There is a lot of focus and attention these days (especially for women) on having the perfect body, with heavy emphasis, it seems, on having a toned bum.
We are bombarded daily with images of the perfect bikini body - supermodels and celebrities on the beach with perfectly honed physiques, and not only that, they are now bringing out jeans specifically designed to pinch and lift your bum to achieve the desired shape!
Men are also targets of similar advertising campaigns in which ideal bodies are pushed to the fore as an expectation of the norm, so the pressure really is on both sexes to achieve an 'ideal' look.
I believe that everything is achievable with the right programme, diet and attitude, but there are also other reasons why having a more muscular bottom is advantageous, ultimately benefiting your body as a whole.
The gluteal muscles, which make up the buttocks, are actually a group of three muscles: the gluteus maximus is the largest of the three, and is one of the strongest muscles in the body. You use these muscles every day, even just by walking.
Sitting for long periods of time, which many of us do, can result in the gluteal muscles actually wasting away from not being used and from the constant pressure. This can lead to lower back pain, bad posture and lower leg injuries, which, in turn, will have a knock-on effect throughout the rest of your body and your training regime.
Lower back pain can be the most common injury associated with weak 'glutes'. It was an area I worked hard on during my athletics career as this is where my main power output came from during a sprint, specifically when I start out of the blocks. Strong glutes provided support and structure to the lower back and spine, an area prone to overuse injuries.
Lower back pain can occur whether you exercise regularly or not, and often people assume that lower back pain is caused, understandably, by their lower back. However, experts agree that having strong gluteal muscles actually supports the work that the spine is doing, but more importantly, it removes the amount of stress placed on the spine during normal movements, such as bending, leaning forward etc.
It is important to try to do both lower and upper-body exercises. I see a lot of people just focusing on the latter in gyms, so make sure for every upper-body exercise you do, you follow it with a lower-body one. Some great bum exercises include:
• Lunges and side lunges
• Step ups, using your stairs
• Hill running
• Running up steps.