Issue #144


by Juan Carlos Lope

20 Questions with Cover Model Andy Borneman

Video Interview with Pro Physique Andy Borneman

Andy Borneman, Angeles Casteran, Nicole Cristell, Nicole Kavala & Tiffany Laumeyer

Video Interview with Amateur Figure Ashley Godfrey

Minimizing your Maximus in Minimal Time
by Tina Jo Orban


Minimizing your Maximus in Minimal Time by Tina Jo Orban

There was a time when pectorals and biceps (think men) and flat toned abdominals for both men and women in popular culture garnered all the attention, particularly when fitness focused.  Better said, a beefy built chest and buffed biceps indicated that a man worked out or was in shape. And for females we looked for a toned midsection or firm legs. Besides this America’s obsession with female breasts either firm, perky or robust due to enhancement (which is no indicator of fitness by the way) we have now become fixated on our derrieres! In my mind this is a good thing. A firm well-toned backside is arguably an indication of fitness level to a degree. I recently saw a scathing epigram that says it all:    

 “But Implants, No, Bitch I squat” 

This little offensive blurb has some merit. Truly fit well rounded individuals know that missing training your gluteals is nearly as bad as training and eating garbage. Components of the objective are missing. That is if you are training to be fit and healthy you cannot sabotage your efforts with a poor diet. Likewise, training and missing working your glutes –the largest strongest muscles in your body is self-defeating when it comes to total body fitness.

A well rounded built backside does not only look amazing (and yes genetics allow some people to build “bubble buts” more than others) it is functional. Furthermore, a built bottom can be a big contributor to lean-mass (I said lean mass not lean ass) which in turn contributes to an increased metabolism! So do not neglect working out your bum.

The same rules apply for hypertrophy of the gluteus maximus, medius and minimus. That is to increase mass one must work against resistance. Walking will not build a great but, neither will running. (Heavy and low reps are necessary for growth, i.e. 6, 8, 10 range reps at seventy-five percent or more of one rep max). For example, squats using a pyramid set (not a pyramid scheme) could look like this: eight reps, then drop it to six reps (with more weight) then back to eight and followed up by ten reps for your final set.
Obviously heavier weight on the lower repetition sets. If you are working at fat loss while toning you could do 12, 15, 20 reps per set at a higher velocity. You could employ dynamic exercises such as box jumps or jump squats. These are also great to improve proprioception and cardio-vascular output. But please never forget to build you need to train heavy. That is how we build. Heavy weight (think high intensity around 75% one rep max!) for a low number of reps. That is, increased resistance to hypertrophy the tissue never changes. It’s called Davis’ law [1] (This has nothing to do with jurisprudence). One thing you should be aware of the gluteus maximus is the most powerful extensor of the hip! It also abducts and laterally rotates the hip. One fun functional exercise is weighted stair-climbing. But I’ve got a mini workout listed below with a lot more exercises to choose from to build better buns.

The squat is such a great exercise for the gluteus. Indeed, none is better. It’s good to know that also in the downward phase of the squat the gluteus muscle tissue is firing in eccentric contraction so it is a double whammy for your buns. To work the maximus one has to extend the hip: This means pushing against gravity or resistance while the femur is moving toward the posterior aspect of your body. Now be aware that squatting is a fantastic exercise as are jumps squats, box jumps and lunges (I’ll get to lunge specificity in a minute) for glutes. They all require hip extension. On both the eccentric phase and the concentric phase the gluteus maximus is recruited! On the down phase as the knees bend and the up phase as the knees straighten the glutes are working!
Again squats are fantastic to build and firm one’s gluteus maximus. Lunges are good for the maximus, but also really target the gluteus medius (a primary hip abductor, lateral rotator hip flexor and extensor!) and both gluteus minimus and medius act as stabilizers when lunging so lunges are great to build that high side glute effect (the area where a nurse would deliver intramuscular injection). I repeat lunges are great to build the medius and minimus. Any abduction such as side lunges too work great on the medius and minimus.

