Basically, people assume distance running, because it’s an all-leg exercise, is great for getting a shapely bottom half. However, you’re really doing the opposite: In order to run long distances, your body tends to burn more muscle than fat, so distance runners tend to become what’s called (yes, problematically) “skinny-fat.”

As a result, yes, your butt does deflate, but so does the rest of your body. It’s no different than if you want to lose weight via running while maintaining giant biceps — you’re going to have to chow down on some protein and knock out some hammer curls after your 5K.

To maintain a shapely behind, Lunger says runners need to “commit to a proper resistance-training program that focuses on lower body strength,” which may include squats, lunges and leg presses. That said, if you’re just not into doing squats or other glute exercises, Lunger points out that sprinters actually have great glutes. As such, switch up your distance runs with occasional wind sprints. Where distance running isn’t very glute-dominant, sprinting utilizes a different group of muscles (including your glutes), while your body burns energy for short bursts, not muscle mass like distance running.

If You’re Not Capping Off Your Morning Jog With a Few All-Out Sprints, What Are You Even Doing?

Plus, Lunger adds, it’s not all about the looks either. “Glute strength for runners is especially important to maintain longevity of the knee joint because the glutes stabilize the knee.”

In other words, a great ass equals great knees. Which might not be as sexy in the long run, but will definitely keep you moving as the years roll by.

Quinn Myers

Quinn Myers is a staff writer at MEL. According to his editor, you can find him “lurking in the darkest corners of the internet.”

There are three main muscles in your butt, and all play a role in supporting your hips as you run.

The gluteus maximus is the largest of the three and primarily works to extend the hips. It’s that extension that drives the foot into the ground and powers your running strides, Reavy says. Meanwhile, the medius and minimus, which form the side butt, are tasked with stabilizing the hips as they extend, although they do play a small part in extension. The medius and minimus work together to perform hip abduction (moving the leg away from the center of the body) as well as external rotation, Fluger explains. Together, these two movements keep the femur, or thigh bone, situated in the pelvis at the right angle for the gluteus maximus to do its thing.

So, how’s your butt? Chances are, it’s too busy snoozing to answer.

If you spend the majority of your day sitting, your glutes are largely inactive, Kimbre V. Zahn, M.D., a sports medicine physician with Indiana University Health, tells SELF. Think about it: You have no need to contract them when you’re just sitting there not moving.

Sitting also puts your hip flexors in a shortened, tight position. This causes the glutes, an opposing muscle group (meaning they’re on the opposite side of the hip joint), to become lengthened. Over time, this lengthening (and lack of contraction) can mess with the way the muscles activate. Basically, the glutes become desensitized and ultimately unable to recruit as many muscle fibers and generate enough force when you do try to engage them.

It’s likely that when you lace up your sneakers and take off running, these crucial muscles won’t automatically switch back on, full speed ahead.

This is especially true for the gluteus mediuses and minimuses, which tend to be underdeveloped in most runners anyway. (It’s common for your big and powerful gluteus maximus to take over in traditional butt exercises, resulting in less training for the smaller muscles.) And, since your body relies on them the most during lateral, side-to-side movements, running straight forward won’t always be enough of a stimulus to rouse them from their slumber.

And this lack of activation can cause issues throughout your entire body. “When the glutes are not firing properly, your body does a good job of compensating, which translates to other muscle groups being forced to worker harder than intended,” Reavy says. “This can subsequently lead to poor alignment in the pelvis. Lack of gluteal activation causes muscle imbalances and can lead to excessive forces at the back, knee, foot, and ankle.” All of this can lead to a typical overuse injury like knee pain, achilles tendinitis, IT band syndrome, and more.

The best way to wake up your glutes is with what trainers call “activation” exercises.

Performed as part of a pre-run warm-up, activation exercises are low-intensity movements that accomplish a few things. First, they gently work a given muscle, in this case, the gluteus medius, increasing blood flow, temperature, and priming the neurological pathways by which motor neurons (muscles’ control centers) tell their attached muscle fibers to stop resting and start doing their job. (But they do it gently enough that they don’t actually fatigue the muscle.) They do all this while largely isolating the muscle, or at least greatly reducing how much other muscles are able to chip in, Fluger says.

In the end, the idea is that after performing glute activation exercises, you’re able to start your run with glutes that actually fire like they need to for optimal performance and injury prevention.

Try these four exercises before your next run to activate your glutes.

The below is a sampling of various glute activation exercises that you can incorporate into your pre-run routine, but the exact ones you use—as well as the number of reps and sets you perform—ultimately depends on what feels right for your body, Reavy says. The goal with these is to feel your glutes working (you can even poke them with your finger to tell!), but without exhausting them.

And while these exercises are a great way to wake up your backside before a run, “I’d emphasize that the runner should be performing these exercises consistently,” Zhan says. Work up to performing them daily, using them to break up long sitting stretches.

Does Running Tone Your Butt?


Submitted by Jody Braverman
Posted on 22 Nov, 2017


As most runners know, running is one of the best ways to get in top cardiovascular shape. It’s also one of the best ways to tone and tighten the muscles of your lower body, including your glutes, which are the main muscles of your butt. Your body shape and your goals also play roles in determining exactly how running will aid your better-butt dreams. Diet and resistance exercise are additional considerations in how much butt-toning success you will experience.

