It doesn’t matter if you’re male or female, if you want a tight bum, there are some gym exercises can make that happen. However, what if you’re doing all the right exercises and still not getting the tight bum you want? Below is a list of five exercises that you should be doing, and where you could be going wrong.
Strive for a Good Mind-Muscle Connection
Before digging into the actual movements themselves, there’s one topic that needs to be addressed as it applies to all exercises – the mind-muscle connection. Whether you’re just trying to build a tight bum or improve athletic performance, activating the glutes can be a real issue.
More often than not, this is because you’ve spent years sitting, with bad posture, and / or doing exercises incorrectly. Because of this, your body has learned to rely on surrounding musculature to do the work the glutes should be doing. As a result, not only are the glutes not firing when you try to work them, but you’re potentially building further muscular imbalances in the lower back, hamstring, obliques, hip flexors, and more.
Regardless of the movement you’re doing, concentrate hard on creating a good mind-muscle connection. Ensure that you’re not just moving your feet, the resistance, or whatever from “point A”to “point B”. Instead, ensure that you’re feeling the glutes work, so that they’re not only turning on, but are getting a good contraction and the muscles are actually getting emphasized.
While squats can be a great exercise for building a tight bum, your results are really going to depend on the type of squats you do and how you do them. Regular barbell squats are an excellent overall lower body muscle and strength builder, but if you want to focus on the glutes, there is a better option.
Instead of squatting with a barbell, do goblet squats instead. Holding a dumbbell or kettlebell in front of you will allow you to squat much deeper, getting a much greater stretch in the glutes. Spread your stance out a little wider than normal, and even point your knees / toes out wider to emphasize the glutes more, too.
When you get to the full standing position, make sure you really drive forward with the hips. It can be easy to come to the fully standing position, but still be just sort of “slumped” over. Instead, drive the hips so far forward that it almost feels like your torso is going concave. Hold this position for a second, squeezing the glutes as hard as you can.
Step ups are one of the best movements for building a tight bum, but are also very often done incorrectly. The big issue with this is that step ups are not only easy to do improperly, but chances are you wouldn’t even realize it if you were.
Firstly, don’t worry about going too heavy. Too many trainees try to use too much weight, and end up utilizing momentum and surrounding muscle groups to get you from the ground to the “stepped up” position. Instead, lighten the load and focus on the quality of movement execution.
Continuing on the topic of momentum, one trick to minimizing it is to come up onto the toes of your back foot, then pause for an instant before every rep. What you could unknowingly be doing is going to start your rep, then actually pushing off with your back foot, creating momentum and minimizing the work the lead leg has to do. Coming up onto the toes of your back foot, then minimally pausing eliminates your ability to do this.
As far as your lead leg is concerned, be sure that you’re driving through your heel. Your natural tendency will be to drive through the ball of your foot, but that can cause your heel to come up off the step and shift emphasis to the calf.
At the same time, shift your weight slightly forward prior to starting your rep. The shin on your lead leg should actually be angled forward such that your knee is out over your second toe. Leaning your torso in the same sort of manner can help your balance, too. Doing this plus focus on squeezing the working glute hard at the top will result in a much stronger contraction.
Glute Bridges / Hip Thrusts
While these are probably about the best tight bum movements you can do, they’re also a couple of the most poorly executed. Far and away the biggest mistake lifters make when doing them is not keeping their knees pointing upward.
What happens is the trainee gets into position, thrusts their hips, but their knees aren’t in line with their toes. Though the ankles, knees, and hips all bend throughout the movement, the knees should still point up. Instead, people let their knees end up pointing outward, letting their legs be at an angle with one another instead of parallel. Doing this shifts emphasis from the glutes to the inner thigh and groin.
One other thing that can happen is that the lifter can feel the contraction in the hamstring and / or lower back at the top of the movement, but not the glutes. This is often because not a full range of motion is being utilized. Thrust through with the hips a little more and you should feel the glutes squeezing hard.
Romanian / Stiff-Legged / Single Leg Deadlift
Though these deadlift variations are all primarily used to build the hamstrings and lower back, they can also help build a really tight bum. However, you have to make sure you’re using an absolutely full range of motion in order for the glutes to fully contract.
What often happens is similar to what was just described with glute bridges and hip thrusts. In other words, the lifter will get to the contracted position, but not go all the way with it. If you deadlift the weight up to standing, but your hips haven’t been thrust all the way forward through the movement, you’re short-changing your glute development.
Though dumbbell or kettlebell swings are usually thought of as a conditioning exercise or cardio builder, they can also be used to build a tight bum. However, you really have to focus on squeezing the glutes hard as you thrust forward with the hips.
Too often, trainees rely only on their hamstrings (or worse yet, their lower back) to get the weight moving forward. Once it is, they just let momentum take it as far as it’s going to go and no more. However, driving the hips as far forward as you can can result in a very powerful glute contraction. Read more about the advantages of kettlebell swings here.
It’s not overly difficult to build a tight bum, but you do have to make sure you’re doing exercises correctly. Keep your form on point and strive to utilize a 100% full range of motion, even if you think you already are. Regardless of the movement however, ensure there’s a strong mind-muscle connection. Do all that and your glute development should improve fairly quickly.