Is it okay to drink diet soda for weight loss?
Diet soda has zero calories, and since the only way to gain body fat is to eat more calories than your body needs, which your body then stores as fat.
But even with diet soda being zero calories, there can be a lot of hype out around whether diet soda is safe to drink, and whether or not the added chemicals can cause weight gain.
In this article, we are going to deep dive what the research says, both in favor of, and against diet soda contributing to weight gain.
Then we will reach a conclusion at the end, and you can learn once and for all whether or not diet soda is okay to drink.
So put your reading glasses on, your thinking cap, and also, a pair of really cozy socks. Because you should be comfortable.
Let’s get into it.
What Is Diet Soda Made Of?
Before we dive into whether the chemicals of diet soda can be harmful or helpful, let’s first understand what is in diet soda.
The thing that scares people about diet soda, is the artificial sweeteners.
Most diet sodas, the popular brands, Coke/Pepsi, contain the artificial sweetener aspartame (which is also known as NutriSweet or Equal).
It’s about 200 times sweeter than regular sugar, and was approved by the FDA in 1981 for use in dry foods, then approved as a general sweetener in 1996.
Like most artificial sweeteners, it was discovered by accident. Just like when I “accidentally” threw a Nintendo 64 controller at my brother’s head during a spirited game of Mario Kart.
So why does aspartame get a bad rap?
Let’s get into some of the claims around aspartame and diet soda in general, and break down what they mean, and if they are accurate.
Does Aspartame Cause Cancer?
There are several studies done that link aspartame to cancer.
Here’s one study on it. Which shows a strong link between cancer risk in multiple organs when consuming even low doses of aspartame.
However, this study is performed on rats.
And you’re not a rat.
Your body is very different to that of a rat.
So let’s look on some of the research done on actual humans.
Here’s a study that observed 473,984 participants, and surveyed them on their use of aspartame.
.004% of the participants were found to have cancerous symptoms, after a period of 5 years, and this study did not find a link between aspartame and cancer.
As well as this article which finds no link between aspartame and cancer, among the vast amount of medical research done across of PubMed.
So no, as long as you are not a rat, part rat, or occasionally work night shifts as a rat, you are not at risk for cancer from drinking diet soda.
Does Drinking Diet Soda Cause Weight Gain?
This question stems from a comment I got on my Instagram recently.
I made a post about how all foods are okay to eat, and the comment I got was such this.
“Ummm… not exactly that simple. The thing that breaks this rule is Diet Coke… It has zero calories… But study after study shows it actually makes you gain weight due to the chemicals they put in it.”
If you’ve been coming to my page for a while, you know that weight loss occurs when your body takes in less calories than your body burns.
And weight gain occurs when your body takes in more calories when your body burns.
This happens to coincide with the first law of thermodynamics, which summarizes that energy cannot be created or destroyed.
Body fat is in essence, stored energy.
And since a calorie is a unit of measurement for energy, you simply cannot store energy from something with no energy in it.
The studies supporting weight gain from drinking diet soda, are mostly on rats.
Which we’ve already identified as problematic, so I won’t bother linking them.
Here’s a study where 154 participants were randomly assigned to consume different types and dosages of no-calorie sweeteners, including aspartame every day for 12 weeks, and controlled daily calorie intake
And this study found that those who consumed aspartame daily for 12 weeks ended up losing weight.
Here’s a meta-analysis which analyzes the results of several randomized controlled trials on humans and artificial sweetener intake.
Their findings showed no evidence suggesting weight gain in adults, adolescents, or children. It found that replacing sugar with artificial sweetener induced weight loss.
Which makes sense because you’d be replacing something with calories (sugar) for something without calories (artificial sweeter).
Does Drinking Diet Soda Trick Your Brain Into Thinking It’s Real Sugar?
The argument here is that your body thinks the aspartame is real sugar, and so your body releases insulin in response.
This study tested 12 non-diabetes subjects, and 10 non-insulin dependent diabetic patients, handed them a Diet Coke, and a friendly smile, then measured their insulin levels.
Okay maybe that’s not exactly how it happened, but the important thing is what they found.
No meaningful effect on their insulin levels.
In fact, after scouring PubMed for hours, I couldn’t find a single well done study that linked aspartame to insulin release.
If you found one, let me know.
Even the studies on the rats didn’t invoke an insulin response.
Research aside, let’s think about it.
Insulin is released to lower your blood sugar levels.
So if your body releases insulin to lower blood sugar levels, even though your blood sugar hasn’t been raised.
This would make your blood sugar level lower than normal. Which is otherwise known as hypoglycemia.