Running Tones Different Butts at Different Rates

If you’re currently overweight and looking to slim down your rear end, running is going to be very effective. It’s a big calorie burner and often leads to fast and noticeable fat loss, especially when exercising at higher intensities.

If you’re a skinny Minnie, on the other hand, and you want to give your behind a boost, running isn’t your best bet for building a rounder, firmer booty unless you adjust a few other variables, including resistance training and diet.

Running Workouts for Trimming Down

It almost doesn’t matter how you do it: If you’re running, you’re going to be burning a fair number of calories. A 150-pound person running at a pace of 5 miles per hour can burn almost 600 calories in an hour. Increase your speed and you’ll burn even more calories. Adding a few hills will up your calorie burn even more.

Sprint workouts – in which you run as hard as you can for a brief period of time and then recover by walking or jogging before performing another sprint – are also hugely effective for burning calories and toning your butt. Not only do you burn a significant number of calories, but research also shows that the calorie burn continues even after you’ve stopped exercising.

Running Workouts for Building Up

Running hills or stairs is harder and requires greater muscle-mass activation in your legs and butt. You’re also going to burn a lot of calories doing this type of workout – because it’s hard! – but you’ll see greater gains in muscle mass than you would by running long distances or sprinting on a flat surface.

The Importance of Resistance Training and a Healthy Diet

Even if you’re running to trim and tone your butt, and especially if you want to build your butt, resistance training in addition to running workouts is key. Squats, dead lifts, glute bridges, lunges and step-ups are some of the best butt exercises around. Add them to a full-body routine that you perform two or three times per week.

Good nutrition is also key. To slim down, lower your calorie intake so you’re taking in less than you’re burning each day. Focus your diet on whole foods, plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats and low-fat dairy. Cut out – or limit as much as you can – sweets and sugary beverages, starchy foods and processed foods.

When it comes to planning workouts for high school sprinters, especially 200/300/400 types, too many coaches still default to a volume-centric approach. Instead of thinking about the meet preparedness of their athletes as a function of the amount of volume they could handle, I was able to flip the script and focus on what actually makes kids faster.

It’s not that volume doesn’t matter. It’s just not the concern. Like, you can be A nice guy. But, you never want to be THE nice guy. If your default for training long sprinters is to follow a Monday neural session with extensive tempo and your modus operandi centers on steadily increasing the volume of non-specific work (200s at 70% for example), then you’re a volume based coach. And I hope to move you to the right side of history.

“It’s not a matter of volume, it’s a matter of mastering your training program.” – Vince Anderson

Mastering your training program means understanding all the variables involved in your particular situation and focusing on the 20% of factors that lead to 80% of results. What matters is setting your long sprinters up to run a (relatively) small number of races over the course of several hours. (If it’s a high school invitational, plan for 10 hours because they’re not meant to be high quality track and field competitions. They’re basically cash grabs for whoever is cashing your entry check.) Develop the specific qualities in your long sprinters that will allow them to handle the specific demands of the scenario they’ll face when everything is on the line.

Here’s what I mean:

In my state (Rhode Island and Providence Plantations), athletes can compete in any four events at Championships. At last year’s state championship, one girl had the unenviable task of running 4×100, 200 trial, 400 final (personal best 57.33 + State Title), 200 final (personal best 25.66 + 5th place), and 4×400 (personal best split 57.3 + State Title). Another girl’s day consisted of 4×100, 100 trial, 100 final (lifetime #4 12.53 + 2nd place), 200 trial, 200 final (personal best 24.74 + State Title), and 4×400 (personal best split 58.5 + State Title).

Now that’s a long ass day. (I only put them through that grinder one time.) They couldn’t walk right for three days, let alone practice. That said, they don’t go bananas like that if their base was built on a foundation of ‘fitness’ or how many intervals/reps they could handle. They ran those times and kept getting faster all day, culminating with personal best splits in the 400 after four and five, respectively, State Championship level races because they had a base of what matters: speed, strength, and power.

In terms of this article, I want to go race pace or faster as often as possible. Booty Lock Tuesday may be intermediate intensity work, but that goal does not change. Additionally, they need to be able to eat lactate. And then when they’re full, I’m going to shove more lactate down their throats and tell them to keep eating. So I’m coming back from a speed day on Monday with a grind workout.

When you free yourself from volume concerns, your focus shifts to what matters because it’s what gets results:

Intensity. More specifically, meters per second.

Training at or progressing toward race pace (to me that means 1st 200 target time, not average velocity) meters per second is the focus of our “Booty Lock” (Lactacid Capacity ) workouts. Now, I don’t like to be a slave to terminology or percentages, but I’ll give you some so we’re all speaking the same language. For me, I serve Booty Lock work in two flavors:

Content from ‘Keys to Program Design for HS Sprinters’. Click the image for details.

In this article I’m only covering intensive tempo(ish) runs. I use Glycolytic Short Speed Endurance with both short and long sprinters. That’s what short sprinters might be doing today if not going deeper in the same pool or shallower in the same pool. But you can’t do repeat 200s outside during the New England winter. So it’s an alternative to intensive tempo if you’re stuck in the hallways, when it’s later in the season and you’re not doing intensive tempo anymore or when you just want to go faster than middle intensity runs allow for.

