139. Which Exercises Should You Squeeze Your Glutes On And Why You Have Hip Dips

Pssssstttt! Not all glute exercises require you to squeeze your cheeks at the top. In fact, in some circumstances, it could be the reason for that nasty low back pain. Find out which exercises require a good booty squeezing and which exercises the extra contraction is just not necessary.

Ready for another shocker? #HipDips are totally 100% natural and normal. Let’s break into the science behind what are they, why they occur, and how to embrace them. 

Oh and one more thing… Let me tell you about this new thing I learned! Ready? Let’s 5-4-3-2-1 this shhhh


Check out this reel for a visual on glute squeezing exercises

Mel Robbin’s How To Stop Screwing Yourself TED TALK: https://youtu.be/OCi5mRafk9Q

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Hello and welcome back to The Funsized Podcast where we talk about all things petite. If you’re new here my name is Kier, short for Kierstin, like Kierstin Dunst, except spelled differently. And I am more than just a nutrition and fitness coach for women under 5’3”. I realized that I tend to sell myself short when I just stop there because the truth is, I wear so many hats. I coach and manage a fitness app subscription, I curate a collection of petite clothing for the online Funsized boutique and I plan record and edit these podcasts – all so that petite women feel seen, heard, and empowered. So I guess what I really should be saying is Hi, I’m Kierstin, and I help women under 5’3” feel like they can take over the world via food, fitness, fashion, and more. Basically, I run an empire. No big deal. 

Okay, that’s enough about me. Right now, I want to talk about 3 things that will help YOU and ironically enough, none of these things have anything to do with being petite actually but they do have to do with being human, which all petites are so there’s that. 

So the first thing I want to have a little chit chat about is something that one of my VIP clients asked about so shout-out to Anna for inspiring this episode! She wanted to know which exercises she should be squeezing her glutes on and WHY. Which I think is an excellent question because quite frankly, even I was fed the wrong information for so long so I’m excited to debunk a few things today 

The second thing I want to talk about today is Hip Dips – what they are, why you have them, what they mean, and what to do about them… 

And last but not least, I want to introduce you to the 5 Second Rule. And no, it’s not about eating your food off the floor if you grab it in 5 seconds. I guess you’ll just have to listen all the way through.

So without any further adieu, let’s dive in already…

To squeeze da booty or not to squeeze da booty, that is the question! Okay, there are certain exercises where squeezing the glutes at the top of the movement is GREATLY beneficial – like, it would actually be cheating if you didn’t squeeze your glutes at the top because you wouldn’t be doing a full rep. And then there are other movements and exercises where it’s just not necessary to squeeze your glutes and could actually be potentially dangerous in some cases. Spoiler alert, it has nothing to do with gravity or certain joints being bent.

Before I go any further, it might be helpful to explain that in terms of exercise mechanics your glutes are opposite your hips. I think we tend to think our hips are how wide our pelvis is but in the exercise world, your hips are in front and your glutes are behind. This is important because when you’re bending and flexing at the hip, you’re conversely lengthening or stretching the glutes. On the flip side, when extending and  lengthening your hips, you’re shortening or flexing the glutes. When one extends, the other shortens. I need to point this out because we all know what it means to FLEX your bicep, right? You curl it up and shorten it to see that muscle pop! For the glutes, it’s not as easy to understand what FLEXed means but it is easier to imagine the muscle being shortened vs stretched. 

Hopefully I didn’t lose you yet. I promise this will make a lot more sense in a little bit so bare with me here.

Here’s the juicy bit

  1. You should be squeezing your glutes on exercises where the glutes are under the most tension when they are SHORTENED or FLEXED.
  2. Any sort of movement where the glutes are under the most tension when LENGTHENED OR STRETCHED, you do NOT need to squeeze. 

Without getting too far into the science-y bits and boring you to death… 

Basically, we can assume your glutes are *under the most tension during* the hardest part of the movement. I’ll give you example. Where is the hardest part of a squat? At the bottom when you have to push yourself back up to standing position. At the bottom, under the most tension, your glutes are lengthened and stretched conversely, at the top of a squat, your glutes are NOT under the most tension which means that squats fall into the no-booty-squeeze category. Squeezing at the top of a squat is kinda pointless because your butt isn’t really loaded at the top of the exercise. It’s the starting position and it’s also where you get to pause, rest, take a breather before going into the next rep. No tension, no squeeze. 

Now if you’re guilty of squeezing the booty at the top of a squat, don’t be embarrassed. I think we’ve all done it. But I want you to know that while the squeeze itself isn’t bad or wrong, the main problem with squeezing at the top of a squat is that it can lead to overextension of the spine. A squat should finish with your ribs stacked over your hips. If you focus too much on squeezing your glutes at the top it can create a pelvic tuck that pushes your hips too far forward. That is what can lead to pain or injury as you’ll be overloading the spine and putting pressure on your lower back. Again, the squeeze on a squat isn’t the problem, so you might not feel the pressure on your low back with bodyweight or light weights but trust me, when you get to the point when you’re squatting your bodyweight, that low back pain will creep up if you’re pushing your hips too far forward aka squeezing the glutes. I don’t mean to scare you but just imagine having 150lbs on your back, pushing your hips forward at the top, and losing your balance and falling – sounds terrifying right? Let’s try to avoid that by not squeezing the glutes at the top of a squat. 

