It’s not exactly every day that I can use a quote from Sir Mix-a-Lot’s Baby Got Back in an article. But this is not an article either. It is about the noble struggle to get a bigger ass.
“I like big butts and I can’t lieSir Mix-a-Lot’s Baby Got Back
You other brothers can’t deny
That when a girl walks in with an itty bitty waist
And a round thing in your face
You get jumped”
Yes, you read right. If your goal is to get a thigh gap and a flat little Pilates nose, then this article is probably not for you. If, on the other hand, you want a huge, well-trained, powerhouse of a rear, then you need to read along.
Then hop aboard the gain train, for it is running now, and heading straight for destination Glute Town.
Why do you want a bigger ass?
First of all, a bigger ass is pretty good no matter what sex you are. Previously, there was a tendency for girls who trained to be thin and flat, but fortunately, it has become perfectly okay to train to look like someone who is actually training.
And a well-trained ass is essential to look and be strong. It is difficult to mention a larger exercise for the lower body, in which huge buttocks will not also be a huge advantage.
As legendary American trainer, Dan John says, “Glutes are the symbol of power”. So if you want to be strong in squat or deadlift, it might be worthwhile to make an extension to your charging port.
Let’s look at what a bigger ass really is and what it does well for, besides catching glances like flies in a cobweb.
The Gluteus Maximus
Let me present the lead role for today’s broadcast: Musculus Gluteus Maximus. Known under a sea of aliases such as glutes, ass, buttocks, booty, and so on.
It is one of the body’s largest muscles and its primary function is to stretch the hip joint. However, this function is also performed by the hamstring muscle. And often it is precisely the hamstring that takes the tug ahead of the buttocks when performing movements over the hip.
We can thus increase the activation of the buttocks under two conditions:
- Work with just high loads for the ass to jump in as “power reserve”, in exercises involving hip extension.
- Choose hip-dominant exercises where the knee is bent at the same time. The buttocks extend over the hip joint and also over the knee. In other words, the butt will generally be best trained in exercises where you can lift relatively heavy and where there is a large movement of the hip, while the knee is bent.
Before we look at what a bum program might look like in practice, let’s take a look at 3 lower body exercise variants and how well they stimulate the growth of your back shelves.
Most good squatters have a very well-developed buttock, and one should not look long among squatting athletes, to conclude that squats are an excellent exercise for a bigger ass.
In squats, both the hip and the knee are stretched and, as mentioned, the butt will generally be most active while the knee is bent in lower body exercises. Therefore, a strong butt is extremely important in squats, because the more force the butt develops over the hip, the less force the hamstring must develop over this joint.
And that’s smart, because the more the hamstring contract over the hip, the more they counteract the knee extensors, as the hocks extend across both joints. A weak-ass thus prevents both the development of force over the hip and knees in squats.
In relation to the muscle growth of the thigh, it is generally recommended to squat with maximum movement, but if you look at the activity of the buttocks, in some studies (2 – 3) it appears to be greater around parallel than at full depth, although not all studies showing this ( 4 ). There is not necessarily a direct correlation between muscle growth and muscle activity measured by EMG, but it is nonetheless knowledge that is worth paying attention to.
One-leg variants of squats are also excellent for building a bigger ass. Although several studies have shown that having a more upright upper body in unilateral squat variants the activation of the buttocks is higher than in regular back squats. Especially if you lean your upper body slightly forward and take long strides in split squats or lunges, so that there is less movement on the knee, and more movement over the hip, these exercises will go straight in the ass ( 5 – 6 – 7).
The deadlift is a real bread and butter exercise for the muscles in the back chain (hamstrings, buttocks and back stretchers). In relation to training the ass specifically, deadlift variants where the knee is more bent generally would be preferable to shift the focus from the hamstrings to the buttocks.
That is, for example, one should choose Romanian deadlift (where the knee is slightly bent) over stiff leg lift, and that sumo deadlift, clean-style deadlift, or hex bar deadlift would be preferable to the conventional deadlift.
A study by Andersen et al. found no difference in the activation of glutes between conventional deadlift and hex bar deadlift ( 8 ). But the greater knee flexion coupled with lifting a heavier weight in hex bar deadlift, the latter provided a greater training effect on the buttocks when compared to each other ( 9 ).
This lesser-known exercise has been popularized by the American trainer and Ph.D. Bret Contreras, who due to his professional obsession with number training has been nicknamed ‘The Glute Guy‘.
