Here’s what you need to know…
- Big, strong glutes are all the rage. But for many females, heavy leg training doesn’t automatically lead to a better butt.
- If your quads are huge and your butt is flat, dedicate one day a week specifically to your glutes.
- A “butt-day” will not only improve your glutes, it will impact your overall appearance and performance on compound lifts.
The Rise of the Powerful Female Body
There’s an uprising happening right now. Women are rebelling against the fashion magazines. “Skinny” is no longer the goal. Especially when it appears weak, sick, and fragile. Thigh gaps and barely-there asses? No thanks.
What modern female lifters are after is stronger, better glutes and the legs that come with them. Suck it, fashion magazines.
But There’s a Problem
Heavy leg training doesn’t automatically lead to better glutes. For many women, everyone’s beloved compound movements (squats, deadlifts, lunges) only increase the size of their legs by training their quads, lower back, and hams without doing much for their butts.
Their glute-leg ratio is disproportionate because their quads take over and hypertrophy during their lower body work.
Muscular legs aren’t the problem. Undertrained glutes are.
We learned this lesson from Bret Contreras. People can use excellent form and lots of weight when squatting, lunging, and deadlifting. But even so, their glutes aren’t maximally involved in these the way they are with other exercises that get less attention.
The most disciplined female lifter can kick ass in the squat rack and still fail to activate her glutes maximally. As a consequence, she’ll continue to hypertrophy her legs while her glutes stay soft and sad.
How does this happen?
When Squats Don’t Hit the Spot
All the catchy motivational quotes and memes about a squat-butt are somewhat misleading. Why? Because our bodies – anatomy and biomechanics– are different. And these differences cause us to rely more heavily on different muscle groups, even when we’re using excellent form.
Some women can’t build an impressive squat-booty. They build squat-quads. You could be one of them if you:
- Have a propensity to build big quads.
- Aren’t feeling much activation in your glutes during lower body workouts.
- Find yourself wondering why your glutes look flat in spite of all the squats and deads.
This combination of undertrained glutes and heavily-trained legs is common among females.
The Butt-to-Leg Ratio: What Not to Do
I’m a quadzilla. In the past this bothered me. “Big” legs, I thought at the time, just weren’t attractive. I was about to learn a powerful lesson.
To reduce my big legs, I replaced lower body lifting with long distance running. After a year, the running took its toll. Muscle loss and a few debilitating injuries drove me back to the iron. I learned to embrace the muscular quads that came with it, but the glutes still lagged behind.
Then when I signed up for a figure competition, my coaches had me stop training lower body altogether because my legs were too big.
So my legs have gone from big to small to big and everywhere in between. And although my butt didn’t change much, the experience taught me that smaller legs don’t necessarily mean firmer legs. Smaller legs can be squishy and injury-prone. “Thin” can still be flabby.
By going back and forth I finally found my sweet spot, and it wasn’t about shrinking my legs. It was about balancing them out with a better butt. The solution wasn’t to atrophy my big, metabolically-expensive quads and hams. The solution was to hypertrophy my glutes.