28 Oct How Big Is Your Butt? (and why we like behinds)
Author’s Note: I originally wrote this post a few years ago on an old blog. It got a lot of attention then, so I thought I’d re-share it with new perspective.
This post is dedicated to my Crossfit Lite Ladies, a bunch of “wiser, and maybe older” women, who inspire me every week with their effort and desire for pain-free living. Who just laugh at me when I talk about growing a big butt for not only attracting guys out at the bar ; ), but health purposes too.
As winter approaches, I haven’t seen unclothed bodies in months.
When I was younger, the winter months became a time to transform my body while no one could see what was happening under those heavy snow jackets. I’d fantasize about hitting the gym, extra hard, in order to take my shirt off come summer and maybe, I’d feel more confident in front of the opposite sex. The battle to discover my self-worth was a constant battle, but that’s for another time.
Along with my own caterpillar-to-butterfly transformation, I thought about female butts alot.
Male butts too.
Mom used to say the only reason she enjoyed watching professional football is because of the players’ butts in those tight pants.
My friend told a story about being mooned by another friend. He claimed to be disgusted at the lack of “back” on this individual.
I overheard this individual speaking shortly after. Turns out, he had begun to develop chronic pain in a couple of body parts from a lack of activity in his twenties.
Thoughts about butts dominate many of my thoughts.
And for good reason.
A strong butt, formally known as “gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, gluteus minimus, piriformis, superior gemellus, obturator internus, inferior gemellus, and quadratus femoris“, informally known as “caboose, rump, bottom, cheeks, or posterior chain” can prevent most, if not all, back and hip pain.
Why are we attracted to nice butts (or other qualities)?
I wonder often, why are we attracted to certain features?
Why are you turned on by a certain shape, size, or attribute of your intimate partner?
Is it past-life karma that causes you to subconsciously see a certain glance you saw before you were born into this life? Did your emotional development as a child cause you to find your imago match in adulthood? Or is it just physical?
Evolutionarily speaking, a big butt means greater athleticism, which equates to having greater ability to hunt animals, defend your family against enemies, or having the ability carry trees to build shelter. In other words, you’re sexually attracted to certain features because they equate to greater chances of you and your family’s survival.
Your genes get passed on and your name lives another generation.
A pretty face implies less genetic mistakes and less chance of genetic disease, especially in the face of environmental stresses.
According to Bruce Lipton in his book, The Biology of Belief, 95% of disease is caused by environmental triggers that you expose yourself to. Only 5% is genetic.
For those of you that hate math, out of 100 people with a disease, 95 of those people had control over that disease. Only 5 people had no control over that disease.
What does an environment that prevents disease look like?
Moving around consistently throughout the day instead of 8-hour long sitting periods, eating The Human Diet instead of The Standard American Diet, exercising by doing real-life movements such as squats, lunges, deadlifts, and push-ups instead of sitting in machines to workout, and avoiding known toxins such as certain cleaning agents or pollutants.
Each variable is a choice that make the difference between whether you’re going to get the heart disease that “runs in your family,” or not (95% of the time).
The hourglass shape characteristic of females in their child-bearing years?
Wide hips allow for a baby to pass through the birth canal. Having breasts allows a past-partum mother to breast feed.
Male sees female with hourglass shape, he knows that she can reproduce. Once again, his genes get passed on. Thus, he is immortal.
Good grades in school, attending Harvard, a financially rewarding job. All are signs to a female that a male can financially support her and her future young. That means not having to worry about finances, whether the utility bill will go unpaid, or if her kids will be able to afford college.
In today’s age, brains are relatively more important than strictly physical features are because of the capitalistic environment we’ve created.
How does a nice butt serve your health and body?
The gluteus maximus is among the strongest muscles in your body, being able to move high loads.
Your activities of daily living (anything requiring you to propel yourself through space) such as walking, running, cleaning, cooking, playing, use your muscles, joints, ligaments, tendons, and nerves. It is primarily the glutes (along with the hamstrings, quadriceps, and adductor magnus) that allow your hip to extend (your leg move backwards as you walk forward).
When your glutes can’t fire as much as they should (often because they’re turned off from too much sitting or lack of activity), the secondary muscles are required to do too much work. Not only that, but your low back musculature takes a brunt of the load as well.
The next time you go to pick up that napkin from the floor, you may bend over at the low back without any bend in the knees or hips instead of squatting down as you should. That’s when your back blows out.
A healthy butt simply asks your back, hips, and other muscles to do less. Your butt wants to be your workhorse. You just have to teach it how.
