fitness in a flash

Shape Up: We Want Big Butts And We Cannot Lie

Part 1 of 3

20150719_PhoenixEffect_BM-125No matter whether you’re gay, straight, bi, trans, pansexual, genderqueer, and all other categories in our beautiful LGBTQ rainbow of a community, as well as in the hetero world everyone wants the same thing: BUTTS.  Not just a butt (we literally all have one) — a big, strong one.  It’s not just a rap-video thing anymore.

Big butts are such the rage, in fact, that they’re starting to pop up everywhere you look: TV, the grocery store, the doctor’s office…the gym? Well, it depends what you’re doing at the gym — or, perhaps more accurately, what you’re not doing.

My inner hippie would love to say, “there are no right or wrong answers; everyone has his/her/their own path,” but to some extent, this axiom is on par with validating “religious freedom” (too soon?), because, as it turns out, some approaches make zero sense and are in fact harmful. 

As a personal trainer, group fitness coach, and human being, my first rule for developing a bad-ass backside can be best summed up by the following letters (you didn’t see this coming, did you?):  B-U-T-T.  Or: Be Utterly Totally Tensile (S)eriously.

The first step to strengthening any muscle or group (the butt falls into the latter, as it’s comprised of three types of glutes: minimus, medius, and maximus) is to ensure that the corresponding joints — or for best results, your entire body – are mobile.  The human hip complex (as in, the structure of the hips and involved anatomy — not necessarily our obsession with them) is intrinsically prone to becoming tight — and even more so in our current society — because of its very anatomy: the hip complex includes several hip flexors whose job it is to stabilize (aka reduce movement) around the hip joint.  If overused, tight hips and even tight lower backs ensue, and glutes fall asleep, sometimes quite literally at the wheel: sitting, spinning, driving, and other activities that require nonstop hip flexion operate as hindrances to an envy-worthy butt.  After all, no one ever got their dream butt by sitting on it. 

Things you’re doing wrong (no offense) if getting a big butt is your goal (and why wouldn’t it be?):

Spinning more than 2-3x’s/week

• Not getting up for walking breaks at work (even if you have a sit/stand desk)

• Performing lifts while seated (unless we’re talking chest presses)

• Being a complete cardio queen

• The biggest culprit of all, failing to properly activate your ASSets (sorry I’m not sorry)

Things you’re probably going to start doing once you stop reading this riveting article:

• Performing dynamic warm-ups

• Using mini bands to activate the gluteus maximus and medius (more about this in Part 2!)

• Executing body-weight versions and of the major glute-centric lifts (the hip thrust, sumo deadlift, glute bridge, and back squats — more on this in Part 3!)

Finally, here is a list of non-bedroom-related hip-opening exercises:

• Iron Cross: Begin flat on your back, with your arms in a “T.”  Your palms will grip the ground.  Lift your right leg to 90 degrees, flexing your foot.  Keep your leg straight as you cross it over your body, aiming for your left hand.  Lower and repeat on the other side, alternating for 10-15 repetitions.   

• Scorpion: Begin flat on your stomach, with your arms also in a “T.”  Your palms will grip the ground once again.  Lift your right leg, bending the knee to 90 degrees and flexing your right foot; lift knee off ground, bringing your right foot across your body, approaching your left hand.  Lower and repeat on the other side, alternating for 10-15 repetitions.   

• Dynamic Forward Fold: Engaging your core, stand with your feet outside of your shoulders, slightly turned out (as in a squat).  Keep legs straight as you reach down behind your heels and, still bracing through the core, reach back up to the sky.  Repeat for 15 repetitions.

You have now unlocked the front, side, and back of your hip complex and are ready for the next phase: glute activation.  Let me know how your mobility improves, and see you next week!

For more information or to book a class, visit

The Phoenix Effecta metabolic bootcamp that gets you in shape fast, is offered exclusively at 7264 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, CA.

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