Why Squats Won’t (necessarily) Give You a Butt

In the world of workouts, it’s become redundant…if you want to get glutes, strong, tight powerful glutes, you have to squat.  I don’t disagree. Putting your muscular system under tension by squatting is extraordinarily beneficial, especially for growing your rear; however, haphazard squatting with poor technique diminishes the ability for the glutes to actually do work.  Not only is it possible to squat without really utilizing these muscles it’s possible to increase your squat without ever tapping into your glutes. 

The ability to make a muscle work stems from whether or not a muscle has the ability to activate, and as Americans we have lazy glutes.  Given the sedentary lifestyle our glutes are more frequently used as cushions while we sit at computers for hours on end rather than serving as an extremely powerful muscle in our bodies.  When the glutes become dormant, the body will naturally default to using other muscles during exercises that the glutes should work on and create imbalances around the joint.  During the squat, this imbalance often leads to stress on the lumbar spine, and overly active quads & hip flexors.  While it’s still possible to squat with this form, it will inhibit squats from actually giving you a butt and most likely lead to injury.

Here are 3 simple steps you can use to improve your ability to use your glutes while squatting:

STEP 1: ACTIVATE YOUR CORE

Without a stable base of support, it’s natural for the body to move out of an ideal alignment.  During a squat, the lower back can arch and put tension on the lumbar vertebrae rather than glutes if the muscles of the core are not active.  Not only does this inhibit the glutes ability to do work, it also can be a precursor for nagging lower back injuries.  Prior to squatting, it’s important to get the muscles of your core to fire in order to stabilize the spine and place your trunk is an optimal position.

A warm-up should always include some core activation exercises that translate over into improving your loaded squats. Movements centered on stabilization, anti-extension, anti-rotation and anti-flexion all help create spinal stability and improve glute utilization.  Incorporate deadbug variations, plank variations, dynamic plank movements, and anti-rotation presses early on in your warmup.

 

STEP 2: STRETCH OUT YOUR HIP FLEXORS

Dormant glutes and tight hip flexors go hand-in-hand especially if you’re sitting a majority of the day.  In order to get the glutes to maximally contract, it’s important for the hips to be able to get into full extension.  If the muscles of the hip flexors are shortened on the front side of the body, this task is near impossible. 

Hip flexor mobility should begin with foam rolling or other SMR techniques, which can oftentimes lead to an immediate increase in range of motion.  Following that, dynamic movements encouraging full hip extension should be performed.  Both a half kneeling and runners-lunge position set you up optimally, but as always it’s crucial to ensure the hip is being extended rather than creating an arch through the lower back.   Keep your butt tight and your core engaged to ensure the stretch occurs in the hip flexors.

 

 

STEP 3: ACTIVATE YOUR GLUTES

Like any other muscle in the body, if the glutes aren’t warmed up properly, they won’t function at an optimal capacity during loaded exercises.  It’s easy and quite common to go through the motions of moving the hips without getting glute activation, so it’s important to really apply some focus to these activation exercises.

To get the glutes engaged, it’s important to work through ranges of motion that get to full hip extension without arching the lower back, but since the core is now engaged, this shouldn’t be a problem, right? Right.  Bridging or bird-dogs are a great way to get the glutes engaged and work through an extended hip range of motion and as always create an emphasis on the muscle rather than the joints doing the work.  Another good way to work the outside part of your glutes (the gluteus medius) is with bands.  Lateral steps, squats, or bridging where you’re driving the knees out against resistance can instantly get the outer part of your butt fired up.  

 

APPLY TO YOUR SQUATS

Now it’s time to put this all into play when squatting.  Throughout the duration of a squat focus on maintaining a strong core to keep a long neutral spine and prevent extra movement.  When working though the squat really focus on driving through strong glutes as you ascend to the top of the movement, where the hips are extended.  Don’t think of just squeezing your butt cheeks together once you’re vertical but rather create a resistance, a tension, through the glutes from the bottom of the squat up.

 

 

With the proper movement and muscle activation, squats will undoubtedly lead to the strong glutes that so many lifters strive to attain.  

Supplements & You: An Introduction to Supplements 101

You’ve been putting in serious work at the gym and cleaned up your diet.  Your strength and endurance are steadily improving, and you’re loving the changes that you see in your physique.  You’ve made your health and fitness a priority and embraced a new lifestyle, but you’re missing one more piece!

Supplementation is an integral part of a healthy lifestyle.  Unfortunately, the market is cluttered with false information and marketing schemes.  If you’re like most people, the thought of supplements overwhelms you...vitamins, minerals, protein, preworkout.  It seems like every other day, there’s a sexy new product on the market that gives instant results!  