If you’re having a hypoglycemic response to diet soda, that is a medical emergency, and very abnormal.
Are There Benefits Of Diet Soda?
My favorite claim against diet soda is that it has no nutritional value whatsoever.
And that is 100% true.
But neither does water.
Here’s the deal. Aspartame is refered to as a non-nutritive sweeter. So we know just by its definition, that it does not have any nutrients.
Something having no nutritional value just means that it has no nutrients in it, it doesn’t make something bad.
Water doesn’t have nutrients in it, but your body needs it to survive.
Of course, I’m not saying that your body needs diet soda to survive.
But I’m not saying it’s bad either. It’s like adding food coloring to food. There’s nothing nutritious about it, it’s just there. Doing no harm.
However, that doesn’t mean it’s completely devoid of health benefits.
For one, it’s first ingredient is water. So by drinking diet soda, you’re getting hydration benefits. I mean, you should probably be drinking real water too, but this helps.
Secondly, you are getting some satisfaction out of drinking it. If it’s something you’re enjoying, and it’s not doing any harm, that is a benefit.
Wrapping It All Up
So we’ve learned that diet soda isn’t bad for you.
And even has a few benefits from it.
Bottom line is this: If you enjoy drinking diet soda, then it is absolutely okay to drink.
And it might even make things a little easier for you.
The gym is a placed filled with both written, and unwritten rules.
Whether you’re stepping foot into the gym for the first time, or are a hardened veteran, it’s always good to know the rules of gym etiquette.
Even if you feel like you know all the rules, or what you should do at the gym, read this.
Because it’s very clear, that not everyone knows the rules (or they just blatantly choose to not follow them).
So don’t skim around, don’t skip through.
And don’t be a Jim Doosh.
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Gym Etiquette Rule #1: Follow The Written Rules
Most gyms have some rules listed. Some more than others, some have no rules.
But first and foremost, always follow the rules of your gym.
Most gyms have at least a re-rack your weights rule, which we will touch on later in the article. Some get even more in depth.
Take Planet Fitness for example.
Planet fitness has a lot of rules.
They get a lot of flack for some of their rules, and not everyone agrees with them.
But remember this: you are at their establishment.
If you had rules in your house, and a house guest didn’t like them, how would you feel if people start disobeying them?
Bottom line: If you don’t like the rules, and refuse to follow them, go somewhere else.
Gym Etiquette Rule #2: Leave Things How You Found Them
This one seems obvious, but it is the most broken rule of all time.
In the gym I work at, we have two dumbbell racks, that are on opposite sides of the gym.
There are different dumbbells on each rack, so you know which ones belong where.
Every single morning when I walk in, the first thing I do is go right to the dumbbell rack in the back of the gym.
Bring the 17.5 pound dumbbells that I know are going to be left under the rack, over to the place they belong on the other rack.
Because the same guy comes in every day, takes those 17.5 pound dumbbells, brings them over to the wrong place, and leaves them in the wrong place.
The gym staff is not your mom.
They aren’t there to pick up after you.
Put things back where you found them.
That includes putting your dumbbells back on the rack in the correct place, taking the plates off the bar and putting them back where they belong, and taking your plates off the machine.
Gym Etiquette Rule #3: If You Touched It, Wipe It Down
Not wiping down your equipment is a health risk. Especially in a peri/post-pandemic age. You want to do as much as possible to stop the spread of germs.
Health risks aside, it’s gross. No one wants to sit down on a bench that has a sweat stain that is the exact shape of the back of your head. Or worse, the exact shape of your butt.
Gyms either have wipes, or spray and paper towels for you to wipe things down.
This is not limited to just the things you sit on. Also wipe down your dumbbells, barbells, cable attachments. If you touched it, wipe it.
Gym Etiquette Rule #4: Don’t Talk To Someone In The Middle Of Their Set
There’s nothing worse than being just about to go for a new personal record at the gym, and then Chatty Cathy comes up to you and starts talking about their kid’s hockey practice.
It’s okay to strike up a conversation with someone at the gym.
But remember, some people will be receptive to this, and other’s won’t be.
Good rule of thumb, if someone has headphones on, they probably don’t want to talk.
Regardless of how friendly you are, and someone else may seem however, if someone is in the middle of their lifting, do not talk to them.
If you really feel the need to talk to someone, or feel like trying to strike a conversation up, wait until that person has finished their set.
Gym Etiquette Rule #5: Respect Personal Space
The gym isn’t the New York City subway.
There’s is plenty of space in there, so you don’t need to get right next to someone to go do your workout.
Find your own space to do your workout.