Thus a good routine for gluteus training must incorporate: hip extension and hip abduction, period.
For people who do not have a lot of time to focus on their bum-- a quick add into legs day could look like this: Warm-up “cardio” preferably lower extremity work such as a brisk walk or run on an incline, at least 5% preferably 10% grade. You could also just stair-climb minimally five minutes.
An important note, know that walking barely cuts it for glutes. Certainly walking warms up the whole body, but to incorporate glutes you need to get femoral extension! That is where the magic happens.  Glutes become the prime mover only when the hip and pelvis femur relationship goes beyond approximately 15% degrees of extension.  If this seems confusing, I’ll make it simple for you: Ordinary walking does not do much for your but. Look, the gluteus maximus is not even recruited in a normal gait cycle (normal level ground walking) only the minimus and medius are. So walking on a level treadmill wont cut it. Neither will a relatively flat outdoor nature hike or run.
To build that ass, you must get the hip to extend against gravity and body weight or even better against weighted resistance.
Now that you are warmed up you could do four sets of squats. Perhaps a pyramid set (i.e. 6, 8, 10, 6) reps with enough weight to be strenuous but completed with good form. You could go for four straight sets of 15 to 20 reps with less resistance. If you train like this all the time though, it may be hard to build up the glutes depending on genes and or your pharmaceutical enhancement.
Next, you could do four sets of lunges. Recall aforementioned the gluteus medius and minimus get maximal work in this but building exercise. Another good exercise is the side lunge. This really targets gluteus medius and minimus and even some TFL (tensor fasciae latae, not The Football League). Another great exercise is cable legs extensions. This is where you strap the ankle cuff on attached to a weighted cable. You move the femur away from the anterior trunk toward one’s posterior. Be warned you need and enough weight to tax the gluteus maximus to fatigue at rep 12 or 15 minimally. And some people find this exercise difficult on their low back.

Another thing to consider is the deep lateral rotators. These are analogous to your SITS muscles (rotator-cuff) of your glen-humeral joint (shoulder at the upper-arm). The piriformis, obturator internus and externus, quadratus femoris and gemellus inferior and superior are the deep lateral rotators of your hip joint and lie deep to the gluteus maximus. These important muscles can and should be trained when improving your derriere. These muscles are core hip joint external rotators and can be trained by externally rotating the hip against resistance and during lateral lunging (side-lunges). Again you should train against resistance and could use dumbbells in hand for the reps/sets range according to your goals. Sumo-squats (which I love!)—because the femur is laterally rotated while you work against resistance also targets these deep lateral rotators of the hip.

I would save smaller core muscle training such as isolated external rotation after your heavy duty squatting, lunging, jump squats, sumo squats or goblet squats.        

There are a ton of other gluteus training exercises: Such as barbell hip-thrusts (which I don’t love), abduction with cables for gluteus medius particularly, and even the deadlift! I find the barbell hip thrust not as effective as squats due to the fact that one cannot add sufficient enough weight to really challenge the gluteal strength. Nothing beats the squat ladies. That said, if you cannot squat due to back or neck pain you can try this exercise. Abduction with cable is good also, but is more of an isolated exercise. Again for minimizing your maximus in minimal time, go for compound exercises (i.e. those that incorporate multiple joints and muscles).  And what I mean by minimizing is not shrinking your gluteals. The goal is creating tighter firm lean tissue and fat loss around that lean tissue. One can fine tune with isolated exercises, should you have the time.
Deadlifts are great too. But the deadlift can really tax the low back particularly if you have crummy form. If you do have great technique and love this exercise by all means go for it, just realize the prime muscles are hamstrings (semitendinosus, semimembranosus, and biceps femoris) in conjunction with iliopsoas and the erector spinae muscles. So should you incorporate deadlifts for gluteal training day? Yes. You can, just know that glutes are not the prime mover.

A quick and gritty gluteal workout could look like this:

Warm up (walking on an incline preferably at a fast clip or running uphill). Jump right into squats— three or four sets (at your reps/sets range and weight). Next, side lunges again three or four sets. After this you can do either reverse lunges or lunges. Whether you use a barbell (i.e. as you would in back squats) or dumbbells (holding weights in your hands) while you lunge is up to you—but just know if you want to do heavier lifting a better choice might be the barbell as one’s back (most people’s anyhow) can withstand a heavier load than your hands can hold dumbbells without your forearm and or grip fatiguing before you get enough weight to really challenge the large gluteal muscle group. I know this from experience.
Follow up these compound exercises with either dynamic plyometric style work: such as box jumps, log jumps or squat jumps against your body weight. (You may bump up the rep range, I do upwards of 15 to 20 reps per set). This not only improves your bum, but your balance, coordination and cardiovascular conditioning as well. You could finish off with some isolated exercises such as cable work abduction or donkey kicks or other hip extension work against gravity. You can even use those dated ankle weights or cables and etcetera. But you could also skip this if you don’t have the time for isolated work.

The gist of this article is that compound joint exercises are key to gluteal training. Likewise, high intensity resistance hip extension is key to build that but. And squats and lunges cannot be beat when it comes to toning and minimizing your maximus.

[1] Davis's law is used in anatomy and physiology to describe how soft tissue models along imposed demands. It is like wolfs law and bone modeling Ellenbecker, Todd, "Effective Functional Progessions in Sport Rehabilitation", Human Kinetics 2009.


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