Join us on July 16th as The Nutrition Corners breaks it all down at BodyMass Gym.  Samantha Sloan will be at this session of BodyMass Gym’s Summer Seminars.  We’ll cover the basic must-have’s, the added bonuses, and everything in between.  We’ll open up the floor to any and all questions, and samples will be on tap!  We can’t wait to see you there!

-Samantha Sloan, The Nutrition Corners

 

*This Seminar is FREE for all Bodymass Gym Members and their friends!  Space for this seminar is limited.  Please reserve your spot on the Bodymass Gym App or by clicking HERE   

 

3 P’s for Your Vacation Needs: Portions, Prioritize, Play!

By: Bree Mercado

It’s summer time!! If you’re going to be away from Bodymass Gym at any point this summer here are the three P’s to help guide you through your vacation needs!

Portions:

This is the first of the three P’s because it is one of the most important to keep in mind. When you are on vacation, whether it be at a sibling’s home in Oregon, or a ship heading to the Bahamas, you aren’t the one preparing your food. Typically, it is made for you, with unknown ingredients, as well as an unknown portion size. What you do know is that it is likely that the portions are larger than normal, made with more fat, more sodium, and therefore more calories. My recommendation is to SAMPLE not SPLURGE. Never force feed yourself. Listen to your body, if you are full then stop eating. Taking leftovers is not a bad thing. Save it for later when you are actually hungry. Our bodies know how much it needs to eat; we just have to listen.

Prioritize:

Eat the good foods first!!! When on vacation people tend to grab the easiest, convenient thing they can have in order to spend less time at the table and more time doing the fun activities. But, the easiest and more convenient thing is usually not the most nutritious. So a good rule of thumb is when you are going to be on the go pack the “grab-able” fruits and vegetables. So that is apples, bananas, peaches, plums, grapes, cherry tomatoes, blue berries, black berries, strawberries, carrots, celery, broccoli, and cut up bell peppers, just to name a few. When it comes to proteins, choose the leaner option. This is your fishes, poultry, and finer cuts of the red meats. It’s all about choosing the healthier option first! This is because your body wants to absorb the first thing you put in it. So eating the nutrient dense foods before satisfying your sweet tooth will be the most beneficial for your body. Additionally, prioritizing the nutrient dense foods can actually make you feel fuller longer.

Play:

The last thing to keep in mind is that it is called a vacation for a reason. ENJOY YOURSELF! For one, you do not want to be worrying about counting calories or how much exercise you are going to be able to fit in your day. Doing this may take away your time with family and friends, so instead try to make your vacation full of PLAY. For Bodymass Gym, play means moving with a purpose! Go swimming in the lake, go for a family run, play soccer with your siblings, go for a hike, take a friend dancing, simply play!

Your vacation can be a breeze. Just remember portions, prioritize, and play!!!

The Process

Kris Petersen

“Today’s society wants to skip the process. And I hate that” – Tom Izzo

I’ve learned from experience that in today’s world dominated by social media and blog posts it is easy to think that success as a fitness professional is defined by likes, comments and reposts. Everyone is in a rush to be the next Mike Boyle, Eric Cressey or Jim Wendler. They forget though, that these coaches that we idolize didn’t become “influential” because they wrote blogs or articles, they got there though practice and tens of thousands of hours of coaching.

 

The people who are guiding the direction of today’s fitness profession are coaches that epitomize the grind and the process. Boyle spent years as a strength coach at Boston University while moonlighting as a bartender at night to pay the bills. Cressey has two degrees, a master’s, worked as a collegiate strength coach and researcher, and was a competitive powerlifter. Wendler was also a collegiate strength coach and top-ranked powerlifter and trained at Westside Barbell. Go through any of the fitness professionals that the industry really respects, and you can see that they all put their time simply as a student and coach before becoming the “influential trainer.”

 

The lessons they learned from years of lifting, coaching, and learning in order to improve both their own, and their client’s training, created the deliberate practice needed to master their craft. Years and years of going through the process formed the principals and ideas that they write about online. They aren’t just sharing quotes they read in a book the night before or their opinion on the “new new thing,” they are sharing lessons learned while going through the process. You can try, but you can’t fake that. The industry is smart enough to know the difference. Their journey through “the process” lead them to where they are today. If you asked them in their 20s what they were trying to become, I am sure they would all answer something along the lines of a “great coach” who makes their clients or teams better, not a “great writer” or “influential fitness professional.”

 

It is important to remember that you can’t rush the process and will your way to influence. Experience and deliberate practice will always be the timeless tools that create great coaches, nothing else. I am not saying to avoid social media and blog posting…its 2016 and that’s part of growing a business. The vast number of coaches willing to share with each other is what makes our industry great and the internet is a wonderful medium that has grown our field ten-fold, but there is a difference between sharing what you have learned and telling people how much you know so early on in your career. As Macklemore put it, "the greats weren't great because at birth they could paint, the greats were great because they paint a lot." Keep painting and love the process. You’ll be better off for it.