Whether it’s a at the squat rack, a bench, or somewhere near the dumbbells for some standing work.
Take up your own area, and make that your bubble.
And don’t go into other people’s bubbles.
And definitely don’t touch anyone else in the gym without consent.
Gym Etiquette Rule #6: Don’t Stand Directly In Front Of The Dumbbell Rack
This is the worst offense. If you grab a pair of dumbbells to do curls, shrugs, raises, whatever exercise you choose to do.
Take a step back.
Make sure you leave room for others to get in and grab dumbbells.
Otherwise people will be standing behind you waiting to grab the dumbbells you are blocking.
This also goes for any type of row.
If you’re doing a single arm row, don’t use the dumbbell rack as a place to put your supporting hand on.
Be courteous, and go use a bench.
Oh, and definitely don’t shadow box directly in front of the rack.
Gym Etiquette Rule #7: Don’t Stare At People
Look I get it.
I know people are in the gym, working on themselves.
Maybe you really are impressed with someone’s lift, their form, or you really like the way their butt looks.
It’s rude, it’s inappropriate, and you’re probably making that person very uncomfortable.
This one especially applies to men staring at women in the gym.
It is a very real problem that women experience.
The gym is not the place to try and pick up a date. It’s not a bar, and it’s not Tinder.
It’s somewhere for people to go in, have their own personal space, work on themselves, and get out.
If a conversation strikes up, then that’s great, go with it.
But please don’t go out of your way to try to find a one night stand with someone at the gym.
Gym Etiquette Rule #8: Have Good Hygiene
I know you’re about to go to a place where you’re going to sweat.
But don’t walk in there smelling like a dumpster.
Especially if you’re working with a trainer.
A little deodorant goes a long way.
That’s All Folks
There you have it, some simple rules to have good etiquette at the gym, so you can be respectful, and not a Jim Doosh.
Any questions, I’m always here.
So you want to get more protein in you diet.
There’s about a million and a half reasons for a high protein diet.
If you’re trying to lose body fat, eating more protein in your diet is going to help you retain muscle, and lose only fat.
If you’re tying to build muscle, this is going to massively (no pun intended) going to help your recovery.
So how do you make sure you get enough protein in your diet to get all those juicy protein benefits, and juicier protein farts?
In this article, I’m going to give you some simple tips to make it easier for you to get more protein in your diet.
How To Get More Protein In Your Diet
Tip 1: Eat Larger Portions Of Protein
If you’re struggling to get enough protein in your diet right now.
This is my simplest and easiest trick that I implement with my online coaching clients.
Here’s how you do it.
Take an inventory of the protein you are generally eating at meals.
Let’s create a sample menu here.
Meal 1: A 2 Egg Omelet with cheese and vegetables – Approximately 13 grams of protein
Meal 2: A Turkey Sandwich with 4 oz of deli turkey meat – Approximately 20 grams of protein
Meal 3: A grilled chicken breast with potatoes and broccoli – Approximately 22 grams of protein
Meal 4: A protein shake – Approximately 20 grams of protein.
This totals to a measly 75 grams of protein.
Now at the end of the day, you’re going to be scrambling to find some high protein snacks to get that number up.
But here’s the truth, you don’t need more snacks.
What if we took all those serving sizes and doubled them?
Let’s take the omelet. We can add some liquid egg whites to your whole eggs to get double the protein there.
Your turkey sandwich, stack that Bad Larry with 8 ounces of turkey.
Slap two chicken breasts on your plate for dinner.
Last but not least, use a double scoop of protein powder for a thick shake.
You’ve now doubled your protein intake, without having to change anything besides portion sizes.
You’re still eating the same foods you already enjoy.
How To Get More Protein In Your Diet
Tip 2: Eat The Protein On Your Plate First
You feel more full from eating protein than you do from carbs and fats.
And protein is generally the least satisfying, from an enjoyability standpoint.
So many people will put the protein on their plate, with good intentions, and then throw half of it out because they were too full to finish it.
Then it winds up in the garbage along with the vegetables you left rotting in your crisper drawer.
A surefire way to avoid this, is dive straight into that protein first.
If you’re trying to get more protein in your diet, you want to quite literally prioritize it by eating it off your plate first.
How To Get More Protein In Your Diet
Tip 3: Know Your Protein Sources
There’s a big difference between a food that is dominantly protein, and one that is dominantly either carbs or fats, and has tagalong proteins.
When trying to get more protein in your diet, you want to prioritize the dominantly protein rich sources.