Here are three common workouts I use:

  • 6 x 150. R=3’
  • 5 x 200. R=5’
  • 4 x 300. R= 4’

You probably want to know the percentages. Couldn’t really tell you. It doesn’t really matter. Because I begin with the end in mind. Start with the desired or required intensity and then the percentage emerges as a byproduct telling me whether or not I’m coloring between the lines (challenging the appropriate energy system and therefore eliciting the desired physiological response).

Program mastery is keeping stats, data, and records so you know how fast they need to run in practice to ensure (as much as you can ensure anything) they’re able to turn in a Championship Performance when it matters. You shouldn’t be reinventing the wheel or starting over every season. What really gives me the most useful information about the shape they’re in and how I may or may not need to modify volume, intensity, and density is their progress leveling up through…

The 5 Stages of Training Maturity

I stole this from Vince Anderson. Every single word of it A to Z, top to bottom, soup to nuts. And I love it. Here is how Vince describes the levels of his system for categorizing the quality of Lactacid Capacity workouts:

Build your lactacid capacity workouts around this model.

As you can see, the goal isn’t to handle more volume, it’s to run faster. To ‘cut down’ their times in the workouts. Also, I use 5×200 instead of 6×200 because my kids aren’t going to Texas A&M.

For the sake of simplicity, let’s say you have a handful of girls who can run 60.0 or who you need to run 60.0.

To run 400 meters in 60.0 seconds, each girl would need to run an average of 6.67 meters/second for the entire race. That’s not really ‘race pace’. Because nobody is running even splits. The differential between first and second 200 should be 3.0-3.5 seconds for girls and 2.0-2.5 seconds for boys. So race pace (first 200 target time) for a 60.0 400m runner should be between 28.0-28.5.

For example, my top 400m runner ran 57.14 last year. She split 26.9/30.1.

With the 5×200 workout, utilizing a goal pace of 30.0 is a good starting point because it’s a form of race pace and if we can’t get there, we’re not going anywhere. Since I can’t have wild fluctuations between efforts, I give them a two second window. So I begin with a goal hitting between 30.0-32.0. That would be a Level II performance. A good sign if it’s early in the season and I didn’t waste multiple practices because I screwed up their times.

But, what if they can’t even get to Level 1? I’m not going to slow them down and have them run 33-35 because that’s trash. So I’m going to remediate the activity until I think they can finish the Big Kid workout. That’s Goal #1 for anyone with aspirations of getting on The Relay, earning individual attention or being invited to Elite Group Practice on Saturday.

Therefore, still maintaining the 6.67 m/s, I’ll try 6×150 at 22.5”. Or 8 x 100m at 15.0”. Or 12-15 x 50m at 7.5”.

So what does this all look like on paper? Let’s say that yesterday (Monday), the entire sprints group did the Monday top end speed / max velocity workout from Part II: Training Shallower in the Same Pool.

Cut Downs

In the long sprints, especially the 300 and 400, each 100m segment requires continually increasing effort just to maintain the same pace. Running 31.0 on the first effort will not be difficult. Running 31.0 on the fifth effort may feel like a full out sprint for the entire 200m. We need to train athletes to increase their effort over time. Cut downs teaches them how to feel this. I tell kids they can run any time they want on the first rep as long as it is within the window. BUT, they’re told, don’t shame your family by getting slower in subsequent efforts. Maintain or cut down. You don’t get points for being a hero on the first two runs when you crap your pants in the last two and then go puke.

How to Run the 400m Race

When looking at the training level examples, compare each rep within the workout to it’s corresponding effort in each level progression. It will quickly become apparent that intensity is the difference that makes the difference, not volume. More 200s at a slower pace won’t get anyone from Level 1 to Level 5. Track meets aren’t Crossfit competitions. Success comes from getting from Point A to Point B in the least amount of time. You don’t win at chess by playing checkers. You don’t run fast 200, 300, and 400 times by running high volumes of slow intervals with no specific value to the demands of the actual events.

Workout Management

It’s pretty important to get reasonably accurate times which can be fairly difficult if you’re running a large number of kids through the workout and you’re not staffed like the football team or one of the big schools. Here are a few thoughts/ideas/suggestions:

  1. Don’t time their rest. It is up to a/the members of each group to start their watch when they cross the line and tell me when they are about to start the next run. When you’re trying to time 20, 30, 50+ kids, it’s impossible to keep track of the rest times. So let them do it.
  2. Use rolling starts. I break the groups up by gender and have the entire boys group go, then the entire girls group, or vice versa. I blow the whistle to start every 3 or 5 seconds (depending on the number of groups). It’s their job to hustle to the line and get set in time for the whistle. This way, you only have to use one running time for the entire gender, as opposed to multiple times on multiple watches.
  3. Remember Your Time! I constantly instruct kids to remember the time I am yelling out as they cross the finish line. Because that is the time they need to give me. If they don’t hear it or don’t remember it, I don’t write it down. If I don’t have times for them when I get home to log the results, they don’t exist. If you’re in the second group and you started 5 seconds after the first, subtract 5 seconds from the time I yell out. Third group who started 10 seconds later subtracts 10 seconds. It’s not an exact science and kids be lying about their times, but the later the group the less I’m worried about it.
  4. Two strikes and you’re out. Once everyone finishes, I yell out your name and you tell me the time you ran. We keep it simple. Your number is, say, 31.0 if you’re crossing the line as I start to yell ‘Thirty one!”. It’s 31.5 if I finish “Thirty one!” and I’m in the middle of a breath before yelling “Thirty TWO!”. I only have 5 minutes to get a bunch of names down so I say your name once. If you don’t respond, I’ll say it again. No response? Strike two, you’re out. No time. I know you’re tired, but get a grip. You have one job.
  5. Earn the right to be timed and recorded. I may give times out, but if you’re in the Z group it’s basically “Run between 40 and 50”. I’ll spot record a time or two from different groups or kids I don’t know, but who look impressive. But I’m really only worried about the top 1 or 2 groups from each gender. And in those varsity groups, I cap the group size at 7 or a maximum of 8. Z team groups might have 15 kids. I don’t know what you want me to do. I consider track and field a varsity sport not a participation activity.