Before we get into exercises TO squeeze your glutes on, let’s talk about Another exercise where it’s common to see people doing the butt squeeze but it’s actually not beneficial. Romanian Deadlifts, also known as RDLs. And while we’re here, we’ll put Good-mornings in there too since they basically are the same movement, the only difference is where the weight is anchored. So with RDLs and Good-mornings, Where is the hardest part of the rep? Again, the glutes take most of the load at the bottom when the glutes and hams are almost full stretched and lengthened. That means at the top of the movement, there is less tension on the glutes, which means, don’t do the booty squeeze. Same thing as the squat, you want to finish with your ribs stacked over your hips – NOT pushing your pelvis out while simultaneously leaning back. 

Moving on to WHEN YOU SHOULD SQUEEZE da booty…

Let’s start with glute bridges and hip thrusts. So with both of these exercises, our glutes are under the most tension at the top of the movement when our hips are extended and our glutes are shortened – because remember, when one is lengthened the other is shortened. And when our glutes are shortened at the hardest part, that’s the time under most tension, that is when we want to squeeze the glutes. By squeezing the glutes here at the top you’re essentially finishing out the rep and increasing the time under tension for maximal gainz – with a z bro. Interestingly enough, not squeezing the glutes at the top of a hip thrust could lead to back pain/injury. So, opposite of the squat, squeezing glutes up top is beneficial to increase tension AND it will also protect the hips and spine. 

Again, this goes for any movement where the hips are lengthened and glutes are shortened. Like glute kickbacks and their many variations of that like donkey kicks. Also 45 degree glute raises on GHD or standard hyperextension board. Squeezing the glute when it’s in its shortened state will increase time under tension and protect your low back. 

So just to recap: You should squeeze the glutes at the top of

Bridges thrusts, Kickbacks, and 45 glute raise

And you should not squeeze the glutes at the top of

Squats, RDLs, and Good-mornings

Now I’m sure you’re now wondering: What about regular deadlifts? Because if you think about it, the glutes are under the most tension at the top but they aren’t necessarily fully shortened. And if it’s pointless to squeeze glutes in the upright position of a squat unless you want back pain, then what makes it okay in a deadlift? Well, here’s the thing, while it is beneficial to squeeze your glutes at the top of a deadlift since that’s where the muscles will be loaded, you still don’t want to be pushing your hips through or overextending the spine, so you should exaggerate the booty squeeze on deadlifts. It takes practice to nail this and find your sweet spot so if you haven’t found it yet, it’s okay, keep trying and keep practicing, AND keep learning! Both deadlifts and squats, while seemingly simple, actually require so much articulation and skill. Part of it is practice, and a bigger part of it is understanding. 10 years in of practicing and coaching and even I’m still learning new things about fitness and my body all the time!

Moving on to topic number 2: HIP DIPS

If you’re not familiar with this trending buzzword, Hip Dips are those  inward curves between your hips and above your thighs and it’s the latest body part that the internet wants us to feel bad about for some reason.

But Hip Dips are absolutely 100% totally normal and you do not need to get rid of them, contrary to what the headlines say. AND they do not signify if someone is healthy, unhealthy, overweight, or underweight because guess what?! Hip dips actually have more to do with your BONE structure and where your hormones decide you store body fat –  both of which YOU CANNOT CHANGE. So the fact that people are marketing workouts and exercises to “fix” this makes me want to bang my head into the wall. It’s manipulative really because they’re planting a seed and encouraging you to think badly of your normal natural body AND THEN they’re CAPITALIZING on those insecurities they planted. But it gets worse! what ever it is they sell you isn’t helping you achieve anything really because you just CANNOT change your bone structure or body fat storage…

I mean, I’m no expert on human anatomy so I did some research for this podcast and found this: How visible your hip dips are will depend on 

  • the width of your hips
  • the size of the top of your femur
  • the distances between your ilium, hip socket, and femur
  • the way your hormones decide your body stores fat
  • And, your muscle mass

Only one of those things you can change, but the thing is…there isn’t even a muscle there that you could build up that would _bunny ears_ “fill in the gaps.”

While building muscle mass in your glutes and gaining some body fat may slightly reduce the appearance of hip dips, it’s unlikely to completely get rid of them. 

Wanna know another fun fact? Contrary to popular belief, hip dips are commonly linked to lower body fat stores in these areas. So if you’re at a relatively normal to low body fat and you’ve been doing your glute squeezes on hip thrusts and wondering why you’re noticing your hip dips more, it’s not just that you’ve been hyperfocused on them thanks to social media, but because by growing your glutes, especially your glute medius, you’re gonna see and increased appearance.

