Butt-Ology: How to boost your glutes

By: Quinton de Bruin

Yesterday I wrote about my introduction to the world of triathlons and endurance training. I briefly mentioned that I had a hold up thanks to a pulled calf muscle. The detail I didn't go into was that when I went to the physio the start the rehab, she told me that the root cause of my injury was in fact weak and ineffective glutes – better known as butt a.k.a. ass! Needless to say then, I became an expert in how to grow stronger glutes. Faced with this potentially ongoing compensation requirement, I had to once again learn a few things about strengthening and conditioning butts. Ladies once again, most of what you will find below lends itself to firming and toning, you'll just be able to kick butt at the same time!

Before we get into the serious stuff, I stumbled across these fun facts and thought I would share them:

  • It affects your purchase of underwear, shorts, and jeans
  • Others may notice it when you are shopping at the mall for the aforementioned items
  • You sit on it at some point during the day. Some people do it for hours
  • The primary butt muscle - the gluteus maximus - is the largest muscle in your body
  • Some are small, some wide, some average, some narrow, and some quite large
  • Among others, K.C. and the Sunshine Band and Sir Mix-a-Lot wrote songs about it in 1976 and 1992, respectively. And ZZ Top wanted to be taken downtown to look for it.

Right so the useful information now. The glutes are made up of 3 muscle groups:

  • 1.Gluteus Maximus
  • 2.Gluteus Medius
  • 3.Gluteus Minimus

The Gluteus Maximus is the largest muscle in the gluteal group. Its function is primarily upper leg extension (upper leg being the thigh). In terms of movement think about getting up from a squatting position. It also assists with driving your legs backwards when running and sprinting.

You can work your glutes with barbell squats, lunges, certain leg presses, deadlifts, glute presses, one-leg squats, and machine squats. The gluteus muscle, like any other has to a degree, got genetics to blame for the shape you see behind you. Now to clarify that – naturally butts are made up of your gluteus muscles and fat. The great thing about the genetics piece is that it is the muscle and therefore can be shaped through the exercises listed above. The rest (fat) you get to use to either increase the shape if you have no butt or conversely you may like to trim the fat if your glutes are on the developed side of the spectrum.

I will just clarify something there, because as simple as the visual is of slapping a bit more fat on your butt to shape it (or the opposite); I feel the need to shatter some dreams created by "As Seen On TV" shows that tell you that you can have flat abs and a shapely behind by working out on the gadget they are promoting. Look, it may end up that way but the ab crunch machines don't make you lose flab on your abs. The human body loses fat in all the places you store it (I have found that you tend to lose it last in the places you want to lose it from the most!) What that means is if you want to trim down and have a shapelier athletic behind, you will have leaner other parts too – what a bonus!

Now I know none of that about your behind is important to you, you are only interested in understanding the power of your glutes. In which case, well-conditioned glutes have many functional benefits as well as avoiding hip and lower back pain. In society today, we sit a lot more and as a result glute function has deteriorated. Many people today assume the quadriceps (thighs) to be the largest muscle in the lower body and therefore focus on those to maximise calorie burn (remember our discussion about cardio versus weight training?) While muscular and toned thighs look great, they can cause imbalances in the pelvis. Turning your attention to the glutes could have significant benefits in rebalancing this quad dominance, effectively correcting posture issues and alleviating symptoms such as lower back pain.

Day 21 is fast drawing to a close. I have thoroughly enjoyed my day off training, which meant a wet Weet-bix Kids TRYathlon instead, what an amazing event, I take my hat off to the organisers. It is hard to believe we are three weeks into this challenge and onto a single digit countdown. With almost the last week away from home, the anxiety and nerves are on the increase. I feel good and really interested to see what the results are in nine days' time… but first, it's cheat-meal Sunday!

The small print: now is probably a good time to encourage you to have a discussion about your personal situation with your doctor, a nutritionist and the Body and Motion trainers to work out how best to achieve any challenges you have in mind. The thoughts in these blogs are my own personal opinion and shouldn't be taken as direct advice. Some of the choices around what I consume or what activity I partake in may not be endorsed by Body and Motion. However, the team will always be keen enablers of your fitness goals! Talk to us today.


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