Hopefully this article gave you a few ideas for how to successfully approach your booty lock / lactacid capacity workouts. Use VA’s 5 Stages of Training Maturity. It’s extremely helpful for you and your athletes.

If you missed the first two parts of this series, you can check them out here:

Part I: Training Deeper in the Same Pool

Part II: Training Shallower in the Same Pool

If you liked this article, please share it with your friends and colleagues!

USA
Triathlon

Athletes often talk about needing to open up their hips. But what does that even mean? Here’s the thing: Your hips are capable of a dynamic range of motion, but your typical forward-oriented movement neglects most of it. When you walk, run or cycle, you only flex and extend your hips.

Meanwhile, movement like rotation (turning out and in) and abduction and adduction (moving out to the side and back in) are rarely used, and as a result the hip muscles responsible for driving those movements become sleepy and tight. Ultimately, it’s a balance of hip flexibility and strength — mobility and stability — that will help you prevent an array of injuries.

Problem: Limited hip mobility leads to strain in other areas.

Your body will compensate for hip stiffness in all kinds of less-than-ideal ways. Aside from the general feeling of “booty lock,” aka super-tight hip and glute muscles that impede your range of motion, lack of mobility is a common culprit behind everything from iliotibial band (IT band) pain — which usually leads to knee issues — to low back pain.

Solution: Mitigate booty lock.

When it comes to hip mobility, it’s use it or lose it. Optimal range of motion requires regular maintenance. Since most movement is forward-oriented (think walking, running, cycling … even sitting!), you’ll benefit immensely from giving extra attention to your non-habitual movement patterns such as rotation and moving side to side. And once you get some relief and enjoy more mobile hips, you’ll be motivated to continue doing the consistent work that mitigates booty lock.

Reclined Butterfly

1. Lie on your back and extend your arms along your sides, palms up.
2. Bring the soles of your feet together and drop your thighs toward the floor.
3. Feel the stretch along the inseam of your upper legs and into your hips — if it’s too intense, move your feet farther away from your body.
4. If your knees are uncomfortable, stick blocks or pillows underneath your legs so that your knees have more support.

Reclined Hero

1. Lie on your back and extend your arms open to the sides about shoulder height, palms up.
2. Bring your feet wider than hip-width (about as wide as your mat if you’re using one) and drop your thighs together into a triangle shape.
3. See if you can take your feet another inch away from each other, so the knees might not even be touching, and feel the space that’s created in your hip joints and around your low back.

Reclined Windshield Wipers

1. From Reclined Hero, separate your knees.
2. Drop your knees to one side and turn your head to look to the opposite side.
3. Lift your knees back to center, then drop them to the other side and look in the opposite direction.
4. Continue, just like windshield wipers moving side to side.

Flank

1. Lie on your back and extend your arms open to the sides at shoulder height, palms up.
2. Bring your feet wider than hip-width apart and drop your thighs to one side.
3. Put your foot on top of the other thigh, using the weight of that leg to encourage the thigh to rotate farther in the hip joint and drop toward the floor.
4. If it feels too hard to keep your foot on the other leg or if either of your knees are uncomfortable, just rest your foot on the floor instead.
5. Keep both feet flexed.

Knee Into Chest

1. Begin with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor.
2. Hug one knee into your chest while keeping your waist level — if you feel your spine start to side bend, back off until you can level your hips and maintain a neutral spine.

Half Happy Baby

1. Keeping your grounded foot where it is, move your lifted leg farther to the side, away from your body, and grab the calf, ankle, or inner arch of that foot with your hand on the same side — find an angle where you feel a stretch down the inseam of that leg.
2. Keep your lifted foot flexed.
3. Keep your hips as level as possible rather than shifting your weight to the side you are stretching.

Figure 4

1. From Half Happy Baby, cross your ankle over the opposite knee, keeping the foot flexed.
2. Stay here or pick your legs up, interlacing your fingers around your bottom leg hamstrings or shin. 3. Make sure both sides of your waist are even — if you feel your spine start to side bend, slide the foot that’s on the floor farther away from your body until you can level your hips and maintain a neutral spine.
4. Add a little rock side to side. It’s small. Notice how the stretch changes as you change the angles. Use that small movement to encourage more fluidity around the hip joint.

