Why Your Glutes Are Small, Flat and Shapeless By Nick Nilsson
If you're one of the MANY men and women who want larger, firmer, rounder glutes but haven't had much luck in building them, THIS is the article for you.
I know it's popular to say "it's not your fault" about almost anything these days...but in this case, it actually COULD be your fault...and you don't even know it!
You see, something as simple as your everyday posture could be responsible for the tough time you're having building up those glutes of your dreams.
Let's set genetics aside for a moment - while it's true that genetics CAN and DO play a big part in how your body develops, blaming a small, flat butt completely on genetics then just giving up is just not an option I'm going to let you get away with... :)
First, a little functional anatomy - we need to know and understand HOW the glutes work. Relax - nothing too technical here - just a little info so you'll be able to take these concepts and put them to work for you right NOW.
Everybody knows WHERE the glutes are, so I won't get into that. If you don't, you're sitting on them right now...heck, they're following you everywhere you go!
The glutes are among the biggest muscles in the body because their main function is movement (technically, it's to extend the hip backwards) and movement is VERY important. This backwards extension of the hip is what moves you forward with every step you take. It's what moves your body up when you take a step up on a stair. It's ALSO what helps keep your body upright and stabilized while standing.
So how can your posture and how you STAND possibly impact this big muscle and how it works and grows?
Well, I'll tell you!
First, you'll need to do an easy visual test on yourself in the mirror. This is going to help determine if your posture is causing your glutes to shrink up and not respond well to training.
Go to a long mirror and stand beside it so that your side is towards it (you're not facing it right now). Don't look in the mirror yet. Now stand like you're waiting for a bus or you're in line at the movies - "normally." Make sure you're standing on both feet with your weight evenly distributed (not on one foot or the other). Relax and don't try and do anything differently than you do in everyday life (if you try and fix yourself now, you'll mess up the test).
NOW keeping that exact same body position, turn JUST YOUR HEAD and look in the mirror. We're going to look at where your hips are in relation to where your shoulders are.
Ideally, you want your hips to be in a direct up-and-down line with your shoulders so you're standing up straight.
But what we'll often see (especially in the cases of those who have trouble building their glutes and feeling them working when training glute exercises) is that the hips are FORWARD of the shoulders and the butt is kind of "tucked" under the hips.
So instead of a vertical line like this: |
The body forms a forward angle kind of like this: <
When the hips shift forward like this, the glutes are taken almost completely out of the postural chain - they become relaxed and little work is required of them.
The immediate problem with THIS is that the glutes then get weaker and smaller. But the REAL problem (and the one that affects your glute-building) is the STRUCTURAL change that takes place in your body in the long term.
Over the course of YEARS of this "hips-forward" posture, your body will strengthen OTHER muscles and tendons to take over the loads and functions that the glutes were supposed to be in charge of. It can also lead to back pain and overstretching of the abdominals, which makes your stomach LOOK bigger than it actually is!
Don't have a mirror? Another good way to test yourself on this without a mirror is this: stand up right where you are and stand up straight with posture like you're a soldier standing guard. If this feels EXTREMELY weird to you and it's an effort to hold that position for more than a few moments, chances are your body has undergone the structural changes I talked about.
Eventually, these structural changes in your body will carry over to walking and exercising! Your body will not properly recruit the glute muscles when it comes time to do squatting and lunging movements even if it LOOKS like you're doing them correctly.
The thighs will tend to take over the movement to compensate for the reduction in glute function. The body, quite simply, isn't USED to using the glutes anymore and has a hard time activating them.
This means even when you do direct exercises to work the glutes, your body is unable to properly USE the glutes to perform the exercises!
And when you walk, instead of using the glutes to actively PUSH yourself forward with each step, you'll have a short stride and a more "shuffling" gait (this happens because your leg isn't coming back far enough behind you).
You're using your hip flexors (the muscles on the front of your hips) to bring your leg forward with each step but you're using GRAVITY and momentum (in a way, you're almost falling forward with each step) to keep moving, NOT pushing with your glutes!
SO HOW DO WE FIX IT?
Well, the first BIG step is to be mindful of your posture and how you stand. It's going to be strange at first - you're going to forget yourself and have to constantly be your own "posture police" to keep yourself straight and upright. You might have even to recruit friends and family members to "keep you honest" and remind you when your hips start drifting forward.
We're basically going to be looking to reverse YEARS of "glute-reducing" posture here, so it's something that will take time. The upside is, you will most likely start feeling more confident and looking better almost immediately when you make the effort to stand up straight!
The extra work your glutes are going to get simply by doing what they're supposed to should start helping you increase glute size and firmness rapidly as well.
Abdominal exercises can also help here, by tightening up abs that have gotten overstretched from this "hips-forward" posture. Keeping your abs tight and "in" will help you keep your hips back and in the right position.
Finally, when you're walking, you should focus on actively PUSHING yourself forward with the glutes with each step you take. You'll end up taking longer strides and getting places sooner, which is not a bad thing either.
Bottom line (no pun intended!), we have to RETRAIN your body to use the glutes properly. Now I know it's not a quick fix but it IS an effective fix and can be done with relatively little effort.
Because once your body starts learning how to use the glutes again, you'll have a MUCH easier time developing the glutes that you're looking for!
Changing how you stand won't give you a bigger butt overnight but it WILL set the stage so that the work you ARE doing to improve your glutes will be more effective!