The dream of many men and women is to have a "perfect" bottom; firm, toned and curved. Men and women alike aspire to have a toned figure and one aspect of this is having the "perfect" bottom. The "perfect" bottom is synonymous with sensuality, beauty, elegance, strength, self-respect and also good posture. This article explains the best exercises to undertake in order to help achieve the perfect bottom.
What does the bottom consist of?
Firstly a little bit of anatomy - In our bottom there are numerous different muscles, some of these form the bottom itself, whilst others are associated with it. The gluteus maximum, gluteus medium, gluteus minimum muscles, piriformis muscle, superior and inferiorgemellus muscle, obturator internus muscle, quadratus femoris muscle all contribute to the shape of the bottom itself. Other muscles are not part of the bottom but indirectly affects its form, such muscles include; hamstrings, minimum adductor muscles, semimembranosus muscles and semitendinosus muscle.
This article is mostly concerned with the 3 main muscles of the bottom; the gluteus maximum, the gluteus medium and the gluteus minimum muscles. Together these 3 muscles are often termed the gluteal muscles, or glutes and these make up the buttocks.
The gluteus maximum muscles arise from a number of regions around the base of the spine and pelvis, these regions include; a portion of the ilium, the lumbar fascia, the sacrum and the sacrotuberous ligament. The muscle’s fibres extend obliquely downwards and outwards towards the femur where the muscle attaches on to the gluteal tuberosity of the femur and the iliotibial band; it’s innervation comes from the Inferior Gluteal nerve.
The gluteus medium and minimum muscles have their origins in the Ilium (between the gluteal lines) and their insertion is in the greater trochanter of the femur. Their actions are abduction and internal rotation of the hip and they are innervated by the superior gluteal nerve (Neumann, 2010).
In order to fully understand the workings of the gluteal muscles, an understanding of the hip joint is needed.
The hip joint is a ball-and-socket synovial joint between the acetabulum and the femur, being a ball and socket joint means that the femur, and the sub sequent bones below, can move in a range of directions. The movements made by the joint are categorised into 3 planes; sagittal, frontal and horizontal planes. Around this joint there are 26 muscles that allow the full range of movements seen by the joint. (Dostal W.F, 1986)
The primary actions of the gluteus maximum muscles are extension and external rotation at the joint. When extending, the gluteus maximum works with the adductor magnus, biceps femoris, semitendinosus and semimembranosus muscles. When carrying out external rotation, it works with piriformis, obturator internus, gemellus superior and inferior and quadratus femoris muscles. The secondary action of the gluteus maximum muscles is an adduction movement, however it is only the posterior fibres of the muscle that have this role.
The primary action of the gluteus medium muscles is abduction, which involves all fibres of the muscle being used. In order for abduction to take place the gluteus medium works with gluteus minimum and tensor fasciae latae muscles. The secondary action of the gluteus medium muscles are extension, where the middle and posterior fibres are active; external rotation, where the posterior fibres are active and internal rotation where just the anterior fibres are used.
The primary action of the gluteus minimum is abduction, which involves all of the muscle’s fibres. The secondary actions are: external rotation, involving the posterior fibres and internal rotation involving the anterior fibres. (Neumann D.A, 2010).
So to summarise, the gluteus maximum and medium muscles work both in extending the hip joint, however the gluteus maximum muscles also work in hip adduction, while the gluteus medium and minimum muscles work in hip abduction.
Before discussing exercises to bulk up the gluteus muscles of the bottom, Boren,et al. (2011), determined which exercises are better to give voluntary contraction of the maximum gluteus and medium gluteus.
There are five exercises which could produce a high activity of the Medium Gluteus muscle.
These exercises are:
There are also five exercises that recruited maximum gluteus with greater values of activity.
These exercises are:
Several studies have researched exercises that focus on the gluteus muscle groups (Contreras et al., 2015, Boren et al., 2011), the studies have shown a number of exercises and activity levels linked with working the gluteus muscle groups.
Now to list the exercises that are good for bulking your bottom:
Barbell back Squat: with this exercise you will work the thighs and glutes, with secondary emphasis on the hamstring.Standing upright, rest a straight bar high on the back of your neck, grasping the bar with both hands, your feet need to be shoulder-width apart and your feet slighty turned outward. Keeping your core contracted, lower your body untill the thighs are parallel to the floor; keep the heels in contact with the floor throughout the movement. When you reach a seated postion, straighten your legs and come back to the starting position.
Goblet Squat: this exercise is like the barbell back squat but with a dumbbell or kettlebell on the chest. This move targets the thighs and glutes. The movement is exactly the same as the barbell back squat, the only difference is that you are using a dumbbell or kettlebell.
Leg press: this exercise targets the glutes and the quads, with your feet high on the footplate you can increases stimulation of the gluteus, with a secondary emphasis on the hamstrings. Sit in a leg press unit with your back firmly against the padded seat, place your feet on the footplate with a shoulder-width stance, straighten your legs with your toes angled slightly outward. Lower your leg bringing your knee towards your chest and, without a bouncing at the bottom, press the footplate and bring your leg straight in the start position while you are contracting your quads. By keeping your feet high on the footplate you are increasing the work on the gluteus, if you keep them lower then the quads work more.
