The derriere of your dreams is firm, round and perky. Unfortunately, your rear end in reality isn't even close. Don't worry, you're not destined to wear muumuus for the rest of your life. If you really want it, you can get a toned butt through diet and exercise. How long it will take depends on your starting point and how hard you work.
If you are consistent with diet and exercise, you can start to see results in the first month of your butt-toning program.
Fitness Myth #1
Spot reduction is a long-perpetuated myth in the fitness world that says if you do just the right exercises to make your bum bigger and rounder, you will get the butt of your dreams. However in truth, you need to work out your entire body to lose overall body fat, some of which will come from your behind, before you will see any rear-end results.
So the bad news is that you can't target just your butt for fat loss. The good news is that if you follow the right program, you will tone your butt and see the rest of your body get leaner and more toned as well.
Understanding Fat Loss
You probably have really nice butt muscles, or glutes, although you can't see them right now. That's because they are covered in a layer of subcutaneous fat, which may be thicker or thinner depending on your overall body fat percentage. In order to see your glutes, you need to burn that fat.
Fat is your body's stored energy. When you consume calories in excess of what your body needs for immediate energy, it stores them as fat in fat cells. Over time, eating more calories than you need continues to build those stores.
To burn fat, you have to lower your calorie intake enough so that your body has to dip into those extra fat stores for energy. Sustain this lower calorie intake and you will lose total body fat and butt fat.
That's the simplified version of fat loss. The reality is that burning fat is a lot more complicated than that. It has a lot to do with genetics, as well as lifestyle factors like sleep and stress. But you can reach your #buttgoals by focusing on eating clean and working out.
Read more: 10-Minute Workout for a Better Booty
The Best Butt-Toning Workout
The most effective workout for burning fat and building your glutes involves moderate to high-intensity cardio and a strength-training program that involves progressive overload. More on that later.
Do Your Cardio. Not only is cardio good for your heart, it's an effective way to burn extra calories and tap into your body's fat stores. You can do any type of cardio you like, as long as you do it regularly and at the right intensity. How often you need to do cardio depends on how intensely you work out.
You can do high-volume steady-state cardio, such as running on the treadmill for 45 minutes, or you can do high-intensity interval training. Both methods have been shown to be effective for burning fat, but interval training may have an edge over steady-state cardio in that the benefits can be achieved in a shorter amount of time.
Interval training involves alternating periods of intense activity with periods of recovery. An example would be running sprints on a treadmill. The idea is to get as close to your maximum effort as possible, and then recover and do it again. By doing this, you can burn more calories in a shorter period of time.
Because of its intensity, interval training places more stress on the body. Therefore, you shouldn't do it every day. Stick to shorter 30-minute sessions (including a 5-minute warmup and cool down) three or four times per week with at least one rest day in between. If you want to do more cardio, do moderate-intensity steady-state cardio, such as jogging, on your off days.
Hit the Weight Room. You simply can't get a nice, rounded, pretty and toned butt without resistance training of some sort. In addition to the cardio exercise, building total body lean muscle mass will further help you shed fat by increasing your resting metabolism.
According to Len Kravitz, Ph.D., of the University of New Mexico, muscle mass is four times more metabolically active than fat. The more muscle you have, the more calories you will burn even when you're lying on the couch.
To maximize muscle gain, you have to do exercises for more than just your butt. Whether you do full-body workouts, or upper/lower body splits, or another type of split routine, be sure to train all your major muscle groups — arms, shoulders, chest, back, abs and legs — two times per week.
However, if your butt is your main focus, you can weight (pun intended) your workouts to focus on the glutes. For example, you might have an extra leg day each week, or you might include more exercises for your legs than your upper body.
Sets, Reps and Weight
Just like cardio, intensity in resistance training matters. To really make progress, you want to be sure that you're pushing yourself. In the beginning, it's OK to start out with lighter weights, or no weights at all, until you learn proper form and muscle memory.
Aim to do two to three sets, 12 to 15 reps of each exercise, using a weight that is light enough that your form doesn't break, but heavy enough that you feel very challenged by the last rep of each set.
Once you are feeling confident and strong, it's time to increase the weight and add more complex exercises. To continue getting results after the first month of your program, you must progressively load your workout. If you've currently been using 10-pound weights to do biceps curls, go up to 12.5 or 15 pounds. Continue to add weight as you get stronger.
You can also reduce the number of repetitions you do, especially when you're working your glutes. Do six to 10 reps with a heavier weight — this will increase strength and build the butt muscles so your rear end looks firm and toned.
Compound Glute Exercises
For your glutes and the rest of your body, compound exercises are most effective and efficient. Unlike isolation exercises, compound exercises use more than one muscle group at a time. Because of their intensity, they burn more calories while you're doing them. Try including these exercises to make your bum bigger and rounder in your routine:
- Sumo squats
- Sumo deadlifts
- Bulgarian split squats
- Hip thrusts
Be sure to learn proper technique before adding weight to any of these exercises. You also need to be sure to include adequate rest in your routine because that's when your muscles repair and grow stronger and bigger. Take at least one full day off each week, and don't work the same muscle group on consecutive days.
How Long Will it Take?
This is the million-dollar question. If you maintain your calorie deficit, eat a healthy diet, do regular cardio and strength train, you will start to see results quickly. Fat loss and muscle gain tend to occur more rapidly in the beginning of an exercise program; after that, you will have to work harder to continue to see results. The harder you work (while allowing proper rest) and the more consistent you are with diet and exercise, the quicker you will achieve your #buttgoals.
Read more: 17 Exercises to Shape and Tone Your Booty
- WebMD: The Truth About Fat
- Journal of Diabetes Research: Comparable Effects of High-Intensity Interval Training and Prolonged Continuous Exercise Training on Abdominal Visceral Fat Reduction in Obese Young Women
- Peak Fitness: How Time Efficient Is Your Workout?
- University of New Mexico: Controversies in Metabolism
- InBody: How Much Muscle Can You Gain in a Month?