Today’s article is going to be all about butts. Excited? You pervert! 🙂
Often, female clients say that they want to tone their butt muscles, and it’s one of the most common questions I get from women under 35: how do I get a round butt?
And it seems like they’re doing everything and nothing seems to work. They’ve done:
- Step ups
- Stair climber
…and more. And yet, they can’t get that J Lo/Kim Kardashian booty.
Well, not anymore.
In this article, we’ll talk about:
- The most common mistakes women make when trying to get a round butt
- The influence of posture on the appearance of your glutes
- The proper way to get round glutes
Let’s get started.
Most Common Mistakes When Trying to Get A Round Butt
First, I should note that there are large person-to-person differences in the ability to get a round butt. And yes, a lot of it is a matter of your nationality. For instance, a lot of Brazilian and Latin women have naturally round glutes. No exercise, no sweating it out in the gym, no reading articles about how to get round glutes, they just have it.
On the other hand, Asian women just don’t have it. Often, an untrained Brazilian woman will have a rounder butt than a hard-training Asian woman. C’est la vie. So understand that there are large genetic variations (just as in anything). With that out of the way, let’s talk about making the most of what you have.
Mistake #1: Only Doing Cardio
If all you do is cardio, you’ll have a hard time building your butt muscles. There are better forms of cardio (stair stepper), and there are worse forms of cardio (running), but all in all, it’s not nearly as effective as strength training. Remember, the butt muscles are muscles (sounds obvious?). And they grow just like your biceps grow. Your biceps don’t grow when you’re using the elliptical machine. And your glutes don’t grow when you’re doing the treadmill, or the bike, or anything else.
In fact, most runners have flat butts. And the longer the distance they run, the flatter the butt.
Mistake #2: Bad Technique in Strength Training Exercises
This is another very big mistake. Often, women tell me that they squat, yet their quads (thighs) have gotten bigger, but their glutes (butt muscles) haven’t. What’s going on? When I ask to take a look at their squat, it becomes very clear: they only squat half way. See, there are 3 primary muscle contributing to the squat:
And different parts of the squat emphasize different muscles. To go from the bottom of the squat (that’s rock bottom), to halfway up, you use your hamstrings and glutes. To go from halway up, to all the way up, you use your quads. So if you squat only half way down, and no deeper, you’re not recruiting the glutes as much as you could be. Here is what proper squat technique looks like.
So yes, the squat is a great exercise… but only if you do it right.
Another exercise where I see bad technique is step ups. You have to select the right height of the platform that you’re stepping on. If the height is too low, you get the same issue as with squats: too much activation of the quads, and not enough of the glutes. The height of the platform should be between the mid thigh and the upper thigh.
And there’s a lot of other exercises where I see bad technique, but these are 2 of the most common ones.
Mistake #3: Gluteal Amnesia
Gluteal amnesia is when you “forget” to use the glutes. In other words, they aren’t activating or contracting when they should be.
You know that’s you if:
- When you’re doing hip lifts/glute bridges, you feel your hamstrings, and not your glutes
- You sit at a desk all day
- You never get sore in your glutes, even if your quads, hamstrings and lower back does get sore sometimes
Mistake #4: Insufficient Weight
And another one of the biggest mistakes I see is simply not using enough weight in your exercises. Remember, getting a round butt is about growing your butt. Just like you grow your biceps. If you want to grow your biceps, you need to use sufficient weight. You wouldn’t take pink dumbbells that weigh 5 pounds, and curl those for 30 reps. You would take a heavier weight, and curl it 8-20 times. If you can do more than 20, it’s too light. The same principle applies to training your glutes. Glutes don’t grow until you use the right amount of weight.
The Influence of Posture
One thing that’s rarely talked about is the influence of posture on the appearance of your glutes. If you have what’s called a “posterior pelvic tilt”, it’ll look like you have a flat butt. On the other hand, if you have an anterior perlic tilt, it’ll look like your butt is more well-developed (there are downsides to anterior pelvic tilt though… like lower back pain, and the sensation of having “tight” hamstrings all the time). Here is a diagram that shows the difference between anterior and posterior pelvic tilt.
So it’s important to identify whether indeed you have posterior pelvic tilt (or for that matter, anterior pelvic tilt, as well), and correct it.
Although it’s beyond the scope of this article to address postural correction, if you do want help with that, you can apply to work with us, by filling out this application form.
The Proper Way to Get Round Glutes
So we’ve talked about how not to get round glutes, and why many attempts at it are futile, so how do we get round glutes?
First, make sure the “prerequisites” are taken care of. The prerequisites are:
- Good posture
- An ability to activate your glutes
If you don’t have both, it’s going to be way harder to get the round butt look, then if both are present.
Here is a good, low-tech way of testing for posterior pelvic tilt/bad posture.
Good posture, however, must become habitual. It can’t just be good when you think about it. It has to be good when you’re not thinking about it. As Dr. Andreo Spina, chiropractor extraordinaire, says “posture is 95% habit, and only 5% conditioning.”
As for an ability to activate the glutes, here is the test:
Lie down on your back, with both knees bent. Now, lift your hips off the ground. Where do you feel it? If it’s either the hamstrings or the glutes, you probably have gluteal amnesia. In other words, even in properly-performed exercises, the glutes/butt muscles aren’t contributing as much force to the movement, as they should be. So just about every time you do a squat, or a lunge, or a step up, there’s some wasted energy.
Correct those 2 things (posture and gluteal amnesia), and only then will the traditional approaches work.
Now, let’s assume that your posture and gluteal amnesia have been corrected. What now?
Now, it’s the time for strength training. Now is the time to use exercises like:
- One-legged deadlifts
- Split squats
- Loaded hip lifts
And no, lunges are not my first choice.
Also, you may or may not include all of these exercises in the same workout. There’s different ways to organize your training, just make sure those exercises are in there.
In terms of frequency, I would do some exercise for the glutes 3-6 times per week. And for sets and reps, I would use a total of 5-12 sets per workout (that could be one exercise, or split between a few different exercises), of 5-15 repetitions.
Do this consistently, and over time, you’ll notice your glutes starting to get rounder.
And yes, there are some advanced techniques (like one and a half reps, pulsing, accentuated eccentrics, and others) that we’d use with a client if we were working face-to-face, but they’re hard to put into words.
If you want help with that, fill out the application form to see if you qualify to work with us.