Here’s a list:
Dominantly Protein Sources
Chicken Breast, 4oz ≈ 147 calories, 26g protein
Ground beef/Ground Turkey, 4oz ≈ 160-200 calories, 21-22g protein
Pork Tenderloin, 4oz ≈ 120 calories, 23g protein
Tuna, 1 can ≈ 120 calories, 21g protein
Deli Turkey, 4oz ≈ 120 calories, 20g protein
Egg whites, 4oz ≈ 64 calories, 13g protein
Salmon or other fish, 4oz ≈ 180 calories, 23 protein
0% Greek Yogurt, 1 cup ≈ 240 calories, 17g protein
Shrimp, 4oz ≈ 80 calories, 15g protein
Protein Powder, 1 scoop ≈ 150-250 calories, 15-30g protein
Tofu, 6oz, ≈ 152 calories, 16g protein
Cottage Cheese, 1 cup, ≈ 160 calories, 22g protein
Tempeh, 4oz ≈ 170 calories, 22g protein
Foods That Are Predominantly Carbs/Fats, But Have Some Tagalong Proteins
Now I’m not saying you can ever have peanut butter, nuts, or beans ever again.
These are great foods, but when you’re filling your plate with protein, you’re not going to be filling it with peanut butter as your protein source, since it’s mostly a fat source.
A great way to tell if your food is predominantly protein is to check the macronutrient ratio.
Unfortunately, this isn’t as simple as seeing which macronutrient has the most grams in the food.
To find out how the percentage of each calorie per macronutrient, divide each calorie amount by 90, then multiply by 100.
- 27 fat calories / 90 calories x 100% = 30% of calories from fat
- 52 carb calories / 90 calories x 100% = 57% of calories from carbs
- 12 protein calories / 90 calories x 100% = 13% of calories from protein
Foods that are mostly protein will have at least 50% of calories from protein.
Consider these your high protein sources, and prioritize these.
How To Get More Protein In Your Diet
Tip 4: Use Protein Shakes
One of the most common questions I get asked is whether you need to get protein from natural sources.
The answer is that it doesn’t matter.
Protein is protein.
And a convenient, and cost effective way to get protein in is with a protein shake.
Now we just spent some time talking about tagalong macronutrients.
So when you’re choosing a protein shake, I want to offer some factors to consider.
Make sure your protein shake is mostly protein
If your shake has 17 grams of carbs, 2.5 grams of fat, and 17 grams of protein, it’s not mostly protein.
You’re getting a lot of extra calories from it that aren’t protein.
Which isn’t inherently bad, but if you’re trying to focus on protein intake, it’s a lot easier to get those carbs and fats through other sources.
When they’re sneaking into your protein shake, you’re adding extra calories that don’t need to be there.
You can just find a shake that is mostly protein.
How To Get More Protein In Your Diet
There you have it.
No magic tips to ingest protein through osmosis, or without doing any work.
But use these tips, and it will make the process a lot easier.
Whether you’re trying to lose some weight, add some muscle, or improve your overall health and fitness, it all comes down to one thing: consistency.
Interestingly enough, it also seems to be the hardest part for most people.
In a recent Q&A on my Instagram, I asked what my followers biggest struggle with weight loss was. More than half of them said consistency.
You can have the best plan, trainer, and groceries in the world. But if you don’t have consistency, none of it matters.
In this article, I’m going to share with you 4 Tips To Improve Your Consistency In Fitness
So let’s dive right into it.
How To Improve Consistency In Fitness
Tip 1: Set Goals
Having a clearly defined goal is going to set you up for long term success. How can you know you’re being consistent if you don’t know what you’re trying to be consistent in?
For consistency based goals, it’s important to have process based goals rather than outcome based goals.
A process based goal is what you are going to do to try and reach your outcome based goal.
Process based goal example: I’m going to be in a calorie deficit 80% of my days
Outcome based goal example: I’m going to lose 20 pounds.
While there is nothing wrong with having an outcome based goal, you’re not going to reach that goal unless you have a process to reach it.
So setting process based goals, is how you come up with a plan to reach your outcome based goal.
Remember, a goal without a plan is just a wish.
Setting your goals is a great way to actually achieve your goals
So what should your goals look like?
Any goal you set needs to be sustainable. There’s nothing wrong shooting high.
But if you’re setting unrealistic goals like “I want to lose 50 lbs for my sister’s wedding next Wednesday”, I’ve got some bad news.
It’s also unrealistic to set goals like “I’m going to eat 1,200 calories every single day for the month of March.”
Number one, because you should not be eating 1,200 calories unless you are a pottytrained labradoodle. Number two, because even if you were a pottytrained labradoodle, aiming for perfection is just not realistic.
