Q: So recently I was talking to a friend and he noticed my flabby butt. I work out and always knew my butt to be flabby, but never really understood why. I mostly go on the cardio machines at the gym, but would like to incorporate weights, especially for my butt! My friend started talking about glute activation and saying if you're glutes aren't firing, you aren't working out properly. Can you tell me more about glute activation and recommend some butt exercises?
~Flabby in the Rear
A: The gluteus maximus is one of the strongest muscles in your body. Unfortunately, many of us spend most of our time during the day sitting on our butts instead of working them out! Glute activation means that you should be able to squeeze your butt muscles, one cheek at a time. So, if you are sitting all day, a good exercise is to "activate" your glute muscles by squeezing one cheek, holding for 5-10 seconds, then releasing and squeezing the other cheek. Repeat this a few times throughout the day. You can also do this exercise while you are standing, like when you are waiting in line at the grocery store.
Some people can only squeeze both cheeks at the same time, and that's fine, just work your way to being able to squeeze 1 cheek at a time. If you can't squeeze your butt at all, that's when you really need to start incorporating a few exercises in order to recruit muscle fibers to the area. Excellent exercises to help with glute activation are the clamshell and glute bridge (one 1 leg or on both legs ---> read more about those exercises HERE); and donkey kicks, hip circles and fire hydrants (you can read more about those exercises HERE).
Now, if your butt muscles aren't "firing," this can lead to or be a sign that you have problems, tightness and/or pain with your back, hips and knees. And that means that when you do go to work out your butt and legs, other stronger muscles will take precedence in your workout and your butt will continue to be weak (most commonly, the quads tend to get stronger and take over in exercises like squats and lunges).
Speaking of working the glutes, when it is "leg workout day," you want to be able to squeeze your glutes while doing an exercise. For example, when you are coming up from doing a squat, you want to be able to squeeze your butt muscles as you are coming up. If you are NOT able to squeeze your glutes, then they will continue to be weak and underdeveloped. If this is your case, do one of the exercises mentioned previously (the glute bridge and clamshell, for example) BEFORE doing squats, lunges, dead lifts, etc.
Besides traditional leg exercises such as squats, lungs and dead lifts, excellent exercises that target your butt include hip thrusts, split squats and kettlebell swings (you can use a dumbbell for that last exercise). Read more about those exercises HERE. Be sure to work your legs 2-3x a week.
Last tip: as mentioned in THIS POST, if your butt is your weak body part, then you can work your butt EVERY SINGLE DAY. Take 1 or 2 exercises like the hip thrust, glute bridge or clamshell, and do as many as you can 1-2x a day, every single day. By using bodyweight only exercises, you will be gentle on your body while at the same time telling it to get those muscles activated, fired up and strong again!
To tighter tushies,
Fit Tips & Workouts by Cat Wilson
Go ahead, Get Fit! Your Body Deserves It...and So Do You :)
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