Health & Fitness

Perfect Butt Workout

This workout will give you the bottom you want – if you are willing to pay the price. It won’t happen overnight.

Booty-licious celebrities have used their lean, firm bottoms to propel them into mega-stardom. A nice butt is the Holy Grail of a healthy, sexy-looking body. Nice butts aren’t just for the rich and famous – almost any woman can have one if she works hard consistently and follows a science-based training program. The Perfect Butt Workout will help you build shapely, lean glute muscles in less time than you thought possible.

Looks alone are not enough for most women; they want to move well and feel healthy and fit. Shapely glutes are critical for functional fitness – the capacity to move your body well during normal activities. Strong glute muscles promote powerful movements on the tennis court, ski slopes or hiking trail. They take stress off your fragile spinal muscles and knee joints, so you are less likely to get back and knee pain. They make it easy to carry bags of groceries up the stairs or lug a heavy backpack to school. Strong, fit lower body muscles give you form and function so that you look beautiful and sexy and move effortlessly and fluidly.

Eyes naturally gravitate toward a woman with a round, firm butt as she enters the room. A nice rear says to the world that you are fit, sexy and beautiful. Opinion polls show overwhelmingly that a lean, round, attractive butt is the hallmark of a nice body. Stylish pants and shorts accentuate your natural assets and make a fit, firm derrière look even better. These clothes draw attention to your butt. If you’ve got it then go for it and wear them with pride. As Max Bialystock— the lead character in the Broadway mega-hit “The Producers” said, “Flaunt it, baby; flaunt it!” Unfortunately, nearly 66 percent of women are overweight and most carry extra fat on their butt and hips.

This workout will give you the bottom you want – if you are willing to pay the price. It won’t happen overnight. Change your lifestyle so that you exercise more and eat less and you will soon have the body you want. The workout will teach you how to be a fat burner instead of a fat storer. After only six months on this program, you will turn heads and people will admire your lean, firm butt.

Why It’s Hard to Lose Butt Fat

One of the original queens of the nice butt is Tamilee Webb, who became famous through her “Buns of Steel” workout videos. Tamilee and I were presenting a lecture together at a sports medicine conference and a student asked her, “How long would it take to get a nice butt like yours?” She answered, “My parents gave me a nice butt; I was born with it.” How many times have you seen a beautiful, fit-looking woman who works out like a banshee yet still has a fat butt? Pretty common, huh? Developing a supermodel behind is very difficult, because the body wants to hold on to butt fat.

The fat you deposit on your rear is survival fat. Women need fat to reproduce; your genes are programmed to release this fat only as a last resort. Stress hormones such as norepinephrine and epinephrine (noradrenalin and adrenaline) stimulate fat breakdown. They work by triggering hormone-sensitive lipase (HSL), an enzyme that causes fat release from fat cells and determines the capacity to lose weight and fat. You can reduce lower body fat and have a nice butt if you understand how the body regulates it.

HSL doesn’t work well when you’re overweight, but becomes activated as you lose weight. Women have a difficult time getting rid of thigh and butt fat. Scientist discovered that women lose fat in the upper body and face first and reduce lower body fat slowly. Studies from Penn State University, using a technique called MRI that allows scientists to take internal pictures of muscle, fat and bone, found that women who trained intensely with weights lost substantial fat from their arms and abdomen, but very little from their legs. One reason for this is the way that the nervous system controls fat use in women. You must turn on your nervous system (sympathetic nervous system) if you want to lose fat from your butt.

Resting metabolic rate (RMR) determines daily caloric expenditure and is critical for fat gains and losses. The nervous system sends a steady stream of impulses to the tissues that helps control metabolism and the rate you burn calories. This process works very much like the idle setting on a car – the higher the idle, the more gas the car uses. In your body, the higher the setting of your nervous system, the more calories you burn every day.

Researchers from the University of Colorado – led by Dr. Christopher Bell –  found that these nervous signals are lower in women than men, particularly older women who don’t exercise. Hormone-triggered fat release in the hips and thighs is lower in women than in men, whereas fat release from the upper body depots is comparable. This means that women can lose fat from the upper body easily, but have trouble doing so in the lower body. One key for losing butt fat is to increase sympathetic nervous system activity (your body’s fight-or-flight system).

