought to yourself “HOW did he get that ASS?!” Ok, maybe you don’t watch ballet or ice skating but you, surely, have seen men at the gym and thought it. It’s irritating to want to have a butt you can set a teacup on and not have one; but it’s actually pretty common because men tend to train muscles that are easily visible. Guys can go shirtless on the beach or sleeveless on the street. They can wear shirts that are cut up to show off their arms and lats or shirts that are open to the navel. The glutes are behind them, though, and even harder to train than the legs. , so often they are the forgotten muscle. This is a tragedy because they also spend a lot of time squashed against a chair. , as we sit at our computers, at the dinner table, in the car, on the train, on the sofa, on a barstool.. you get the picture. What people don’t remember (or maybe don’t know) is that the glutes are one of the most powerful muscles in the body (Ok, THE most powerful), responsible for a lot more than cushioning your tailbone while you type or filling out your jeans. They need to be strong. Did you know that many people who complain of having lower back problems don’t have a bad back? They usually have weak glutes, resulting in a lack of lumbar support. So let’s throw your bumm a little bit of love.
Everyone who takes lifting seriously knows from squats, deadlifts and lunges. These are great exercises to do IF your form is right. Much of the time, we get bored and just go through the motions to which we have become accustomed; it’s like walking and nobody built up a big butt just by walking. The next time you do your squats, DLs and lunges, get out of your head and really focus on your form. Ask yourself, make a note of it: are you squeezing your glutes at the top? When you push up from your squat, are you only using your legs and letting your glutes just hang out? When you do your deadlifts, are the glutes engaged the entire time? One of the reasons athletes like skaters and dancers have those big butts is because the are focused on every movement following through, like a line that has to be completed. These three normal exercises can become much more effective if we all focus on making the form perfect, which, sadly, a lot of us do not do, creating wasted movement.
A glute exercise you can do anywhere is actually a yoga pose called The Bridge. Lie on your back, raise your knees and plant your feet at hip length apart. Keeping your head, neck, shoulders, arms and hands on the ground, raise your hips off the floor; squeeze your glutes for several seconds and then relax. Do it again. I do 4 or 5 sets of 25 reps. You’ll feel it; and, after a few weeks, you’ll notice growth. For experienced lifters, you can do this with a barbell across your hips. The safest way to make this modification is to start with low weights and work your way up to heavier weights, over time. I recommend 4 sets of 5 to 10 reps, depending on the weight you are using. Don’t hurt your back with a lot of reps and heavy weights; it’s not worth it.
A similar move is a barbell hip thrust. Start out without the barbell, learn the form and then add the weight when you feel you are ready. You’ll need a bench – sit on the floor with your back against the bench and your arms outstretched, to give you support. Plant your feet, hip length apart, and raise your hips as far up as possible but with a flat back, squeezing the glutes. When you have mastered this, add a barbell with weight that is comparable to your ability level. The weight goes across your hips and your hands come down to the bar to assist. You won’t be able to hyper extend the hips the way you can when working without the weight but push as hard as you can and remember to squeeze. Without weight, I stick to my 4 sets of 25 reps. With the weight, I tend to do 4 sets of 5 to 10, depending on how heavy I’m going.
Finally, I like to do Bulgarian split squats from time to time because they help with balance, as well as building muscle. In the gym you can use a bench or a Bosu ball; at home you can use either of those or, if you don’t have them, a footstool, exercise step, ottoman.. something to raise one foot off the ground. Stand with one foot in front of you and the other foot elevated behind you. Keeping an erect spine, squat down with the front leg until the knee of the back leg is almost touching the ground; then push back up, squeezing the glutes at the top. It’s easy enough but you want to remember about the knee on the front leg not going past the toe – no injuries on this one, please! You can do this with or without dumbells in your hands and, of course, what you do on one side, you have to do on the other. I do 4 sets of 25 reps, with or without weights – so pick weights you can manage and challenge yourself!
These glute workouts are effective for men and women alike. We can all benefit from a stronger pair of legs and less back pain and, natch, we want to do what’s healthy for our bodies; but let’s look at the bigger picture here. If, by adding a better glute workout to your training each week, you can have a healthier posture and stronger muscles AND have a better looking ass, don’t you want to at least give it a shot? That way, everyone wins in the end.