"How do you get your butt like that?" is the fitness question I hear the most. And before you say it, yes, genetics play a part. Just like a pretty smile or clear skin, there are people born with a genetic booty advantage, but that doesn't mean it's impossible to improve your glutes. Women often turn to cardio to "get a butt," but the clear path to a better booty doesn't go through the treadmill or the elliptical. Instead, start with weights.
A muscle imbalance—when one muscle is stronger than its opposing muscle—can limit your ability to exercise effectively, and could lead to injury down the line. “It’s important to recognize whether you’re really working the muscles you think you are and recognize if you’ve developed an imbalance that alters your movement pattern,” says Eric Ingram, physical therapist at Louisiana Physical Therapy Centers of Pineville. One common imbalance in women is stronger quads and weaker, tighter hamstrings, thanks to prolonged sitting, high heels, and improper training. If you suspect you have a muscle imbalance, make an appointment with a physical therapist, who will prescribe exercises to even you out.
Imagine not being able to climb stairs, bend over, or even walk Changes in hip joint muscle-tendon lengths with mode of locomotion. Riley, P.O., Franz, J., Dicharry, J., et al. Center for Applied Biomechanics, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA. Gait & Posture, 2010 Feb; 31 (2): 279-83.. All pretty essential if you ask us! But that’s what our bodies would be like without our hip flexor muscles. Never heard of ‘em? It’s about time we share why they’re so important, how your desk job might be making them weaker (ah!), and the best ways to stretch them out.
Bodybuilders often split their food intake for the day into 5 to 7 meals of roughly equal nutritional content and attempt to eat at regular intervals (e.g. every 2 to 3 hours). This method can serve two purposes: to limit overindulging in the cutting phase, and to physically allow for the consumption of large volumes of food during the bulking phase. Contrary to popular belief, eating more frequently does not increase basal metabolic rate when compared to the traditional 3 meals a day. While food does have a metabolic cost to digest, absorb, and store, called the thermic effect of food, it depends on the quantity and type of food, not how the food is spread across the meals of the day. Well-controlled studies using whole-body calorimetry and doubly labeled water have demonstrated that there is no metabolic advantage to eating more frequently.
Most typical bodybuilding programs have way too many sets and reps and use the wrong exercises. However, if you lower the total volume, go heavier, and use compound movements as I’ve outlined above, there is nothing wrong with a body-part split for advanced lifters. In fact, it’s often less stressful to the joints than your average upper/lower split.
All of the gluteals must work to perform this movement—the “deep six” external rotators keep each side of the pelvis stable in spite of the different actions in each hip, and the larger gluteals add additional support for the hips. This move forces your buttock muscles to shore up their connection from the thighs through to the lower back to keep the hips and spine stable.
Take a step back and think about where you spend most of your day. If you're a young athlete, you probably spend most of your time at school or maybe work or practice and even a little time at home, if you're lucky. Now think about what position your body is in during those periods. I would bet that you spend most of your day sitting down. You may walk to class or run in practice, but the majority of your day is spent in a seated position.
It’s true—your genes can play a role when it comes to building muscle. In general, there are two types of muscle fibers: Type I, which are slow twitch, and Type II, which are fast twitch. Depending on which you have more of, you may have an easier or harder time gaining muscle. “Fast twitch muscle fibers are two times as thick as slow twitch muscle fibers, lending to the overall thickness of the muscle without any activity,” explains Lovitt. “Those people with a genetic predisposition of a high percentage of these fibers can increase muscle size very easily while the people with a higher percentage of slow twitch muscle fibers have to work really hard to put on mass.” It’s the reason why a world-class sprinter genetically has more fast twitch muscle fibers than a world-class marathoner—it comes down to what we’re born with.
In addition to adequate protein, you need more calories (your protein intake contributes to your total caloric intake, so these two go hand in hand). Use the following formula to calculate the number you need to take in daily to gain one pound a week, and break down your diet using the macro guidelines listed above. (Give yourself two weeks for results to show up on the scale. If you haven't gained by then, increase your calories by 500 a day.)
The second half of the program is all about maximizing size with slightly higher reps and an emphasis on intensity. Rep ranges move up to 10-12 for most exercises, which is ideal for promoting muscle hypertrophy (growth). Overall volume increases slightly during these two weeks, mainly due to the addition of isolation exercises that you’ll perform before compound movements for your chest, back, shoulders and legs. Called pre-exhaustion, this technique dramatically increases workout intensity. You fatigue the main target muscle with an isolation exercise, then hit it in this fatigued state with a compound move, which if done right will lead to your main muscle failing before assistance muscles give out. (For example, for chest the dumbbell flye hits the pecs directly, so your triceps shouldn’t end up being the weak link and cause the termination of the set during the bench press).
Go: Keeping your feet flat on the floor, squat down so the ball rolls up your back, until your quads are just past parallel to the floor. Hold for a count, then lift just your toes into the air to push through your heels as you rise back to the starting position, rotating your glutes and hams inward. Lower your toes back to the floor before starting the next rep.