The reality is, sometimes life gets in the way. And if you want a high quality of life, while trying to achieve your fitness goals, you’re going to want to allow yourself a little grace.
A better example of a realistic goal might be something like “I’m going to workout 4 days a week for the month of March.”
This allows you some flexibility to schedule your workouts, without making you insane.
How can you know you’re succeeding at your goals if you can’t measure them?
Again, if these are process based goals, this is definitely something you can measure.
If your goal is to do X thing X amount of times, then that is very easily measurable.
If your goal is something like “Meh, I wanna lose weight.”
That’s not very measurable, and it’s vague.
Your goal should excite you.
It should be something that if you stick to that goal, you can picture how much better your life will be by working on it.
If you don’t get fired up about your goal, then you’re a lot less likely to stick to it.
How To Improve Consistency In Fitness
Tip 2: Create A Consistency Calendar
If you really want to improve your consistency in your fitness, this one is going to play a huge role.
Here’s what to do.
Go buy a paper calendar, a black marker, and a red marker.
Every day that you’ve fallen within your goals that you’ve outlined in step 1, you put a big Red X on the calendar for the day
Every day that you don’t reach those goals, you put a big Black Circle on the calendar for the day.
At the end of the month, you’ll have a very nice visual of your consistency for the month. If you see lots of red X’s and few black circles, then you’re doing great. If your black circles end up being more than 20% of the days of the month, then you have room for improvement.
Things to aim for:
- No more than six black circles in a month
- No black circles two days in a row
How To Improve Consistency In Fitness
Tip 3: Start Small
The biggest reason people fall off in fitness is because they try to go too fast too quick.
They’ll try to add every healthy habit all at once.
This is a great way to burn yourself out, and feel completely overwhelmed.
What not to do:
- Workout 7 days a week
- Eat the bare minimum amount of calories
- Restrict entire food groups
- Limit yourself to only eating in certain meal windows
This stuff above doesn’t do anything good for your fat loss.
Because it’s virtually impossible to stick to.
Now I know you may be reading this article, and thinking. That’s great and all, I’d love to start small. But what exactly should I do?
I’m glad you asked.
Here’s 3 mini-tips to get you started if you’re not sure what to do.
The 3-3-3 method
I’ve used this method with my online coaching clients, and it is tried and true.
3 plates of food each day
- This is a regular size dinner plate, you’re not eating out of a trough here.
- 1/2 your plate is filled with either protein or vegetables.
- 1/4 your plate is filled with either protein or vegetables (whichever you didn’t choose in the above step).
- 1/4 your plate is filled with whatever the hell you want.
3 snack each day
- Snacks fit in the palm of your hand
- Make at least one of these snacks fruit, the other two can be whatever you choose.
3 days of exercise per week
- Any form of exercise will do here. Strength training, walking, unicorn jousting, it doesn’t matter. Just move your body.
- If you’re really unsure where to start, take my free beginner’s workout program.
This program is designed to take ALL of the guesswork out for you.
Go into the gym, follow this program. Reach your goals.
How To Improve Consistency In Fitness
Tip 4: The 80/20 Rule
It’s okay to not be perfect 100% of the time.
In fact, I think it’s better to be 80% consistent than 100% consistent.
If you’re having to worry about being perfect all time, you’re not really living life to the fullest.
Life is about more than being all in on your fitness all the time.
It’s about the little moments. The birthday cake at your nephew’s 3rd birthday party. Having a couple drinks with your friends after work. Or just a glass of wine to yourself on a Sunday night.
Being 80% consistent allows you to plan for these events, and be able to enjoy them, and then stay on track.
This doesn’t mean go out and have a drink with your friends every single night after work.
It also doesn’t mean be completely on track all week, and when the weekend comes just throw all of your plans out.
That’s not being consistent, and that’s not balance.
What it does mean is that 80% of your food should come from nutritious sources.
20% of your food should come from delicious sources.
And that should be done 80% of the time.
Now remember, if you don’t manage to stick to this, don’t give up.
If you end up with a few days where you go off track, this is not the time to quit.
You can’t mess up your progress from a couple days of inconsistency.
It takes just as much time to undo your progress as it took to make it in the first place.
How To Improve Consistency In Fitness
Tip 5: Hire A Coach
A great way to improve your consistency is to have someone to help hold you accountable.
Having a coach that you have to regularly check in with to make sure you’re getting the results you want can be almost like a cheat code to improving consistency.
It’s important to realize that hiring a coach doesn’t mean all the work will get magically done for you.
You still have to put in the work.
