Last updated on November 13th, 2022 at 03:58 pm
Squats are typically viewed as the King of lower body exercises, so the last thing you’d expect is for your bum to get smaller by performing them.
I mean, you’e always been told that if you want a great booty then you have to squat.
So, the fact that your butt is shrinking from squats goes completely against everything you know.
Not to worry, as I’ll now explain why your bum is getting smaller and what you can do to fix this.
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Why is My Bum Getting Smaller With Squats?
There are many reasons why your bum is getting smaller with squats. The most obvious of these is you were initially carrying a lot of excess booty fat, so your butt has literally shrunk with exercise. However, if you’re not activating your glutes before or during squats then you’ll never receive the true benefit. Furthermore, nutrition, rest and recovery play a huge role in growing your glutes. So, you need to ensure that you’re eating enough, not training your glutes too often with high intensity, and getting enough sleep.
You Were Initially Carrying a Lot of Butt Fat
The last thing you’d ever expect from squats is for your butt to get smaller.
However, it does happen, but there is a very obvious reason why, especially if you’re fairly new to training.
Okay, I’ll admit that most new trainees will typically experience some significant gains in their first month or two of training.
In effect, your body isn’t used to the stimulus and therefore it reacts to resistance training by growing muscle.
But, unfortunately “newbies gains” don’t last forever, and it won’t be long before your gains plateau.
And then you’ll join the rest of us who have to adhere to certain protocols in order to pack on muscle.
With that being said, if you are new to training, and regularly performing squats, you’d expect your glutes to grow.
However, the possible exception to this is if you were carrying a lot of fat on your butt to begin with.
Regardless of how heavy you’re lifting, when training your glutes you’ll typically elevate your metabolic rate, thus burning more calories.
The glutes are the largest muscle in the human body, so when you train your butt with compound exercises it will be pretty intense.
And it is this combination of using large muscles and intense training that can see you burning up calories throughout the day.
So, if your butt has shrunk from doing squats this could be a sign that you were carrying a lot of excess fat to begin with.
You’re Not Activating Your Glutes
The glutes may well be the largest muscle in the body, but for many of us they are also the most underused.
Basically, many of us work in sedentary jobs or live a sedentary lifestyle, which involves a lot of sitting.
In fact, in the modern day and age we probably spend more time sitting than at any other time in history.
I guess with the introduction of computers, laptops, tablets, and smartphones, we have the entertainment we need right at our fingertips.
However, a result of all this sitting and underused glutes leads to weakness, tightness, and an inability to activate the butt muscles.
So, in effect, you could be going through the motions, performing squats on a regular basis, but never really stimulating your glutes as you;d hope.
This is why it actually makes a great deal of sense to activate your glutes prior to your squat workout.
In fact, I see nothing wrong with performing a glute activation “workout” every single day.
You’re not actually looking to stress the glute muscles here, but rather just “wake them up”.
Once this becomes a habit you’ll generally feel your glutes working hard during squats and many other booty exercises.
5-Minute Glute Activation Workout
Are You Progressing With Your Squats?
I spoke earlier about “newbie gains” eventually plateauing.
Basically, once you’re a more experienced lifter, muscle and size gains are harder to come by.
And this is especially true if you aren’t adhering to the concept of progressive overload.
In simple terms, you’ll want to make squats harder on a regular basis.
This may involve performing additional reps or even adding an extra set or two.
Then again, the most obvious way to progress is to add more weight to the bar.
In effect, your body (and your booty) will adapt to the stresses you place upon through squatting and other exercises.
So, you could say that if you always use the same rep and set scheme, as well as weight, you’re not doing enough to stimulate muscle growth.
Therefore, it’s important that you progress in some way with squats, perhaps even on a weekly basis.
Whether you decide to do one or two more reps than the previous week, add another set, or increase the weight by as little as 5lbs, is up to you.
However, if you want your glutes to grow then progression is a must.
Are You Eating Enough to Grow Your Glutes?
Something else to consider is whether you’re taking on enough calories in order for your butt to grow.
One of the most basic principles of adding size or muscle to your frame is that you should be eating at a calorie surplus.
By this I mean that you’ll need to eat more calories than you’re burning on a daily basis.
Furthermore, when it comes to muscle growth protein is your most important macronutrient.
Basically, when you workout your muscle fibres are damaged with microscopic tears.
