This is one of the first things Niki ever said to Stu, The Squat Mechanic. She had started strength training to improve her health and figure. After two years of lifting, and employing the advice of half a dozen different trainers, she still didn’t have the butt or overall physique she’d been working towards.
The problem was obvious within seconds of watching her move – she was overly-reliant on her thigh muscles for all her leg exercises, allowing her glutes to do the minimum - rather than the maximum - amount of work.
Despite all the advice she'd received from other fitness professionals this imbalance had never been identified and no effort had ever been made to correct it.
Stu and Niki spent the first few weeks addressing the mechanics of her squat and other lower-body movement patterns before gradually increasing the complexity and intensity of her training program.
Niki noticed dramatic results within the first month of working with Stu and quickly started receiving compliments, usually followed by 'How on earth did you do it?!'' Niki now works as a fitness model and enjoys sponsorship from a leading athletic-wear label.
What’s most interesting about Niki’s story is that she now rocks such an eye-catching figure a lot of women ask her what exercises she does. When she tells these women she built her butt squatting, they don’t believe her.
“You have an amazing butt! What exercises do you do?”
“Yeah, but what else do you do? I mean, I squat too and I don’t have a butt like that, so you must be doing some exercises I’m not doing.”
What we'd love Niki to say right here is, “I squat properly.” She won’t, of course, because she isn’t obnoxious. It would make our point beautifully though.
There's squatting, and then there's squatting. They're not the same thing.
"Hi guys, my name's Niki and I'm twenty years old"
I’ve been training for the best part of the last four years of my life, and it was not up until maybe the start of this year that I started feeling like I was making some progress and that was because I met Stu.
I asked him in a casual situation - actually I didn't know he was a trainer - the reason why my hamstrings and glutes weren't growing through my squat and deadlift and any other exercises I was doing. And he proceeded to show me through the next year how to actually do my squat and deadlift properly so I could grow my hamstrings and glutes and keep my quads slender and have a symmetrical, better looking set of legs and the rest of my body as well.
It was not up until then I felt that anything was working - I had multiple trainers say multiple conflicting things; different regimes, different exercises that were meant to make my glutes grow which didn't actually end up working.
I am now proud to say that I am really happy with how my body is developing, and I'm the leanest, strongest I have ever been, and I've gotten most compliments, requests 'who's my trainer' 'can I train with them' 'What do I train to get abs?', to get glutes that I do have.
I can tell you now that I do not do any cardio, I do not do any ab exercises. It is training properly; squatting and deadlifting properly, and just being trained properly by someone makes the biggest difference for me. They're shocked a lot of the time -'how do your squats, y'know, make your glutes grow like that? Mine don't do that!'
So it makes a big difference when people come to you shocked because you see the value in having a good trainer and training properly. But yeah, I'm super happy with the way I'm going. I'm still at 53kg and deadlifting about 100kg for my one-rep-max.
I have abs of steel, glutes that are consistently staying strong, perky, and slender legs and I'm super happy with how I am."
Who is The Squat Mechanic?
Stuart Bush is the Elite Strength Coach behind The Squat Mechanic.
Hi, I'm Stu - I make people stronger, leaner, and just generally more awesome.
Those 22-year-old personal trainers you see in the gym who offer to train you? I teach them.
In fact over the years I've been fortunate to lecture at some of the most advanced personal training institutes in the country, and currently supervise several professional development programs for personal trainers around Melbourne.
I’m an elite-level Strength Coach who specialises in correcting movement patterns and teaches select exercise professionals to do the same.
My passion is biomechanics; the science of optimising human movement.
The Squat Mechanic Approach has emerged thanks to the 15 years I've devoted to learning how to correct the movement patterns of my clients to ensure the right muscles engage in any given exercise every single time. This approach improves posture and physique by establishing a foundation of optimal movement quality from which to develop strength.
Put simply, my trainers and I teach your body to move better, so you can move & lift more and look & live your best!
Goal: Strength & gluteal development
“Before meeting Stu I had competed in a physique competition under the guidance of a professional figure coach, and had squatted as heavy as 85kg. In my first session with Stu, I felt my glutes working harder during a simple bodyweight squat than they ever did when I was squatting 85kg. I realise now my squat technique had always relied on my quads, and my glutes hardly did a thing. It’s very different now!”
Goal: Postural correction & definition
"Stu explains things so well, so you can understand it as well as why you're doing it. Tonight I felt my upper traps go off for the first time ever and my squat felt good - actually working my gluteals -so 2 achievements in one session! I've never met a trainer like him. He is amazing and the knowledge he has is incredible."
Ever heard this before?
“Squats are great for your butt.”
I have. I’ve worked in the fitness industry for well over a decade and I’ve been hearing people say this since day dot. Sometimes it almost seems like the fitness industry consists of nothing but people walking around telling each other how great squats are for building butts, as if a couple of BodyPump classes per week is enough to get Sir Mix-a-Lot writing songs about you.
Dig a little deeper, though, and we find a problem. Not a small problem, either. There’s a dirty little secret amongst these gym-goers; a secret nobody likes to talk about or admit to. The confidence and enthusiasm of these squat-loving, booty-building fitness-enthusiasts can be rocked with one simple question:
“So do you actually feel your glutes working when you squat?”
Gluteals, or ‘glutes’ to use the fitness lingo, is the collective name for the group of muscles that form our buttocks. Most people, even those who don’t exercise, are familiar with the simple fact that as muscles work hard they grow stronger, and as muscles grow stronger they create a more shapely, toned physique. It’s pretty easy to tell when muscles are working hard too – we can feel them. They fatigue. They get a little sore.
So if squatting really is great for building better butts, if it truly is the mother of all perky backsides, when we ask our booty-building enthusiast if they feel their glutes working during a squat, they should respond with a resounding ‘Yes!’.
But they don’t.
There are dozens of subtle errors people make when squatting that affect which muscles are working hardest. Although an enormous number of people will admit to squatting to improve their figure, a quick glance around any regular gym reveals an abundance of these subtle errors and shows just how few of them are actually getting the glute activation they're hoping for.
There are many reasons why this is so.
Poor instruction is unfortunately the most common culprit, however our lifestyle factors can also exacerbate the problem.
We sit down a lot in the course of an average day. Over time, this can create an imbalance in our body where we become stronger in our thighs (our quadriceps muscle group, or ‘quads’) and weaker in our glutes.
If your thighs are stronger than your butt, your body will default to using your thigh muscles to complete a strenuous task – squatting, for example – because it’s easier to use a strong muscle than a weak muscle.
You’re likely not even aware of your body doing this. It’s not a conscious decision.
Goal: Strength & definition
"I've trained at many different gyms over the years with a number of trainers but for the first time ever I'm using my body properly. Squatting finally feels good! If you want to get serious about your training, this is where you need to be!"
Goal: Professional development & strength
"What can i say? I seem to keep coming back. Stu The Squat Mechanic is so addictive. I am a personal trainer and i just want to keep learning. I look up to Stu, i see him not just as my personal trainer but my mentor. He puts in so much effort into everyone, ensures everyone walks out with the understanding of how the body needs/should work. I have learnt more in the sessions with Stu than i have when i studied! If you are open to learning and care about others and your health.... Stu is the guy. This benefits myself and my clients. So thank you for being such an inspiring and supportive coach/human in my life."