Oof. This is not such a fun one.
If your cakes are looking like pancakes, come along for the ride and learn how to make your pancake booty a little fluffier.
If you have no junk in the trunk keep reading to learn about the best workout and diet solutions to help enhance your pancake flat bum.
We’ll go through the muscles of the glutes and how to work them, some targeted glute-specific exercises that are easy to incorporate into your workout routine.
Plus what lifestyle and other factors may be contributing to your pancake butt.
What is a Pancake Butt?
A pancake butt is a flat or saggy behind where the butt cheeks and lower glutes tend to meld together with the backs of the thighs.
This creates a lack of visible definition between the butt and the legs. Pancake butts also tend to have more volume around the top, like an inverted butt.
This also creates a lack of distinction between waist and butt. So overall, this type of butt will not stick out much from your body to create.
Although it’s associated with the “skinny fat” look, anyone can have a pancake butt, whether you’re lean or bulky.
Although anyone can struggle with a pancake butt, women are generally more proactive about seeking pancake butt solutions than men.
What are the Gluteal Muscles?
The gluteus maximus is your body’s biggest muscle. This muscle is located at the back and center of your seat. Fortunately, because it’s so big, it can be easier to strengthen.
Located at the middle-back part of your glute muscle group, the gluteus maximus helps straighten your leg at the hip joint and brings the leg into full extension when you lift it.
The gluteus maximus also helps you externally rotate your thighs to turn your legs out.
For a balanced booty that loses the inverted shape and looks more round, you’ll need to create more volume at the base of the glutes.
Working your gluteus maximus muscles can help the appearance of your glutes here.
The gluteus medius sits between the gluteus maximus and gluteus minimus muscles.
You work this muscle mostly during side-glute exercises.
Moves like a single-leg press or banded hip abduction warm-up can help you build up your gluteus medius.
Pancake butts not only blend into the back along the top side and legs along the bottom, but they lack fullness around the sides too. Hitting the gluteus medius in your workouts will help you get the roundness you’re looking for.
The gluteus minimus is your smallest gluteal muscle, sitting under the gluteus medius.
It mostly works to abduct your hip (move your leg away from your body) and help with hip rotation.
All three gluteal muscles work in tandem to create a powerful glute area and help the posterior chain muscles along the back of your body.
Building a strong posterior chain helps you run, jump, sit, get up and lift heavy things. Good posterior chain health is also linked to less low back pain.
Why Is My Butt So Flat?
There are many reasons why you could have a less ample derriere.
Like many components of your physique or body composition, flatter butts are in part determined by genetics.
You are what you eat. Although most healthy adults need a healthy diet with balanced macronutrients, too much fat and not enough protein in your food may contribute to carrying unsightly flab around your waist.
This can be a part of the pancake booty look.
Focus on upping your protein intake to fuel the glute muscles. Combine this with high-powered workouts and you’ll help your body to improve the strength and size of your buttocks.
Remember, always speak to your doctor or a sports nutritionist if you’re looking to make major changes to your diet or supplementation routine.
Many of us now work office jobs that require sitting for long periods. You know what they say? If you don’t use ‘em, you lose ‘em!
This applies to gluteal muscles as well. If you’re not up and active for your work, your gluteal muscles are not seeing a lot of use, and therefore won’t grow. Hence the pancake flat bum.
People in active jobs are more likely to be using their glutes while they work. These can include roles where you stand a lot like teaching, nursing, firefighting or policing and are especially true for fitness industry jobs.
Did you know you can also suffer from “gluteal amnesia”?
Just like mental amnesia, in this condition, your butt forgets how to operate. Because of sedentary lifestyles, the muscle fibres in your glutes send incorrect signals to your brain.
This causes too much work to be assigned to your hamstrings and lower back muscles, potentially causing back problems or issues with your ankle and knee joints.
Sadly, even if you were once the owner of a plump posterior, you may notice it flattening out into a pancake as you get older. We tend to lose our butts as we age.
Not only do many of us not love the look of shrinking glutes, but having a muscular derriere can be beneficial for balance, especially among older adults.
Gluteal muscles can even influence how likely elders are to fall vs. to be able to stay upright.
During pregnancy, you can experience what’s known as “mom butt.” Because the muscles that support your spine and core and help your posture are working overtime to support your growing belly, your body devotes a bit less effort to strong glutes.
