A Little Booty-ology
No matter your current physic, whether you are more curvaceous or more thin, or even if you're more athletic or more awkward, you really can develop most of the physical attributes you desire with strategic work-outs. While Mother Nature and your genetic make-up play a significant role in your overall appearance, becoming fitter, stronger, more toned, more flexible, more self-assured, and even more sexy is truly achievable.
It's both realistic and healthy to set your eyes on this vision for yourself. The real hurdle is less overcoming your genetics and more committing to the new routine alongside choosing the best plan suited for your unique needs. Let's talk a little about what I've learned on my own journey towards my best self.
Keep in mind, while I offer these cornerstones, healthy eating habits truly are paramount. I do have a plethora of educational offerings regarding clean eating and choosing foods that best support your vitality, but as a client of Eden, I can offer testing and wellness plans that become very specific and is exceedingly empowering. Briefly, I would encourage you to improve the quality of your foods. Avoid those that come with labels. Eat regularly. Understand your body's needs for macronutrients. Snack strategically. Be mindful about your eating. Plan ahead. There is no gimmick.
Finding Your Best Strength-Training Workouts
Let's Look at Your Derriere
Some carry more weight at the lower aspect of our bum, more around the thighs which creates a bit of a heart-shaped bottom. Women are more often to have this shape; maybe you've heard this referred to as "saddlebags." Others have more of a V-shaped bum which becomes more common as we age. Lower estrogen levels alter where our bodies distribute our fat, with age putting more around our midsection and less in our derriere. You'll identify with this shape of bum if you fear your pants falling off at any given moment, because you have nothing to catch them on their way down. The "bubble butt" is more of a round-shaped bum with fat fairly well distributed throughout the butt cheek, but without any real definition and tone. Finally, the square bum results from prominent hips and a distribution of fat more-so in this hips creating love handles.
The bum itself is a combination of some fairly impressive muscles and together, they are some of the most important muscles in your body. They provide you support not just for maximum movement and balance, but also for protecting your organs through optimal posture and improved core strength. The three more important muscles are the gluteus maximus, the gluteus medius, and the gluteus minimus. The gluteus maximus, is, of course, the largest muscle in the bum and allows you to extend your leg backwards and rotate the pelvis and thigh. The gluteus medius is located above the gluteus maximus which allows you to raise your leg out to the side. It additionally offers your body balance. The smaller, gluetus minimus resides in the upper part of the gluteus maximus and works with the gluteus medius.
Regardless of your genetics, designing a workout to target your various butt muscles can absolutely impact your overall shape. It may sound like common sense, but your goal is to balance attention to these muscles and challenge each muscle through different angles. Don't over train, but also be consistent. Use correct techniques and form so other muscles aren't having to compensate. Possibly you've seen in others, or identify yourself with having a fairly flat bum, but also have oversized hamstrings. This often results from having a weak core and poor posture so that your hamstrings have to compensate, and often, from a sedentary lifestyle which minimizes blood flow to this body region and ultimately leads to an atrophied derriere.
When your bum has been sedentary, it doesn't engage. It allows the hamstrings to carry the load, so when you begin working out, your target muscles may not be joining in on the fun as you anticipated and you'll find your work isn't as successful as you'd anticipated. There are a few ways to evaluate this. Try standing on one foot with the other leg lifted for one minute. Then do the opposite side. Did you feel more stable on one leg more-so than the other? Did you feel a contraction in your glute muscles or did you feel like your hamstrings or quadriceps were doing all the work? Did you have an easier time contracting one side as opposed to the other? Do you notice one side of your bum is bigger or strong than the other? Now perform a birddog on both sides. Do you feel a contraction in your glute muscles or are your legs doing the work? Finally, perform some air squats until it burns and then once it is difficult, pay attention to whether you lean to one side of your body as you complete these movements.
If you've identified an imbalance or that your legs are out-performing your bum in these exercises, you'll want to really focus on activating the glute muscles during your workouts before you'll really be able to transform your bum. Your goal is to get the gluteus muscles firing with each workout. This is achieved in a few ways, most importantly through assuring your are practicing mindfully. Use your mind to focus on the specific areas you want to sculpt. While this may seem an overly simple suggestion, scientific research has demonstrated that when our mind focuses on a specific area it simultaneously sends acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter, to stimulate the muscle, improving its performance.
When you first start to workout, you may find some muscles are especially tight. For example, your hip flexors are likely to be short and tight if you've been sitting awhile. When you perform more simple movements initially, you can then focus a bit more on this muscle as the exercises become more complex. Warming up with resistance-bands can be an excellent approach. The good news is because your gluteus muscles are so large, you'll see results much quicker once you've put in the proper work! Keep in mind, you want to come at your booty workout from different angles so you can target your bum from a variety of directions which ultimately offers it the best shape. Incorporating unique variations in your exercise routines is really the best approach.
