I Like Big Butts...
Anyone who has ever trained with me knows I have an unabashed preoccupation with glutes. Yep. I am obsessed with butts, booties, tushies, whatever your momma gave ya… I'm gonna train it so you remember me the next day.
A good butt is ambisexual. Firm and perky booties are equally attractive on both sexes. But it's not just aesthetics. A strong butt, defiant of gravity is an indication of overall health and balanced fitness. (Side eye to the guy who only does bench press)
When most people talk about the core, they think of abdominals and those more well-versed in fitness will recall the entire girdle of muscles that supports the trunk. But I urge you to take it one step further to include your shoulders and hips, the core joints. When we accept that the core begins with our hips, it is easy to understand the importance of stability and power in that joint.
We (should, but don't) use our glutes every day. Standing up to get out of bed first thing in the morning and every time we sit. An ideal walking gait uses hip extension (glute contraction) as the main forward drive. In running especially, the glutes are the power source. All you runners with flat butts, I am concerned about you!
Most of us have sleepy glutes from sitting too much, allowing knee dominant technique to control these movements. When was the last time you paid attention to how you sit down? Can you stand up from being seated without the use of momentum?
I've already outlined the importance of the hip hinge and how that relates to back pain, but glutes are the muscles responsible for getting us out of the hip hinge. Strong glutes will protect your core and knees from movement and load bearing they are not meant to handle. In both squats and deadlifts, the core should be stabilized and the knee extension is a secondary movement. The glutes are the primary movers and as such should be bearing the most weight. It should make sense to all you physics majors that the most proximal joint (closest to the body) does the most work. Not to mention the very important fact that strong glutes will stabilize knees through these movements keeping them healthy and pain free!
The anterior pull of our modern culture not only contributes to tight pecs and thoracic curvature but also tight hip flexors and a tucked pelvis. All of that is going to cause problems. Back pain is the single leading cause of disability. Tight hip flexors and psoas can pull on the low back from the inside and a tucked pelvis eliminates the valuable lumbar curve. Practicing good posture is demanding on the core and your butt is part of that picture. Come to think of it, I have never seen anyone with a good butt maintain bad posture.
Next time you're at the gym, watch your deadlifts and your squats and try to determine if the moment comes from your knees or hips. Most people stand up using their knees and not their hips. With proper technique, the knees are just along for the ride.
However, to ensure your glutes are up to the challenge of being the primary movers they are meant to be, ditch the leg extensions in favor of some glute isolations. Use hip extensions at varying angles to target the minimus, medius, and maximus individually. This will surely wake up your sleepy glutes and turn those pancakes into nice round buns. Sir Mix-a-lot was onto something.
And another chick rants about how squats don't grow your butt and then she gives you an entire routine for the booty.
I know these exercises seem "girly," and I don't mean to get all political on you, but exercises don't really have a gender, so these routines are for the gents too!