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Keep it Simple – Be Consistent – Get a Great Butt by Summer!

by Lisa on February 27, 2012

It’s true that you can’t spot reduce any area of your body by working out. I think I see people trying to do this most often by overdoing ab-work in an attempt to reduce the size of their midsections. The problem with that approach is (and I’m thinking more and more people do know this nowadays) that fat and muscle are two different things—you can build and break down muscle, and you can burn and store fat…but doing one of those things (re: building muscle) does not cause a change in the other (re: a reduction in fat) in that same area of the body.

Building muscle does, however, raise a person’s metabolism in general (ounce for ounce, muscle burns more calories than fat…so if you build more muscle, you burn more calories throughout the day). You just can’t choose where your extra calories are coming from (honestly, you can choose a little bit with certain supplements and ways of eating, but for the sake of simplicity, you can’t really choose). Your genetics generally determine where you gain weight and lose weight from, and other factors, like hormones, prior health issues, or pregnancy, can also impact where your body stores fat. The great thing about building muscle is that even though it won’t spot reduce, it will improve the body’s shape!

Healthy eating will make you look good in clothes, but working out will make you look good naked (or in a bikini)!

The second most popular body shaping question clients ask me about is how to get a great butt. (The most common question I get is about how to get a flat stomach, but that’s a topic for another day).

The great thing about butt training is that you get to work with the largest muscle group in your body–this means that when you work the glutes in the right way consistently, you see results in a reasonable amount of time. The catch is (see above) that if you don’t lose fat from the area, the nice shapely muscles you’re sculpting won’t give you all of what you’re looking for. That said, shaping your glutes will make a big difference in how you look. (Read: your butt will look good in jeans and in a bikini)

I talk pretty candidly with my clients about how to get results — and I’m inspired when they actually put in effort. Because you know what? It takes effort!

I’m a fan of finding the ways you can do the least work for the best results, but there is always effort involved.

In order to improve the shape of your butt, you should focus on gluteus maximus and gluteus medius. Gluteus minimus is a smaller muscle in the group, deep to the other two, and the good thing about it is that if you work the maximus/medius, you’re workin’ the minimus enough! (Plus, focusing on the minimus is not going to significantly alter your butt’s appearance)

There are many exercises that will help you get your butt ready for bikini season—but, I did some research to find the most effective ones, and my perspective is that it’s best if we just keep it simple so it’s easy to follow and stick to.

By the way, I’m not saying everyone should want to look great in a bikini or that it matters. But I know a lot of people do want to. And I think that’s ok too when the approach is healthy. A little bit of vanity is ok—like most things, balance is key. Not many of us are going to look awesome in a bikini by Victoria’s Secret Standards, but we can all try to look our best!

Back on Topic.

My goals with all workouts: Keep it Simple, Work Smarter (not always harder). You can get creative if you want to, or you can just be consistent and get results!

Have you ever done a workout plan for specific results? Do you work on one part of your body more than others?

Have you ever followed a plan for specific event (prom, wedding, spring break, bikini season…)?

There are many many exercises you can do to work your butt—what I’ve found with myself and my clients is that if we keep it straightforward and simple, it’s easier to stick to and to follow through and get results!

Notes and News:

It’s only Monday!

I visited with two of my favorite little people yesterday (actually, with four of my favorites, but only two are in the pic I took). Remember when you were little and you just played all day? I like to encourage people to take that approach with exercising too—it’s not always easy, but being playful about it instead of tortured is always better. Sounds obvious, but if you keep that in mind, it helps!

20120227-204855.jpg

Katie and Megan (2 and a half year old twins) playing hairdresser

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  • http://www.healthydiaires.com/ Maria@healthydiaries

    I can first hand say that walking at an incline and riding a stationary bike with resisatnce is great for the butt/saddlebag area. Those are the two exercises that maintain my saddlebags. I naturally hold my weight on my thighs and butt so as soon as I feel those dreaded saddlebags appear I hop on a treadmill. I used to think I had to run to get toned legs/butt, it never did anything thing for me though. Sometimes I feel like I’m not working out hard enough, but I guess it works for me :-)

    I’m really interested in researching how hormones affect your weight and where you gain your weight. Now that my hormones are balanced and I’m on my detox, I have lost those few stubborn pounds that I gained and that wouldn’t go away. 

    Those twinzies are so cute!

