These days it seems as though everyone is after a bigger, better bottom. When and where this obsession originated we’re not entirely sure – but we’re holding J-Lo partly responsible. Those who are blessed with a positively plump backside will never quite understand the struggle of trying to build one themselves. So whether you’re one of those genetically fortunate and are wanting a further boost, or you spend your weekends sweating it out the gym to curate a perfectly peachy bum, we could all use a little helping hand. We caught up with Head Trainer at Sweat It London Melissa Weldon and Another_Space’s head yogi, Chris Magee to get the secrets to a sumptuous derriere.
How often do you have to work your glutes to see results?
This depends massively on where you’re starting from and your genetic makeup, but you should be looking at hitting the lower body muscle groups as a whole twice a week in order promote muscle growth.
Is a toned bum just about glute isolation or do other muscles come into it too?
It’s virtually impossible to solely hit the glute muscles without hitting the legs, and frankly not particularly good for your functional fitness. You should be thinking of your lower body as a whole: quads, glutes, hamstrings, calves and lower back.
They say abs are made in the kitchen – what about a good bum? Do certain foods help the toning process? Anything specific you should eat pre/post workout?
As with all muscle, you need protein in order to promote growth and recovery. You should be aiming to consume approximately 20g of protein post-workout and some believe branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) can be helpful to have pre-workout to promote growth. There are no foods which are specifically good for your bum – except the occasional cupcake!
Is it better to do glute exercises on their own or do you get more benefit when they’re done as part of another workout?
I believe in functional training, which makes you stronger and fitter as a whole rather than just isolating one muscle group. I would always recommend working glutes as part of a lower body or full body workout.
What are some simple moves everyone can do?
Squats, Back Lunges, Glute Bridges and Romanian Deadlifts:
Stand with your feet hip-width apart, holding dumbbells up on your shoulders. Hinge back with the hips, as if hitting back on a chair. Squat down until thighs are parallel with the floor and then drive back up. To ensure you are not putting pressure in your knees, weight should be distributed equally though ball and heel of your feet, with no weight in your toes.
2. Back Lunges
Standing with your feet hip-width apart holding dumbbells by your side, shoot your right foot straight behind you, touching your knee lightly to the ground. Return to the original position and then repeat with the left leg. To avoid putting pressure in your knees, each foot should track back like on a rail-track and not a tight rope.
3. Glute Bridges
Laying on the ground with your knees bent and feet on the floor, about hip-width apart, lift your hips off the ground, driving them to the ceiling. Hold for 2 counts and slowly go back down. To increase intensity and promote muscle growth, add weights.
4. Romanian Deadlifts
Standing with feet hip-width apart, holding two dumbbells at your hips, hinge your hips and slide the dumbbells down your thighs to around the mid shin area. Shoulders should be pulled back, as if holding a pencil between your shoulder blades. To minimise stress on the lower back, keep the dumbbells in contact with your legs.
Are squats all they’re cracked up to be?
Absolutely. If done properly, the squat is an incredible exercise for your glutes; make sure you get a professional to ensure your technique is right, as if done incorrectly it will dominate your quads. If I could only do one lift for the rest of my life it would be the squat. It works every muscle in your body, so it’s a big energy consumer which will increase your metabolism and promote fat loss.
If you’re incorporating weights into your bum routine, how heavy should you go? What about equipment like kettlebells?
In order to see change, you need to lift a weight that is challenging to you as an individual. Whatever rep range and weight you chose, the last 2-3 reps should feel really tough.
If you only have a couple of weeks before a holiday or event, is there anything that actually works fast?
Two weeks won’t make a massive change to your body but working out consistently and following a nutritious and balanced diet will do wonders for your self-esteem so I would always promote smashing it out pre-event!
What’s the biggest mistake you see women making when it comes to their bum?
Worrying too much about it – it’s just a bum! Life is too short.
Without access to a gym, are there exercises that can be done at home?
There are various exercises you can do from home that require only bodyweight, and/or resistance bands for added intensity:
1. Isometric Holds These are often neglected in training but they are very effective, as they keep the muscle firing and turned on through a full range of motion in squats and lunges, which leads to more gains.
2. Squat Pulses and Prison Lunges For a prison lunge, place your hands behind your head and pull your elbows and shoulders back. Step forwards with one leg into a lunge – bend your front knee and keep your back knee just above the ground. Return to the starting position by pushing back up with your front leg. Repeat on the other side. Add resistance bands for more burn.
3. Single Leg Exercises
These are also really effective because an increased load on one side makes stability harder, requiring more work from the muscles and leading to an increase in strength. Single leg deadlifts isolate the glutes and hamstring.
4. One-legged Squats
These require you to keep your balance, which makes the muscles work harder than regular squats.
5. Superwoman Lifts
Don’t just focus on the glutes. The lower back is just as important as there is a key connection between glutes and lower back muscles. To strengthen the lower back, lie face down and raise your chest and arms as well as your legs off the ground, hold at the top, lower and repeat.
6. Donkey Kicks
From all fours, lift one leg back with the sole of the foot reaching up toward the ceiling. Pulse and kick up. To increase intensity, you can add a resistant band.