Reclined Shoelace

1. From Figure 4, cross one knee over your other knee.
2. Hug those crossed legs into your chest, holding whatever you can reach and keeping your butt as level as possible against the floor.
3. Keep both feet flexed. If you feel it in your knees, back off, or if it’s a struggle in general, return to Figure 4.

Happy Baby

1. Hug your knees into your chest.
2. Separate your thighs wide apart and grab your calves, ankles, or inner arches of your feet — whatever you can reach while keeping your feet flexed.
3. Turn the soles of your feet so they point toward the ceiling.

Used with permission of VeloPress from “Hit Reset: Revolutionary Yoga for Athletes” by Erin Taylor. Learn more at www.velopress.com/hitreset.

The views are the opinion of the author and not necessarily the practices of USA Triathlon. Before starting any new diet or exercise program, you should check with your physician and/or coach.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last decade, you will have noticed that butts are a thing. And I don’t just mean butts, I mean BUTTS. There’s a lot of things I won’t thank the Kardashians for (cycling shorts as a fashion statement being one), but encouraging people to embrace their curves is one of them. But what if you don’t want to go down the implants route and you don’t have the genes? Can you create a firm and sculpted butt from nothing? And how long will it realistically take?

My goal

While I think the Kardashian-Jenner clan are fire in their own way, the booty I have always most aspired to is Jennifer Lopez in the music video for ‘I’m Glad’. I mean, just look at it…

It’s natural, toned and attainable (kinda).

I have always been very Mark Darcy in Bridget Jones about my bum; I like it, just the way it is. But, looking at it in the mirror a few weeks ago I realised that, surprise surprise, my 30-year-old bum does not look 21 any more. It’s a little flatter than it used to be, a little saggier and just not packing the same peach-shaped punch it used to. In fact, while I’ve always been lucky enough to find exercise keeps my arms and stomach toned, no amount of cardio, yoga or pilates has ever reduced even a tiny bit of the wobble in my thighs and bum.

So, I enlisted the help of Lucie Cowan, a personal trainer at Third Space in London, to help me.

Sort of helps when you’re training here – there’s even free deodorant and hair bands in these Cowshed-stocked changing rooms Third Space

Lucie is an expert in building lean muscle and seemed like the perfect person to hand my butt over to for six weeks. Lucie, my life arse is in your hands…

My body

I realise just how much the Kardashian look has impacted our beauty ideals when Lucie looks positively beaming to discover my goal isn’t to just grow a bubble butt to rival Kim’s.

Building a firm, toned bum is all about strength, explains Lucie. Squats and lunges might be some of the best moves out there to build muscle in your glutes, but if you want to be doing them properly, in a way that will really shape and change your butt, you need to be adding weight to these moves.

If I want to be able to lift, I need to build strength in my core and upper body too

This is where Lucie explains this isn’t just a butt challenge, it’s an all body challenge. If I want to be able to lift, and maximise my glute development, I need to build strength in my core and upper body too.

To assess where I’m at, Lucie scans me on their InBody machine (as part of Third Space’s bespoke OUT/SET induction) under the strict instruction that I’m not allowed to obsess over any of the numbers. The good news is that my BMI is ‘normal’ but, as expected, my muscle mass is ‘under’ and, because my body has to be made up of something to hold it upright, my fat is ‘over’. In short, my weekly pilates and yoga classes (and when-I-can-be-bothered runs) have done sweet FA to build a sufficient amount of muscle or really burn any fat. The result – minimal tone.

Cosmopolitan UK

My diet

Next up, my diet. Lucie and I agree that any huge shifts in the way I eat aren’t a good idea. I eat a pretty healthy, balanced diet and we want the changes to be something I can maintain long-term. But one thing that does need drastically changing is my protein intake.

I’ve always thought protein was just a thing huge beefcake guys ingested when doing crazy intense bodybuilding, rather than something anyone exercising needs. But, Lucie explains, you need to consume protein to build muscle. If you start strength training without enough protein, you won’t be able to build the muscle you need. Lucie first advises aiming for 25g of protein per meal, but that in an ideal world I’d be nearing 2g per kg of body weight per day – so in the region of 110-120g for me.

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BREAKFAST: I stuck with porridge (with fresh fruit) and by switching my skimmed milk to semi, this took my breakfast up to around 11g. Plus another 5.8g if I treated myself to a flat white on the way into work… any excuse. Eggs are a great alternative if that’s your vibe (6g per large egg), as is greek yoghurt (I loved Liberté – 7.7g protein per 100g pot).

LUNCH: My go-to for last-minute work lunches was Pure. They have a great range of protein-packed options from Mexican Chicken salads and Miso Salmon deli pots, to Mango & Macadamia Powerballs, Chia Granola Squares and the most delicious protein shake. But chains like Pret, Eat, Leon and Itsu all have high-protein options. Third Space also have a great range of protein-packed shakes, snacks and meals within their gyms, via Natural Fitness Food.

The Snickers protein shake is DIVINE Third Space

DINNER: My staples for any meal were meat and fish of any kind – tinned tuna, fish fillets and chicken breast were my go-to. Eat with things like lentils and pulses, green veg, bean sprouts (hello stir-fry), wild rice, avocado and potato for maximum protein intake. My takeaway treat of choice was chicken tikka with Hariyali Dal (curried spinach and lentils).