If you want a way more indepth discussion about glute physiology, check out Dispelling the Glute Myth, written by The Glute Guy, Bret Contreras.
How to Build Your Butt
A few years back, I made now-caboshed claims like “Stop the machine work. Don’t worry about leg extension, leg curls, hip abductions, hip adductions, leg presses, calf raises, etc.”
The same glute guy from above found that isolation work can actually keep glute strength up and mass large, without squatting or deadlifting.
That means if you have a torn hip labrum like I do, you can still keep your junk in the trunk by doing high rep glute bridges or other exercises like those seen in the best glute exercises. 3-4 sets of 30-40 repetitions of glute bridges should do the trick.
Generally speaking, if your joints can handle it, it makes sense to do some movements that make you overall better in real life.
Start squatting and lunging.
I taught my grandfather how to do squat and lunge. I show my 80 year old patients how to do it.
It’s that important.
If you can’t do it yet, that’s ok. You start where you are. Be gentle and work in ranges of motion that are easy for you, slowing moving into more difficult ranges.
If you don’t think you’re doing it properly, you’ll have to get someone to check your form or teach you how to do it properly. You can always take a video of yourself and shoot it my way if you wish.
If your purpose is to lose weight, you’re doing that too. Squatting uses nearly every muscle in your core and lower extremity. With greater loads (or weights) than you can use in other exercises, you’re breaking down more muscle that will heal back stronger and with more mass.
More muscle mass equates to hungrier muscles and a faster metabolism. You’re also releasing important anabolic (body-building, as opposed to catabolic or body-breaking) hormones such as testosterone and growth hormone, and IGF’s (Insulin-like growth factors).
**Ladies. Don’t worry about becoming “too bulky.” Most males have trouble getting bulky and they have much more muscle-building testosterone than you do. I understand that “getting bulky” is a fear of yours. It is a fear that is not based in reality. Do your squats, lift heavier things, and sprint intervals instead of long distances once in a while. You won’t regret it.**
Don’t forget to take your breaks from sitting. Tighter hips flexors that result from prolonged sitting will require more work for your glutes to fire. You want to make it easier for glutes to work, not harder.
A Big Butt for a Healthier and Happier Life
If health (including the health of your relationship) is a concern, your butt and the butt of others should dominate some of your thoughts.
It simply isn’t talked about enough. (Although I’ve turned the tides a little bit by writing “butt” eighteen times in this post.).
The daily time investment (5 minutes) of doing 3 sets of 10 repetitions of squats and lunges at minimum could pay off huge dividends. You don’t even have to do them all at once. You can take your movement vitamins at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, if you wish.
Hopefully, now you understand why “Sex Sells.” You’re not only buying an aesthetically pleasing body, you’re also preventing future hip and back pain and creating a healthier and happier life because of it.
Now with seven long months before beach season …
A 32 Year Old Athlete’s Mind Update
As of this revised writing, I’m no longer lifting weights on a consistent basis.
Pain and injury spread through my joints like a virus. Not because of an inflammatory condition, but because of a massive amount of wear-and-tear.
When you can’t workout as a coping mechanism or for stress management, you make do.
Psychotherapy, meditation, journalling, and wisdom have allowed me to get by without the high volumes of exercise I subscribed to between the ages of 12 and 30.
Don’t get me wrong. The desire to move in ninja-like ways still calls to me.
That’s why this past summer, I learned about Qi Gong.
Master Yang, my instructor, often called me, a 31 year-old ex-college football player to the front of the room for demonstrations (I was the youngest and arguably, fittest person in the workshop). When Yang, a man who weighed as much as a wet noodle, asked me to push him over, I asked “Are you sure?”
He smiled and said “Yes.”
I couldn’t move that man. I’m not a moose, but I used to think I could leverage my strength. He was like a rock. Yang explained the principles of centering your dantian (core) and rooting into the ground.
This 150 pound man, leveraging nature’s principles and rooted like a tree, I couldn’t budge.
I learned that the size of muscles doesn’t have to correlate with functional strength. People can still be strong well into old-age without the mass and abuse that comes with high load exercises.
While I still like looking at a good male or female butt, I no longer believe that we need to be training for as much hypertrophy (or mass) as possible. We do need some mass because muscles waste (shrink) over decades. It’s just that pursuit of mass puts our joints are at risk.
Do your butt-recruiting movements, but do them wisely.
In what ways could a bigger butt improve your life? Share your thoughts or comments below.