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Why is My Butt Flat? Discover How to Improve Your Glutes (The Right Way)

Updated: Jan 16

“Why is my butt flat?”

A flat butt is a common concern – I have lots of conversations about flat butts because lots of moms have that going on! Understandably, many women approach the issue from a cosmetic perspective. I get it! We see daily ads for programs that focus solely on “how to achieve a fuller, more toned rear end.” But unfortunately, focusing on aesthetics alone misses the mark and does not produce truly effective results.

Understanding the significance of a strong and well-developed gluteal region (a.k.a. your bum) goes far beyond aesthetics. All the squats in the world will not fix a flat butt if you do them without proper patterning! But if you focus on functionality and patterning instead of aesthetics, you will achieve something much more valuable: strong, active glutes. (And yes, spoiler alert: strong glutes = nice bum.)

So in this blog post, we will delve into the functional aspects of glute strength and address questions surrounding "flat butt syndrome." We'll explore how the glutes support a strong pelvic floor, hips, and overall power, and we’ll shed light on the importance of functionality rather than just the appearance of our rear end.

Understanding "Flat Butt Syndrome" and Its Causes

When discussing "flat butt syndrome," we first have to debunk the misconception that it is purely a cosmetic issue. We must move beyond that to recognize the functional benefits of strong glutes. Ladies, your gluteal muscles play a crucial role in supporting your pelvic floor, providing hip stability, and generating power throughout your body.

Flat butt syndrome can result from various causes, including postural habits, gluteal muscle inhibition from “tucking” your bum, and a sedentary lifestyle. Certain postures, such as excessive pelvis tucking, can inhibit the glutes and contribute to weakness or underdevelopment in this muscle group. Tucking is an extremely common compensation during squats, making the exercise completely ineffective at building glute strength! Additionally, prolonged periods of sitting can lead to gluteal muscle atrophy and decreased activation.

Simply having awareness of the way you are standing and if your pelvis is tucked and shifting forward is a quick way to unlock your glutes so your body will use them!

The Glute-Pelvic Floor Connection

One of the key reasons to focus on glute strength is its impact on pelvic floor health. The pelvic floor muscles, which support the organs in the pelvis, work in conjunction with the glutes to provide stability and proper function. Strong glutes contribute to a strong pelvic floor by providing support and strength to your pelvis, reducing the risk of issues like urinary incontinence or pelvic organ prolapse.

When the gluteal muscles are weak or inhibited, the pelvic floor compensates, leading to imbalances and dysfunction. Therefore, integrating glute strengthening exercises into your routine – and learning how to execute them properly – is crucial for addressing pelvic floor concerns and optimizing overall pelvic health.

The Hip Hinge Concept

To effectively engage the glutes, it's essential to understand and practice the hip hinge movement pattern. The hip hinge involves hinging at the hips while maintaining a neutral spine, which optimally activates the gluteal muscles. By adopting this movement pattern during daily activities like sitting, standing, and bending, we can promote glute activation and prevent excessive tucking of the pelvis.

Breaking the habit of tucking and promoting a neutral pelvis requires conscious effort and awareness. Practice exercises that encourage proper hip hinge mechanics, such as deadlift variations, high step ups, or kettlebell swings, to help reinforce this movement pattern and enhance glute activation. But be careful, because the reason these types of exercises sometimes lead to low back soreness is when there are compensation patterns - get checked out if they bother you!

Best Glute Strengthening Exercises

Proper squat technique is essential for activating and strengthening the glutes. Squats target the entire lower body, including the glutes, quadriceps, and hamstrings. When performed correctly, squats can be a powerful exercise for building glute strength. Focus on maintaining proper form, such as keeping the knees aligned with the toes and pushing through the heels to engage the glutes effectively.

Another effective exercise is the chair pose hover. This functional movement involves squatting as if sitting back in a chair while hovering just above the seat. The chair pose hover simultaneously targets the glutes, core, and pelvic floor, providing a comprehensive workout for these muscle groups.

The following blog discusses effective squat and hover positioning – and correcting that pelvic tuck!

In addition to squats and chair pose hovers, you can incorporate several other glute exercises into a well-rounded workout routine, including hip thrusts, lunges, step-ups, and glute bridges. It's important to select exercises that suit your fitness level and take into account any existing injuries or limitations. Consulting with a physical therapist can help ensure that you’re performing the exercises correctly and safely.

The Functional Benefits of Strong Glutes

Let’s review the important (and truly life-changing) functional benefits of strong glutes – beyond the appearance of a toned rear end:

1. Enhanced Athletic Performance and Power Generation

Strong glutes play a pivotal role in generating power and explosiveness in various activities and sports. Whether you're sprinting, jumping, or performing agility movements, well-developed glutes contribute to improved athletic performance and efficiency.

2. Improved Hip Stability, Balance, and Injury Prevention

The glutes provide essential hip stability and help maintain proper alignment and balance during movements. Strengthening these muscles helps reduce the risk of hip, knee, and lower back injuries, as they support the body's kinetic chain.

3. Support for Optimal Pelvic Floor Function and Core Stability

Strong glutes assist in maintaining optimal pelvic floor function and core stability. By working together with the pelvic floor muscles, the glutes provide a solid foundation for overall core strength, which is crucial for maintaining proper posture, preventing back pain, and supporting the organs in the pelvis. A flat bum is a sign that there are compensation patterns happening and the pelvis is most likely not in an optimal position, changing the way our core stability system is functioning.

Ladies, remember that understanding the functional significance of strong glutes takes us beyond the desire for a toned butt. By addressing "flat butt syndrome" from a functional perspective, we can shift the focus from purely cosmetic concerns to the long-term benefits of gluteal strength. Engaging in glute-specific exercises, practicing proper hip hinge mechanics, and incorporating functional movements into our daily routines can help us unlock the functional power of our glutes and optimize our overall health and well-being.

Remember, having a toned rear end may be a side bonus, but the real value lies in the functional benefits that strong glutes provide. Consult with a physical therapist to develop a personalized glute-strengthening program for your unique body that addresses proper connection and patterning. If you’d like more information, you can find additional tips and exercises on my Resources Page or contact me to schedule a free phone consultation. I’m here to help you embrace the journey of building functional strength and reap the rewards of a healthier and more empowered body.

Written and medically reviewed by Dr. Brenda, DPT


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