The Unfiltered Truth About Booty Building

It’s almost impossible to scroll through Instagram these days without encountering at least one ‘Insta-booty’, and let’s be honest, it can leave us (and our arses) feeling a bit deflated.

With the ‘Insta-booty’ often comes a load of advice on how to get there, as well as all the products you can buy to achieve that goal (#ad).

Here is me trying to achieve said ‘insta-booty’ by giving myself hip cramp

The problem is, we’re all different, and although these people undoubtedly have a fabulous rear, it doesn’t guarantee that what worked for them will work for you.

I spoke to Amy Pickering, 22, from Leeds, who is the owner of online body composition coaching service Sustain-Ability, to help me separate the fads from the facts.

First things first, “it’s important to have a basic understanding of the anatomy of the glutes”, Amy explains.

“The glutes are formed of the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius and gluteus minimus – each of which has its own function.”

The main functions of the gluteus maximus are hip extension, rotation of the femur (thigh bone), and to raise the trunk from a flexed position. The main function of the gluteus medius and minimus is to stop the pelvis from tipping to the side when we’re walking.

As far as which exercises are best for glute-building, Amy told me there is “no best exercise” to build any muscle group, as each individual has unique biochemical and structural differences in their body. That being said, variations of the following exercises are often effective in working the glutes:

  • Deadlift
  • Hip thrust
  • Lunge/split squat
  • Leg press
  • Abductor machine

For those of you out there who are already on it with the glute-building, I want to know what your favourite of these is? Cast your vote below:

Amy recommends compound lifts for glute building (but mentions that other exercises can still be as effective or even better). Compound lifts are exercises that typically require the use of multiple muscles and joints – deadlifts, for example. The glutes are the biggest muscle on the body in terms of surface area, so these compound lifts will provide more ‘bang for your buck’.

As far as when you should be training the glutes, “you should be aiming to hit each muscle group twice per week as a minimum”, Amy says, noting that as frequency of training increases, volume must decrease.

“For example, if you’re training glutes 3 times per week, perform only a couple of lower body exercises per session”.

Amy says she would not advise training any muscle group more than 3 times per week, as your ability to recover between sessions and maintain intensity during training will become compromised.

Something that’s often overlooked when it comes to building the glutes is food. Amy tells me that nutrition is “extremely” important. She explains that sufficient protein and overall caloric intake are crucial when it comes to building new muscle tissue. A useful analogy, she adds, is “if you want to build a house, you need the bricks to build it. Your body cannot build something without the necessary resources.”

Protein supplements aren’t essential, but can be useful to get that intake up!

Amy’s online coaching programme, Sustain-Ability is a “comprehensive and individualised body composition coaching service”. She adds that health underlies all of her coaching, and that her approach is dynamic, and takes into account psychological and physical changes in her clients throughout their journey. This could include things like the client’s body composition, training history, health status, goals or mindset. The client receives all of the following:

  • Descriptive training programming
  • Bespoke nutritional recommendations
  • Supplement suggestions
  • Videos of exercise execution
  • Advice for optimising sleep, stress management and digestion
  • Weekly check-ins
  • Feedback videos via YouTube
  • 24/7 support
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Don’t forget that the glutes are muscles too! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 🤓 The two pictures are about 4 years apart. The first picture is after 1.5 years of (suboptimal) training already (with a lack of knowledge about nutrition or recovery). ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 💪🏻 I didn’t do anything fancy for this ‘transformation’. The glutes respond just like every other muscle in your body, so I approached my training and nutrition in the exact same way I do with every muscle. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 😫 For some reason, when it comes to ‘booty building’, Instagram ‘influencers’ seem to throw all logic or knowledge about training and hypertrophy out of the window; ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 🙅🏼‍♀️ Supersetting every exercise with bodyweight exercises ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 🙅🏼‍♀️ Supersetting every exercise with ‘plyos’ (see my recent post on why these are 💩) ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 🙅🏼‍♀️ Spending 40 minutes doing clamshells and ‘activation exercises’ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 🙅🏼‍♀️ Ridiculous exercises (such as hovering above the abductor machine or kicking the back leg up during a lunge) ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 🤨 Would you do this for any other muscle group? ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⬇️ The same factors that elicit growth in every other muscle also grow the ‘booty’ (the glutes); ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ – Impeccable execution – Getting stronger over time – Adequate calories & optimising macronutrient intake – Stress management – Optimised recovery – Exercise selection and programming – Enjoyment and consistency ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 👊🏻 Do the basics, for a long ass period of time (pun intended), be consistent and be patient. It takes time as it is, copying weird and (not) wonderful exercises from Instagram is only hindering your progress. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 📝 There’s a link in my bio to an article I wrote all about the glutes and how to optimise training based on their functions. Have a read if ya want to learn more!

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