What makes a great butt?

Is it thousands of squats, hip thrusts, or just winning the genetic lottery?

While many of us would love to be in the latter category, for the majority of us, it’s a combination of genetics and hard work (usually through the form of diet and exercise).

However, what many people who want to build a better butt fail to realize is this:

If you haven’t mastered the mind-muscle connection for your glutes, then your butt-building dreams may well die an early death.

The Mind Muscle Connection is Essential For Building Muscle!

In this article, I’ll explain what a ‘mind-muscle connection’ is, and why it is absolutely essential to master the mind muscle connection with your glutes if you want to build a better butt through exercise.

Picture this:

You’ve started working out a few months ago, spend hours slaving at the gym, have implemented a strict diet of no more (delicious) junk food, and are now just sitting back waiting for the booty gains to come to you.

Except… they never come.

Sure, you might get more toned legs and feel healthier overall, but you butt just seems to refuse to grow or even change much at all.

And for some reason, you find it difficult to even feel the exercises you’re doing in your butt (even though they’re supposed to be highly targeted glute exercises – what gives?!).

How long do you think most people would keep up this routine, if the main reason they were doing it in the first place was to get a better butt?

I’m willing to bet not long. For most people, they’d get discouraged at not seeing any changes, think “this doesn’t work for me”, and most likely give up.

So how can you avoid this happening to you?

Let me share something with you from my humble experience/opinion:

Most People Fail Because They Don’t Have a Clear Plan or Idea of What They Really Want

In the ideal world, if the type of person described above had set a very specific goal of wanting to improve their butt and grow it bigger, then they may have planned their work out routine/approach a little differently.

In my opinion, as soon as anyone has identified wanting to work on their butt and improving it through exercise, the absolute first and most important thing they need to master is the ability to activate the glutes correctly.

This is so important that I’m going to repeat myself in bold:

If you want to build a better butt through exercise, the absolute first and most important thing you need to do is to master the mind-muscle connection with your glutes in order to be able to activate them effectively.

So What is a Mind-Muscle Connection?

The term ‘Mind-Muscle Connection’ basically describes how well your brain and muscles are ‘connected’.

Any body movement starts with the brain. Think about it: if you want to move your arm to pick up an object, the very action is initiated by a message from the brain to the muscle.

Granted, sometimes these thoughts have become so automatic that you don’t have to specifically think about it (in that you don’t have to actually think the words “I am going to move my arm now” every time you want to move your arm).

However, what’s actually happening at the biological level is this:

  • The brain sends a message to the muscles to contract
  • The signal is transmitted from the brain along nerve cells (motor neurons) to the target muscle
Motor neuron and Muscle Cell. 1: Motor neuron/Nerve cell, 2: Neuromuscular Junction, 3: Muscle cell, 4: Myofibrils within muscle cell. (image credit: Dake/Nrets via Wikimedia Commons cc)
  • At the end of the nerve cell is a ‘neuromuscular junction‘. This is the site where the nerve cell meets the muscle cell (and what you could think of as the physical location of the ‘mind-muscle connection’)
  • Your brain causes the muscle to contract by releasing a ‘neurotransmitter’ called Acetylcholine from the nerve cell
  • Acetylcholine which is released from the nerve cell acts like a messenger to cross the synapse (the gap of space separating the nerve cell and muscle cell).
  • Acetylcholine binds to receptors on the muscle cell, which activate the contraction of the muscle
The Neuromuscular Junction . 1: Motor neuron, 2: Synapse, 3: Neurotransmitter, 4: Receptors, 5: Mitochondria in muscle cell. (image credit: Dake/Nrets via Wikimedia Commons cc)

When you master the ‘mind-muscle connection’ , it means that this communication between the brain and the muscle is optimized.

Muscles are made up of millions of individual muscle fibers. The better your mind-muscle connection, the more muscle fibers you can recruit and contract.

The more muscle fibers you can contract, the better you’ll ensure that the muscle as a whole is stressed during a work out.  And as we know, stressing a muscle causes it to grow bigger and stronger, which is exactly what we’re trying to achieve when we work out.

Why Is the Mind Muscle Connection Important?

The mind-muscle connection is important because without it, you can’t have muscle contraction.

“So what’s the big deal? I’ve never had to think about moving before”, I hear some of you asking…

The problem with just going through the motions without putting much thought into your movement is this:

Exercises can be done with different muscle groups.

It’s very rare that an exercise works out just a single muscle.

Even something like bicep curls, still work out other muscle groups like the deltoids, flexors and wrist extensors.

Or take squats for example: these work out the quads, hamstrings, glutes, and even back muscles.

If you aren’t activating the primary muscle group effectively (through a strong mind-muscle connection), then other muscle groups will just take over to get you through the exercise.

This means that if you can’t activate your glutes effectively for the squat, it ends up being just a quad exercise! (And this was certainly the case for me for years before I learnt how to establish a good mind-muscle connection to my glute muscles!)

The bottom line is this: if you want to work out a particular muscle group well – you better make sure you have a good mind-muscle connection for that particular muscle/muscle group.

Otherwise, you’ll never really be able to work it out properly no matter what exercise you do – you might find that other muscles just take over.

A basic rule of thumb is this:

If you can’t feel a muscle working (like a good burn in the muscle), then it’s not working.

If you have the above problem, then stop doing what you’re doing.

Start from scratch and work on building up a good mind-muscle connection.

It’s equivalent to building a house on strong foundations (as opposed to sloppy/weak ones).

If you don’t put in the correct work on fundamentals – mastering a good mind-body connection – then you’re setting yourself up for disappointment.

If this topic is of interest with you, then check out the video below for more information on this topic:

Summary

If you’ve read this far, I hope you can appreciate the importance of creating a good mind-muscle connection for glute building first.

Don’t make the mistake of jumping into all sorts of butt exercises if you can’t properly feel your glutes working! If you do this, then you’re essentially wasting effort – you’ll end up using different muscle groups to do the exercises instead of your target muscle (the glutes).

In the next article in this series, we’ll take a look at how to build a strong mind-muscle connection for your glute muscles, so you can start working towards a better butt.

Stay tuned!

Had you heard of the ‘mind-muscle connection’ before? Do you have a strong mind-muscle connection with your glutes? I’d love to hear from you – let me know by leaving a comment below!

 

 

 

 

The Mind Muscle Connection for Glutes – Start Here For A Better Butt

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