5 mistakes that keep your butt flat

Published about 2 months ago • 6 min read

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In the past, I had what you would call a Pancake Ass.

This is an affliction where your butt is so flat it could resemble the shape and density of a pair of flapjacks.

You see, back then, being the guy that I am, I thought it was all about training your upper body.

I would never train the legs because no one saw them (unless you were wearing shorts) and they were quite painful to train.

But as legendary Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu coach John Danaher would once say,

"Why would you ignore 50% of the human body?"

So I started to train my legs and boy did they hurt. I focused on the quads, hamstrings, and calves but rarely would I ever focus on the glutes.

That was a big mistake.

Not training my glutes lead to a series of problems like lower back pain, lack of athleticism in my lower body, and pancake butt 🥞

So I focused on training them and some strange things happened:

My lower back pain would go away and over time I'd get stronger in almost every single lift. I would even walk with more purpose and better posture.

As my glutes got stronger my life would be forever changed but along the way, I made some BIG mistakes.

So in today's article, I want to share with you the top 5 mistakes I made that kept my butt flat in hopes that you avoid them.

But before that...

Why should you care about your glutes?

The glutes should be one of the strongest muscles in your body but in most people, they are the weakest.

This is due to long periods of sitting, a sedentary lifestyle, and a lack of connection with how they should work in the first place.

Your glutes are comprised of 3 major muscles:

The most important (and biggest) muscle in your body is called the Gluteus Maximus, which is what generates the most power in your lower body (1).

Having weak glutes can lead to chronic pain, increased risk of injury, and overall lack of athletic performance (2).

This can also lead to looking less than ideal in a pair of apple bottom jeans and boots with the fur (3) but I digress.

The stronger your glutes are the stronger you become. This is why the lower body exercises we do in the Lean Body 90 are glute-focused.

So let's avoid some mistakes so we can become better humans.

5 Training Mistakes That Lead to a Flat Butt

Mistake #1 - Exercise selection

When I started to train my glutes I chose all the wrong exercises.

You see, not just any lower body exercise will train your backside. You need to choose the right ones.

Here are the best exercises I used to train my glutes:

  1. Hip thrusts
  2. Low bar squats
  3. High-foot angled leg presses
  4. Romanian Deadlifts
  5. Bulgarian split squats (leaned forward)

When you do these exercises you will notice that some angles hit the glutes more than others.

It wasn't enough to select the right exercises but there were specific adjustments that needed to be made to get the most glute activation.

This leads me to the next point...

Mistake #2 - Bad execution

As I trained the glutes I realized that it was not enough to do the right exercises. I needed to do them correctly.

Many times when people train their glutes they can feel it in another part of their body.

Let's use the hip thrust as an example (if you can't see the video use this link for my LinkedIn post):

When people first perform the hip thrust they can feel it in their quads (the front of your legs) rather than the glutes.

This is due to one muscle being stronger than the other and, in general, people just forget how to use their glute muscles.

Another example is the low bar squat:

While this looks simple it is a complicated exercise. If done incorrectly you could round the back causing your spine to do more work than the glutes, which could result in serious injury.

The best way to learn proper form is to go on YouTube, search for these exercises, and practice them. That said, I'd suggest looking for form videos from guys like Alan Thrall, Squat University, or Bret Contreras.

I would also advise getting a legit fitness coach to look at your form and give you the necessary adjustments.

The key is to use a weight that isn't challenging so you can feel the activation in your butt muscles.

Which leads me to the next mistake...

Mistake #3 - Lack of Activation

When I first started training my glutes I had no idea how to turn them on (4).

This led to using other muscles (like my quads and lower back) to compensate for my lack of strength and activation.

I fixed this in 2 steps:

Step #1 - I used my warm-up to "remind" my glutes to activate in my exercises.

This means doing bridges in my workout as a way to remember to use my glutes in a workout.

Step #2 - I mentally activated them

I literally thought about squeezing my glutes as I was doing the exercises. This is called the mind-to-muscle connection and it works brilliantly when you use it in your exercises.

But none of this would work if I made the next mistake...

Mistake #4 - Using the wrong weight

If you didn't know I'm a guy and one of my biggest nemesis' in the gym is my ego.

I've tamed it down a lot since my early days but every now and then it pops up to bite me in the ass (5) if I'm not careful.

But here's the thing...

If you don't use enough weight on an exercise you won't necessarily build or strengthen the muscle.

And if you use too much weight you end up losing the mind-to-muscle connection while bringing in other muscles to support the exercise.

It's like the Goldilocks theory: You need to choose the right weight. Remember this will change as your glutes stronger.

You want a weight that is challenging enough for your butt to get stronger while being manageable enough for you to activate your glutes using your mind.

Find the right weight and progressively overload them in time and your glutes will be thanking you.

Mistake #5 - Forgetting about the other glute muscles

There has been a lot of emphasis in this article on training the gluteus maximus.

But don't forget about the other glutes your glute medius and minimus.

These muscles are key to muscles are key to training lateral hip flexion and pelvic stability (6).

So I used exercises like the clam shells, hip abductors, and lateral step-ups to round out my glute training.

This provided me with a 360-degree program that helped me build a strong set of glutes.

My life changed when my glutes got stronger

This is not a joke. When I started to take my glute training seriously I started to become stronger in many different exercises.

Strong glutes helped me build a stronger lower back. I even walked differently as I was being pushed by my glutes instead of my quads.

Everything in your lower body becomes stronger as a result of building a strong set of glutes.

If you're starting from a place where I was I guarantee it will change your life too.

I hope this article helped you navigate glute training and avoid some of the mistakes I've made.

Nothing to it but to do it. Here's to you building a strong set of glutes and looking great in a pair of jeans!

Onwards and upwards 🚀

- Dan

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References

  1. Miller R, Balshaw TG, Massey GJ, Maeo S, Lanza MB, Johnston M, Allen SJ, Folland JP. The Muscle Morphology of Elite Sprint Running. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2021 Apr 1;53(4):804-815. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000002522. PMID: 33009196.
  2. Buckthorpe M, Stride M, Villa FD. ASSESSING AND TREATING GLUTEUS MAXIMUS WEAKNESS - A CLINICAL COMMENTARY. Int J Sports Phys Ther. 2019 Jul;14(4):655-669. PMID: 31440415; PMCID: PMC6670060.
  3. Anyone remember Flo-rida and T-pain? Anyone?
  4. This is a nebulous term because your glutes are not actually turned off but they can feel that way if they are not strengthened properly.
  5. Pun totally intended. Dad jokes for the win.
  6. Kim D, Unger J, Lanovaz JL, et al.. The relationship of anticipatory gluteus medius activity to pelvic and knee stability in the transition to single-leg stance. PM R. 2016;8(2):138–44. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pmrj.2015.06.005. Medline:26079865

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