How to Get Bigger Hips and Build a Better Booty: The Ultimate Guide
In fact, I have been discussing it so much with clients recently, I thought I might as well go ahead and write an article about it – this will not only deliver a valuable resource I can direct them too personally, but will also provide a thorough guide on the anatomy of the hips and muscles surrounding them, and of course how to develop those muscles!
So if you want to know how to get bigger hips, then you have certainly come to the right place.
The pelvis is a bony structure comprised of four individual, but heavily connected, bones.
Of those we have the two hip bones (those two things that look like ears), the sacrum (which is also technically part of the spine), and the coccyx.
Despite receiving little attention, the pelvis actually plays a number of important roles within the human body. It offers the key to transferring weight from the lower limbs to the upper limbs during movement, it provides an attachment point an absolutely absurd number of key muscles within the human body – all while simultaneously protecting the organs within the abdominopelvic cavity.
Now, despite all of this there is something that is often missed when people are trying to ‘build bigger hips’.
Technically, the pelvis determines the width of our hips.
And the pelvis is a bone, which means once we reach our full growth potential, technically our hips can’t get in wider or bigger.
Before you think I have just shattered your dream into a thousand pieces, I do of course have some good news. Although your hips can’t technically get bigger, we can develop the muscles around the pelvis to create a larger bootay, which certainly creates the perception of both bigger hips AND a comparatively skinnier waist.
Developing the Muscles of the Hip
As mentioned briefly above, there are a HUGE number of muscles that attach to the pelvis in some capacity – all of varying sizes and playing a number of different movement related roles.
Not all of these muscles will contribute to what we are looking for exactly, so we will focus on the key muscles that, when developed correctly, can contribute to ‘larger hips’ and more a developed butt.
And the first key muscle group we are going to look at is the gluteals.
The Gluteal muscles
There are technically 3 muscles that make up the gluteals (gluteus medius, gluteus maximus, and gluteus minimus), but we are going to direct our focus to the two larger and most superficial glute muscles.
Gluteus Maximus: Is the largest of the gluteal muscle group which sits posterior to the hip, and plays a number of key roles during movement. Most noticeably, it produces hip extension, making it incredibly important in athletic movements such as sprinting and jumping.
Gluteus Medius: Is the second largest Gluteal muscle, and differing from gluteus maximus, sits laterally to the hip joint (rather than posteriorly). This muscle in particular plays an important role in stabilising the hip during movement, while also abducting the lower limb.
Now, by merely looking at these two muscles it becomes increasingly apparent as to why they can play an important role in increasing hip and booty size.
Both of these two muscles cross over the top of the hip joint, and as such, by developing each of them effectively we can increase our hip width.
Additionally, by increasing the size and strength of these muscles we can also create a larger, more muscular butt. While this has some obvious aesthetically pleasing benefits in itself, it can also help create the perception of wider hips by increasing the overall girth of our booty.
Now, as each of these muscles play different roles during movement (even despite being part of the same muscle group), they need to be trained differently to elicit the greatest training response.
The second key muscle group we are going to also going to target is the Quadriceps.
The Quadriceps Muscle Group
Similar to the gluteals, the quadriceps muscle group is comprised of a number of different muscles, all of which play an important and somewhat individual role during movement. Despite this we only want to focus on two key muscles within this muscle group to increase hip size.
Rectus Femoris: Is the largest muscle of the quadriceps muscle group, and plays a number of important roles during lunging, jumping, and sprinting. Rectus femoris actually crosses the knee joint and the hip joint, and as such can be developed to create increased hip width.
Vastus Lateralis: Is the most lateral quadriceps muscle. This muscle acts very similarly to rectus femoris, but attaches up very close to the hip bone (rather than passing it). By building this muscle we can further increase hip width.
By developing each of these muscles efficiently, we can increase hip width slightly. As a bonus, and similar to the gluteals, by further increasing the size of these muscles we can make our waist look comparatively smaller, which can lead to the perception of larger hips.
As we now have an understanding of what muscles we want to target and why, it is time to go over the key exercises that can lead to their optimal development, leading to an increase in hip size.
Barbell Back Squat
While not particularly new or sexy, there is an obvious reason as to why the squat is considered the king of lower body exercises – it targets a huge number of muscle groups, while also allowing us to use heavy loads which is absolutely integral to maximising muscle development.
In regards to the improvement of hip size, the squat can play an extremely important role as it targets both the quadriceps and the gluteals.
The key is to keep the load evenly distributed on the heels and balls of the feet (while it often suggested that the weight should be kept solely on the heels, this is not entirely true). This allows us to sit both back and down, without causing any movement compensations through the lower back.
Once in the bottom position and commencing the ascent, we should drive our feet part (while our feet obviously won’t move apart, this sensation of spreading the floor is important). This ensures that the gluteal muscle groups are activated in the bottom position and working extremely hard to maintain good pelvic alignment.
Finally, at the top of the squat make sure you squeeze your butt HARD and finish the movement strong – this maximises glute maximus recruitment, increasing its development.
In a similar fashion to the squat, the Romanian deadlift has been a staple in strength training programs for years. It is often used as a tool to improve both athletic performance, and develop strength of the posterior musculature of the body.
In regards to our personal goal, the Romanian deadlift absolutely crushes the glutes (with a particular emphasis on gluteus maximus).
The trick with this exercise is to slide your hips back (without flexing the knee excessively) while keeping the shins as vertical as possible – this ensures we build tension in the hamstrings and glutes.
Once we have reached a [point where are hamstrings are under considerable tension, it is time to commence the concentric portion of the movement.
Push into the ground with your feet, stand up nice and tall and drive through the hips (the bar should stay close touching your shins and thighs on the way up). At the top of the movement, finish up by squeezing your glutes HARD – this ensures that we get maximal glute recruitment at the top of the movement which is essential to the optimal development of the gluteal muscles.
Bulgarian Split Squat
I’m not entirely sure what it is with eastern European countries and their association with weight training movements, butthe third exercise on our list is another that has been named after one of those countries (for reasons that are completely unknown to me…).
The Bulgarian split squat (also knows as the rear foot elevated split squat in some circles) is a great exercise that is often used to develop single leg strength and stability (which has positive implications for athletic performance and functional capacity), while also being well renowned for its ability to build lower body muscle mass.
The Bulgarians split squat differs from a traditional split squat in that the rear foot is elevated on a bench or a box. This increases both the load and the stability demands placed on the front leg.
As a result this movement creates a huge demand on glute medius, in which it is requires to work overtime to provide stability to the pelvis and the hip of the grounded leg. Additionally, the Bulgarian split squat also creates a huge demand on the quadriceps muscle groups, and glute maximus.
As such it can promote the development of these tissues considerably, leading to increased butt size and hip girth.
The key to this movement is to drop the hips straight down during the descent (rather than lunging forward) and keeping the weight evenly distributed between the ball and the heel of the front foot. This ensures that we load through the quadriceps and gluteal evenly, rather than overloading the quadriceps.
The pelvis and hips should remain level throughout the duration of the movement, and as such the knee should remain in line with the foot throughout the entirety of the movement (the knee should not collapse inwards). This guarantees that glute medius is working optimally to provide stability to the hip and pelvis, creating an extremely high mechanical and metabolic demand (which leads to muscle growth).
On the concentric (upwards phase of the movement), we should drive straight up by pushing our front foot into the ground. The glutes should contract at the top of the movement.
While the back foot should be predominantly used merely to help maintain balance, it is unrealistic to expect that it will not take any load at all – the expected loading should be about 80-90% on the front foot, and 10-20% on the back foot (so don’t stress if you do feel a slight load through the back foot – it is no issue).
Barbell Hip thrust
The barbell hip thrust is an exercise that has been made extremely popular by strength coach Bret Contreras.
It is an exercise designed to create massive demand on the glutes, while also targeting the quadriceps as a secondary emphasis. It is a movement that allows us to place the glutes under specific hip extension load, creating the optima environment to promote the growth of these muscle tissues (with a huge emphasis on glute max).
The key to performing this movement correctly is to load through the heels of the feet while also maintaining a neutral spinal position. This ensures that the load is directed to the glutes and the quadriceps, and not through the extensors of the spine.
This movement is extremely versatile, in that while it is most commonly loaded using a barbell, it can also be loaded by placing a couple of plates on your lap, or even using resistance bands – so if you do not have easy access to a barbell there is no need to worry.
Side Lying Hip Abduction
The final exercise on this list is often used as a way to warmup gluteus medius before a heavy weights session, or in some cases, as a rehab exercise to improve hip stability.
Whatever the reason it is being used, the one thing I know for sure is that it absolutely smashes glute medius!
There are a few tricks to ensure that this movement focuses on gluteus medius in particular.
The leg that is being raised should remain straight and actually be slightly extended at the hip (this means the top foot will be slightly behind the body) – this places the gluteal muscles in the optimal position to produce force.
Additionally, the foot only needs to be raised 3-5 inches off the floor to produce maximal tension – any higher than this is not necessary.
These muscles respond extremely well to varied loads and varied rep ranges. As a result, the best way to produce optimal muscle development is by using creating more of a strength demand with some exercises, and then more of a hypertrophy/metabolic demand with others.
Those where we are creating a strength demand should be the larger compound movements as these allow us to use the most amount of load. This in turn places the muscle tissue under a large amount of mechanical tension, which is a key driver for muscle development.
These movements should be performed under greater load for lower reps (3-6)
The smaller movements are those that should be performed for higher reps (8-20) as a way to create metabolic demand and muscle damage – this is the second key driver for muscle growth.
So with all this in mind, we can create an example lower body workout that targets the glutes and the quadriceps with the intent to improve the development of these muscle groups – this in turn will increase hip girth (by increasing the muscle mass around the hips), while also promoting glute development, which can create the perception of a comparatively smaller waist.
- Barbell Back Squat 4x5
- Romanian Deadlift 3x8
- Bulgarian Split Squat 3x10 / side
- Barbell Hip Thrust 3x15
- Side lying Hip Abduction 3x20 / side
This session could be performed 2-3 times per week without the risk of overtraining as a way to produce optimal lower body development.
Now, considering we are creating a pretty large training demand on our body as a way to build new muscle tissue (and also potentially lose abdominal fat – creating a smaller waist and comparatively larger hip size), we are going to ensure we meet some dietary requirements to promote optimal recovery.
Eat Protein with Every Meal
Protein is arguably the most important macronutrient we eat.
Protein is essential to build new muscle tissue andrecover after exercise.It promotes the development and repair of damaged muscle tissue, while also offering a number of essential amino acids that are integral to the development of key hormones and enzymes within the body.
Additionally, protein has the highest satiety rating of the three main macronutrients. This means that per calorie, protein makes us ‘feel’ fuller, in comparison to any other macronutrient.
This can increase the satisfaction we receive from food and actually lead to a reduction in snacking and overeating throughout the day.
As a result, by eating protein with every meal we can optimize the capacity of our body to build and repair muscle tissue, while also reducing the amount of energy we take in over the course of a day (which can lead to reductions in fat mass over time).
Eat vegetables with every meal
Vegetables should be an important part of our diet whether we are training hard or not.
Vegetables contain a huge amount of essential vitamins and minerals that play a number of important roles in the function of our immune, digestive, hormonal and cardiovascular systems. By eating vegetables regularly, we can optimise the health of our body, while also increasing our capacity to function in our entirety.
This can also lead to an increase capacity to both recover from, and perform, high intensity physical activity – which we know is essential to the development of new muscle tissue.
As an added bonus, vegetables contain very little energy per gram.
This means that when we eat vegetables, we feel extremely full, despite actually consuming very little energy. This reduces feelings of hunger throughout the day, while also keeping our daily energy intake low.
As a result, by eating vegetables with every mealwe can promote fat loss AND optimal health without any sensations of hunger or craving.
So to summarise, while technically building bigger ‘hips’ is not possible, we can certainly build the muscles around the hips to create increased hip girth, while also building a better booty!
By focusing on the development of the gluteal and quadriceps muscle groups through a number of unique exercises, we can increase hip size considerably. These exercise should be used with varied load and re ranges to promote optimal development.
Dietary interventions can also play a role to ensure optimal recover from our intense lower body sessions, while also ensuring the maintenance of health, and the reduction of fat mass. This can be ensured by eating adequate protein, and maintaining a high vegetable consumption.
And there you have it, I hope you have enjoyed our guide on building bigger hips, and a better gooty!