  • http://twitter.com/CaitPlusAte Caitlin

    those girls playing hair dresser are precious. reminds me of something i used to do for sure! i was more apt to play teacher tho.

    i totally love how working your butt is an area of fitness that gives you visible results. when i first started working out i did spinning several times a week and i totally saw a difference in my bum before i saw a difference anywhere else in my body!

    i used to get so frustrated that i couldn’t “control” how my stomach looked through exercise. i’m still working on learning to accept that. you really can’t control where your body loses fat/gains muscle first in many areas. it’s tough but it’s a work in progress. i know once i accept that i will be happier and more content with the effort i put in! i’m too hard on myself sometimes at this point.

  • http://eatdrinkbreathesweat.com/ Jess

    OMG I love the girls as hairdressers, that is the CUTEST! We used to play “office” when we were little – we’d steal my mom’s office supplies and set up shop in the living room, having the time of our life! Little did we know that actually working in an office in real life isn’t nearly so fun and glamourous ;-)

  • http://oliepants.wordpress.com/ Susan

    What an adorable picture!  And, can I just say – my husband has told me everything in your first two paragraphs as long as I have known him.  We debate about it all the time and although it makes complete sense, just being bombarded with so much ” get great abs ” ads and commercials makes you think you really can just pinpoint one area to lose the weight alone.  

  • http://merigoesround.com/ meri

    In high school, I used to use the leg weights in the gym specifically to help me gain quad muscles and knee strength for running/ sprinting. Since then, I mostly just do a wide range of strength training. But these days all I do is light cardio…

  • Anonymous

    Cute kids!  :)   And – while I wouldn’t mind shedding a few extra pounds – I haven’t worn a bikini since…well…ever.  So I don’t expect that to change anytime soon!

    (By the way, you may have noticed that I signed up for Disqus. That was just for you, my friend.)

  • http://www.thrive-style.com Lisakthrives

    I’m not actually much of a bathing suit wear-er myself (since I don’t like to get wet and don’t want too much sun exposure)…but I do love to rent an umbrella/chairs at the beach and watch everyone walk by in their bikinis (through a purely fitness/food lens). One of the things I learned in yoga teacher training was how to watch someone walk, and give them suggestions about biomechanics that will improve posture and reduce pains. It’s crazy how well it works—maybe when I go to the beach next, I will set up a posture assessment booth… I don’t see how that could fail.

  • http://www.thrive-style.com Lisakthrives

    I’m quite a fan of light cardio myself…I’m way more likely to do it if I am not killing myself!

  • http://www.thrive-style.com Lisakthrives

    Sometimes when I’m talking with a client about this, and they really can’t shake the misconception of spot-reducing abs, I say, “If you’re doing that much ab work, there is no doubt you have awesome ab muscles and a six pack…your next job is to uncover them, and that will require a change in your approach.”
    Marketing really ruins a lot of what I try to accomplish with people!

  • http://www.thrive-style.com Lisakthrives

    My sister and I played office too—we called it Boss and Secretary! You’re so right‹once it turned from play into actual work, the novelty really wore off!

  • http://www.thrive-style.com Lisakthrives

    I really think you’re right about the body fat loss/gain thing… It’s just a hard fact to swallow when we’re used to being told that we can control and work hard for whatever we want in life!
    I do think that the lifetime overall fitness approach is what yields best benefits in the long-term (and the body really can change its shape significantly overtime—we just look at ourselves everyday so we don’t necessarily see the transformation!). I work a lot in the corporate setting, where the demographic is often 40-60 year old women…the ones who have maintained an active lifestyle all along are SO much better off than those who haven’t. So…if somehow you can have faith that your real dividends will be paid 20+ years from now, it really will be worth it!

  • http://www.thrive-style.com Lisakthrives

    The interesting thing about hormones is that the baseline levels/balance really is highly affected by genetics….of course, as you know, your lifestyle will determine the major outcomes. If you were to look at the trends of women in your family, and many of you have the same “trouble spots,” unfortunately these may always be your trouble spots….HOWEVER, that doesn’t mean they can’t change! Long-term work yields long-term benefits…I really think the best thing to do is to work with what we’re given and focus on the right kind of training for our bodies. Having your hormones balanced is a great thing for many reasons, and I can guarantee that this will affect your muscle tone and body shape (maybe in just that it will be easier for you to elicit change when you try)…but magnitude or potential for change is really hard to predict. We can go back to that whole, Love Your Body thing, and that’s great and valuable…but it’s ok to work hard to change/improve something too. And then to take pride in what you accomplish!

    I thought of you and your sis when I was with the twinzies….they aren’t identical, but they are such a “team” — when mama wasn’t looking, one was taking her pants off (she spilled water on them). The other one stood there saying, “Your pants are wet?” Then, as sis started to take her shirt off too, twinzie helped her get it the rest of the way off—”Your shirt is wet.” What an amazing way to go through life—sisters are great in general, but it must be that much more amazing to be a twin!

