Feeling the burn
Since I can’t work out my upper anything, I might as well focus on my legs. And I’m kind of like, make it bigger. I can’t be lazy. I have to do something.
Everyone knows bums are big right now.
That’s largely thanks to a few celebrities, namely Kim Kardashian, Nicki Minaj and Beyonce, who have catapulted curvaceous backsides into the spotlight over the last few years, setting off a fitness frenzy among some women.
Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube are filled with pictures of women flaunting round bottoms. Workouts designed to “fix your flat a--” or build “head-turning glutes” are popular click-bait.
Loren Chiu, a University of Alberta professor in physical education and recreation and a former national weightlifting champion, says there’s nothing new about people becoming fixated on training one part of their body.
Building a bigger bum is not just for appearance or a female-only obsession either.
Bodybuilding and powerlifting websites for men are full of talk about how you can jump higher and run faster by strengthening your posterior, he says.
And there’s nothing wrong with building the glute muscles because they can help prevent knee and lower body injuries, Chiu says.
Squats are ideal exercises because they work more than one muscle at a time and help develop large muscle mass.
Problems arise when people get obsessive, over-train and fail to do the exercises properly, risking injury, he says.
And there’s one other little hindrance to getting a Nicki Minaj tushie — genetics. As you strengthen your muscles, they will increase in size and the fat and skin will curve around them.
But not everyone’s muscle or bone structure are conducive to getting a bubble butt like the celebrities, says Chiu. (And whether the stars’ butts are even real is still up for debate.)
Melony Marquez of Edmonton was attracted to working out her gluteal muscles, not exactly to emulate those celebrities (she has more of an affinity for Jennifer Lopez’s natural-looking behind), but because after two open-heart surgeries (due to defective valves), the 35-year-old didn’t have many other options.
With weak ribs broken for her surgeries, lifting weights was basically out of the question, so pushing weights with her legs, doing weighted squats and stair squats with a resistance band were her best bet to build muscle and keep fit.
“Since I can’t work out my upper anything, I might as well focus on my legs. And I’m kind of like, make it bigger,” she says. “I can’t be lazy. I have to do something.”
Marquez began her lower body-training regime in earnest a year ago after two mechanical valves were installed in her heart.
Before that, she says she had a totally flat bum.
“If I didn’t have the breasts, I’d sort of have a boy body because I have no shape at all to begin with.”
Now, she’s pleased with the body she’s sculpted by going to the gym two to three times a week, increasing her weight load from 60 to more than 300 pounds.
But she isn’t a typical gym rat and her diet is far from ideal. Being on blood thinners, there are a lot of foods she avoids, including spinach and broccoli because they contain Vitamin K, which can interfere with her medication. She’s a self-proclaimed fast-food junkie and is referred to at her workplace as the local Mini Mart because her desk drawer is always stocked with chips and chocolate.
Her unhealthy eating habits aside, her voluptuous shape has become the envy of many of her friends, some of whom follow her to the gym to see how she does it.
They may be disappointed to find out there’s no easy formula: it’s taken Marquez a year of “feeling the burn” to transform her thin physique into what she has today.
But she believes it’s worth it. And she feels healthier and stronger because of it.
“You can actually see the difference between a fake ( bum), and a real one,” she says.
“I like it because I work hard for it and it wasn’t easy. Yet it’s rewarding because you can actually tweak your body the way you want it.”