Sir-Mix-A-Lot’s “Baby Got Back” was released in 1992, but its pop culture relevance might be higher now in the era of Kim Kardashian, whose bountiful rear end has inspired many women to try getting a bigger butt of their own. That has led to the increase in popularity of the Brazilian Butt Lift, a surgical procedure that involves liposuction of the fat from the midsection and shifting it to the gluteal area.
Sound gross? It certainly isn’t pretty. The fat is essentially filtered, and the “good” fat is deposited in the butt for a curvier appearance. But fat is, well, fat, and gravity eventually wins the battle every single time.
Muscle, however, doesn’t lose to gravity. Want a better, firmer butt than anything you could get from plastic surgery? Try an exercise we’ll call the American Butt Lift.
It’s more commonly known as the hip thrust. From a sit-up position, squeeze the glutes and raise them quickly off of the ground and into a bridge. Repeat. Add weights to your waist as needed. That’s it.
“The hip thrust is the best glute exercise in existence,” says Bret Contreras, a fitness expert who specializes in the glutes. “It activates more glute fibers than any other exercise. It works the hips and thighs in proper proportion so it doesn’t lead to overdeveloped thighs in the long run. And since it’s very easy on the joints, it can be performed very frequently. In fact, for optimal results, it can be performed in every single training session.”
Another surefire exercise is the hip extension. When you sit up from a chair, you’re extending your hips. The glutes are strongest when they are at or near full extension. So simply mimic the act of sitting down and up from a chair –- without the chair. Athletes refer to this as the squat.
“Exercises that hone in on hip extension,” Contreras says, “are in fact better for glute shaping while still elevating the metabolism to the same degree.”
When you’re proficient with your own bodyweight in hip extension movements –- something that doesn’t take long with consistent effort –- there’s virtually no limit to how much external resistance you can add.
And ladies, no matter what some “celebrity” trainers may lead you to believe, simply touching heavy weights doesn’t make you “bulky.”
“I explain this to women and then tell them that if they’re worried about getting too big, then there would be a point between now and then where everything looked ‘just right,’” Contreras says. “I tell them that as soon as we reach this point in time, we can stop training hard and just coast along. This seems to satisfy most women, but of course it rarely happens because through proper strength training as time goes on, women tend to keep looking better and better.”
It’s also important to not forget the hip flexors, located in the front of the hips. Prolonged periods of sitting –- hip flexion –- can shorten the hip flexors and cause an anterior pelvic tilt, a condition that causes the spine to curve inward more than normal. Stretching the hip flexors can open the hips back up, which will maximize the effectiveness of hip extension exercises.
Some models actually favor an exercise that simulates anterior pelvic tilt, according to Contreras, because it gives the illusion of a bigger butt. But he recommends against it, citing the risk of back pain and injury and just sticking with the thrusts and extensions.
With good form and hard work, you can have a bikini booty by summer that needs no exaggeration. And no surgery.