But it helps a lot to have someone who cares about you and wants to see you succeed.
If you’re serious about taking your fitness to the next level, or maybe even the first level, go ahead and fill out my online coaching application, and I’ll take all of the guesswork out of it for you.
As always, if you have any questions, e-mail me, email@example.com. I’m always here to help.
So you want to grow a big butt.
I could start off this article by doing what every other fitness influencer on Instagram does, and show pictures of my butt.
But I’m not going to do that, sorry.
What I am going to do, is teach you how to grow yours.
I’m going to tell you what kind of weights to lift, what kind of exercises to do, and how you should structure your workout program.
The only thing you need to do, is read every word of this article (no skipping around), and execute on what you’ve learned.
How To Grow Your Butt
Lift Heavy Weights
If you want to grow a butt that gets you stopped at airport security, because you have too much junk in your trunk, then you have to pick up some heavy weights.
When I say heavy weights, I don’t mean the cute pink ones underneath your TV stand.
I’m talking about weights that are going to challenge you.
The last 2-3 reps should feel like you aren’t sure if you can finish.
When it comes to lifting heavy weights there’s a few important things to remember.
1.) Form Over Everything
Whether you’re lifting 2 pounds or 200 pounds, proper technique is non-negotiable.
A few ways you can ensure you have proper technique.
- Record yourself lifting, and watch your sets back. For every single rep. Pay attention to every single part of your body and make sure it is doing the correct motion.
- Educate yourself! You can find educational videos for proper technique plastered all over Instagram, Youtube, TikTok.I post some quite often on my Instagram. I can also direct you to some other good coaches out there who post form videos often, like Eric Roberts, Jodie Walker, and Jordan Lips.
- Hire a coach to help you. The most common technique errors come from not knowing what you are doing wrong. Hiring a coach will take all of the guesswork out of it for you.
Remember that form is always most important, and if you are sacrificing your form to lift more weight, you will eventually get injured, which will cause you to be sitting on your butt more than growing it.
2.) Progressive Overload
If you’ve never lifted a heavy weight before, you don’t want to go straight into it.
You want to start conservatively, and then progress from there.
As your body gets used to lifting heavier weights, it will start to adapt, and that weight will become less challenging.
That’s when it’s time to up the weight.
A good rule of thumb for when to increase weight is the “2 for 2” rule.
If you can do 2 more reps than you started with for 2 consecutive workouts, that means it’s time to increase weight.
So for example,
Week 1, Romanian Deadlift for 3 sets of 8.
Week 2, you feel good so you do 3 sets of 9.
Week 3, 3 sets of 10
Week 4, 3 sets of 10.
The following week it would be time to increase to the next available weight and repeat the process anew.
Knee Vs. Hip Dominant Exercises
When you are trying to build your butt, you want to focus on glute based exercises.
Glute based exercises are exercises which are hip dominant, and not knee dominant.
When it comes to training your lower body, exercises which move the hip joint are going to predominantly work your glutes and hamstrings. Exercises which move the knee joint are going to predominantly work your quadriceps.
It’s important to understand, just because an exercise is hip dominant, does not mean it’s not training your quads, and vice versa with knee dominant exercises.
There is a spectrum between the two, and most exercises do not train one without the other getting involved.
That is because some of the muscles in both your quadriceps and your hamstrings are biarticular muscles.
A biarticular muscle is a muscle that connect to two joints.
The semimembranosus (part of your hamstring) and the rectus femoris (part of your quads) cross both the knee and the hip joint.
The means you can’t move one without the other also moving.
However, you can put a bias on one muscle over the other, by emphasizing either the knee moving more, or the hip moving more.
Let’s use the squat as an example.
This is my online coaching client Habib. He’s strong as all hell, and he has a very good squat.
In the image above, you can see that his knees have the most bend.
While his hip is still being bent, and he’s initiating the movement by pushing his hips back, the knee is much more. Which makes this more of a knee flexion based exercise, and thus more quad based.
However, since his hips are still moving, his glutes/hamstrings are moving as well, and are under tension. Making this work both sets of muscles.
Now let’s take the Romanian Deadlift.
In the image above, you can see that my hips have the most bend.
My knees are still slightly bending, so there is a bit of movement in the quads. But the hips are moving most, which makes this a hip extension based exercise, and thus more hamstring/glutes. As I come forward from this bottom position, my hips are going to extend forward.
Exercises To Grow Your Butt
So now that we’ve learned that you need your hips to move most to get your butt to grow the most, we can talk about which exercises use more hip extension. We’ll also talk about some exercises which put you in hip extension. Whether you’re flexing or extending your hips, the glutes are under tension, and your butt will grow.
