Butt-ology 101: How to Enhance Your Gluteal Muscles
Your butt - a.k.a. tush, ass, derriere, caboose, unit, booty, moneymaker, hiney, bum, arse, or fanny. We all have one, so how can you care for it and develop it?
Fun Facts About Your Butt:
- 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.
What you'll learn:
- The basic anatomy and kinesiology of the glutes
- If squats alone can build your butt
- What role genetics play
- How anthropometrics and body composition figure in
- How to optimally warm up and train your glutes
- Workout programs you can start right now
Basic Anatomy and Kinesiology of Your Butt
There are three main muscles that comprise your butt:
- gluteus maximus
- gluteus medius
- gluteus minimus
This muscle is the largest of the gluteal group. Its origin is the posterior line of the upper ilium, the posterior surface of the lower sacrum, and the side of the coccyx. Its insertion is two-fold: First, the lower and larger portion of the gluteus maximus end with a thick tendon that passes through the greater trochanter (hip) into the iliotibial band. And there is also the gluteal tuberosity between the vastus lateralis (a quadriceps muscle) and adductor magnus.
The function of the gluteus maximus (G-max) is primarily upper leg (thigh) extension, such as moving the upper leg backward as in rising from a squat position. The same with bent-leg deadlifting, the rear-leg drive in sprinting, and simply extending the thigh backward in any hip extension exercise (i.e., glute press).
The gluteus medius (G-med, pictured right) originates on the outer surface of the ilium above and in front of the anterior gluteal line. It also originates at the gluteal aponeurosis.
The insertion of the G-med converges on a tendon that attaches to the lateral surface of the greater trochanter (your hip joint).
Ultimately, the G-med tendon inserts into an oblique ridge that runs down and to the front of the lateral surface of the greater trochanter.
The gluteus minimus (G-min) originates in front from the outer surface of the ilium between the anterior and inferior gluteal lines. In back, it originates from the margin of the greater sciatic notch. It inserts on the deep surface of a radiated aponeurosis via a tendon that attaches to the anterior border of the greater trochanter.
The G-med and G-min perform similar functions, depending on the position of the knee and hip joints. With the knee extended, they abduct the thigh (out to the side away from the opposite leg). When running, they stabilize the leg during the single-support phase. With the hips flexed, they internally rotate the thigh. With the hips extended, they externally rotate the thigh.
Summary of Butt-ology 101:
- Thigh extension – G-max
- Thigh abduction – G-med and G-min
- Thigh internal rotation w/flexed hip – G-med and G-min
- Thigh external rotation w/extended hip - G-med and G-min
Unraveling Compensatory Patterns: To Clench or Not to Clench (Your Butt)
Four Points to Ponder About Your Backside
1. “Barbell Squats Will Make My Butt Bigger”
"Barbell squats will give you a huge butt." I hear that often. Where it came from, I have no idea. Think about it - you work your gluteals with extreme effort when you perform lunges, certain leg presses, deadlifts, glute presses, one-leg squats, and machine squats. Are you unable to stimulate your butt with those exercises?
Add barbell squatting to your program and BAM! your ass grows to epic proportions. Barbell squats are an effective gluteal developer provided you can squat properly, but a huge butt developed solely from their use is pure nonsense. If your butt has the potential to get larger, any gluteal-targeting exercise will work if you work it with effort.
Going Beyond Mindless Movement: 10 Killer Tips to Boost Your Squat
2. Butt Implants? No, Thanks, But(t) Genetics Are a Factor
Let's talk about butt implants. Yes, many are artificially augmenting the size of their butt through implants. Why? The genetic factor.
They may have tried every exercise and workout in the gym but didn’t see the results they expected. You can only do so much with your butt development.
If you possess a naturally large amount of muscle mass on your backside - or for that matter an exceptionally small amount (flat-ass syndrome) - it's probably due to your heredity.
On one end of the continuum is the flat, no-curves-whatsoever butt and on the other the "you can set a full tray of drinks on my ass" butt. Either way, you can still attempt to care for it and develop it.
Don't Take It Sitting Down: Why I Stopped Hating My Butt and Learned to Love Being a Woman
3. Hip to Butt Ratio
Do you have wide hips or narrow hips? Is your waist wide or narrow? This is another hereditary-contingent factor that affects the aesthetic of your butt. Your hip width is dependent on the width of your ilium, the largest and uppermost bone of your pelvis.
Naturally, a wider Ilium gives you a wider butt and a narrower Ilium offers the potential for a narrower butt. A narrow waist coupled with wide hips gives you a larger-looking butt. A wider waist and narrow hips gives you smaller-looking butt. Again, genetics rule, so good luck in your battle.
4. Muscle to Fat Ratio
What about your ratio of muscle mass to fat tissue in your buttocks area? If you have a fat ass, literally, then shed the fat and expose your shapely musculature. If your body fat is minimal, attempt to grow some meat back there, especially if you have the flat-ass syndrome.
You cannot shape fat. Working the glute muscles will give you the best chance of “shaping” them. Over-consuming calories, performing zero exercise, and, ironically, sitting on your ass too much will give you a larger but fatter ass.
Workin' It - Let's Train!
So, how do you optimally work your butt? I'd bet your already doing it, but maybe you need to tweak your lower body routines and calorie intake.
Effective thigh-extending exercises:
- Barbell, dumbbell, and machine squat
- Single and double-leg leg press on devices that allow for full thigh extension
- Barbell, dumbbell, and machine lunge
- Barbell or dumbbell one-leg split squat
- Stiff-leg and Romanian dead lift
- Glute/hamstring raise
- Glute presses on an appropriate device
- Multi-hip machine thigh extension
Effective thigh abducting and exercises:
The reality of internal and external thigh rotation is that those movements are subtle. Provided you perform the aforementioned thigh extension and abduction exercises, you will be targeting these muscles. There are no special exercises to address these muscles aside from the above.
Get In Touch With Your Butt: One Exercise to Go From Dead Butt to Active Arse
That is a pretty good list of butt exercises. I’m sure you’re doing at least a few of them. The question is, are you performing them properly (form and intensity) and using a variety of those movements within your lower body routines? Doing so will give your butt the greatest chance of becoming epic within the confines of your genetic endowment.
And don’t forget your calorie intake. Gaining excess body fat can result in a larger but softer rear-end. For that rock-hard butt, pay attention to minimizing fat storage by refining your calorie intake.
In a nutshell, to optimally care for and develop your butt work hard on a variety of thigh extending, abducting, and rotating exercises and watch your calorie intake. At the same time, hope you have been blessed with good genetics in that part of your anatomy.
Now, get up and do something. Here are routines you can start today:
- 5 Powerful Lower Body Strength Routines
- 7 Insane Leg Workouts That May Make You Take Up Basket Weaving
- 7 Short and Sweet Resistance Training Routines to Develop Your Legs
- The 6 Best Exercises for a Bigger, Stronger Booty
Photos courtesy of Shutterstock.