Aug. 27, 2013 at 2:24 PM ET
Even though twerking is having a major moment in pop culture, more than half of Americans still don’t know what it is. A Huffington Post poll claims that nearly 40 percent of us clueless denizens thought it was tweeting while working. Well, that sounds… valid.
After watching Miley Cyrus at the VMA awards Sunday night, where she repeatedly bent over and stuck her little hiney in the air, you might think you were given an up-close tutorial on how to do the bootylicious dance (note: sticking out your tongue is not in any way part of the twerking repertoire). But, according to some self-professed twerking experts, even Miley is doing the damn thing wrong. Seems like the dance is almost as mystical as the unicorn that Miley dresses up as in her video.
But not to worry! ABC News sought out the help of a real-life Ph.D. (sadly, her degree is not actually in twerking) to explain to us just how the booty jiggle works. According to Michelle Olson, a professor of exercise science and a certified strength and conditioning coach at Auburn University in Montgomery, Ala., there’s a right way and a wrong way to twerk. And if you do it right way, it makes a pretty damn good workout:
“Twerking is a combination movement involving a deep squat and a pelvic tilt… ‘You take a wide stance with your legs turned out at 10 and 2 so your hips are externally rotated… Then you pulse up and down as you thrust the pelvis bone forward and back," according to Olson.
Now if you want to see how a proper twerk is done, just go to YouTube for a step-by-step how to. The one thing these girls have got that Miley is lacking is some serious booty bounce. You’ve got to let gravity have its way with your rump so that it flaps every which way at once. When you’re doing it right, it’s mesmerizing—like following the bouncing ball.
According to Olson, the dance is a great, ehem, twerkout for your butt and thighs. “It also works the deep muscles of the hips and the core muscles of the lower back and abdominals.”
But be forewarned, people—too much twerking can be hazardous to your health. “Over-twerking might throw out the lower back or make the knees creak,” said Olson. Did you hear that Miley?
A version of this story originally appeared on iVillage.