Muscles can appear full, pumped up, and big while they are being exercised. This is due to blood and fluids rushing into the site where the muscle fibre stimulation is occurring, flushing lactic acid and cleaning up after the micro tears, as well as creating opportunity for new muscle fiber growth and repair. Any muscle can get “pumped”, but having a muscle pump versus dense muscle is differentiated immensely and critically, by training style, training intensity, training ability, programming, and diet.

Let’s touch on these points:

  1. Training style: most women are wanting big toned butts at the moment. Which is why there are so many guides, bands, straps, contraptions, injections, implants, butt pants, etc. The biggest difference between a woman with a permanent toned butt during and after exercise, and another woman who only manages to only keep that look during exercise, is how much weight they are lifting, and how much change to the muscle fibers is being forced. Any exercise involving your own body weight, or resistance bands definitely do help and are a great ADDITION to weights, they unfortunately will not BUILD a booty. Reason being, and very simple, your own body weight or bands are not a challenging enough load on your muscle fibres. It’s not enough resistance to actually stimulate the ENTIRE muscle belly. If you want muscle growth, then you need to be challenging your muscles in order to promote deep muscle stimulation, resulting in forced physiological change to your muscle belly, therefore creating muscle growth. Body weight and bands are usually paired with high volume workouts, such as lots of rounds or very high reps, in order to make up for the lack of resistance. This is fine for maintenance, but it’s simply not enough load if you are looking to grow a big bad ass. Bands and body weight can create a pump due to the high volume, but that will go away after the workout, or will fade after a few days. Dense muscle is built, not inflated. Build muscle, don’t pump it. Doing rounds and rounds and rounds of bands and jump squats and body weight squats and body weight lunges and body weight hip thrusts paired with bands…are not going to cut it. Bite the bullet, put your big girl pants on, and literally move serious weight around with your lower half.
  1. Training intensity: this matters a lot. It’s obviously not enough to just show up, you have to really step up to the plate, and f**k shit up. Bad day at work? Kids driving you to drink? Commute was shit? Boyfriend sucks? Take it out at the gym. If you reached your reps with ease and perfect form, then that should count it as a warm-up set. Challenge yourself, and force your muscles to WORK. You are stronger and more capable than what you believe. What weight you start off with is proportional to your ability, so it’s hard to give a range. Example: you should be able to leg press your body weight. Maybe a loose recommendation would be start 50lbs per side, go for 10 reps. If you reach 10 reps with perfect form and tempo, then you need to up it. If you reach 10 with perfect form but it was tough, maybe leave it for your next set. If during the next set it was more of a struggle, I would leave the weight and record it. If it was the same amount of struggle as the first set or LESS, then you need to up it 10lbs. If you are starting out, I would recommend 4-5 sets, 12-8 rep range, 3-4 second eccentric/negative.
  1. Programming: you should be on some sort of program, if not to track progress, then to ensure the proper foundations are set in place so that you reach your goal. There are lots of different programming styles out there, but for whatever body part being exercised, muscular strength, power, endurance, anaerobic, and aerobic should all be involved in your program. Whether that be broken down into a weekly cycle, or a monthly cycle, there should be something set in place that takes advantage of the overload principle (overloading muscle, forcing adaptation to the new load, causing fiber changes and growth), and should contain different phases and challenges to your muscle fibres. If you do the same leg workout, the same way, the same reps, the same sets…it’s not enough. More programming, more variation, and more of a plan needs to be behind growing said booty.
  1. Diet: if you are not eating enough calories and are not in a surplus, you won’t be able to build muscle. So even if you do everything right, if you are not eating enough, nothing can be built. Building muscle is necessary for our health, but also kind of a luxury. It’s a luxury to your body to be able to build muscle, it’s almost like creating a bunch of dense bricks filled with reserved potential energy. It’s also a luxury because muscle is not what keeps us living, so it’s not our bodies priority to allot the calories consumed to muscle growth. I would recommend if your goal is to grow your butt (this applies not just to your butt), make it a 6-8 month goal. You should be taking 4-5 of those months to be in a balanced, yet calorie surplus. You should be trying to lift serious weight, using that surplus to grow muscle. After that, you could cut your calories down very slightly, or keep them the same, but instead up your cardio in order to lean down a bit. The biggest point you should take away is realizing losing weight and building muscle do not match with a low calorie diet, cleanse, detox, or fad diet. Do not attempt to weight train and build muscle while consuming under 1200. This is not an invitation to eat more and say it’s “for the gains”, if you are NOT putting the work in necessary. Best piece of extremely general advice for muscle building would be to start with your body weights worth in calories, and make the percentage of the calories even between protein, carbs, and fats. Start with that, and work hard on your training program for 3 months minimum before making any changes. Give it time to work.

Summary:

a. Body weight and bands are great for supplementary toning and work, but are not a great enough resistance or load on its own to create the stimulation needed in order to achieve muscle growth.

b. Weight train more, and lift real weight

c. Have a program in place, if you do not know how to make one then you need to find a personal trainer (me) and look into getting one customized and made for you.

d. You need to eat to grow, dedicate minimum 6 months, eat at a surplus in order to create a positive environment for growth.