Bulgarian Squat: in this exercise you work one leg a time, this move targets the quads and glutes with a secondary emphasis on the hamstrings. Grab 2 dumbbells and allow your arms to hang down the sides of your body, Stand in front of a raised objet (bench, chair, step) and place one leg on the top of it. Keeping you foot flat on the foor, lower your body untill your raised thigh is parallel to the floor. The heels need to be firmly on the floor throughout the procedure. When you reacha seated position, straighten your leg and come back up to the starting position.
Dumbbell Lunge, Dumbbell Reverse Lunge, Barbell Lunge,Barbell Reverse Lunge: all of these exercises target the thighs and glutes; they are excellent exercises to improve dymamic balance. The difference between Dumbbell/ Barbell Lunge and Dumbbell/ Barbell Reverse Lunge is the long step is backward. to further target the glutes you can take a longer stride, with a shorter stride the quads are targeted. The execution is the same as the bulgarian squat just that in this exercise you are not using any object, just the dumbbell in your hand.
Barbell Split Squat: similar to a lunge but it is static, take a long stride forward with your leg, it is good to develop static balance. With this exercise you work with the thighs and glutes. Same execution as the Bulgarian squat, but you are using a barbell not dumbbells and there is no bench.
Monster Walk: you need the fitness rubber band, put the band on the topof your knee (legs into the band), open your leg so you can bring tension in the band. is important that the band will always beunder tension during the exercise. Bend your legs to around 30 degrees and start walking for as manyreps as you need,maintaining the position throughout the exercise. This exercise works the glutes and thighs.
Sumo Walk: this exercise is like a Monster Walk but the difference is that you are not walking forward but you are walking laterally. In this case, as well, you need to keep the position, described on Monster Walk, for the duration of the exercise. After one side, swap positions. This exercise works the glutes and thighs, in particular the abductors.
Cross over step up: Position a box or bench next to you. Standing sideways to the box/Bench, brace through the core, pull your shoulder blades back and establish a neutral spine position. Raise your foot which is on the far side of the box/bench and cross in front of your other leg onto the box/bench. Place your weight across the heel of the elevated foot, press through it, and raise your other leg up and onto the box. Drive through the raised leg and do not attempt to push off using the other side. Make sure that the knee of your elevated leg tracks in a line with your toes. Now lower the first leg raised to the other side of the box/bench until it is touching the floor. Engaging the adductors of your raised leg, one more press though the heel and raise the off leg above the box/bench. Now return to start position under control. Be sure to repeat the exercise with the opposite leg.
Good Morning: an exercise where the movement involves just the hip, the exercise works with the glutes and hamstring, to develop the glutes we recommended to squeeze your glutes. Rest a barbell across your shoulders, grasping the barbell with both sides to maintain balance. Assume a shoulder-width stance with your knees and back straight. Keeping your back taut during the movement, bend forward at the hips till your back is in line with your hips and roughly parallel with the floor, then contract your glutes and bring the back up to vertical using the same movement and return to the starting position.
Barbell stiff-leg deadlift: like a deadlift just you keep your legs straight, movement is just with the hip. Bend forward at the hips and lower the barbell. this exercise works with glutes and hamstrings. Variant with Dumbbell. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, grasp a straight bar and let in hang in front of your body. Keeping your knees straight, bend forward at the hips and lower the bar till you feel an intense stretch in your hamstrings. Then, reverse direction, contracting your glutes as you return back to the start position.
Barbell Glute Bridge: this exercise targets the glutes, lying flat on the floor put your barbell on the crease of your hips, bend your legs so that your heels are as close to your bum as possible whilst keeping your feet planted on the floor. Keeping the barbell across your hips, raise the barbell off the floor by contracting the glutes to push your hips into the air. Squeeze your glutes for 1 sec at the top of movement and then return to the start position. Keep the feet planted on the floor, and focus on pushing the entire foot on the floor, rather than just the heels or toes.
Barbell HipThrust: Sit on the floor with your upper back against a secure block bench; position the barbell over your legs and roll the barbell over your thighs so is situated at the crease of your hips and slightly above the pelvis. Bend your knees 90 degrees and keep your feet shoulder-width apart and firmly planted on the floor. Keep your core contracted and the spine in line with the rest of the body (neutral position), pick up the barbell off the floor by contracting your hip extensor until your torso is in line with your hips and parallel to the floor. Squeeze the glutes and then return to the start position. To improve the activation of the glutes, you can use a fitness rubber band on the lower knee and keep it under tension for all series.
Cable Glute Back Kick: use the cable in a lower position, attach a cuff on one ankle. Keeping your body bent at 10 degrees and the leg without a cuff straight, bring your foot with cuff back, without moving your upper body. Contract your glutes and return, repeat for all your reps and alternate sides.
