Everything you need to know about enlarging that wagon you’re draggin’.
Not everyone wants to change the appearance of their butt. And that’s OK! But for those who do it can be tough to know exactly how to go about it and how your diet, training, and lifestyle can support or inhibit your goals. To provide helpful tips on how to achieve your body composition goals safely, we reached out to two strength and conditioning experts — Bret Contreras, CSCS, personal trainer, speaker, and author, and strength and conditioning expert Tony Gentilcore, CSCS, co-founder Cressey Sports Performance — to tell us their thoughts on how to get a bigger butt.
The first thing to know is that when we talk about butts, we’re talking about three muscles in your backside.
The deal with your butt is that it’s made up of your gluteal muscles — the gluteus medius, gluteus minimus, and gluteus maximus — which are then covered with a layer of fat. Your glutes are what help you stand up from a sitting position or a squat, climb stairs, stay standing upright, and stabilize the pelvis.
So if you want a bigger butt, you need to work on making those three muscles grow.
When enlarged, these muscles “give the buttocks a firm, athletic, and sexy appearance,” Contreras wrote in an email to BuzzFeed Life.
Getter a bigger, rounder, and firmer butt is a matter of causing hypertrophy in your glute muscles. Simply put: Make them bigger with proper and specific training. We will get to that shortly.
The other thing about the appearance of your butt has to do with how much fat is covering your glutes.
Gentilcore explains that much like your abs, which are covered by body fat, the appearance of your butt has a lot to do with how much fat covers your glutes. “There are plenty of people who have decent-sized glutes but they have too much body fat” to allow the muscles to appear round, firm, and shapely.
This means that one of the first things you will want to do is determine whether you’d like to lose body fat.
For many people, getting a shapely behind means getting lean enough to reduce the layer of fat on your backside to simply reveal your butt’s shape. Precision Nutritionreports that on average women in the U.S. have about 40% body fat and men about 28%. An average healthy range of body fat would be in the neighborhood of 11–22% for men and 22–33% for women. But Contreras says that when it comes to revealing your butt’s shape, many people will need to be even leaner. He says that men can aim for 15% body fat and women about 20%, “but everyone is unique and some will need to go lower while some can go higher and still have a really athletic-looking set of glutes.”
To lose weight, you’ll need to eat fewer calories than you need to maintain your current weight.
It’s important to strike a balance between losing weight consistently but not losing too rapidly or eating so little that you’re always hungry, tired, or lacking energy to get through workouts. Use an online calculator to start ballparking your caloric intake and from there do some trial and error to see what the right amount of calories and rate of weight loss would be for you.
In the example above a 25-year old-man who’s 5’10” and weighs 200 pounds and exercises or plays sports three to five times per week needs to eat about 2,943 calories to maintain his weight (give or take). The calculator provides estimates for how much he’d need to eat to lose or gain one or two pounds each week.
Again, online calculators are a good place to start guesstimating but you’ll really figure it out once you try it out.
You’ll probably need to eat fewer carbs and more protein. And btw skip the low-fat diet thing.
Contreras says that optimizing your macronutrient is important when it comes to gains. He adds that protein is especially important for gaining muscle. As BuzzFeed Life has previously reported, losing fat and gaining muscle usually involves eating fewer carbs and getting enough fat for satiety and protein for muscle growth.
You can use an online macronutrient calculator to start figuring out what kind of ratio of carbs to fat to protein your daily diet should look like.
Don’t rely on a regular scale, because you want to be sure that the weight you’re losing is fat.
When you’re trying to build muscle, which is great for your health and metabolism (and of course your bigger butt), you want to be sure that the weight you’re losing is fat only (and not muscle). To figure out how much body fat you have, you can use ascale that measures body composition or take some measurements with a tape measure and then use a calculator to determine your body fat percentage.
Check out BuzzFeed Life’s previous reporting on how to focus your diet, workouts, and lifestyle for fat loss.
Exercise and cardio are crucial, but when it comes to your glutes, not just anything will do.
There are all different ways to exercise, and they might be challenging for your lungs, your metabolism, your flexibility, or even your legs, but this doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be good for developing your glutes. In fact, Contreras says that “running, yoga, Pilates, and spin classes are all overrated for glute development.”
Don’t believe the hype; you have to do more than just squat.
It’s true that squats should be part of any butt embiggening effort. But are squats alone enough for glute growth? Nope. If you can perform squats comfortably you should definitely do them and you should try to make them progressively more challenging to really work your glutes (more on that below). But just know that “just squats” is not the way. As Contreras says here, a single exercise is never enough for maximizing muscle growth.
But going too heavy before you’re ready will really mess up your #gains.
If you add a barbell to your hip thrust or a dumbbell to your glute bridge before you’re strong enough to perform the movements with just your bodyweight, you’ll end up using your lower back to move the weight, and that won’t help you get a bigger butt at all. In fact, it might put you at risk for injury. Add weight slowly and remember that movement quality is infinitely more important than the number on the weights.
Make sure your expectations for results are realistic.
Contreras says that in his experience people who stick to his recommendations consistently and work out and eat in a way that support their glute goals “usually start seeing big changes within three months of progressive training.” And he believes that many people can make changes to the appearance of their butts over time. But remember that every body is different; There’s also “a huge genetic component to how the glutes look,” he says.