Build A Nice Butt With High-Intensity Exercise

Most women are familiar with the “fat-burning” program mode on treadmills, elliptical trainers and stationary bikes. These exercise programs involve prolonged, moderate-intensity exercise below 65 percent of maximum effort. On the surface, these programs make sense because the body uses mainly fat as fuel at lower exercise intensities. Unfortunately, they don’t work because they don’t shock the sympathetic nervous system. Scientific breakthroughs in exercise physiology show how you can burn more calories during exercise and mobilize fat-burning chemicals that will change you from a fat maker to a fat burner. Exciting new studies from Canada and Australia showed that high-intensity training causes rapid fat loss in a short time compared to traditional moderate-intensity training, such as exercising on a treadmill or elliptical trainer for 45 minutes. Combining weight-training exercises that target the glute muscles and high-intensity interval training will increase metabolism and turn you into a calorie-burning machine. Most important, it will give you a round, firm butt.

Short bouts of maximal intensity exercise (HIT) build high levels of fitness quickly. Canadian researchers found that six sessions of high-intensity interval training on a stationary bike increased muscle oxidative capacity (citrate synthase) by almost 50 percent, muscle glycogen by 20 percent and cycle endurance capacity by 100 percent. The subjects made these amazing improvements exercising a mere 15 minutes in two weeks. A follow-up study in moderately active women using the same training method showed that interval training increased whole-body and skeletal muscle capacity for fat use during exercise. The key element in both studies was training at 100 percent of maximum effort. These studies showed the importance of high-intensity training for building aerobic capacity and endurance.

What about fat loss? Improving fitness and metabolic health doesn’t mean as much if you still have a fat butt. A series of exciting studies by Gail Trapp and colleagues from the University of New South Wales Medical School in Australia showed that short bouts of maximum-intensity exercise followed by active rest is the key to fat loss in women. The women lost nearly 6 pounds of fat in 12 weeks by doing a series of 8-second sprints followed by 12 seconds of slow spinning on a stationary bike, three times per week. They did 60 sprints per workout three times a week by the end of the study. They would have received the same benefits using an elliptical trainer, running track, or stair-climber.

For the workout, do the weight-training workout first followed by the interval-training workout. It’s best to do the intervals on a stationary bike or elliptical trainer. Use a watch that displays seconds or the timer on the machine. Begin by exercising at about 50 percent effort (warm-up) for 2 minutes. After the 2-minute warm-up, sprint as fast as you can for 8 seconds followed by 12 seconds of easy exercise (very slow movements on the bike or elliptical trainer). Begin with 10 8-second sprints and build up gradually until you can do 60 short sprints followed by active rest each workout. Intensity is the key to rapid fat loss. Try to go at 100 percent of maximum effort on every sprint.

Check with your physician before starting a high-intensity interval-training program if you have significant health problems or heart disease risk factors or you are over age 40. Reduce the number of sprints or decrease the number of weight training sets if you become overly tired or sore. Most people tolerate intense exercise easily, but it can be dangerous for some people. However, if having a nice butt were easy, everyone would have one.

Targeting the Glute Muscles

The gluteal muscles include the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, gluteus minimus and tensor fasciae latae. The gluteus maximus straightens the leg (hip extension) and turns the thigh inward, while the other glute muscles move the leg outward (hip abduction) and rotates it outward (hip external rotation). No single exercise builds these muscles equally, so you must do a variety of movements to build the perfect butt.

Scientists have an amazing tool called electromyography (EMG) that tells them how much a muscle is activated during a specific exercise. EMG measures the electrical activity of muscles. By placing the EMG electrodes (pads that pick up the electrical signal in the muscles) on key muscle groups, scientists can tell which exercises are best for building size and definition in specific muscles. EMG studies show that the best exercises for building glute muscles are the single-leg squat, plié (Sumo) squats, step-ups, heel kickbacks and lunges. Do 3 sets of 10 repetitions for each exercise, resting 1 minute between sets and exercises. Begin with 1 set per exercise if you haven’t been exercising regularly. Add sets as your fitness improves until you can do the entire program.

Single-Leg Squats: EMG studies show that this exercise loads the leg and butt muscles better than any other. As the name suggests, you do this exercise one leg at a time. Place the foot of your non-squatting leg on a low bench behind you. Squat below parallel to load the glutes. Flex your hip as you go down so that you load the glutes and not the low back muscles. You can do this exercise on a Smith machine if you have trouble maintaining balance. Keeping your back straight, squat until your thigh is parallel with the floor. Return to the starting position. Do 3 sets of 10 reps (both legs – one leg at a time).

