by Matt Basso | November 2011

Bunz: All the lift without the width

While in pursuit of the perfect back side it’s important to understand three things.

1. Technique
2. Consistency
3. Program

    I’m sure you’ve heard it before. “If you want a nice butt you have to squat”. Well, its true, however you must squat CORRECTLY, WITH PROPER FORM! What if I told you that 98% of the people I see squatting in gyms aren’t using proper technique. Would you believe me? Not only does this mean there is a greater chance of injury, but it also means that the people are not going to have the results they want. Is there ever a reason to change squat form? Yes, but for what we want (lifted tight butt, toned slim thighs all around) you need to heavily involve the glutes and hamstrings.
    Stick with me through this next section, it’s a bit technical, but well worth it.

    In order for you to activate your glutes and hamstrings you must squat DEEP. Deep by definition will vary from person to person based on many variables, but the bare minimum would be to a depth where your hips are 1 inch below your knees. A common misconception that absolutely kills me every time I hear it is...” Deep squatting hurts your knees”. I would argue the exact opposite and in simple terms here’s why: When you don’t squat deep much of the force ends up on your quads (front of leg) and because at this shallow angle your hamstrings aren’t activated so there is no way for your body to compensate and stabilize your knee.That can hurt you. When you squat deep, you will stretch the hamstrings and the glutes. Because of how your hamstrings attach to your body, this allows them to “pull” in a way on your knee and stabilize it. Additionally, squatting wrong (shallow) gives you big bulky quads (front of leg) instead of a tight butt and toned hams.

 Now that you understand how to activate the right muscles to get a nice butt, you have to learn how to set up your stance (feet) to help you achieve this goal. It’s quite simple really. Place your feet so that your heels are about 2-3 inches wider than your shoulders and turn your toes out 8-15 degrees. If you have long legs then you may go a bit wider but keep the toes set up the same way. That’s it!

    Now that you know you have to squat at least one inch below your hips and where your feet should be you only need some basic technique pointers...

Keep your chest out the entire time you are squatting...Even at the bottom.
Keep your knees behind your toes.
Lead with your butt as if you were going to sit down in a chair.
At the bottom of the movement feel the “stretch” (activation of the hamstrings and glutes) and bounce right up as soon as you feel it.
Don’t let your knees buckle in toward each other, keep them out, driving away from each other.
On the way up lead with your hips and then stand up all the way.

    When you master this movement with your body weight alone you’ll want to add weight. The best way to add weight with very little learning curve is by using a weighted vest. This keeps your center of gravity where it should be and eliminates the learning curve of back squatting (putting a bar on your back). Eventually you will want to learn that because it’s very beneficial, but for now just master the movement. If you feel that you are progressing nicely you can hold a dumbbell with both hands in front of your chest. As you get better you’ll want to increase the weight so your body continues to be stimulated.
    If your technique is perfect but you only do squats once a week then you are not going to get the desired results. Your hamstrings and glutes already do a lot of work on a day to day basis so they are only going to respond if you stay consistent with challenging them. That means you will work squats into your exercise routine 3 days a week, leaving a day of rest between each time you work them.

    Examples of how to program your squatting:

For the beginner using body weight only (if you stay consistent you will be able to step it up after 4 weeks) try adding this squat routine to whatever else you are working on:

Monday: 55 body weight squats broken into 3 sets
Wednesday: 45 body weight squats broken into 3 sets
Friday: 75 body weight squats broken into 4 sets

If you are intermediate or advanced and using extra weight in some way ( dumbbell, weighted vest, Bar, etc ) find your 3 rep max...Which means find the weight that is challenging to the point you can only do 3 reps with it and then follow the this progression:

Monday: 75% of your 3 rep max weight for 5 sets of 5 reps
Wednesday: 50% of your 3 rep max weight for 5 sets of 5 reps
Friday: 95% of your 3 rep max weight for 5 sets of 3 reps

At the end of 4 weeks retest your max squat amount and change weights according to the percentages given.
Remember...Use perfect technique, stay consistent, and use the program so you have a plan for success!

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