If there is one body part that has gotten a lot of attention this year, it’s the butt. (Gilbert Carrasquillo/Getty Images)
From Instagram sensation Jen Selter and her “belfies” (butt + selfie), to Kim Kardashian’s bare-it-all photoshoot in Paper magazine, it’s clear backsides are taking a front seat. Not to mention Jennifer Lopez and Iggy Azalea’s “Booty,” Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda,” and Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass” bringing up the rear.
In other words, the derriere is everywhere.
“It’s interesting because years ago people thought JLo had a big butt,” social and consumer psychologist Debbie Then, PhD, tells Yahoo Health. While people may not have desired a larger posterior years ago, these days, big butts are “being sought after.”
In fact, buttock augmentation procedures have increased by 58 percent last year, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. “Over the past decade, we’ve seen a cultural shift toward a greater acceptance of and a desire for a rounder, more prominent derriere in specific regions across the country, so the increase in buttock augmentation procedures is not that surprising,” Jack Fisher, MD, president of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, said in a press release.
Jennifer Lopez, who has long been known for her famous rear end, couldn’t be happier that society is celebrating curvier backsides. “It’s about time,” Lopez told MTV News earlier this year. “It’s the year of the booty. … Before we were just considered like heavy, like we weren’t ‘in shape’ or whatever if you had a big butt or something. So now it’s kind of nice that people are embracing womanly curves in that way.”
Although social media makes it seem as if fuller fannies are a more recent trend, women’s rears have been admired for centuries. Case in point: the curvaceous Venus figurines, most of which are about 23,000 to 25,000 years old.
So what constitutes the perfect butt? Beauty, or should we say booty, is really in the eye of the beholder. “Every person has a different ‘ideal’ butt,” notes celebrity trainer Kira Stokes. “However, I think most people would agree it should be obvious that you have one! It should have a ‘shelf’ life all its own — high and tight. It should be obvious where the glutes end and the hamstrings begin. I like to say the butt is the roof of the house and the hamstrings are the walls. You can’t have a solid roof without strong walls.”
In other words, it’s hard to beat a toned butt. “There isn’t a day that goes by that I’m not told by a client, ‘I want to work on my butt,’” says Stokes. “It’s definitely one of the top three most-requested muscle groups people want to impact. Many people spend a large portion of their day sitting on their butts, whether it be in an office, in a car, or at home, so it’s important to combat the ‘sit and spread’ time with exercises that focus on contracting the glutes.”
To get your rear in gear, Stokes recommends performing these four butt-toning moves two or three times per week:
1. Squat. Start with feet hip-width distance apart, with your toes and knees pointing forward. Keeping your weight on the heels, stick the butt out, tip the tailbone back and lower the body until the quads (thighs) are parallel with the floor. Hold the contraction for two seconds, then push through the heels, squeeze the glutes and return to the start position. For an added bonus, as you push up out of the squat, extend one leg behind you, lifting from that butt cheek. Alternate legs every time you rise up out of the squat. Increase the challenge by holding hand weights as you squat.
2. Reverse lunge into a one-legged deadlift. While holding a dumbbell in each hand, balance on your right leg and step the left leg back, bending the left knee until it’s 1 inch from the ground, and you’re forming 90-degree angles with both legs. The weight is on the heel of the front lunging foot (the right heel). Hold the lunge for two seconds. Push up out of the lunge, contracting the right glute. Balancing on the right, hinge forward with a flat back, keeping the right knee soft, while extending the left leg behind you at the same rate that you lower the upper body. Contract the right glute as you return to standing. Focus on the right leg for 12 to 15 reps, and then switch legs.
3. Butt endurance work. Position yourself on elbows and knees, with the elbows directly beneath your shoulders and the knees beneath the hips. Lift your right leg until it’s even with the right hip. Pulse the leg up 2 inches and down 2 inches for 25 times. Then, bend the right knee, bringing the heel close to the butt cheek, flex the foot, and repeat 25 small pulses. Maintaining the height of the knee, rotate the knee out to the right, engaging more of the abductor muscle, and pulse 25 times. Finish by bringing the knee back to a neutral position, straighten the leg back out to the start position, and pulse the fully extended leg for a final 25 reps. Then switch legs.
4. Hip lift/glute squeeze. Lie on your back with arms at your sides, knees bent and feet on the floor, keeping heels in alignment with your knees. Lift your hips toward the ceiling, pushing through the heels. Hold for two seconds, and then lower back down. Repeat for 25 reps. Then hold at the top of the glute contraction and pulse the hips down 2 inches and up 2 inches for 15 reps. Finish with 10 more full reps. To make this more challenging, perform the exercise one leg at a time.
There are also trainer apps that provide butt-targeted workouts, such as Runtastic’s new Butt Trainer app that guides users through more than 50 exercise videos with help from a 3-D avatar trainer, Angie. The app offers structured workouts, including “Junk in the Trunk,” or you can create customized sessions to get a more enviably defined, bootylicious backside.
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