Your aim is to recover correctly (more on this in a moment) and provide ample calories (and protein) to allow your muscle fibres to repair.
And through adequate nutrition your muscles have the ability to grow back stronger and bigger.
In effect, you can work out as hard as you want and you can focus on your glutes and squats with amazing regularity.
However, if you’re not taking in enough calories you can never expect your butt to grow.
So, initially calculate your maintenance calories, and then add anywhere between 200-500 calories a day.
But remember, in order to ensure that your weight gain is more muscle than fat you will need to eat a healthy diet.
This should be whole, unprocessed foods, with a special focus on protein.
9 Nutrition Rules For Building Muscle
What Other Training Are You Doing?
Did you realise that your other training could be affecting your glutes?
What I mean by this is that it is very difficult to effectively train for different reasons without a hitch.
In the main, we are typically training to get fitter, stronger, more muscular, to lose weight or to burn body fat.
And if I had to pick the two most popular physique goals, it has to be building muscle and burning fat.
In fact, most of us would actually like a combination of both.
Now, I’m not saying it isn’t possible to build muscle and burn fat at the same time, it definitely is.
However, once more, the more experienced you are with exercise and nutrition, the more difficult this becomes.
With that being said, I have often seen people in a gym environment completely ruin a workout without even realising it.
And one of the main ways that this is done is through excessive cardio.
I would hazard a guess that this is specifically aimed at losing weight and burning body fat.
With that being said, building muscle and getting bigger, plus losing weight and burning body fat, actually work against each other.
Basically, as I’ve mentioned, to add size you need to eat at a calorie surplus, and to lose weight or fat you need to be eating at a calorie deficit.
Now, some people try to get around this by doing ridiculous amounts of cardio.
But unfortunately, all this will generally do is eat into your muscle mass, as the body decides to hold onto fat for energy purposes.
And of course the less muscle mass your butt carries, the smaller it will be and look.
In truth, you would be far better off focusing on the big compound exercises, i.e. squats, deadlifts, rows, presses, hip thrusts, etc.
This way, with proper nutrition, you can add muscle to your frame (and your glutes), while increasing your metabolic rate, and therefore burning calories throughout the day.
Then your cardio requirements should be no more than 20-30 minutes at a time, 2-3 times a week.
Are You Getting Ample Rest & Recovery?
This is something I’ve alluded to earlier and what I believe is the most important part of building muscle and growing your glutes.
In truth, muscle is not built inside the gym, but rather when you’re doing nothing.
I’ve spoken about muscle fibres becoming damaged through training and then repairing themselves to grow back bigger and stronger.
And unfortunately, if you don’t allow your muscles ample recovery time, all you’re simply doing is breaking down and damaging the muscle fibres.
So, in effect, your muscles won’t have what is required for them to grow and make your butt bigger, and this will explain why your bum is actually getting smaller with squats.
This is also something that I see all the time, especially when it comes to growing your glutes.
Gym-goers who train their glutes every single day in the hope of producing that perfect peach.
However, when it comes to glute growth and building muscle in general, more is definitely not always better.
So, if you want your butt to expand then great training and nutrition is no longer enough.
You have to ensure that you’re getting ample rest time between workouts and that you enjoy a good 7-9 hours sleep every night.
If you can manage this then shrinking glutes will no longer be an issue.
How Much Rest & Recovery Do We Need After a Workout?
So, as you can see, there are a number of reasons why your bum is getting smaller with squats.
However, the main issue could be that you are simply burning excess body (booty) fat.
With that being said, you’ll need to ensure that you’re regularly progressing with squats in order to stimulate new muscle growth.
Plus, don’t forget that good nutrition (especially protein), as well as ample rest and recovery, are extremely important when it comes to adding size to your butt.
Finally, just going through the motions is never enough for your workouts, so you must make sure that you activate your glutes prior to training.
In fact, it’s a great idea to perform a daily glute activation workout, which will help to make your squats more effective.
If you’re worried about your butt growth, you’ll want to see what I have to say about growing your glutes by ONLY doing hip thrusts.
Hi, I’m Partha, owner and founder of My Bodyweight Exercises. I am a Level 3 Personal Trainer and Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist through the Register of Exercise Professionals, United Kingdom. I have been a regular gym-goer since 2000 and coaching clients since 2012. My aim is to help you achieve your body composition goals.