Liam Hallam is a sports science graduate. He is also a keen cyclist and a lover of the Derbyshire Dales and Peak District.
Looking for a Bigger Butt? Could Cycling Be the Answer?
We live in a world where the norms of beauty are thrust upon us, and whilst many people would just like better overall fitness and toning, there are plenty of willing exercisers who idolize certain body shapes and stereotypes.
There's plenty of badly written pieces on the internet where people have stated they've developed a bigger butt from cycling, but unless they've taken up track sprinting and the strength-specific training programs that would accompany this very specialized discipline, it's likely they will find that cycling and building a larger butt don't really go together.
In fact you'll find that after years of training, many cyclists lack the general abilities to activate the glute muscles responsible for a more shapely backside.
Sadly, the notion that cycling will bring you a big bottom to rival Beyonce's or Kim Kardashian's is mistaken. But over time, cycling will give you the kind of figure that can easily kick their airbrushed magazine asses in real life.
Cycling is a great exercise that can help you shape and tone without building. If you want to build more muscle, you're going to need to hit the gym hard with some heavy weights. Below I mention some ways you can really target your booty in the gym for better results than you would get from cycling.
Competitive Female Cyclists Rarely Have Huge Glutes
What Are Your Cycling Aspirations?
Get Out of the Saddle to Work Your Glutes
If you're considering exercises to put your glutes through a good workout-It's when you get out of the saddle on tough, steep climbs. When you get out of the saddle and really need to force everything possible through the pedals your legs will need to utilize every available muscle for power, strength and the momentum to carry you forwards.
Climbing on a bike with really help to stress your leg muscles and develop strength but due to the endurance nature of the sport you will experience minimal muscle hypertrophy as a result. The benefits will be phenomenal to your cardiovascular health, toning and endurance which for many will help them in their quest towards a happier relationship with their body.
At What Stage of the Cycling Pedal Stroke Do Your Glutes Work?
The cycling pedal stroke is complex in its nature, although in reality at any one point only one muscle group will be firing. Many people assume that the glutes are responsible for much of the downward phase of the pedal stroke; however, the reality is that as a muscle they're mostly responsible for the activation of the 'power' phase of the stroke.
As the glutes activate whilst cycling, their force initiates the pedal stroke between about 12 and 2:30 on a clock face, with the main bulk of the downwards pedal stroke then occurring as the quadraceps muscles push down.
The next problem which arises when considering cycling to build stronger muscles in your buttocks is the realization that not everyone has a perfectly symmetrical pedal stroke. Many consider their legs work like pistons (Up and down, up and down) whilst cycling and this concentration on the up and down phases negates much of the action of the glutes as the top of the pedal stroke will often become a weak point. If you've ever done some single-legged technique work in a spinning class you'll likely have an idea of how weak your pedal stroke may be, and there are many high-level amateur athletes who have such issues as well as recreational cyclists.
Cycling Is an Endurance Activity, Although It Can Enhance Muscle Volume in the Long Term
If you're looking to add size and subsequent additional shape to muscles, you have to stress them to cause hypertrophy to occur. Weight lifters and body builders will often max-out at 10-12 repetitions per set when they're training, but if you're cycling you don't really have that option and during a ride you'll likely do thousands of pedal revolutions, most of which will provide a challenge to the muscles in your gluteus maximus, but nothing near the force of contraction to enhance muscle hypertrophy.
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As a result the effect of cycling is more likely to be one more reminiscent of lots of repetitions at a moderate weight in the gym. This usually leads to enhanced muscle tone in the long-term, with only a small increase in muscle volume. This increase is a positive but is not the real butt-building exercise many crave.
Cycling has some wonderful benefits but sadly a bigger booty isn't one of them.
Cycling Is a Great way to Lose Fat and Get in Better Shape
For many exercisers, the low-impact, high-effect nature of cycling can have fantastic results on your waistline and on your general health too.
For a high-intensity cycling workout, consider attending a spin class at your local gym. In a 45 minute session you can easily burn around 5-600 calories. Or alternately create your own interval workout in the gym with your iPod by riding one track easy and one track moderately hard for a period of 20 minutes of more to give your metabolism a HIIT boost.
Cycling into great shape doesn't always have to be about insanely high intensities and feeling like your legs are one more revolution away from failing to turn those cranks. Consider making shorter trips around town during the week by bike instead of by car or public transport and you'll be aiding your health whilst reducing your carbon footprint.
How to Get a Bigger Booty: Hit the Weights!
If you're looking to add some serious mass to your butt, here's where it all gets serious. Here's a few pointers to be aware of, as there's a lot of nonsense out there on the subject.
- Never believe anyone that tells you you can get a bigger butt in two weeks, a month, or even three months. Any bodybuider and successful gym goer will tell you it takes years and that initial improvements will be neuro-muscular to begin with.
- If you really want to achieve something it will involve some hard work. If you're not prepared to lift some heavy weights in the long term there's no logic in starting out. Commit to your goals.
- You won't be able to just add size to your behind without working everywhere else hard too. Many of the great exercises to target your glutes will stress other parts of the body too. Consider any program as a whole-body approach where a better derriere is your aim.
- Learn to squat and learn to squat well. Develop a sound technique before adding excessive weight. Some trainers and coaches will argue your upper and lower legs must touch at the bottom, and others will argue your upper leg must go at least parallel with the ground, but in reality you should be squatting down to where you feel comfortable, whether un-weighted or with a heavy weight.
- To build muscle you need to be lifting some significantly heavy weights for relatively low repetition sets. If you can do 12 repetitions with a weight, the weight may be too light. To be building muscle you need to be doing weights to the point where you're failing to achieve any more repetitions, to increase hypertrophy.
- Spotters are good to help you really work to failure where possible.
- Train your glutes as part of a general "legs" day twice a week. (Less often will likely not give your body the regular stresses it needs to build muscles.) Incorporate training for other areas of the body on other workout days.
- The key to progress is variety. Mix up the exercises below in your training to keep targeting the glutes in slightly different ways, and consider mixing up a few weeks of 6-8 reps max per set and 8-10 reps max per set as your experience increases.
Best Gym Exercises to Target your Butt
Consider using the following exercises to target those glutes. You should not be doing big volumes of reps to build muscle. Form should always be a priority (see video below for some coaching points on squats and lunges). Bad form leads to the risk of injury and lower chance of long-term success.
- Barbell rear squats
- Front squats
- Jump squats (When you're comfortable)
- Stiff-legged deadlift
- Barbell glute-bridges
- Leg press (though prioritize the squat over this where possible)
Good Form for Your Squats and Lunges
Liam Hallam (author) from Nottingham UK on March 05, 2015:
Thanks maalarue, you seem to have spotted an error in my writing. I must correct that. I believe I meant that if you can do 12 repetitions it's too light. Will look to amend that thank you
John Mark from Texas on March 04, 2015:
You wrote: "If you can do 12 repetitions with a weight it's possibly too heavy." What does that even mean?