"Spot reduction" is still a myth–but you can tone and sculpt your backside.
No, you’re not imagining it. With almost half-a-million posts on Instagram, #bootygoals is definitely a thing. If you’re already familiar with the peachy pics taking over your social feeds, you’re probably wondering (as we did!) how these stars shaped their glorious glutes.
As always when we have questions, we turned to the experts: certified personal trainers Morgan Olson, founder of Babe Go Lift and Roxie Jones of Tone House. Here's what they had to say about transforming the tush.
Can you lose weight from just your butt?
The idea behind losing weight from one particular body part is called spot reduction. The thinking goes that you can target specific areas of the body and selectively decide where the fat will disappear. But science has shown time and time again that spot reduction is as much of a myth as unicorns. That's because fat cells are distributed all over your body, Olson says. To see them disappear, you'd need to reduce your overall body fat. “Working a certain muscle group doesn’t mean that you’re going to lose the fat that covers and surrounds that muscle,” she says.
However, you can still train a specific muscle group. People often use the terms “spot reduction” and “spot training” interchangeably, but they’re actually different. “One is BS, and one can help build a booty,” Olson says. "Spot training is the idea that you can develop a certain muscle or muscle group by training those muscles."
How to spot-train your butt
Exercises that force you to activate and engage the muscles that make up the booty—the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus—will help you increase the size of those muscles, Jones says. “Any glute-specific exercises technically allow you to spot-train your booty."
If you’ve never trained your peach before, experts suggest starting with resistance band exercises (like kickbacks or lateral or monster walks) or bodyweight exercises (like air squats, unweighted lunges, and step-ups). “Adding in these beginner-level exercises will teach you how to activate your glute muscles. Once you know how, you add in more complex, weighted lifts,” Jones says.
Learning how to activate your glutes is crucial. “You can do squats until you’re blue in the face, but if you’re not actually activating the muscles, you won’t see any results,” Jones adds. To test your ability to activate your glutes, stand in front of a mirror so you can see your booty. Try to squeeze one butt cheek as hard as you can. If nothing happens, you’re not engaging your glutes. If you can see one of your cheeks contracted, the glute is activated.
Once you're ready for weighted lifts, Olson has a few favorites that "will make your butt burn real good," she says, including sumo squats, deadlifts, barbell glute bridges, reverse lunges, weighted step-ups, and curtsy lunges. These work the glute muscles from all angles, too. "They'll give you a firmer lower back, fuller side butt, perkier upper butt, and rounder lower booty,” she adds.
After your pump-up session, remember to give yourself time to recovery properly. “Help your booty recover and grow back stronger and perkier with proper sleep and nutrition and foam rolling or stretching,” Jones says.
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Bonus: Training your butt could help reduce body fat
Whether or not losing weight is the goal, working your glutes with these exercises can help reduce overall body fat and rev up your metabolism. “Squats may be working your glutes, but they also work your core, quads, hamstrings, and lats. And the more muscles groups you use, the more work is required from your body and the more calories you are going to burn,” Jones explains. Having more muscle also means you're burning more calories even when you're not exercising, increasing your overall fat burn, she adds.
The bottom line: Whether you’re trying to lose weight or build a peach, training your booty-muscles can help get you to your goal.