The exercise in all its simplicity is that with the upper back placed on a low bench, the knees bent, and the feet placed on the ground, “bump” the hip up against the ceiling while doing a strong contraction in the buttocks.
The bar is located above the hip, and most of all, the movement is reminiscent of making a cowgirl with the bar, which is a good way to show the weight who decides. Padding around the bar is important to avoid discomfort.
Because the knees are bent throughout the movement, hip-thrust favors training the buttocks rather than the hamstrings and since the bar is located directly above the hip, the exercise is less tiring for the back than other back chain exercises. And, unlike squat and deadlift, there are high labor demands on glutes at the top of the movement, allowing full contraction of the buttocks to be achieved against a high load.
There are now a number of studies that support hip-thrusts as one of the best exercises when it comes to training the buttocks. Thus, Contreras et al. that the activation of both buttocks and back thighs was far higher in hip-thrusts than back squats when both exercises were performed with 1RM ( 10 ). Consistent with these results, Andersen et al. recently, hip-thrust activated glutes most in a 1RM test that also included conventional deadlift and hex bar deadlift.
There are several variations of hip thrusts, including shortening the range of exercise or using a band as a strain, but none of the parts appear to increase the activity of the buttocks immediately, quite the contrary (11).
On the other hand, it is important to have the knees properly bent to reduce the involvement of the hocks and focus the training effect on the buttocks (12), a good guideline is about 90 degrees knee flexion in the top position, so the tails are vertical.
What a good buttocks routine look like in practice? The following is an example of a training program focused on a bigger ass.
Weapons of ass construction
8-10 week training cycle
A) Squat to just below parallel
5 sets x 6-8 reps
2-3 min break between sets
B) Hip-thrust, knee band
6 x 8-10
2 min break
C) DB Walking Lungs
4 x 8-12 + 4 drop sets with bodyweight
1-2 min break
A) Hex Bar Deadlift
5 x 5-7
2-3 min break
B) Hip Thrust Smith Tripod
5 x 6-8 + 8-10 (drop set)
2 min break
C) DB Split Squat, front leg raised on a step bench
3 x 8-10
1-2 min break
A) DB Bulgarian Split Squat – 1½ reps
5 x 6-8
2 min break
B) Romanian Deadlift with chains *
5 x 6-8
2 min break
* 1-second hold just above the knee in the eccentric phase
C) Glute Ham Gastroc Raise
4 x 6-8 + 4 drop set with bodyweight
1-2 min break
Thoughts and instructions about the program
As the program is not individualized, it will ideally require some adjustment of volume, exercise choices, etc. for the individual. The starting point is a lifter with a minimum of 1-year training experience who has the foundation of lifting technique in place and has achieved some basic strength.
The program is intended as lower body days in an upper / lower 2 split, with 3 weekly lower body days, and 2 upper body days. Alternatively, you will be able to add 1-2 pulling and pressing exercises per emergency. day, and work it out as part of 3 weekly full-body workouts.
Start off with a weight that would allow you to take 1-2 nice reps more on the last set. From there, the load increases as far as possible, week by week.
After each exercise is an indication of the lifting tempo. This is read as a 3-second lowering phase, 1-second break at the bottom, fast lifting phase, no break at the top.
The depth of the squats is not an ass to grass, but just below parallel for increased training effect on the buttocks. In addition, a 1-second break is held in the bottom position, which is particularly demanding for glutes.
Hip-thrusts are performed in 2 variants, respectively. In one variant you have an elastic wrapped around your knees, which you push your knees out slightly. The second variation is done in the Smith rack, so there are fewer stability requirements for drop sets. The course of movement in hip thrusts is quite vertical, and the exercise is thus, one of the few suitable for export in Smith stands.
In Romanian deadlift, chains (25-30% of the total weight) are added to the rod. In this way, the load increases at the top of the lift, where you are often disproportionately stronger and the buttocks are more optimally challenged throughout the movement. If you do not have access to chains, do the exercise without it.
Glute-Ham Gastroc Raise
Glute-Ham Gastroc Raise (GHGR) is included because at the same time as the knee-reflective function of the thigh, also trains the ass significantly. If your center does not have a GHGR or you do not have the required strength, Nordic Ham Curls are an acceptable alternative.
If you are thinking about all the hip thrusts now, it’s all worth it, just remember the following:
Nobody has ever written a song about someone with a small ass.