With all that being said about having low body fat and lean muscle mass, hip dips could be an indirect sign of athleticism. The crazy thing is, 10 years ago when I was idolizing my favorite fitness models and pinning pictures in my “hardbodies” pinterest board – oh yea, I did that – ALL of them had hip dips. Except I didn’t know that’s what they were called, nor did I focus on them. But I do remember being jealous of my boyfriend at the time who was a former collegiate baseball player who had that indentation on the side of his glute because he was so athletic. JEALOUS. And I remember the first time I realized I was getting that look, again I didn’t know they were called hip dips, but I was standing in the shower and looking down at the side of my glute I could see that small indentation and I was ecstatic. So that’s why when all this hip dips bullshit started coming out I was like wait what? I mean, have I ever fantasized over having a wider and rounder hips, of course, I think we all envied Kim K at some point or another but I’m also really damn proud of my hip dips because It means I put the work in to develop a really strong powerful booty behind me. I guess what I’m getting at is that 10 years ago, I idolized hip dips and now social media is trying to make me feel about about them – and failing miserably btw- but that just goes to show how much of a trend this is. Just like that whole phase we had about obsessing over thigh gaps and I’m pretty sure we’re over that now so this whole thing is just a really bad trend that some people are using to market their programs and that’s unfortunate. Anyone who’s familiar with business and marketing knows that a brilliant strategy is to dive deep into a prospect’s insecurities and fears but creating an insecurity to later capitalize on is just grimy and manipulative. 

All this to say…Hip dips are normal. Hip dips are natural. And Hip dips are beautiful. 

Lastly, the third thing… I want to read you a little excerpt out of the book I’m currently reading. It’s called the 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins. And no, it’s not about eating your food off the floor if you grab it in 5 seconds. It’s about using a countdown 5-4-3-2-1 to change your life. It sounds pretty cheesy and simple but the book and it’s concept has some real power . Anyway, I want to read you a little bit from Chapter 9. Here goes.

“Thinking about being healthier won’t make you healthier. Even meditation, which is a mental exercise, still requires that you DO IT. There is no getting around this. You must take action. The irony is that in no other area of our lives is there more information, support, research, options, or free content than on the subject of health and wellness. You could Google “diet”, download the top 20 search results, print them out, put them on a dart board, and follow whatever diet the dart hits. This diet, if you actually follow it, will work. The problem is neve the diet. The problem is always your FEELINGS about dieting. 

Every single diet, exercise program, gym circuit, workout class, physical therapy regime, cross training routine, meditation program and yoga flow will improve your health. But here’s the catch – YOU HAVE TO DO IT. 

Why is getting healthy so hard? You already know the answer – your feelings. If you feel deprived of bread, you won’t stick to your gluten-free diet. The second you consider how you feel about eating salad for the next 113 days, you’ll convince yourself not to do it. The moment you scan today’s Crossfit workout and consider how you feel about doing 45 burpees with a bunch of people in a parking lot- you won’t feel like walking out the door and going. 

Blowing off the gym, hitting the In-n-Out Burger drive-thru, and wasting time on Facebook is a hell of a lot easier than hyperventilating in a spin class or cutting out sugar from your diet. If you want to lose weight, follow a diet, and regularly exercise, there’s only one thing you must do: STOP THINKING ABOUT HOW YOU FEEL. Exercise and health comes down to one simple rule – you don’t have to feel like it. You just have to do it.”

I wanted to share this because it rings so true. I’ve been coaching for a long time and what I’ve found is that for 80% of my clients once they have their training program written out with exactly what to do and how many reps and sets and how much cardio to do and how much steps to take a day, they generally get it done. Why? Because they don’t necessarily have to think about it, they just follow the plan and go. The hard part is always the nutrition. Why? Because this part is a little looser, there’s more options, more distractions and more effort required on their part to plan it out. Yes, I give them the tools and knowledge to plan it out but ultimately it’s up to them to make the decision, I can’t force feed them. And trust me, writing exact meal plans isn’t the answer either. It’s actually more of a waste of my time because they won’t follow it because it’s not what they FEEL like. To that’s why I teach them to plan out what they FEEL like. But let’s be honest, nobody FEELS like making a meal plan and doing the meal prep. We all want to eat whatever and not think about it because that’s what’s easy. But as the saying goes, Nothing easy is worth doing. Change happens in the uncomfortable. Sometimes you just gotta set your feelings aside and do the hard thing if that thing is going to get you what you want. 

The author, Mel Robbins, is a hoot. She’s funny but she also a straightshot and I highly encourage you to watch or listen her 21 minute TED talke called How to Stop Screwing Yourself if you feel you need that extra push to do the hard things. I’m linking it in the shownotes for ya. And with that, I’m signing out and off today. As always, thanks so much for listening and I’ll catch ya in the next episode! BAI!

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