Baseball pants. Leggings. Those pastel chubbies that were all the rage in 2016. No matter who you are or who you’re into, almost everyone loves to look at a good firm butt. But beyond aesthetics, there are plenty of reasons to tone this bootylicious body part of yours.
Anatomy of an Ass
It’s safe to say the 2010s were the decade of derriere, and the big booty madness isn’t going anywhere. Whether you have access to a gym or just a few feet of space, you can master moving this muscle and reap long term health and aesthetic benefits.
According to professor Anthony Musto, University of Miami’s director of fitness programs, the glutes are one of the most important body parts to work for overall health. From performing heavy lifts to walking up stairs, humans need to engage these muscles for a variety of functions—but modern day life may be getting in the way.
“People nowadays spend a lot of time sitting or driving or hunched over our phones,” said Andres Preschel, an exercise physiologist studying for his masters in applied physiology. “As a result, the glutes are a commonly weak muscle.”
A serious consequence of this problem, he said, is that having weak glutes could lead to bad posture, muscle imbalances and general pain, discomfort and compromised quality of life later on. Individuals may not even notice these chronic conditions until it’s too late.
Working Your Butt Off
While some people think of butt workouts as “girly,” Preschel said, “Real men don’t skip leg day.” Musto agreed adding, “The glutes are a major force-producing muscle. Anybody who’s interested in performance can’t overlook them.” And some men, according to Preschel, may be inclined to focus on their arms and chest—but this is a mistake.
For Mert Okyay, a junior at University of Miami, working out the entire body has brought many benefits—and compliments. “I get told by so many girls that I have a nice butt,” he said. “It’s true,” his girlfriend added, “It’s nicer than mine!”
On the other hand (or cheek), Olivia Carbonero, a certified trainer and sophomore at University of Miami, said that for many female clients, building the booty is a top priority. According to her, lifting heavy weights within your ability is a great way to grow the glutes. Carbonero encourages newbies not to be intimidated by the gym, and said lifting heavy weights is one of the best ways to promote glute gains. Females especially shouldn’t worry about getting too bulky, Carbonero said.
Resistance training, ironically, may be the path of least resistance to getting that beautiful butt. Weighted compound movements like the squat and deadlift, Musto said, provide a good “bang for your buck” and work all the leg muscles together. Barbell hip thrusts, Preschel said, are also a good move for targeting the glutes.
“Glutes are my favorite workout ever,” said senior fitness blogger and pilates instructor Callie Jardine. “I do it mainly for aesthetic reasons, but it’s also super important to have strong glutes for overall health.”
While no movement is a waste, Musto said, trendy booty band exercises may not be the most productive, as they rarely put enough stress on the muscle to encourage true gains. However, these exercises are accessible and may allow individuals to work on complex movement patterns that can’t be performed with heavy weight. When the pandemic hit and gyms closed, those who didn’t have dumbbells sitting at home had to adjust. For Okyay, learning bodyweight exercises like pistol squats allowed him to keep building his butt over quarantine. For Jardine, and many other individuals like her with injuries, those heavy weights aren’t ever an option. To compensate, reformer pilates and bodyweight exercises are her go-tos.
Whether you’re training for health and longevity or physical performance, there’s no question that doing butt exercises will help you reach your goals. And there is no doubt you’ll look good while doing it.
words_kylea henseler. photo_nailah anderson. design_jess morgan.
This article was published in Distraction’s winter 2020 print issue.