Plié (Sumo) Squats: This exercise can make the muscles on the inside of your thighs very sore the first time you do it, so begin with only 1 set and build up. Stand with your feet about a foot wider than your shoulders, with toes turned out diagonally. Keep your feet flat and try to squat with your pelvis until your thighs are parallel with the floor. Return to the starting position slowly, squeezing your buns together as you ascend. Do 3 sets of 10 reps.

Step Training (Step-Ups): Do step-ups on a plyo or aerobic box or a flat bench. Start by stepping up on the bench or box using your bodyweight as resistance. Step up using your left leg, then your right leg. Do the exercise holding a dumbbell in each hand as fitness improves. Later, perform the exercise with a barbell on your back. Increase the height of the step to increase the load on your glutes. Do 3 sets of 10 reps.

Heel Kickbacks: Get on your hands and knees on a padded mat, keeping your back flat and your head in a neutral position. Lift your right thigh until it is parallel with the floor and the sole of your shoe is pointed toward the wall. Do not lift your leg so far that you hyperextend (sway) your back. Pause at the top of the motion and squeeze your glute muscles together. Return to the starting position. Do 3 sets of 10 reps with each leg. Do all the sets with the right leg before doing the left leg.

Lunges: The lunge is a great exercise for developing a nice butt because it works the quads, hamstrings and glutes. Stand with the bar on your back or hold a dumbbell in each hand, with your feet parallel. You can also do this exercise with no resistance. Take a large step forward with your right leg, keeping your torso erect. Go into a lunge position by bending the right and left knees and keeping the left leg stationary. Return to the starting position and repeat the movement with the other leg. Do 3 sets of 10 reps with each leg, alternating legs during each set.

The Perfect Butt Workout

If you follow this program religiously, train intensely and eat sensibly, you will have a better looking butt three months from now. Too many women train half-heartedly for a few weeks, stop working out and then wonder why they didn’t make any progress. This program is intense, but it doesn’t take very long and it works.

Elements of the Program: weight training (three times per week), high-intensity interval training (three times per week), walking (optional, two times per week).

Weight Training: Begin with 1 set of 10 reps for each weight-training exercise and build up to 3 sets. Rest 1 minute between sets and exercises. Use as much weight as you can while maintaining good form. This program targets the glute muscles, so you can add exercises for other body parts if you want a more well-rounded program.

Interval Training: Warm-up on the stationary bike or elliptical trainer for 2 minutes. Sprint for 8 seconds, followed by 12 seconds of active rest (slow spinning). Begin by doing 10 sets of 8-second sprints. Build up to 60 sprints (plus active rest).

Monday

Weight Training (rest 1 minute between sets):

Single-Leg Squats (3 sets of 10 repetitions; do reps for one leg, then the other)

Plié (Sumo) Squats (3 sets of 10 reps)

Step-Ups (3 sets of 10 reps)

Heel Kickbacks (3 sets of 10 reps)

Lunges (3 sets of 10 reps)

Interval Training (on a stationary bike or elliptical trainer): Warm-up for 2 minutes by exercising at a low intensity (less than 50 percent of maximum effort); sprint 8 seconds followed by 12 seconds of low-level exercise (light spinning at about 30 rpm); repeat 60 times (beginners should do fewer sets).

Tuesday (optional)

Cardio: 30 to 60 minutes of walking on treadmill or safe place outdoors.

Wednesday

Weight Training (rest 1 minute between sets):

Single-Leg Squats (3 sets of 10 repetitions; do reps for one leg, then the other)

Plié (Sumo) Squats (3 sets of 10 reps)

Step-Ups (3 sets of 10 reps)

Heel Kickbacks (3 sets of 10 reps)

Lunges (3 sets of 10 reps)

Interval Training (on a stationary bike or elliptical trainer): Warm-up for 2 minutes by exercising at a low intensity (less than 50 percent of maximum effort); sprint 8 seconds followed by 12 seconds of low-level exercise (light spinning at about 30 rpm); repeat 60 times (beginners should do fewer sets).

Thursday (optional)

Cardio: 30 to 60 minutes of walking on treadmill or safe place outdoors.

Friday

Weight Training (rest 1 minute between sets):

Single-Leg Squats (3 sets of 10 repetitions; do reps for one leg, then the other)

Plié (Sumo) Squats (3 sets of 10 reps)

Step-Ups (3 sets of 10 reps)

Heel Kickbacks (3 sets of 10 reps)

Lunges (3 sets of 10 reps)

Interval Training (on a stationary bike or elliptical trainer): Warm-up for 2 minutes by exercising at a low intensity (less than 50 percent of maximum effort); sprint 8 seconds followed by 12 seconds of low-level exercise (light spinning at about 30 rpm); repeat 60 times (beginners should do fewer sets).