Although it’s worthwhile for a healthy pregnancy, it’s no fun to have to start from scratch building your glutes after your delivery.
Pancake Butt Exercises
How do you improve the look of a saggy, pancake-flat bum?
Take a look at these simple moves. You can incorporate a few into your workout or put them together for a glute day growth regimen.
One-legged moves are a great option for keeping the work focused in your booty.
Although squats, leg presses, and conventional deadlifts are amazing builder moves for all the muscles of the legs, single-side moves can help you hit the glutes more directly so your hamstrings and quads don’t take over the work.
For a one-legged lunge:
- Stand with your feet together, or hip-distance apart.
- Step one leg forward, bending your knee and dropping the weight into the front leg.
- Continue bending until your back knee is almost touching the ground.
- Step the front leg back to the starting position.
- Continue like this, alternating sides until you complete one full set.
- Remember, a set means you’ve done the same number of repetitions on both sides. So if you’re going for 10 reps per side, as your set, that means you do 20 lunges in total.
Glute bridges are another way to access the glutes more directly with less quad and hamstring involvement than other compound moves.
To perform a glute bridge:
- Plant your feet hip-distance apart while lying on your back. If you are using a barbell for weight, rest it across your hip bones. Use a pad or folded yoga mat to protect your pelvis if you find a weight painful for your hips.
- Push through the feet, squeeze your glutes, and drive your hips upwards.
- Think about sending your hips towards the sky.
- Hold this move for a moment, then slowly roll down with control. Think about rolling through the vertebrae of your spine as you descend.
- Repeat as needed.
- For beginners, aim to do 3 sets of 10-12 reps. If you are using weight, more experienced lifters can try 3-4 sets of 6 heavy reps to target glute growth.
- For an alternative, try a glute bridge hold: Hold the movement for 20 seconds at the top, then slowly roll through the spine to bring the hips down with control. You can also pulse your glute bridges to get more of a burning feeling.
Although it may seem counterintuitive to do cardio to get bigger, Stairmasters or other stepmill machines let you climb to activate your glutes.
As we mentioned earlier, folks with square butts may hold more fat near the abdominals and less in the hips and thighs.
This machine helps work your cardio and lung capacity while also hitting the glutes.
To use the stepmill.
- Pick the time that you want to spend working out and choose your resistance setting. For fitness newbies, try 30 minutes to start. The Stairmaster is more challenging than it looks and can leave you breathless pretty quickly if you’re new!
- If you are more experienced and looking to use the stepmill only as a warm-up or to train at intervals, start with 10-15 minutes, then change your resistance or proceed with the rest of your workout.
You’re likely to find a Stairmaster or other stepmill in most commercial gyms. Putting cardio and glutes into one workout lets you both target excess fat that may be sitting around your waist and create a powerful stepping movement that engages the glutes.
Pro tip: In warm weather, try running or walking upstairs outside.
You can try running up and down the stairs with fast feet multiple times for an intense cardio burn, or simply taking a route with stairs on an outdoor walk.
Getting rid of your pancake butt is doable but will require a little hard work and dedication.
Pretty much everyone who can walk, run, or jump is physically capable of making improvements to the appearance of their glutes.
Considering this, you can only do so much to counteract your genetics. All of us have different genes and some are less conducive to being able to grow developed and strong glutes.
Other glute-building factors include:
In terms of composition, the gluteal muscles consist of the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus.
These muscles work in tandem to extend your hips, stabilize and link your upper and lower body and help you move around.
If you feel like your booty looks flat, there are some simple changes you can make to your lifestyle. This includes focusing on protein in your diet to build muscle while avoiding unhealthy fats.
You should also aim for both glute activation exercises and heavy-weight training to target this big muscle group.
Don’t know your butt shape? Discover what silhouette you have and explore a few more tips for improvement.
We’ve made it simple to work on customized fitness plans or to introduce a little friendly competition to your fitness community by sharing exercises with your friends. Try it for free through the Flex fitness app.
Gilpin, M. M., Merritt, E., McLean, S. P., Mikan, V. (2020) EMG Analysis of Neural Activation Patterns of the Gluteal Muscle Complex. International Journal of Exercise Science: Conference Proceedings: Vol. 2: Iss. 12, Article 165.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.wku.edu/ijesab/vol2/iss12/165
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