A set of round glutes on us ladies is very popular at the moment. Ladies complain that their bum is too flat, and whatever they do they can’t alter it. Genetics do play a part, but it is possible to grow your glutes if you know how.
Going to the gym and doing cardio for an hour, alongside a low calorie diet is not going to cut it. Neither are endless sets of squats and lunges going to grow your glutes unless you know how to activate them in the first place.
Many ladies (and men) suffer from gluteal amnesia. This basically means the glutes are lazy and have gone to sleep. When we stand up, walk or run we are using our quad muscles at the front of our thighs, we don’t use our glutes that much in everyday life, and they tend to switch off until we learn how to use them again. You are not going to be able to grow your glutes if they are not working at full capacity.
For every muscle that we use in training, we have to make the mind connect with it, to think about using it, feeling it working and isolating it as much as we can during the movement. This is called the mind-body connection.
You can test your mind-body connection to your glutes. While standing, try to squeeze one bum cheek as hard as you can. For some people, nothing much will happen.
To start building the connection, squeeze your glutes as often as you can during the day. For example, while you’re doing the dishes or standing in a queue (no-one with know). Instead of running up the stairs, be mindful about pushing down through your heel with each step up. Squeeze and keep on squeezing your glute muscle as you push up onto each step.
When you go to the gym, include activation exercises into your warm up. Do the clamshell exercise, or walking band abductors.
During each exercise really think about the muscle you are aiming to engage. When you use your mind-body connection the nervous systems’ ability to contract the glutes will increase.
If squats and deadlifts are your exercise of choice, put your weight through your heels. This will take the stress off your quads and place more emphasis on using the glute muscles. As you lift, push your feet through the floor and think about pulling your heels in towards each other with an isometric contraction.
You may need to drop the weight a little, but it’s better to lift lighter and feel a good mind-body connection with the muscle than lose the connection completely by lifting heavy. It’s great to lift heavy, but if you’re not targeting the correct muscles it’s too much hard work for little gain!
The idea is to keep your glutes under constant tension. Take your time with each rep. If you move too fast you may find your quads taking over and using momentum to execute the movement instead of the glutes.
Try a few different foot positions. Have your feet turned out instead of pointing forwards, incorporate sumo squats into your routine. The gluteus maximus is a big muscle and responds well to being worked in a variety of angles.
Incorporate some single leg work into your routine. This will allow you to concentrate on one side at a time, ensuring that only your glutes are moving the weight. It’s also a good indicator of any imbalances you have and were not aware of. Single leg work takes a lot of balance and a strong mind-body connection. Make sure you can feel the fibres working hard by performing each rep slowly and under complete control.
You will know when you are making a good connection. You will definitely feel the burn in the right places and your muscles will be screaming at you. When this happens it means you are doing it right!