Core Strength is Where All Your Power is Found
This was rather eye-opening for me and I don't mean the need for strong abdominal muscles, as I suspect most understand this concept, but rather, I hadn't appreciated the magnitude of importance proper posture and even deep breathing techniques play in your overall health. The proper function of our body's organs depends on the strength of our core. For example, proper function of the pelvic floor depends on deep breathing which pulls the pelvic floor muscles up with the expansion of the diaphragm, which I discuss in depth within the Diactasis Recti: Core Strengthening program.
Like the bum, our core is made up of a number of muscles, primarily the rectus abdominis, the transverse abdominis, the internal and external obliques, and the mid and lower back muscles. The rectus abdominis are the two long muscles that run down the center of your abdomen and the transverse abdominis wraps horizontally around your abdomen, response in part, for your waistline. The internal and external obliques form the innermost and outermost layers that run down the sides of your waist.
I've secretly always wanted to become fairly efficient at belly dancing, not only because I find it to be a beautiful dance, but also because it is incredible for the core! Friends of mine, many years ago now, planned a baby shower for me and invited a belly dancer to teach us a few skills which was incredibly fun. Another friend bought me a coin scarf which hasn't left my drawer very often, but maybe this blog will inspire me once again and you'll find another blog post into the future! What you should also know, when I started my transformation towards complete healing in early 2019, I soon realized my diactasis recti was significant separated partly as a result of six pregnancies, but also the result of having sat many hours in the clinic writing and performing administrative tasks. Correcting this is, without question, the first step one must address before engaging in a concentrated abdominal strengthening plan. If you are unaware if you suffer from separated abdominal muscles, please schedule a consultation with myself or another practitioner with knowledge in this area.
Discovering Your Best Cardiovascular Exercise
After deciding how many days you want to work out per week, whether 2-3, 3-4, or 4-5, you can determine how to best balance those workouts. You may decide to do strength training three times a week, which is my minimum commitment. One day is dedicated to sculpting my bum and legs. The second is focused on trimming my waist (after having completed an intense diactasis recti program) and the third, is a mix of upper and lower body exercises to tone and offer a more well-rounded muscle development. Added to this is my cardiovascular routine, which I have opted to approach with HIIT primarily because it allows me to workout for 25 minutes but gain 75 minutes work of effort. This high-intensity exercise offers recovery intervals while giving you a huge bang for your buck and because these workouts are diverse, they keep me interested. It's simply the easiest way to lose belly fat while still maintaining muscle mass, and offers significant "after-burn effect." I am also in need of lowering my fasting blood sugars so the HIIT workout routine is great for this effort, while boosting metabolism and improving lipid levels. If you live in a sympathetic dominate state however, you'll want to be careful about embracing a high-intensity workout as your body will not recognize this stress from other life-threatening circumstances and your health may not be improved. In fact, it may worsen. As well, if you weigh more than 200 pounds, there is great potential your body has significant inflammation which high-intensity workouts can further contribute. In these scenarios, I typically encourage walking (no one should get less than 10K steps each day), most especially earthing.
If you are unfamiliar with the "after-burn" effect, this is essentially the work your body must do following your workout session to recover to its baseline. For example, when you run on the treadmill and it tells you 180 calories have been burned, know that much more than this are burned over the next two hours as your body works to restore itself. The vigorous nature of HIIT workouts means your body has to work even harder in the post-workout period, demanding more of your body, so the effort offers greater return (approximately 15% greater burn). Lean muscle is simultaneously built as fat is burned, but again, don't push too hard if you are chronically stressed, lack sufficient sleep, or are over 200 pounds. You'll end up injured or even gaining.
Targeting Muscles at Different Angles to Sculpt Results You Want
Weight training exercises ensure you are achieving the right muscle development to look strong, fit, and as sexy as possible! The resistance and variety of exercises is what helps define the muscles. The more lean muscle mass you have, the more calories you burn throughout the day. You may be familiar with your basal metabolic rate or the number of calories your burn naturally throughout the day without exercise. This rate is completely dependent upon the amount of muscles your body must nourish, so the more lean mass, the better the burn.
In effort to look balanced overall, your training in your upper body - your arms, shoulders, and chest - must be balanced with your lower half. Otherwise, like so many men in the gym, you end up with a V-shape, with skinny, even comical legs that are completely out of proportion to the rest of your body. I can't help but see these men as walking uteruses.
The reality is that there is no short-cut, just as there is no fad diet. You do need to commit and be mindful about your food choices and then be consistent about moving and strengthening your body. No matter my exercise routine for the day, I always commit to achieving 10K steps. Being disciplined about your sleeping routine is also vital, or you won't recover properly and your hormones will work against you. As much as strength training is important, as well as cardiovascular exercise, I am equally committed to yoga. One may build a great deal of strength but if they are tight, then they won't gain vitality. They will be rigid and uncomfortable, increasing their chance for injury. More importantly, yoga is only partly about flexibility. It is much more about mental mindset and honoring your needs.