SNACKS: KIND Peanut Butter and Dark chocolate bars (7.1g), Eat Natural Protein Packed bars (11g) and Graze Cocoa and Vanilla protein squares (5g) were my favourite and great if you’re not a fan of that chewy nougat protein texture. If you are, Grenade Carb Killa and Barebells offer 20g a bar. Other snack faves included Babybel (4.6g) and cheese in general, hummus (around 8g per 100g/half-tub) or cottage cheese (around 11g per 100g/third of a tub) on Ryvita (0.9g per Ryvita) and nuts (6g per handful of 23 or so of almonds, or for two tablespoons of peanut butter).

My plan

Lucie’s plan of action was to get me training with her for three one-hour sessions per week, plus any classes I had the energy to do. The main aim being that our PT sessions would work on building muscle and the odd spin class, like Lucie’s infamous Hardcore Cycle and Poweride, would burn fat.

The idea of ‘tone’ Lucie explains, is really just a combination of these two things – strength training and protein intake to build muscle, and cardio to burn fat. Sadly there is no magic move that will do both, certainly not in a short space of time. Plus, you need to be careful not to over-do the cardio, as you’ll just be burning the muscle you’ve been trying to build. In my programme, Lucie assured me one cardio class a week was more than enough.

WEEK ONE

I’m not going to lie, I was terrified walking into my first PT session at Third Space City. One-on-one exercise has always made me panic a bit, as there’s nowhere to hide and I don’t have a CLUE how to use a single machine or weight in the gym. But I realise after about 5 minutes that for this exact reason, one-on-one training with a PT is EVERYTHING for a challenge like this.

We start with some warm-up moves that will start us off every session – deadbugs, hip thrusts and kettlebell swings. Lucie walks me through every move, explaining what muscles should be working, checking my core is engaged, my glutes are tensed and that I’m keeping everything in line.

The Dead Bug Cosmopolitan UK

After the warm-up we start with goblet squats, which I quickly discover are very easy to do wrong. “As we fatigue, the result is often an upright squat engaging our lower back instead of our core. This is often coupled with knees dipping inwards when we really need to be pushing knees and feet outwards – this engages our side glute (gluteus Medius).”

Next up are some banded walks, which burn like hell in my lateral glutes (the side of your butt). I can already feel I’m using muscles that haven’t been used in months/ years/ possibly ever, and it feels massively satisfying.

My booty-building routine in full:

We then move on to some Bulgarian split squats, which are somewhere between a squat and a lunge. This is followed by a TRX row, to work my upper body. Finally, we end on some Swiss ball leg curls working my hamstrings, Swiss ball roll outs and frog pumps.

I feel buzzing after our first session. These are moves I’ve seen people doing in the gym and on Instagram all of the time and I’m finally learning how to do them properly.

Without a PT, I don’t know how I’d have made it out of bed two days in a row to work out before work. But I can’t exactly leave Lucie sat around waiting for me, so I reluctantly peel myself away from my duvet, load up on porridge and head to the gym.

Session two starts with my soon-to-be upper-body nemesis, the landmine press (see above). It’s essentially a giant metal bar that, half-kneeling, I lift from my shoulder up until my arm is straight. Killer.

This set was teamed with a kettlebell pullover. Next up, my soon-to-be lower-body nemesis, a single leg hip thrust off a bench, followed by a TRX rollout on my knees. Next back to upper-body using the cable machines. First a half kneel cable pulldown, followed by a cable chop. Day 2’s finisher is booty-building favourite the GHR machine.

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Friday is the challenge I’ve been most looking forward to and dreading at the same time – a deadlift. Lucie gets me using a Hex bar, aka a trap bar. It’s a little different to using a barbell in that it’s easier on your back and lets you pull the weight up more in line with your centre of gravity, rather than having the weight in front of you. It takes me a good 10 minutes just to do one lift using the right technique.

Next up is a floor press, then a single leg reverse dead lift before heading back to the cables for a cable pull through, a move a lot like a kettlebell swing, and a face pull. Lastly, a reverse lunge, followed by a reverse crunch.

My brain was equally shattered, trying to remember the correct form for every move

Every move needs work, which isn’t surprising considering I’ve never done them before. I’d forget to tense my core, my knees would fall inwards during a squat, my back would arch during the banded walks, I was hyper-extending (leaning back) during my deadlift and snatching the bar too fast leaving me with an achy back, I’d forget to tense my glutes and keep my shoulders up, back and down…

After week one my body was aching, but my brain was equally shattered, trying to remember the correct form for every move. Without a PT to guide me through these first few sessions I’m in no doubt I’d have woefully underworked the muscles I was supposed to or, worse, injured myself.

WEEK TWO

We keep the programme the same this week, upping the weights for the moves I’m starting to get the hang of, but keeping them the same on things like the deadlift. As Lucie explains, the main goal right now is getting me doing all of the moves properly, rather than shoving a load of weight on too soon.

Half way through the week, on my rest day, I mix things up by attending my first class – City’s Legs, Glutes and Abs. Despite it being an awesome class if you want to build a booty, despite it being run by Lucie and despite it only having about 10 people in it vs my usual local gym’s 20 or so, I instantly realise how much difference having a good PT makes.