Saturday (optional)

Cardio: 30 to 60 minutes of walking on treadmill or safe place outdoors.

Sunday

Rest

References:

Aughey RJ, KT Murphy, SA Clark, AP Garnham, RJ Snow, D Cameron-Smith, JA Hawley and MJ McKenna. Muscle Na+-K+-ATPase activity and isoform adaptations to intense interval exercise and training in well-trained athletes. J Appl Physiol, 103: 39-47, 2007.

Burgomaster KA, SC Hughes, GJ Heigenhauser, SN Bradwell and MJ Gibala. Six sessions of sprint interval training increases muscle oxidative potential and cycle endurance capacity in humans. J Appl Physiol, 98:1985-1990, 2005.

Denadai BS, MJ Ortiz, CC Greco and MT de Mello. Interval training at 95% and 100% of the velocity at VO2 max: Effects on aerobic physiological indexes and running performance. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab, 31:737-743, 2006.

Fahey TD. Basic Weight Training for Men and Women. New York: McGraw Hill, 2007.

Fahey TD, P Insel, W Roth. Fit and Well. New York: Mc Graw Hill, 2009 (8th ed.)

Gibala MJ High-intensity interval training: A time-efficient strategy for health promotion? Curr Sports Med Rep, 6:211-213, 2007.

Gross M, T Swensen and D King. Nonconsecutive- versus consecutive-day high-intensity interval training in cyclists. Med Sci Sports Exerc, 39:1666-1671, 2007.

Haskell WL, IM Lee, RR Pate, KE Powell, SN Blair, BA Franklin, CA Macera, GW Heath, PD Thompson and A Bauman. Physical activity and public health: Updated recommendation for adults from the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association. Med Sci Sports Exerc, 39:1423-1434, 2007.

Haskell WL, IM Lee, RR Pate, KE Powell, SN Blair, BA Franklin, CA Macera, GW Heath, PD Thompson and A Bauman. Physical activity and public health: Updated recommendation for adults from the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association. Circulation, 116:1081-1093, 2007.

Hill-Haas S, D Bishop, B Dawson, C Goodman and J Edge. Effects of rest interval during high-repetition resistance training on strength, aerobic fitness and repeated-sprint ability. J Sports Sci, 25:619-628, 2007.

Hossaina M and LDM Nokesb A model of dynamic sacro-iliac joint instability from malrecruitment of gluteus maximus and biceps femoris muscles resulting in low back pain. Med Hypoth, 65: 278-281, 2005

Kraemer WJ, BC Nindl, NA Ratamess, LA Gotshalk, JS Volek, SJ Fleck, RU Newton and K Hakkinen. Changes in muscle hypertrophy in women with periodized resistance training. Med Sci Sports Exerc, 36: 697-708, 2004.

Marx JO, NA Ratamess, BC Nindl, LA Gotshalk, JS Volek, K Dohi, JA Bush, AL Gomez, SA Mazzetti, SJ Fleck, K Hakkinen, RU Newton and WJ Kraemer. Low-volume circuit versus high-volume periodized resistance training in women. Med Sci Sports Exerc, 33: 635-643, 2001.

Morton J. Prescribing, quantifying, and monitoring exercise intensity during interval training. Med Sci Sports Exerc, 39:1885, 2007.

Nemoto K, H Gen-no, S Masuki, K Okazaki and H Nose. Effects of high-intensity interval walking training on physical fitness and blood pressure in middle-aged and older people. Mayo Clin Proc, 82:803-811, 2007.

Rozenek R, K Funato, J Kubo, M Hoshikawa and A Matsuo. Physiological responses to interval training sessions at velocities associated with VO2max. J Strength Cond Res, 21:188-192, 2007.

Trapp EG, DJ Chisholm and SH Boutcher. Metabolic response of trained and untrained women during high-intensity intermittent cycle exercise. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol, 293: R2370-2375, 2007.

Trapp EG, DJ Chisholm, J Freund and SH Boutcher. The effects of high-intensity intermittent exercise training on fat loss and fasting insulin levels of young women. Int J Obes, In press; published online January 2008.

Zazulak BT, PL Ponce, SJ Straub, MJ Medvecky, L Avedisian and TE Hewett. Gender comparison of hip muscle activity during single-leg landing. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther, 35:292-299, 2005.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *