Perhaps you’ve seen them. They’ve been all over the internet. Yep, those very unflattering photos of Jennifer Love Hewitt, megastar of movies and TV and underwear model, enjoying the beach in a bikini. The unscrupulous paparazzi who took the photos decided to get up close and personal, honing in on every inch of Jenny Love’s body, especially her backside.
Needless to say, the photos have created quite a stir in the tabloids and chat rooms across the country. Insults have flown back and forth between detractors and supporters, and spunky Jen has publicly decried all the hoopla, stating that she is comfortable with her body. Good for Jen.
Let’s get one thing straight: In no way is Jennifer Love Hewitt fat. Heck, she couldn’t be more than a size four! If that’s fat, what’s the standard for thin—a size zero? The issue here is one of body composition. Namely, Jennifer Love Hewitt sports a high fat to muscle ratio and—gasp!—she has the dreaded C-word: cellulite. In combination, these factors makes her bottom half appear lose and jiggly.
In reality, Jennifer Love Hewitt faces the same challenges as most women. Because of hormonal makeup, women tend to store fat in their lower bodies. Blame it on nature. In anticipation of pregnancy, estrogen diverts fat into the lower body, creating the classic pear-shaped gynoid physique. As the photos of JLH show, Hollywood stars are not immune to nature’s rule.
For those who aren’t happy with their posteriors, the question becomes, “Can you defy nature and tone up your tush?” To this, the answer is a resounding “yes!”—at least within your own genetic framework (sorry, you can’t get down to a size two if you have wide hips—that’s reality). The catch is that, in combination with a sensible diet, you need to adhere to a dedicated regimen of strength training. And that means training smart and training hard.
There are two primary types of exercises that develop the gluteals (the primary muscles in your butt): hip extension (straightening the hip joint from a bent position) and abduction (bringing your leg away from the midline of your body).
Let’s first tackle hip extension movements. Exercises such as squats, lunges, leg presses and the like all work the glutes by extending the hip. However, they are multi-joint movements that also receive substantial contribution from the quadriceps during performance. To really target the glutes, you need to squat or lunge as low as possible—otherwise the frontal thighs will dominate the movement. As a general rule, the lower you go, the greater the contribution from the glutes (and contrary to popular belief, deep squats are not problematic for most people unless they have existing problems with the knees—but this is a topic for another post).
Hip extension can also be achieved with single-joint movements such as stiff legged deadlifts, good mornings, back kicks, etc. These moves take the knee joint out of the exercise, thereby more directly targeting the glutes and other hip muscles. Make sure, though, that you aren’t bending at the waist! The must originate at the hip joint, with the spine in a neutral position throughout the lift.
Finally there are abduction movements, which target the smaller—but no less important—gluteus medius and minimus muscles. Abduction can be performed on machines (such as the ever so popular inner and outer thigh machines in most gyms), with cables or simply using your own body weight. Lying and kneeling leg abductions can be performed in the comfort of your own home and, if the exercise becomes to easy, simply attach leg weights to your ankles.
Combining these exercises into a cohesive routine is where the art of training comes in. The number of sets, reps, rest intervals, and other variables will be determined by individual goals, abilities, and experience. Take the time to understand your body and how it responds to training and you can achieve the physique you desire.
TAGS: Jennifer Love Hewitt, bikini photos, butt exercises, abduction, hip extension, squats, lunges, glutes.