Me and bae Cosmopolitan UK

I’m lucky that Lucie is my trainer – so she made a point of suggesting my weights for each move, coming round and checking my form and throwing little tweaks my way. But I don’t know how on earth I’d have kept up with the speed or kept good form, without the knowledge I’d built up in week one. No matter how awesome your class instructor, in a group class it’s unlikely they’ll be able to tailor the moves and weights to you and keep an eye on the small-but-important errors you’re making.

Take the basic kettlebell swings. I upped my weights multiple times over the six weeks and only when my form at each weight was perfect. I might have too much bend in my knees, not hinge from the hip enough, forget to keep my shoulders back and down, let my core get lazy, lose the power in my glute tense, I could go on… I know PTs can be unaffordable for most of us, but even if you book one in to learn the moves and then a session every now and again to make sure your form is still good, it’s worth it. Otherwise you may find yourself falling into bad habits that aren’t working the muscles you want.

WEEK THREE

I try and get some of my week three sessions done on my own and the fact I’m now able to walk into what was previously the scariest place in the gym and know what equipment I need, how to set it up and how to use it, is a huge confidence boost. The moment I ask a pumped-up dude if he’s using the landmine and whether he can move some of his stuff feels pretty good. While I hear Lucie’s voice in my head telling me to keep my shoulders back and tense my glutes, I miss the added confidence of having her there and knowing I’m dong everything right.

WEEK FOUR

I feel fully in my stride by this point. While I can’t see massive changes, I am starting to feel them. I can feel that muscles in my butt exist, which I honestly have never felt before. They aren’t aching as such, they’re just… there. I also feel less wobble around my lower body. When I tense my arms and core, I am starting to see visible muscle. Most of all, I’m just feeling generally stronger, fitter and like I’ve got more energy.

I’m loving how rewarding strength training is. I personally feel the pay-off and growth is so much more visible than through cardio or classes like yoga. I know I’m improving because my weights are going up and my form is getting better. It’s that simple.

Cosmopolitan UK

Lucie says the last 1-2 reps of every exercise should feel pretty much impossible. As soon as you aren’t feeling that way, up your weights. Even if you have to lower your reps a little from say 10-12 to 8, do it and build up your ability. Equally if by your last set you’re so fatigued you can feel your form is going, lower the reps – 8 great reps alone is better than 8 great reps followed by four where your back is arching, your core isn’t on and your heart isn’t in it.

WEEK FIVE

In the penultimate week, I’ve finally nailed my basics enough that Lucie mixes up the programme. Yep, it’s taken me a month just to learn the moves properly and up the weights enough to progress everything.

On day one, my goblet squats become hellish variation that involve two kettlebells. My split squats now involve an extra heavy weight. My Swiss ball leg curls are now leg curls done with my feet hooked into a low-hanging TRX and my hamstrings BURN. And my Swiss ball roll outs are now done using an ab wheel.

Day two, my landmine presses are now standing rather than half-kneeling. I’m now doing box jumps which look easy but are exhausting. And bye bye GHR, because my new finisher is an absolute killer – hip thrusts with a 40kg bar across my hips.

Finally, on day three, my weights go up on every single move. Satisfying but shattering.

WEEK SIX

It’s the final week and as I had over for my first session I’m feeling a bit deflated. I’ve had a heavy weekend and I’m so glad I’ve got Lucie to motivate me, even after all this time.

In my final week I’m up to 16kg on my kettlebell swings, lifting 2x 14kg dumbells for my RDLs and 12kgs in my chest press, and lifting 50kg (2 x 15kg plus the bar) in my deadlifts. Whether I can see results in my butt is one thing, but I’ve definitely seen them in the weights I am lifting and the muscle I’m building.

THE RESULTS

Lucie mentioned early on that it was unlikely I’d see real visible change in just six weeks and she was partly right.

To look at, my butt doesn’t look drastically different. Like, friends wouldn’t treat my ass like a new haircut and say “Woah! Something’s different! Give us a spin! It suits you!” But when I see the side-by-side, I can definitely see changes. The twice-weekly body brushing and daily commitment to moisturise or Bio-Oil my thighs and butt has definitely smoothed my skin and softened stretch marks. Plus, when you look at the comparison, there’s a clear lift and rounding in my glutes.

Before

Cosmopolitan UK

After

Cosmopolitan UK

And here’s a side-by-side (yes I may have fake tanned):

Before and After Cosmopolitan UK

But aside from any of this, I am no longer scared to walk into a weights room and work out. I feel stronger and fitter than I’ve ever felt doing cardio and yoga. I’m also way more realistic about what is achievable; I understand that if I commit to hitting the weights each week I can tone my thighs and butt, but I’m equally never going to end up with a Kardashian booty – certainly not without drastically upping my routine and overhauling my diet, which I know isn’t realistic for me.

So after all this, my goal is less about getting my butt bigger. Instead, I’m more bothered about getting the weights I’m lifting bigger (and my form better). Because big booty or not, the buzz lifting weights has given me is much more of a confidence boost than a bubble-butt.

* and follow Lucie on Instagram

For what seems like forever, coaches, trainers, and physical therapists like me have told runners to “work your core”—the muscles of your torso that support your every move. And so many runners have added crunches and planks that strengthen the abdominals and back to their routines. While core work is important, these exercises do little for the powerhouse muscles that surround the pelvis. The gluteal (buttocks) muscles are so commonly left out of runners’ strength programs, I call them the forgotten core.