The primary function of your gluteus maximus, is hip extension. When this occurs, your hamstrings, your glutes, and your erector spinae (the big long muscles that go from your butt all the way up your back), work together.
Hip Extension Exercises
Just going to list some of my favorites here, with a few instructional videos on how to do them. Remember, you can do these with whatever equipment you have available. So if something says barbell, and you only have dumbbells, you can probably do it with dumbbells.
These aren’t the only hip extension exercises you can do. There are several variations of these you can do as well.
How to Active Your Glutes To Grow Your Butt
You might hear all the time from trainers at the gym “activate your glutes” or “engage your glutes”. But what does it mean?
If you don’t know what actually activating your glutes means, this cue is completely useless.
When you’re performing the above exercises, you want to keep your glutes activated.
Here’s my simple “how to”
I want you to imagine that you put a penny right between your buttcheeks.
Why did you do that? I don’t know, and I’m not here to judge you.
But you don’t want to drop that penny out of your butt.
I want you to squeeze it so hard it turns into copper wire.
Keep that up throughout the entire movement, and huzzah! Your glutes are activated.
Just make sure when you’re done, to dispose of that penny.
When it comes to designing a program to grow your butt, you don’t want to be do nothing but glute exercises.
Because you don’t want to be nothing but ass.
You’re going to want to work your other muscles, not only for your physical appearance, but also your health as well.
However, if growing your butt is your goal, I suggest more of a focus on glute dominant exercises, with the other exercises sprinkled in.
The way I would typically program this would be to have 2 lower body focused days, and 2 upper body focused days.
The lower body focus days would have double the hip dominant exercises than the knee dominant exercises.
For more insight into How To Design A Strength Training Program, check out my article on that.
How To Grow Your Butt: Final Thoughts
So there you have it, there’s my top ways to grow a big ol’ butt.
You need to make sure you are focusing on glute dominant exercises, with heavy weights.
Sorry but kickbacks on the stairmaster don’t count, and those little booty bands aren’t going to help much.
You want a big ol’ butt, you need to use big ol’ weights.
Oh yeah, and don’t forget to squeeze that penny.
You wake up in the morning, and step on the scale.
Before you step on, you do a little wish, prayer and a fart, to get that extra air out.
Close your eyes and let the scale gods work their magic.
Open your eyes and… WHAT… UP 2 POUNDS???
That’s gotta be a misread right?
The scale was just on an uneven part of the floor, right?
You move the scale, step back on and WHAT?? UP 2.2 POUNDS?
Now you’re running to grab the sledgehammer out of the basement.
Well hold on, don’t smash that scale just yet.
Because I’m here to tell you that you did not gain 2 pounds of fat overnight.
I’m going to tell how how difficult it actually is to gain 2 pounds of fat in a day.
I’m going to tell you all the reasons the scale might fluctuate.
And I’m going to tell you what you should and should not do, when you see that number on the scale go up.
Did I Actually Gain 2 Pounds Overnight?
Gaining body fat requires taking in more calories than your body expends.
Gaining 2 pounds of body fat in a day required eating 7,000 calories over the amount of calories your body expends.
Which is the equivalent of 12 and a half Big Macs
And that’s 12 and a half Big Macs over your maintenance calories (which you can find here)
So unless you actually did have to pull off to the side of the drive thru while McDonalds Joe made a world record number of Big Macs in a minute for you, then you didn’t gain 2 pounds of fat overnight.
Yet the fact remains, the scale is up two pounds.
Why The Scale Fluctuates Up
Reason 1: Higher Carb Day
I want to be very clear by starting this section off with saying just because the scale might go up with more carbs, that does not mean carbs or bad and contribute to fat gain.
Carbs do not contribute to fat gain.
As I mentioned above, fat gain comes from more calories than your body expends.
But, when you have a few extra carbs the night before, you may see an increase on the scale in the morning.
This is because when you eat carbs, your body breaks them down into glycogen, which just so happens to be the main source of energy for the cells in your body.
When you eat carbs, your body stores glycogen in various places in your body.
For every 1 gram of carbs you eat, your body has to store 3-4 grams of water to store the glycogen in its secret lair known as your muscles and liver (and throughout your body).
1 pound equals roughly 454 grams.
So having extra carbs in your system is going to add water weight to your weigh in pretty quickly.
But remember, it’s just water weight.
Water weight certainly causes the scale to fluctuate
But your goal isn’t to lose water weight is it?
It’s to lose body fat.
Reason 2: You Need To Poo
I know what you’re doing.
