Strong Curves: A Woman’s Guide to Building a Better Butt and Body Program and Book Review

I Wanted a Better Butt

For those who wanted to know what strength program I was doing at the gym, this is for you. In December 2014 I decided it was time to get my butt in shape, I mean literally. I did it not only for aesthetic reasons but I knew that those muscles were lazy. I was already doing a whole lot of squats, lunges and deadlifts but when it came to the traditional buttock exercises, I couldn’t even do it properly.  Whenever I tried doing the quadruped hip extension exercise, my hamstrings would always cramp and it would make my low back sore. Not once from those exercises did I ever feel my glutes contract or feel like anything was happening there. I did some research as to how I can get my glutes firing and came across Bret Contreras, “the glute guy.” I mean, what a name! It reminds of Kramer and the “ass man” from Seinfeld. Aside from having a great name, he had some great videos, articles and published books, so I decided to pick up his Strong Curves book that week.

The Glute Test

In his book, he makes you complete 30-60 seconds of continuous glute exercises from the bird dog, to the quadruped hip extension, to the clamshell. During that time, all I could feel were my hamstrings and low back and barely any glutes. I must admit was a pretty disappointed but he stated that it would take time and daily practice to wake up those muscles.

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When I first tried out the quadruped hip extension, it made my hamstring cramp and my low back sore

 

The Workout

I was really motivated during the first week to try out these exercises but I still didn’t feel any obvious glute activation going down. It wasn’t until 3-4 weeks into the program that I was able to get those bad boys going. Finally! I spent 4-5x/week doing the workouts and really focusing on utilizing those muscles. When you feel like giving up because you’re not getting the results you wanted in a few weeks, keep pushing and finish the entire program because it will pay off.

 I finished the 12-week program in February 2015 but knew I had more to left in me. My butt may have gotten a bit bigger but I was definitely stronger.

 

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The hip thruster is the fundamental movement of this program

 

 

Thoughts on Programming

I was impressed with how comprehensive and thorough the book was, but it was a lot to go through. With a physiotherapy background, it was an easy read but maybe a bit much for some people.

I was glad there was a section on pelvic floor, as this is usually not talked about with a lot of strength programs for women.

I really liked this program because it varied enough to prevent me from getting bored of it, but not too much so that I could still work on the movements and felt like I was progressing and improving. This program forced me to try new movements I never thought I would do at the gym.  For example, the zercher squat looks ridiculous. I mean, why on earth would you place the bar in your elbow creases while squatting? It hurts, you can’t load up the bar very much and it looks stupid. But gosh darn, I shouldn’t say anything until I’ve tried it. I couldn’t believe how much it got my glutes firing compared to a front or back squat.  It was uncomfortable for my arms but the amount of burn I got in my butt was well worth it.

 

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Zercher squat: An odd looking but underrated type of squatting to get your glutes firing
 

 

I’m going through this book again because I really believe that I can do a better job this time around.  I don’t think I’ll ever achieve that Kim Kardashian butt but this program taught me to be disciplined, not to be afraid of eating lots of carbs and protein, and that I’m pretty strong.

Check out his book Strong Curves and his website at www.bretcontreras.com. Stay tuned as I'll be posting another blog on what I would change for the next round of Strong Curves.

 

Happy lifting :)

Jessie