Hyperextension: this exercise works the glutes and hamstrings; lie prone on a hyperextension/Roman chair, put your feet hooked securely underneath the roller pads and your pelvis resting on the bench pad. Cross your arms over your chest. keep your head up and your lower body stable, lift your chest towards your ankles, contract your glutes. The head and your back are in straight in line. Return in start position and start again. To increase the intensity, use a weight plate against your chest. Do not move the head during the exercise and do not hyperextend your back, this can cause injury to your neck and lumbar muscles.
Reverse Hyperextension: like hyperextension but with your legs free, and it works with glutes and hamstrings. Lying prone on the bench or Roman chair, grasp the metal posts underneath the roller pads on the end of the bench. Keep your arm fixed, contract your glutes and start to lift your legs until your ankles and the back of your head are in a straight line. The range of movement is longer, but you can doing this on top the band but the range of movement is shorter.
Front plank with hip extension: Lie face down on the floor, feet together and your spine and pelvis neutrally aligned. Elbows aligned below your shoulders, your hands should have the thumbs upper most and little fingers on the floor. Lift your body up onto your forearms and toes, keep your body as straight as you can. Once this position is stable, raise one leg as high as possible, keeping the knee joint extended. Contracting your glutes throughout the range of movement, then return to the starting position and repeat with the other side. This exercise works the glutes, hamstring and core.
Side plank abduction with dominant leg: lie on one side with your legs straight, your forearm on the floor, lift your hip off the floor, maintaining your weight on your forearm and side of your lower foot and place your free arm on your hip. Then raise the upper leg and repeat. After finishing your reps change side and repeat. This exercise works with glutes, abductor and core.
Clamshell: this exercise is performed sidelying on your non-dominant side. You need to bend your knees to around 45 degrees ensuring that your ankles, pelvis and shoulders are all aligned. Keeping your feet together externally rotate the hip, so that the upper knee is lifted up and your legs appear to open like a clamshell. If you want make it more challenging you can use a band positioned a little bit above your knees.
One leg Kickback: put yorself with your knees and hands on the floor, (four point contact with the floor "dog position"), keep your back straight and in line with your head and then push up with one leg keeping your knee bent at 90 degree so that your thigh becomes parallel with the floor. Return back to almost the starting point, but don’t allow the knee to touch the floor. When you finish change legs and repeat. This exercise work with glutes, lower back and core.
There are 3 primary factors of muscle hypertrophy:
Mechanical tension ismuscular force, i.e. the force generated by muscle fibres. During resistance training, the muscle subjected to the resistance (weight) is stretching and contracting, thus promoting the growth of muscle fibres leading to hypertrophy. In other words, the use of loads gradually causes a hypertrophic adaptation while the absence of loads leads tovmuscle atrophy.
Muscle damage means the micro tissue tearing of the muscle fibers and it can refer to macromolecules contained within the myocyte sarcolemma and/or other fibrous components.
The response to this injury is a consequent acute inflammation. (DOMS-Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness), which leads to repairing of the fibres and formation of new fibres to reduce the chances of repeated damage.
Metabolic stress is a major factor contributing to the development of muscle hypertrophy. Metabolic stress involves the development of anaerobic metabolism byproducts such as hydrogen ions, lactic acid and inorganic phosphate, and is closely linked to hormone production.
The accumulation of metabolic waste is able to trigger a fairly pronounced hypertrophic response, and this can be seen very well in some typical workouts by body builders where a high muscle tension is preferred, at the expense of the intensity, resulting in depletion of intramuscular reserves of macromolecules. (Spadoni, 2016)
Training intensity is essentially expressed as a percentage of RM (Repetition Maximum), and obviously is involved in muscle growth processes. The RM refers to the number of possible repetitions with a given weight.The repetitions are classified in a low range (1-5 / 6), medium (6-12) and high (from 15 onwards).
The best method of hypertrophic exercise with resistance training programmes is usually performed with multiple sets of 8–12 RM resistance, as this repetition range is hypothesized to generate an optimal combination of metabolic, hormonal and total work stress, that have been shown to be important factors in the post exercise hypertrophic response (Schoenfeld, 2010, 2013). Because of the high association between metabolic and work related demands, hypertrophy type resistance training programmes have a close relation to fatigue resistance development.
In summary, we have see that the bottom consists of the gluteus maximum, medium and minimum muscles. These muscles allow the hip joint to extend, adduct, and abduct. We recommend to do do 4-5 excercises, 2 muiltijoint to have toned legs and 2-3 exercises single-joint just to work the gluteus. We recommend that to build your "perfect" bottom, you need to do 8-12 repetitions.
If your dream is to have a perfect bottom, Stop dreaming and start with ACTION!!!
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This article was written by Mauro Ceccarini, BSc. Physical Education and Sport, Personal Trainer.
Athlete in the picture: Alix Edzi, 5th in U.K. Final Ultimate physiques 2015, Bikini Model.