4 Exercises to Prevent Butt Amnesia
When we first covered “butt amnesia” on the CA Fit blog, it raised a lot of interest — and additional questions!
According to CA personal trainer Darrell Gough, most of us have some level of butt amnesia, which is what happens when your glutes “forget” how to activate properly.
Before we get to the best exercises for perking up your posterior, let’s do a quick refresher on what exactly butt amnesia is…
Butt amnesia 101
It probably comes as no surprise that excessive sitting is mostly to blame for butt amnesia. Our sedentary lifestyles have deteriorated our gluteal activation and strength, and this leads our glutes to stop firing correctly. Poor posture (text neck, anyone?) can also contribute to this disconnection.
This is a big problem, because a well-conditioned butt protects your back, knees and hips from pain and injury. Weakness in the glutes forces other muscle groups to compensate, and creates imbalances in your body. Butt amnesia is often most apparent in your squat pattern, and one telltale sign is if your knees draw inwards together as you squat.
“Good squat mechanics allow you to pick up a heavy case of water, keep it close to your hips and activate your glutes to stabilize your back,” says Gough. “If it’s not in good shape, that’s when pain or injuries occur.”
The good news is, this pattern can be reversed — which leads us to the four moves below. Time to fire up those glutes, Columbia!
Air squats, also known as bodyweight squats, might be one of the most famous exercises of all time. It’s no surprise when you consider that squats build lower body strength, balance and endurance.
The good old-fashioned air squat is a foundational move that’s perfect for beginners and targets your thighs, hamstrings, quads and glutes. And from a functional fitness angle, doing squats helps ensure that you’ll be able to get up from a seated position for many years to come!
- Keep your feet hip width distance apart, with the weight in your heels.
- Squat back as if you’re sitting in a chair.
- Point your toes slightly outward to protect your knees.
- As you rise, remember to press through the heels and squeeze the glutes.
- Knees traveling past your toes.
- Rounded back.
- Heels lifting off the floor.
BEGINNER TIP: If this feels too challenging, start against the wall to build up your strength. Carefully slide down until your knees are bent at a 90-degree angle, hold as long as you’d like and then push your weight back up the wall.
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Frog pumps are amazing for isolating and strengthening your glutes. While this move might feel awkward at first, the external rotation of your hips makes frog pumps pretty unrivaled in engaging your booty muscles to a high degree.
Even better, if you have knee or ankle problems that make squats difficult, this is a great low-load exercise you can safely add to your regimen.
- Tuck your chin into your chest.
- Keep your lower back flat to the ground, pulling your navel into your spine.
- Bring the soles of your feet as close to your butt as possible.
- Squeeze your glutes at the top of the movement.
- Dig your elbows into the ground and make fists with your hands.
- Make eye contact with anyone. Just kidding…kind of!
BEGINNER TIP: If the starting position feels super uncomfortable for you, try a standard glute bridge instead. This exercise requires a certain amount of opening in the hips, and it’s not possible for everyone’s hip mobility. Listen to your body!
Bulgarian split squats
As a single-leg, unilateral squat, the Bulgarian split squat places extra emphasis on shaping the quads. Your back foot acts like a kickstand, which is great for challenging your core, balance and stability while sculpting your booty.
- Tap your knee down to the floor (it it doesn’t reach, lower the bench).
- Squeeze the glutes at the top of the movement.
- Keep your spine vertical and your chest up — bracing your core will help.
- Make sure the front knee is stable.
- Press up through your front foot to return to your start position.
- Rounding your back or leaning too far forward.
- Rising onto your toes.
- Letting your front knee move inwards or outwards.
- Pressing through your back leg. It’s only there for balance, and you want to press through the front foot.
BEGINNER TIP: It may take trial and error to find the right positioning of your feet, so take your time with the set-up. If you find your form faltering during this movement, pause and reset.
Barbell hip thrusts
Barbell hip thrusts are wonderful for strengthening your posterior chain and hip flexors, which is why it benefits your lower back big-time. The added weight of the barbell leads to greater strength and glute activation.
- Rest the barbell in the crease of your hips.
- Keep your upper back and shoulders in contact with the bench.
- Keep your feet firmly planted on the ground.
- Gaze forward, with your chin down (it’s helpful to imagine holding an egg under your chin).
- As you lift your hips to the ceiling, engage your abs and squeeze your glutes.
- Keep your knee joints at about a 90 degree angle.
- Lifting your gaze to the ceiling.
- Arching your back.
BEGINNER TIP: Start with just the bar. When you’re feeling comfortable with the movement, you can add weight. It’s best to use a weight that’s challenging yet doesn’t compromise your form. You can also wrap a towel or pad around the barbell to make this move more comfortable.
Combat butt amnesia with CA
After years of prolonged sitting, reactivating your rear can feel challenging. That’s where the expertise and support of CA’s personal trainers comes in!
CA’s personal training programs are open to both members and non-members. The first step is to fill out our referral form, which gives our fitness training supervisors background on your goals and preferences so they can find the right fit (we have more than 30 trainers across three fitness clubs!). Once you fill out the form, either the fitness training supervisor or the personal trainer will contact you to discuss setting up a free consultation.