Trainers, are you contantly asked “Can I spot reduce my gluteus (a.k.a. booty) in your barre class?” I am! And my answer is always…”Nope!” And when asked if one can roll it with a foam roller or similar device to break-up the cellulite and cause the booty to be smaller, I give the similar answer of “Nope!” Which brings us to the question: how can we train the posterior chain authentically and effectively? Let’s explore three characteristics of your life that can determine the shape of your booty, my recommendations to help those characteristics, and 5 ways to make sure you are training your booty properly.
First of all, let’s discuss how you are shaped because genetics matter in this discussion. Sure you can train and exercise to be in better fitness shape, but your body style does impact how you are physically shaped. If you are an ectomorph, then you are more of a pencil shape; You have a small frame and your glutes will reflect that. If you are a mesomorph, which is apple shaped, then you probably put on muscle easily and have a well-shaped behind. Lastly, the endomorph, who is pear shaped, will have a much more defined posterior chain than the ectomorph.
We need to be realistic in our training. We are all different body types, and we need to appreciate the function of the posterior chain instead of obsessing about the look. Focus on our strengths, not our weaknesses. Remember that our body is our vessel and there are more important aspects to a consistent fitness routine than changing one specific area.
Sitting on Your Booty
Now, let’s explore how much time you spend sitting. I am sure you have heard that sitting is the new smoking; not only is it the new health-risk, but it also can shape your derriere. You know that we are comprised mostly of water. When you sit for extended periods of time, you move fluid away from the glutes, causing the area to be dehydrated from sitting. Movement distributes much needed water into your cells.
So if you are sitting for an hour at a time, then get up to move, stretch, and squat to replace fluid in this dehydrated area. Even if you drink a ton of water yet do not move for a long period of time, your booty will remain dehydrated. Set a timer to notify you every hour you are at work so that you can stand up, move, and stretch. Or perhaps, move to a standing desk.
Training for Defined Gluteus
Just for fun, we need to look at the defined gluteus of a USA track and field athlete, like Allyson Felix. Their training requires lunging, squatting, and exploding out of the start position. All of these movements require POWER. This power is derived from the posterior chain. They have developed the ability to use gravity and capture energy flawlessly. This training has developed strong gluteus for these athletes.
Last week in What the Tuck, I wrote about the infamous tuck position of barre classes. Again, this position limits the natural movements of the glutes and the hips, which a large area for power in the body. So try this : stand up, tuck your pelvic bones forward, think about flattening your back, and now explode as high and as powerful as you can, making sure you land in the same position. Describe that jump in one word? I am sure you did not use the words powerful or pain-free.
If we need to train with powerful movements to obtain defined gluteus, then we need the main source of power to be active. By flattening the back and compromising the gluteus by switching this power system off, we introduce dysfunction and weakness in the posterior chain. Yet, I have seen this position taught in barre classes numerous times.
Strong flexible posterior muscles are crucial for the health of the spine and hips. And the more we encourage non-functional movement preformed ad nauseum, the more we limit the glutes from improving! So how can we train the posterior chain authentically and effectively?
- Do squats daily (but never to the point where you feel it in your knees)
- Do lunges daily (but never to the point where you feel it in your knees)
- Move in multiple planes : front, side, back, and crossing
- Reach to various sides as you move
- Mix it up so there is a posterior chain reaction every time you move