By Melody Coleman
- When it comes to working out, one of the main goals is to achieve the perfect bum
- But how do you get there? Fitness expert Melody Coleman gives us the top tips
Wherever you stand on the scale of "I dream of being the proud owner of a butt so big I have to live the rest of my life in XL leggings" to "I don't give a tiny rat's a**", there's no ignoring the fact that the bubble butt is in fashion, and it's not going anywhere anytime soon.
On a daily basis, glossy images of impossibly round and perky backsides are thrust in our faces through our TVs and iPhone screens. They plaster billboards around town, donning the latest fashion and fitness apparel, and glare appraisingly at us from shop windows.
Those sporting particularly impressive behinds on popular social media networks like Instagram fast become the object of our fascinations, and even glean C-list celebrity status off the back of them.
It's an asset that's in high demand these days - everybody wants a juicy round booty to squeeze laboriously into a pair of yoga pants - but how many of us are actually incentivised to put in the work required to build one?
Aside from those who pay cold hard cash for the pleasure of a fully portable personal cushion, and those with the genetic makeup to store disproportionate amounts of body fat around their butt, most people have to put in substantial time and effort to build a good strong bum.
It seems that many people just aren't aware of the many modern techniques and training concepts available to them when going about building a 5-star booty.
Thousands of hours spent working in the gym with a diverse range of both women and men helping to improve the shape, firmness, and lift of their behinds allow me to highlight one key element that is overlooked across the board when it comes to gluteal development, and it has a bit of a twist...
Training in 3 planes
Let me begin by discussing the concept of training in three planes. You may have come across this programming approach before, likely from one of an emerging breed of trainers and coaches following a functional approach to fitness.
A tri-planar strategy is certainly a sound basis for a well-rounded programme. More and more fitness pros are catching on, and even big industry names such as Best's Bootcamp in London employ this methodology as a cornerstone of their training philosophies.
It boils down to this: when you are training your butt, you are training your hip joint. Your glutes, one of the primary muscles controlling the hip joint, allow it to perform movement in all three planes:
Hip extension in the saggital plane;
Hip abduction in the frontal plane;
Hip external rotation in the transverse plane.
"Whoa, whoa, slow down," you say. "What the hell does that even mean? What machine do I use for that?"
Well, here are some example exercises to highlight what each of these three movement types might entail. It's simpler than you may think:
Big compound (multi-muscle) hip extension movements include deadlifts, conventional squats, hip thrusts, walking lunges, and split squats.
The action of hip extension refers to the straightening of the hip from a flexed position, which requires activity from the glutes in the saggital plane to perform.
Simply put, if your hips are bent (read: folded forward), and you extend them by straightening up so that your legs form a straight line with your spine, you have just demonstrated hip extension. The gluteus maximus is the prime mover in this plane of movement.
Exercises including curtsey lunges, "X" band walks, and side-lying/cable lateral leg raises are all examples of hip abduction.
This refers to the action of lifting your leg out to the side using your hip (rather than your spine). The gluteals minimus and medius are the prime movers in this frontal plane movement.
Hip external rotation: The secret sauce
Conventional strength training movements typically occur primarily in the saggital plane, and secondarily in the frontal plane.
The transverse plane is easily overlooked and can only be trained in a truly focussed manner through a limited number of isolation exercises, such as cable external rotations and clamshells, and I believe this is the reason it is often missing in glute development programmes.
The inclusion of isolation movements, as opposed to bigger compounds (which when building strength and size do, in general, offer more bang for your buck) can add a new layer of potency to your leg training regimen, and not just in terms of hypertrophy, either.
Hip external rotation in particular is important from an injury prevention perspective, as it offers a technical advantage, helping improve the quality of your movement, particularly in squats. The dreaded "valgus knee" error, where the knees cave inwards (hip internal rotation) is related to numerous injuries, including ACL damage and tears. Strength in hip external rotation offers protection against this common movement flaw.
Stronger gluteals in general are closely correlated with speed, power, stability, and endurance in a sporting or competitive setting, as well as being strongly associated with the reduction or complete removal of lower back pain, a worryingly and increasingly common modern disease.
The benefits of training your butt in a more well-rounded manner are considerably more far reaching than aesthetics alone.
In the interests of pursuing greater sporting potential, negating our risks of injury and pain, and of course enhancing our physiological appearances, it would be a great idea for each of us to work our butts off a little more when it comes to glute training.