Dead Butt Syndrome: Exercises to Fix Gluteal Amnesia
Butt Mania has reached an all-time high.
I was in line at the grocery store recently and overheard this conversation.
Girl 1 picks up a magazine with one of the Kardashian’s on the front: “I can’t wait until my butt gets bigger like this.”
Girl 2: “I want a HUGE butt, so badly. The bigger the better.”
As a guy who grew up in the 70’s and 80’s with two sisters, these are still foreign concepts to me.
My sisters NEVER wanted their butts to be big.
They were too busy focused on getting big hair.
I can’t remember ANY girl who I grew up with wanting a larger butt back then.
This whole butt implant and butt injection thing is a somewhat new trend.
…and totally odd in my opinion.
This article isn’t just about girl’s butts… or butt size.
I want to talk about Dead Butt Syndrome.
What is Dead Butt Syndrome?
Dead butt syndrome is the inability to fire the glutes properly even when performing exercises targetting the glutes. It is typically caused by tight hip flexors that happen as a result of sitting all day.
It makes me so happy that someone came up with this term, which basically describes the inability to fire your glutes properly.
It happens to both men as well as women.
Some call it Gluteal Amnesia.
Another term that makes me smile.
I will discuss what causes this and how to fix it in a sec.
…right after I throw in a music video.
The music theme for this post?
Dance songs meant to wake your butt from the dead.
I should start a “Butt Awakening” class.
This song is cranking over the speakers.
(The is from the album “Music Complete” by New Order and came out in 2015. Tons of awesome dance songs. I love it that La Roux sings on this track as well as one more on the album.)
I’m the instructor (wearing a black spandex bodysuit of course).
I’m shouting instructions:
“Flex your cheeks to the beat!”
“Come on Katherine, you rump is barely moving.”
“Pinch it like you mean it, Robert!”
Lot’s of congratulatory butt slaps <— hey, they do this in pro sports and they aren’t even focused on toning the glutes.
Since this is NEVER going to happen, this blog post will have to do.
So many good ideas, such little time.
What Causes a Dead Butt Syndrome or Lazy Glutes?
The most common case is from sitting too long.
This tightens and shortens your hip flexors.
Basically, tight hip flexors can cause the muscles in your butt to not fire or function properly.
Short hip flexors lengthen and flatten the butt and create a long butt appearance.
(Once the Long Butt trend hits sitting is going to become even MORE popular.)
Your butt doesn’t want to be dead (or long and flat).
It wants to live!
Other things that can contribute to dead butt syndrome?
Strong legs, running and biking.
Quad Dominance Makes it Hard to Activate Your Glutes
Quad dominance is when your quads do most of the work on lower body exercises instead of a balance between quads, hamstrings, and glutes. Not only does this increase your chance for injury, it makes it very hard to properly work your glutes.
If you do lunges and other exercises and your butt is STILL in purgatory?
You might be quad dominant.
I’ll discuss this in a sec.
…right after Butt Awakening song #2.
“Alright, class… flex your butt up in the air if you’re a true playa.”
(This song came out in 1983. I had no idea it actually had a video until a month ago. It’s a completely bizarre and awesome freak-show. The guy on keyboards kills me.)
Quad dominance is a common problem for fit people who sit all day at their desk jobs.
If you are quad dominant you will feel most “butt exercises” in your legs.
So things like lunges and step ups will just make your legs stronger without really activating your butt.
Those typical butt exercises only work if the butt is awakened.
Exercises to Fix Quad Dominance and Strengthen Weak Glutes
A lot of exercises work the butt…
…if that butt is already awakened.
If your butt is asleep, these will not work for you.
So what does it take for the butt to become enlightened?
If I had to pick one exercise that gets the butt firing, I’d say hip bridge variations are your best bet.
Release the Crack-en 🙂
Hip Bridges are the perfect glute activation exercise to do BEFORE other glute exercises.
The hip bridge simultaneously activates the glute muscles while stretching out your hip flexors.
This primes the body for glute exercises.
- Step Ups
- Sumo Deadlifts
- Hip Thrusts
The most intense glute exercise in this list is the hip thrust.
Bret Contreras is the guy who made this exercise popular.
People are able to lift crazy amounts of weight with this lift.
I’ve seen women do 225 pounds for reps on this exercise.
This is great for men and women who really want to add some muscle to their backside.
I prefer to just do the regular hip bridge activation exercise along with a few sets of squats.
The Internet is loaded with routines that work the glutes.
The important thing is to make sure your glutes are firing properly before doing these routines.
…and awaken the Gluteal region to the Maximus with sweet tunes like this.
(This is a 2009 performance of a song that came out in 1981. One of my all-time favorite New Wave songs… way ahead of its time. These guys still sound fantastic. Incredible backup singing by the two women!)
This “Fascist Groove Thang” really could be a song about the butt.
Most people think it’s a political song.
The lyrics tell a different story.
When I listen to it with the butt in mind, it makes me laugh.
Butt Shape is Largely Dictated by Your Genes (Jeans)
I’m on a roll.
If you can’t have fun with a butt article, when can you have fun?
Yes, I mix in a lot of nonsense with the gold.
This is my LEAST favorite saying by the way.
Okay, maybe not my least favorite.
Here’s the worst: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results”.
If you are at a conference and hear this quote, you are in for a long and mind-numbing day.
Off my rant… and on to butt genetics.
You can’t do tons about the shape of your butt.
Kylie Minogue is NEVER going to have the same shape butt as Salma Hayek.
…but I find both imaginary girlfriends equally attractive.
I train with Kylie (in my mind) at the gym.
Salma likes to salsa dance with me (when I’m daydreaming).
…and they both appreciate good dance music.
(This one captures 1992 dance club music perfectly. I can practically taste the Jagermeister pre-funk shot and Heineken chaser… just by listening to this song.)
You can add a bit of muscle to make sure you don’t have a flat butt.
You can reduce the fat.
You can improve what you have.
Don’t try to be a Salma if you are a Kylie.
Bottom line (yep, I went there)…
Wake up the butt with different versions of hip bridges, before you target the butt with resistance training exercises.
Use heavy hip thrusts if you want size.
Do lower volume exercise short of failure, if you want muscle definition without size increase.
I’ll create a full hip bridge post in the near future.
Hope this helps.
As a former fitness coach to fashion models, I can teach you how to increase muscle definition without adding size.
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