Of all the muscle groups women love to target, the glutes hold the top-ranked position.
There’s nothing quite like a firm, round backside to show strength, curves and get attention both inside and outside the gym.
If you’ve been training your glutes for quite some time and don’t see the results you had in mind, it might be time to re-evaluate how you train them.
Some people think their hitting their glutes but other muscle groups are taking over. Your body will find the path of least resistance, so give these booty building exercises a try to really isolate and work your glutes.
Exercise 1: Squats
The Squat is a compound, full body exercise. Squatting works your whole body from head to toe. But the squat primarily works the glutes, quads, hamstrings and calves. The Squat is considered the best exercise for building overall strength.
Beginners should start squatting with no added weight (body weight only!) and up the ante only after proper form is nailed down. Then you can progress to using weights.
The first progression would be perform the movement a goblet squat, while holding a kettlebell, dumbbell, or medicine ball at the sternum (center of the chest). After you’ve mastered the goblet squat, move into a back squat using a barbell. Be sure to use good form and don’t rush the progressions.
Stand with feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart, hips stacked over knees, and knees over ankles. Roll the shoulders back and down away from the ears. It’s important to maintain a neutral spine throughout the movement.
Initiate the movement by inhaling and unlocking the hips, going into a slight hip hinge. Keep sending hips backward as the knees begin to bend. Remember to brace your core. Keep the head facing forward with eyes straight ahead for a neutral spine.
The best squats are the deepest ones your mobility allows. Optimal squat depth would be your hips sinking below the knees (again, if you have the flexibility to do so comfortably). Engage core and, with body weight in the heels, explode back up to standing, driving through heels. Imagine the feet are spreading the floor (left foot to the left, right foot to the right) without actually moving the feet.
Return to starting position and reset your breathing and repeat.
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Exercise 2: Deadlifts
I love deadlifts and I can’t say enough about their overall benefits for strength, full body development and of course building better glutes.
Deadlifts are another full-body, compound exercise. The gluteus maximus and hamstrings work to extend the hip joint. Deadlifts can be performed using dumbbells, barbells, or kettlebells with one hand or two hands & with one leg or two legs.
For a conventional deadlift, stand with your feet about hip width apart, and your feet slightly angled outwards. Look down – the bar should be over the middle of your feet. If you’re wearing laced shoes, the bar would be approximately over the tied part of your shoelaces.
With feet flat beneath bar, without moving the bar, or your hips, lean over and grab the bar. Your legs should still be straight at this point. Your grip width will be slightly outside of your legs, but not so they touch. Lift bar by extending hips and knees to full extension. Pull shoulders back at top of lift if rounded. Return and repeat.
Throughout lift, keep hips low, shoulders high, arms and back straight. Knees should point same direction as feet throughout movement. Keep bar close to body to improve mechanical leverage.
Exercise 3: Weighted Walking Lunges
Begin standing with your feet shoulder width apart and a barbell across your upper back or a dumbbell in each hand. Step forward with one leg, flexing the knees to drop your hips. Descend until your rear knee nearly touches the ground. Your posture should remain upright, and your front knee should stay above the
front foot. Drive through the heel of your lead foot and extend both knees to raise yourself back up. Step forward with your rear foot, repeating the lunge on the opposite leg.
The main functions of your glutes, are to laterally rotate and extend your hips and to abduct your thighs. When you lunge, the hip extension that occurs causes your glute muscles to fire. Your glutes are activated even more when you do walking lunges since they are called upon to help you with the added element of balance.
Start with body weight until you are sure of the motion, then add in dumbbells.
Once you’ve mastered this variation, try a sandbag or barbell for added resistance. To recruit your glutes even more, go for longer steps work rather than shorter ones,
Exercise 4: Hip Thrusters
The Hip Thrust, also known as a glute bridge, is a glute exercise designed to improve your strength, speed and power by teaching optimal hip extension. The glutes are designed to extend the hip or pull the leg behind the body. If your glutes are underdeveloped, your speed, power and strength are all compromised.
Start with just your own body weight and then progress to using kettlebells, bands or barbells. There is a also a hip thruster machine which can be used to elevate the shoulders as you perform the exercise.
Begin seated on the ground with a loaded barbell over your legs. Having a pad on the bar can greatly reduce the discomfort caused by this exercise. Roll the bar so that it is directly above your hips, and lay down flat on the floor. Your feet should be directly under your knees, so when you fully extend into the lift, your knees make a 90-degree angle with the ground. Once you have taken the necessary steps to set up the thrust properly, use correct form throughout the lift. It’s important to engage your glutes throughout the lift.
Tighten your core, contract your glutes and hamstrings, and powerfully thrust your hips upwards. Squeeze your butt as hard as possible on the way up.
Begin the movement by driving through with your heels, extending your hips vertically through the bar. Your back should be firmly off the ground, and your body should form a FLAT bridge between your knees and shoulders. Your weight should be supported by your upper back and the heels of your feet. Hold the bridge for 1 second. Slowly return to the bottom and repeat the movement. Extend as far as possible, then reverse the motion to return to the starting position.
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Exercise 5: Kettlebell Swings
The Kettlebell Swing can be a great glute exercise if you perform a hip hinge movement instead of a squat and focus on an explosive movement powered by your glutes. Kettlebell swings are a fast, explosive glute exercise that raise your heart and breathing rate. When performed correctly, kettlebell swings build total body strength, power, and balance, while improving cardiovascular stamina.
Stand with the kettlebell slightly in front of you, with feet hip-width apart, chest up, shoulders back and down. Choose a kettlebell that allows you to swing with perfect technique while still challenging you. Slightly bend your knees and hip hinge, extend your arms to grip the handle of the kettlebell with both hands. Keep your arms long and loose while retracting your shoulders blades and engaging your core. Soften the knees, shift your bodyweight into your heels and hip hinge. Driving through your heel, explode through the hips to send that weight swinging upward from your quads, keeping your arms straight.
Achieving this finish position requires you to snap your hips through, contracting your core while squeezing your glutes.
As the kettlebell begins to descend, pull the kettle bell back between your legs. Shift your weight back into your heels while hinging at the hips and loading both the hamstrings and glutes. As it makes the transition from backward to forward, drive through the heel and hips. At the top position of a swing, everything should turn to stone. Tense your core, glutes, quads, everything.
There are a 1000 exercises you can use to train your glutes with a endless variety of exercises. But in the end to get results basics work and these exercises have helped many of my clients get amazing results in performance and in building a stronger, bigger glutes.
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Rob King is a Competitive PowerLifter, Coach and Writer.