HOW TO BUILD AN IMPRESSIVE SET OF GLUTES?
There have been no songs written about small flat bottoms, and for good reason. It’s because it takes a nice set of big round glutes to get the world singing.
To work your glutes effectively, you first must understand how they work and what purpose they serve, other than to fill a pair of apple bottom jeans.
There are 3 glute muscles that make up the glute family – the Gluteus Maximus, the Gluteus Medius, and the Gluteus Minimus, and it’s important to know the function of each, how they work together and which exercises are best to grow them.
Gluteus Maximus: This is the biggest of the Gluteal family, and is considered one of the strongest muscles in the body. Its main function is extension and external rotation of the hip. The upper fibres assist in abduction, and the lower fibres assist in adduction. This is the muscle that sits closest to the surface and is most responsible for the shape of your behind.
Gluteus Medius: The Gluteus Medius’ main function is Abduction of the hip. It’s anterior fibres (front fibres) aid in internal rotation, and it’s posterior fibres (back fibres) aid in external rotation.
Gluteus Minimus: As its name implies, this is the smallest of the gluteal muscles and lies deep to the other two (underneath). It is responsible for abduction and flexion of the hip as well as internal rotation.
When working together, they all assist in stabilizing the pelvis and hip, and play an important role in maintaining your balance.
So now that we know all of this, what are the best exercises to do to strengthen and shape that derriere? Logic would say to utilise exercises that replicate the movements the glutes are designed to do. Which are as follows:
1. Box Squat
Now I know what you’re thinking – what about ass to grass? Regular squats are good for the butt, but only a small portion of the movement targets that area, and in all honesty, not enough people get low enough for there to be enough benefit. It’s a quad dominant motion and is better used for building the legs. Box Squats are the one squat movement that is primarily posterior chain. When you do the box squat correctly, you are using a wide stance, leaning forward and sitting back hard (like you’re trying to push open a door with your butt), which puts the posterior chain into full stretch.
It’s important when sitting on the box, that you do not lose tension of the muscle – so don’t sit down fully. Maintain tension of the legs and hips, and make sure to keep the bar over your toes. You will have an arched back and will be leaning forward at the hips. It’s also important not to rock back in the squat when initiating the upward movement – this will dis-align the bar from your toes and increase compressive forces on the lower back. Regular wide stance squats are also good, but not as good as box squats.
2. Deep forward leaning lunge
A lot of people out there are taught not to let the knee travel over the toes in a lunge. If you are one of these people, I want you to forget you ever learnt that. A lot of motions we use in every day activities entail the knee passing over the toe, so it would be silly not to strengthen that movement.
Keeping the knee 90 degrees behind the toe increases sheer force, so puts your knee in a position to be more easily damaged. In the forward leaning lunge, it is the same concept as the box squat. At the bottom of the movement, you are putting the glutes in a maximal stretch, and you are predominately using your glutes to get out of the bottom position. To do the forward leaning lunge correctly, you will take a big step forward (think train tracks, not tight rope). You will lean forward at the hip, and stay leaning forward the entire time.
3. Supine Hip Extension
This helps to hit the glutes in range – meaning it works the muscles at the end range of contraction, and it works them maximally. To set up for this exercise, lay your upper back across a bench, and have your feet shoulder width apart, with your toes pointing 45 degrees out. When executing the Supine Hip Extension, it is important not to hyperextend, so make sure you stop 10-15 degrees short of lock out, and focus on squeezing the butt.
If you go too high in the movement, you are putting strain on your lower back, and not hitting the glute muscles like they need to be hit for optimal results. It’s always good to use a 1-2 second hold at the top of the movement. It’s also good practice to use bands with this exercise – so take a small exercise band, loop it around the outside of your knees so as you do the movement, you need to push your knees out which will cause the glutes to fire harder. This movement is also really good as a warm up to a lower body workout.
To put these exercises into a killer glute workout, try the following routine:
A. Box Squats, 5 sets of 8-10 reps. Pause 2 seconds on the box (remembering NOT to loose tension). Rest 180 seconds between sets. Make sure the weight you use is heavy enough to struggle on the last 1-2 reps.
B. Lean Forward Walking Lunge, 4 sets of 10-12 reps (per leg). Rest 90 seconds between sets. Use dumbbells as weights for this exercise.
C. Supine Hip Extension, 3 sets of 12-15 with a 2 second hold at the top and a 75 second rest between sets. Make sure you really focus on the glutes in this exercise and really use the mind muscle connection.
Correct technique is key when working the glutes, so make sure you get that correct before getting heavy with the weights. Once you have technique sorted, and you add the above exercises into your workouts, your glutes will be song worthy in no time.