  • http://www.1970kikiproject.wordpress.com/ cathy@1970kikiproject

    that is such a cute photo!! reminds me of being little and we loved setting up hair salons, restaurants, grocery stores…so good to see kids playing creatively, even in 2012!
    thanks for the info on spot reducing – it is funny how many people DO think they can spot reduce….my cousin is getting married in june and for the first time EVER, i am thinking of how i would like to look at her wedding (arms and shoulders need some buffing up)! i’m usually not concerned with that kind of thing, but i will use her wedding date as a goal!
    i totally see genetics at play within my family – none of us have upper arm strength/definition…but we do have flat mid-sections – haha!

  • Gina (Candid RD)

    Some people are adamant about the “Fact” that they are spot reducing, and I just let them think it’s true.  haha.  I used to be one of those people too!  I mean when I workout my abs, I definitely get muscle, but it doesn’t necessarily mean the fact goes away, because that’s where I store it!
     I’ll be starting a training program soon so I can look good in my wedding dress.  I’m focusing on arms and stomach, but I know I’m REALLY just focusing on the overall toning of my body!  And, feeling great.

  • http://fitchocoholic.blogspot.com/ Gen

    Great post!!! I  don’t usually do workouts for a specific area…..I like total body style workouts! I’ll definitely include some of your ideas in my next gym sessions! 

  • http://www.the-new-healthy.com/ Stefanie @TheNewHealthy

    Ohh, I love working my butt! haha And you’re so right that it’s a combination of cardio and strength that can lead to a great butt! :)

  • Heather (Where’s the Beach)

    Love the title of the post ;-) Yep, I’ve done specific workout rotations for specific results. Love a lot of the moves you have listed even the crazy swing lunge. 

  • http://blissfulbritt.com/ Brittany

    I love your workout plan..it seems easy yet challenging. I most def want to look good naked. The photo of the hairdressers is adorable! Keep sharing the workout tips..I love them! 

  • http://www.healthydiaries.com/ Maria@healthydiaries

    I think I’ve finally realized that I won’t have long and lean legs, but I know that I can reduce my problem areas as best as I can. It really makes a difference and I am happy with that. Several women in my family hold their weight in the same areas, so I was just blessed with the saddlebags :-) I figure I should enjoy what I have now, because who knows what they will look like when I’m older. I’m gonna look back and smack my forehead.

    That’s soo cute about the twinzies. Lisa and I can definitely relate to that. It really is amazing to be a twin, and I’m so thankful for it everyday. It’s just something that you can’t explain.

    Thanks for writing this post. If confirms what I thought was working for me. I’m always looking forward to your posts!

  • http://thehealthybeehive.com/ Jane

    Very interesting information -  who knew butt shaping was an art!  hahaha  I think the most effective is definitely something you will stick to!

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/WO3MVKH62XXFP7PDO3U6MET5EY Brianne

    When I was pregnant, I focused a lot on my arms, because I figured while the rest of me grew, I could keep my arms toned.  After having a baby, it was all about the abs, not necessarily to have a model-flat stomach, but just to get some of the tone and strength back.  But I did balance that with cardio and full body strength training.

  • Anonymous

    I know I’ve focused a lot more on my arms in the past couple of months – especially since our wedding is coming up in 2 months!  Need to have them looking great in that dress =)

  • http://anediblemosaic.com/ Faith

    Another great post!  This week I just changed up my workout routine…I started pilates for the first time and I’m so sore!  Even in places that I didn’t expect to be sore, like my arms, lol.  Thanks for the leg workout!

  • http://www.fabfit50s.com/ Kathleen

    Hey, Lisa. Great info. And don’t forget “diet” in your great glutes equation. Training alone often doesn’t do the trick.

    Yep, I’ve focused on different body parts from time to time. When competing, I was especially focused on “pulling out my lats” to develop that V-taper. Goes to show how important genetics are–I never got the look I wanted, and I tried different protocols and worked VERY hard for lengthy periods.

    Since maintaining good glutes gets harder as y0u get older, I do glute-specific exercises twice a week–including those you’ve mentioned (minus the leg press–bad hips now), plus plie squats holding a DB, step-ups on the bench, stiff-leg deadlifts, good mornings holding a plate to my chest and back extensions holding a plate and focusing on the glutes (not the low back). I tend to do these in supersets to keep the HR up.

    Keep up the great posts!

  • http://www.thrive-style.com Lisakthrives

    Thanks for adding the glute exercises you do!

    You’re so right about diet too….I should definitely have added my typical disclaimer: You Can’t Out Train a Bad Diet!

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