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When we run, the glutes hold our pelvis level and steady, extend our hip, propel us forward, and keep our legs, pelvis, and torso aligned. So when our glutes are faulty, our entire kinetic chain is disrupted. Studies link glute weakness to Achilles tendinitis, shin splints, runner’s knee, and iliotibial-band syndrome. Indeed, many injured runners I treat come to physical therapy with strong abdominals and backs but weak glutes.

Part of the problem is that glutes aren’t as active as other running muscles during routine activities, which can make your hamstrings, quadriceps, and calves disproportionately stronger. Another issue is that most strength-training routines don’t isolate the glutes. If an exercise requires several muscles to perform the movement, the majority of the work will be done by the strongest of those muscles. Also, tight muscles, specifically the hip flexors, can inhibit the glutes and prevent their muscle fibers from firing.

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But you don’t have to give in to weak glutes. Here, we show you how to see where your glutes stand and show you glute exercises that will strengthen your neglected backside.

How to use this list: First, perform the single-leg stance test to identify a glute weakness. Then, perform the glute exercises below, demonstrated by Bradford Shreve, personal trainer at Life Time Athletic at Sky in New York City. Do two or three sets of 12 to 15 reps two times per week. You will need a step or box, a resistance band, and an exercise mat. Adding dumbbells or a medicine ball to some moves is optional.
Only have time for one exercise? TheJournal of Strength and Conditioning Research reports that the side-lying leg lift activates the glutes the most.

1. Single-Leg Stance Test

Stand with your hands over your head, palms facing each other. Lift your right foot off the ground and balance. Watch the left side of your hips to see if it dips down. If it does, it’s a sign of glute weakness. Try it on the right side. Next, while in the same position, lean to the right of your body, checking to see if left hip dips. Then lean to the left and see if right hip dips. If your hips dip, it’s another sign that your glutes need work. Try this test also after a long or hard run to see how your glutes perform when fatigued.

2. Lunge Stretch

Tight hip flexors can inhibit the firing of glute muscles. Do this stretch after every run or before your glute exercises to encourage glute activation. Start standing then take a big step forward with left leg. Bend left knee so that hip, knee, and ankle form 90-degree angles and lower right knee to floor. Keep your knee over your ankle. Hold for 30 seconds on each side.

3. Hip Hike

Stand with left foot on a step, box, or bench at least four inches high with right foot hanging off the edge. Keep both hips squared forward and shoulders level. Place hands on hips for an extra visual aid and balance. Keeping left leg straight, no bend in knee, raise right hip directly upward and then use hip and core to lower right foot below the step. Return to starting position and repeat slowly and with control.

4. Single-Leg Deadlift

Start standing with feet hip-width apart. Shift weight to your right leg, then keeping your shoulders back and your back straight, hinge at the hips and reach your hands toward the ground as left leg swings back behind you. Return back to starting position and repeat. As you build strength, hold weights or a medicine ball for an added challenge.

5. Three-Way Leg Raise

Start standing with a microbend in knees and place a resistance band just above your knees. Place hands on hips for balance and shift weight to left leg by bending right knee. In a slow, controlled motion, draw right knee toward chest against the band’s resistance, then back to the starting position. Without placing right foot back down, move it out to the side, then back to starting position. Kick right foot back behind you, then back to the starting position. That’s one repetition. Repeat on other leg.

6. Single-Leg Squat

Stand on your right leg and lift left leg out in front of you. Stand tall (don’t round your shoulders), and extend arms straight out so they are parallel to left leg. Keep right knee over right ankle as you send hips back and lower down into a squat. Your hands can extend out for balance. Push into right heel to come back to starting position. Complete reps then repeat on other leg. Start with shallow squats, then go deeper as it becomes easier.

7. Side-Lying Leg Lift

Lie on left side with legs extended out straight. Prop yourself up on left forearm and rest right hand in front of you on floor. Lift right leg up while keeping your hips steady and facing forward (do not rotate backward). Lower down and repeat. For an added challenge, wear an ankle weight or place a resistance band around ankles. Repeat on other leg.

8. Side Skater

Stand with feet together and crouch down by pushing hips back, keeping back flat and abs engaged. Jump as far as you can to the right, landing lightly on the ball of your right foot as left leg swings back behind you. Now jump as far as you can to the left, engaging glutes to push off, and land lightly on left foot as right leg swings behind you. That’s one rep. Continue to repeat as you pump your arms as if you are skating.

9. Single-Leg Glute Bridge

Lie faceup on the mat with knees bent, feet flat on floor, arms resting at sides. Extend right leg straight out keeping both knees in line. Press through left heel to lift hips up toward ceiling then slowly lower back down. Complete reps then repeat on other leg.

10. Power Skip

Start in a lunge position, with left foot in front and right foot behind, and a 90-degree bend in both knees. Position your arms as if you are sprinting. Press into right heel to rise up as you draw left foot forward and jump (like you are skipping), while drawing left knee toward chest. Use your arms to help propel you up. Land lightly on right foot first, before placing left foot on the ground behind you to return to starting position. Complete reps then repeat on other leg.

All images: James Farrell

Track and field booty

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