You’re reading this article while you’re on the toilet right now, aren’t you, you dirty dog?
Well great, if you just weighed yourself, wipe, flush, and go weigh yourself again.
Because when you step on the scale before going to the bathroom, you’re not only weighing yourself, you’re also weighing all the sacrifices you’re about to make to the Porcelain Gods.
If you want a more accurate measure of weight, go drop those off first.
You can hold 1-3 pounds, or even more (depending on how bad you gotta go) of poop weight.
If you weigh yourself one day without any of the poop weight, and then the next without… of course the scale fluctuates.
By the way, I made this “Reason 2” on purpose. I never turn down a poop joke.
Reason 3: Sodium
Is sodium bad for you?
Noooooo. Your body needs sodium to survive.
But just like when you have some extra carbs, when you have some extra sodium, your body holds more water.
This is because your body tries to maintain a salt/water concentration that is similar to sea water.
And when you have more sodium, your body needs to hold on to more water to retain the appropriate concentration to have your body feeling and performing at its best.
For every 0.4 grams of sodium, you retain roughly 2 pounds of water.
Drinking excess water helps to flush this out of your system to retain the appropriate concentration.
But the important thing to remember is it’s just extra water in your body.
Resume normal functions, and the water leaves your body.
Reason 4: Stress
One more time for the people in the back.
The only thing that makes you gain body fat is more calories than your body expends.
Stress doesn’t make you gain body fat on its own.
However, stress can contribute to fat gain through the decisions made while under stress.
If you constantly find yourself stress eating, and consistently overeating calories, then yes, you will put on body fat.
It’s easy for me to say, just be less stressed. But that’s not how the world works.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s assume that’s not the case. Let’s assume, you’re under stress (aren’t we all), but you’re managing your stress and it’s not affecting your fat loss related decisions.
Yet the scale is still up, what gives?
Cortisol is your body’s stress hormone.
When your boss texts you at 5:30 AM saying “emergency”, that’s going to to cause your cortisol levels to spike.
And when your cortisol levels spike, your body holds more water.
It can also lead to increased appetite, which goes back to point one of this paragraph.
In short here, higher stress = higher water retention. And as we’ve learned from here, water has weight to it.
Reason 5: Time of the month
This one’s for the ladies only.
So if you’re a dude, you can either skip this section, or you can read on, because just because it doesn’t affect you directly doesn’t mean it’s not important.
Now if you’re a lady, you’ve probably experienced some bloating during menstruation.
There’s a common theme around bloating, throughout this article. And that is that it is just water weight.
Here’s the good news, this cycle has an end.
Like I tell my online coaching clients, even though the scale may go up, as long as you just stay on track, that number will go back down.
What NOT To Do When The Scale Fluctuates Upwards
So we’ve learned that when the scale fluctuates up, it’s generally cause by increased water retention.
You now know that you didn’t gain 2 pound of fat overnight, unless you went berserk at the McDonald’s drive thru.
Here are some things you should avoid doing when the scale goes up.
It’s okay, you now have the awareness to know that you didn’t undo all your progress in a night.
Think of it this way.
You can’t gain all of your progress in one day, so you can’t ruin your progress in one day
It takes just as much time to undo the progress as it took to make it.
2. Making Up For It
So the scale is up, and now you think to yourself, “okay, I’ll just eat a little less today to make up for it.”
Don’t do this.
This is going to cause a classic restrict-binge cycle.
By restricting calories today, this will cause your hunger hormones to fire up tomorrow.
So while you may be trying to “make up” for the weight gained, your body will be trying to make up for the missed food.
Causing you to be excessively hungry the following day, and then you end up raiding your pantry like an escaped war criminal.
3. Adding Extra Exercise
You don’t need to burn more calories from the extra weight.
Because it’s just water.
And it’s totally okay to hold on to a little extra water.
You don’t need to sweat it out just to see the number on the scale go down.
Because the great thing about water weight is, it goes away just as quickly as it comes on.
What To Do When The Scale Fluctuates Upwards
What exactly should you do when the scale fluctuates?
The dirty, unsexy truth is that you should just keep carrying on.
Don’t make any changes just because you see the number on the scale go up.
The scale is just a piece of data to show you how much your body weighs on a given day.
That weight includes not only your body fat, but your muscle mass, skeletal system, organs, and water.
The scale number is not an indicator of health, or self-worth.
So just keep carrying on as is, because this is a long-term journey.
And letting one weigh in dictate what you do on the day to day makes no sense.
Because it’s your consistent actions over time that provide long term success.
Now keep going, and keep doing your best.