Lifting Won’t Make You Manly, But Lifting Like A Man WillLifting weights (the right way) will make you lean, toned and curvy in all the right places. That ‘bulking’ business has more to do with what you put in your mouth, than what you lift in the gym. Speaking of which, check out my other blog post on how a low carb high fat diet is the missing link in your efforts to get lean and toned. Ok, so now that we’ve got that cleared up. Let’s move along shall we?
The Worst Booty Building MistakeFirst off, a little disclaimer: all lower body exercises will grow your thigh muscles to some extent. Some more than others. Your lower body is made up of four muscle groups: quads, hamstrings, glutes and calves. Even the booty favourite hip thrust will activate your quads to some degree.The problem is, you may be quad dominant. If you’ve been squatting, lunging and leg pressing like a beast, (and become strong through these movements), then you’re probably quad dominant. And that has an effect on your glutes’ ability to be activated and targeted in these exercises instead. The glutes are the largest muscle in the body but also notoriously, the laziest. Meaning; if they can let any other muscle do the work for them, then by-golly, they will. The result: a pancake butt with quadzilla thighs. Ok, I exaggerate, but seriously, that’s how you feel, right? **Disclaimer: I’m not saying squats are the devil. They are a great compound movement that work a whole heap of muscles and as a beginner lifter, it’s one of the most important basic moves that you should absolutely learn to master before moving onto the fancy stuff. So how do you grow glutes without growing your thighs? Avoid this common booty building mistake:
Avoid Exercises That Stress The QuadsI’m going to assume that by ‘bulking up your thighs’, you actually mean the quads/front of your legs and not the hamstrings/back of your legs, because honestly, no one has ever said to me, “Damn, Shelley, I just hate how big and shapely my hamstrings are. I wish I could shrink them.” Shapely hamstrings compliment a well-developed and perky bum imo. Jus' sayin'. These exercises are the biggest thigh-stressors, so if your goal is to grow those glutes, you should limit or avoid:
- Squats (all variations)
- Bulgarian split squats
- Step ups
- Leg press
- Leg extension machine
- Conventional and Trap bar deadlift
Start With Lightweight Glute ActivationKeeping the weight light is crucial at first. Don't be tempted to add the resistance. Less really is more when you're trying to wake up your lazy butt muscles. If you go too heavy off the bat, you can bet your bottom dollar that those killer quads will take over. So grab a booty band (grab your set of Strong Curves Booty Bands here) and start focusing on your mind-muscle connection. This is key to start developing those buns! Remember how I said the glutes are lazy sons-a-b*tches? Well, you’ve got to coax them into firing up. There are a ton of activation exercises you can do like butt squeezes, lying leg abductions, seated abductions, butt planks and clams. Check out my video 'Why Your Glutes Won't Grow' for all the best booty activation exercises. Just start with a 10 minute drill and don’t forget to squeeeeeeze the bejesus out of those buns!
Learn How To Squeeze!If you don’t know how to butt squeeze, you better learn! Because this little maneuver is the key to maximum glute contraction - and the more you can contract a muscle, the more it will grow. You’d be amazed how many ladies I’ve worked with who don’t know how to effectively squeeze their tushies. It’s super easy and you can literally practice absolutely anywhere. The key is to master the posterior pelvic tilt (PPT) and clench your butt cheeks as hard as you can. Imagine you have a belt around your waist. Next, tilt or scoop your pelvis by pushing the hips forward as if you're drawing the belt buckle up towards you. Then, imagine someone is poking you up the bum with a hot rod, making sure you squeeze the glutes hard #visuals. Check out this quick glute squeeze tutorial video.! Just make sure you use the glutes to push your hips forward and avoid crunching into your lower spine. You can do the PPT butt squeeze anywhere and any time - in the queue at the post office, in line at the supermarket or even when you’re brushing your teeth and you’ll have rock hard glutes in no time.
Choose The Right Glute-Focused ExercisesIf your goal is to grow glutes without growing thighs, then your training routine needs to be tailored accordingly. That means less squatting and more thrusting. Your lower body workouts should be setting your peach on fire! But we’re all built differently. We have different bone structures and different muscle development. So what works really well for some girls, won’t necessarily work of you. For example, I prefer the hip thrust to the glute bridge because in the bridge position I feel it more through my hamstrings rather than my tush. Remember, you want to pick exercises that make your booty burn like all heck. So if you don’t feel it, ditch it. It’s best to work with a smaller toolbox, rather than doing every trick in the book, just because you saw some fitness chick on instagram doing it. Try out some of these glute-focused exercises below and play around with foot positioning, banded or weighted, feet elevated, stance width and single leg variations. Find the ones that give you the most bang for your buck and stick with them:
- Hip thrust
- Glute bridge
- American deadlift
- Cable pull-through
- Smith machine kick-back
- Glute focused hyperextension
Target The Butt From All AnglesNow you know how to activate the glutes, how to get maximum contraction out of your lifts and exactly which exercises to get really strong at - next: you need to isolate and target every square inch of your booty muscle fibres for epic gains! The glutes are actually made up of three muscles… yes, three!
- Gluteus maximus (the largest of the three and makes up the bulk of your butt).
- Gluteus medius (gives you that upper booty shelf at the top of your butt).
- Gluteus minimus (sits underneath the medius and is responsible for hip stablisation).
- Standing cable abduction
- Cable kick-back
- Barbell side lunge
- Dumbbell frog pump
- Single leg box squat
- Single leg side glute press
How To Get A Bigger Butt In A Nutshell
- 10 minutes of light weight glute activation exercises prior to your lower body workout will wake up those lazy buns without stressing the quads.
- Learn to butt squeeze! Posterior pelvic tilt (PPT) will give you maximum glute contraction so that your booty can dominate instead of your thighs.
- Get stronger at glute-focused exercises that are right for YOU. A smaller toolbox is better. Don’t follow the crowd!
- Get fancy with glute isolation variations that hit the booty from all angles. But if you feel it in the quads, go light or ditch it!
Founder of Strong Curves
With a no BS approach, I teach women how to sculpt strong curves and build confidence through my digital books, e-courses and app.