This is how I knew it was official, even our National Monuments are on trend! … the backside of Mount Rushmore.
It’s only March but so far this year I’ve learned some really important things about the human backside. And that’s because – did you hear? – 2014 is officially “The Year of the Butt” according to tastemakers like:
– MSNBC reported that buttocks augmentations in the US have gone up by 15%, crediting J.Lo, Beyonce and (duh) Kim Kardashian. But docs aren’t doing just any ordinary buttocks enhancements – they’re going full out with a Brazilian butt lift! Do you know how many Victoria’s Angels come from Brazil? You do the math.
– Jen Selter’s Instagram account, dedicated entirely to her butt (and sometimes her boobs but mostly her butt), has 2.6 million followers – roughly equal to President Obama and Lady Gaga’s Instagrams. Her posterior has more followers than all of Bruno Mars. I mean, I know the dude is short and her glutes are gravity defying but he’s a very talented entire human being!
– Kim Kardashian introduced the world to the “belfie” or butt-selfie with her infamous butt in a white swimsuit pic and then quickly followed it up with her was-it-photoshopped-scandal-garnering pic of her butt with Blac Chyna’s butt. (And now that I’ve told you, you can’t unlearn Belfie. You’re welcome! Make sure to tag me in all of yours.)
– (My personal favorite) The New York Times did a whole article based on the reporter asking winter Olympians in Sochi – particularly the skiiers and speed skaters – how they buy jeans because their butts are so big. In case you don’t believe me, here is the lede: “There was no way to ask the question without sounding slightly creepy, but the downhill skier Jan Hudec kindly answered it with cheerful Canadian candor. “Yes, I have an enormous butt,” he said.”
Have I lost you all down an Internet rabbit hole now?? But here’s the thing – no matter how silly, spurious or insane the reasons are I’m actually really glad the butt is making a comeback. And not just because I was concerned it was going to go on a reunion tour with Journey. I like big butts and I cannot lie. (I’M SORRY, YOU KNEW THAT WAS COMING.) As a girl who’s always been rather, well, flat in that area I’ll admit that I did not always feel this way. It wasn’t until I got into fitness, well into adulthood, that I began to understand the importance of strong glutes.
I was reminded of this when talking with my friend during our weight lifting workout this morning. A couple of months ago she had complained of pain in her knee and hip so me being, well me, parroted back to her all the information I’ve learned over years of interviewing fitness people about the role that weak glutes play in hip and knee pain, especially in women, thanks to our greater Q-angle. So we’ve been making an extra effort to stretch her hip flexors and do butt work. (And I think it’s paid off as she reported this morning that her pain is gone! Yay!) But as we did our x-band walks across the gym, she remarked on how much bigger my steps were than hers.
This is what Emily and I were doing. One you get the X, squat down a little bit and then walk to the side, one foot at a time, without ever letting your feet come back together. Walk 20 steps one way and then 20 steps back. Try it!!
“Yep, I have a crazy strong butt,” I told her proudly. And I really am proud of it. Not only does my butt fill out my jeans better (although I still need the help of flap pockets) but the really cool thing is how functional it is! Strong butts are amazing!
And this is why I’m glad it’s the year of the butt. I don’t give a Kardashian what your butt looks like but I would like everyone to know the joy of strong, balanced, functional glutes. Even better, unlike a boob job or face lift, lifting and building your butt is something that you can do entirely in the gym – no surgery required! (And since I just saved you $12,000, you can send me a small token of your gratitude…)
Here are 3 reasons to love big butts:
1. The end to quad dominance. I know this sounds awesome – my quads DOMINATE!! – but this is a problem because it means that you use your quadriceps muscles (on the front of your thigh) as your primary movers rather than your glutes (your butt), which is really inefficient since your gluteus maximus is the largest muscle in your body. It can also cause functional and structural problems since the imbalance pulls your spine and pelvis out of alignment. Indeed, a quick way to tell if you’re quad dominant is if you have an anterior pelvic tilt (where your back arches and your pelvis tips forward when you stand straight).
For me, one of the best things about fixing my QD was learning how to run with my butt! If you are QD you probably have no idea what this means because it’s one of those things you can’t really feel until it happens, but basically it feels more like I’m being “pushed” by my butt than “pulled” by my quads. It means I’ve shortened up my stride a bit and that my form is more efficient so I can run somewhat longer than before. It also means that unlike previous training periods, my hip flexors aren’t killing me after every run. For more info on what it is and what exercises to do to cure it, check out my whole post on it. If you just like cutesy sayings, here’s another one to stitch on a pillow, courtesy of Ryan Svenby one of the Vikings cheerleaders trainers I worked with: “A tight butt is a tight gut!”
2. Gluteo-femoral fat is glorious. And it’s not just muscle that makes big butts awesome – the fat is equally as great, and as healthy! Ladies’ tendency to store “gluteofemoral fat” (i.e. in our hips, butts and thighs) gives us a huge leg (!) up: A 2010 study out of Oxford University found that “an increased gluteofemoral fat mass is independently associated with a protective lipid and glucose profile, as well as a decrease in cardiovascular and metabolic risk.” In regular speak, our lower-body curves protect us from heart disease and diabetes! woot!
Mark Sisson, author of The Primal Blueprint and expert on paleo fitness, advises, “Don’t be concerned about a little (or more than a little) subcutaneous body fat, especially on your lower body. If you’ve been trying in vain to lose that stubborn jiggle on your thigh, consider that maybe, just maybe it’s there for a reason. Even if you’re not interested in having a child, it’s likely that the presence of lower body fat indicates good health. You don’t have to get pregnant, but the ability to do so is probably a marker of good health, and the research outlined above suggests that classically feminine patterns of fat deposition are healthier than classically male patterns. And even if you don’t like your glutofemoral fat, rest assured that the males in your life likely do!”
3. Maybe it will make it easier to buy jeans. I’ve whined before on here aplenty about how I have such a hard time finding jeans that fit thanks to my smaller waist and larger thighs – although now that I’ve read that Times piece about Olympians’ jeans disasters I’ll quit whining about the time I split my jeans – but perhaps now that butts are cool again, there will be more options for those of packing a couple of burros south of the border. Ahem. Kim Kardashian or Apollo Ohno, I don’t care how it happens but if they make me jeans that fit I will be the happiest girl ever. In addition, maybe it will help loosen up our standard of beauty a little. I’m not overly hopeful – as evidence I offer Jen Selter’s body which is every bit as unattainable as any catwalk model’s – but maybe this can be a step in the right direction?
Side note: I recently bought these Lucky Brand jeans on a killer sale from Amazon (don’t worry they’ll go on sale again!) and while I was initially drawn to the fact that my name is on them, it turns out they are SUPER stretchy. But not stretchy in that weird way that gives you saggy baggy elephant knees and bum after 20 minutes of wearing. They are the first jeans I can honestly say fit both my thighs and my waist. (And no that link is not affiliate – I get nothing if you buy them. I just wanted to share!)
What do you think about your butt? Do you have a favorite butt exercise? Anyone else excited that the butt is finally having its moment??