There are lots of men and women looking to sculpt their derrière into the perfect bottom, so the two questions that arise are (1) What is the perfect bottom? and (2) What exercises will help me build it?
Waist:Hip ratio (WHR) is the ratio of the circumference of the waist to that of the hips and can be an indicator or measure of the health of a person, linked with the risk of developing serious health conditions and even linked to perceived attractiveness. Research shows that people with "apple-shaped" bodies/Android fat (with more weight around the waist) are linked with conditions such as hypertension, heart disease and diabetes type 2, whereas those with "pear-shaped" bodies/Gynoid fat (carrying more weight around the hips).
Waist measurement is taken at the thinnest point of the waist between the ribs and hips (or if this is difficult to see - at the level of the umbilicus or belly button). Hip measurement is taken at the widest point of the buttocks (usually best seen from the side). Take both measurements with a little tension on the tape measure, stood with feet close together with little/thin clothing. Then divide the waist measurement by the hip measurement to get the ratio.
The World Health Organisation say that abdominal obesity is defined as a waist:hip ratio above 0.90 for males and above 0.85 for females, and that a score of 0.7 for women and 0.9 for men has been shown to correlate strongly with general health and fertility.
Measure of attractiveness
Maybe of more interest than the health implications of a high WHR, is the fact that it may make you less attractive to the opposite sex. This idea was first proposed by evolutionary psychologist Devendra Singh at the University of Texas at Austin in 1993, who found the optimal 0.7 WHR for females in 2,500 year old sculptures of the Roman Goddess of Love and Beauty in Europe and Asia.
Although there may be some regional variation based on geographical preferences (0.6 for China, South America, and some of Africa, or 0.8 in Cameroon and Tanzania), normal body fat distribution and a 0.7 WHR were associated with being most attractive, sexy, intelligent and healthy (regardless of breast size), whilst a lower WHR as only associated with youthfulness.
For men a MHR of 0.82 would seem to be the most desirable level for attractiveness (based on the Grecian Calculator used by Renaissance sculptors to produce physiques such as Michealangelo’s David and Bandinelli's Hercules and Cacus) as well as the equally important waist:shoulder ratio (WSR) of 0.6.
Simply put, for females a well-proportioned waist and hip are most important, whereas for men the focus should be also developing broad shoulders to complement the optimal waist and hip circumferences. So what are some of the best exercises for developing the ideal hip part of the WHR?
Perfect Bottom Exercises
The following exercises are 6 of the best for developing a perfect behind:
(see Figure 1a and 1b)
- This is a continuous, dynamic exercise that works the hamstrings, glutes and back musculature
- Take hold of an appropriate weight Kettlebell with 2 hands (usually 12-16kg or more for a female, and 16-20kg or more for a male)
- Limit the knee bend by keeping the shins vertical and swing the kettlebell between the legs
- Thrust the hips forward until the body is vertical and squeeze the glutes at the top (imagine you are holding a £20 note between your cheeks) to ensure maximal glute contraction
- Perform multiple sets lasting from 20-60s (for longer sets use a slightly lighter kettlebell and slightly heavier kettlebells for shorter sets).
Barbell Romanian Deadlift
(see Figure 2a and 2b)
- This is a slower, strength-based exercise that works the hamstrings, glutes and back musculature.
- Take hold of an appropriate barbell with 2 hands (should be the weight suitable for sets of 10-12 repetitions) and stand upright.
- Limit the knee bend by keeping the shins vertical and lower the bar down to mid-lower shin level.
- Pause briefly then push the hips forward and tighten the glutes again, repeat for 10-12 reps until failure and for 2-4 sets.
(see Figure 3a and 3b)
- This is a good exercise for beginners since it doesn’t load the back too much, but can be made more advanced by placing a heavier barbell across the hips.
- Lie on your back with your feet either on the floor near the hips or (to increase the range of motion), place feet on a step or bench.
- Thrust the hips upwards until the knees, hips and shoulders are in a straight line, squeeze the glutes together and hold for 1-2 seconds
- Slower the hips until just before they touch the floor then repeat the hip thrust - continue for 30-60s.
Lateral Box Drives
(see Figure 4a and 4b)
- This is more advanced drill that requires a foundation of leg strength and stability, but is really good for working the quads and glutes.
- Stand to the side of a hard or soft plyo box, about knee height and place the near foot flat on top.
- Press downwards on the box to propel yourself upwards into the air (foot should come off the box), then control the landing with the same leg (touching the floor briefly with the “non-driving leg”) and repeat for 15-30s.
- Have a quick rest, change legs and repeat for 2-3 sets.
Suspension System SIngle Leg Squat with Cross Posterior Reach
(see Figure 5a and 5b)
- This drill will not only work the glutes, but because it is performed on one leg it will also heavily work the lateral hip stabilisers.
- Take hold of the Suspension System straps with one or two hands (two will give more stability) and stand on one leg.
- Squat down and reach the other foot across and behind you, without it touching the floor, and try to keep the hips facing forwards.
- Drive back up to the standing position and repeat for 10-12 reps on that leg before swapping.
Suspension System Bulgarian Split Squat
(see Figure 6a and 6b)
- This drill also works the glutes and hip stabilizers, but will also stretch (or mobilise) the hip flexors on the “non-working side”. This is good because tight hip flexors not only affect posture, but also “switch off” the glutes making it more difficult to activate and this achieve the perfect bottom.
- Place the rear foot in the Suspension System strap and take a large step forward
- Squat down on the lead leg, keeping the shin vertical and pressing backwards with the rear foot
- Keep the chest and head up and use your arms for balance
- Squeeze the glute and press back up to a standing position - repeat for 10-12 reps on the same leg before swapping.
- To make this easier use a bench instead of a Suspension System, and to make it harder hold some weights (such as a kettlebell, dumbbell or barbell)