By Thomas King, MSc, CSCS, CEP
If there’s one thing I know how to do, it’s get a bigger butt.
In the last year and a half, I’ve added 5 inches and a ton of strength to my hip area. While this process has definitely led to me becoming the “butt” of more than a few jokes, having a strong posterior has its share of benefits.
In fact, having well-functioning glutes are important for many aspects of life. That bad back that’s been nagging you? Probably down to weakness in your glute muscles.
Can’t quite break that 5K time you’ve been working on? More glute strength/engagement will definitely go a long way in helping you set a new personal best.
Struggling to break past a deadlift plateau? Glutes again, you get the idea!
So you can see that the glutes are more than just the flashly muscles that Kim K may have led you to believe they were! Now that I have your attention, I’d like to focus on five of my favourite glute exercises starting with number 5…
5. Glute Bridge
I’ll start with something “easy”. The glute bridge is an awesome foundational exercise that I would suggest learning if you are unsure of what things like “posterior pelvic tilt” or “glute engagement” even mean.
Check out this post for more info on the glute bridge: https://jkconditioning.com/get-your-butt-in-the-gym-strength-exercises-for-runners/
These are things you will have to learn if you are looking for glute development and the glute bridge is definitely the easiest exercise to learn these concepts on.
From here, things get more advanced, so make sure you have the basics covered before moving on!
4. Squats to a Full Sit on a Box
These have become a staple in my training regime. You can do any variation of squat you like-front, back, safety bar, goblet, zercher, etc., just make sure you come to a full sit on the box you are using.
With regard to box height, choose one that allows the top of your thigh to reach a position that is parallel to the floor. For me, this is about 13 inches.
One thing to note, when you come to the full sit position, make sure you keep the tension “ON”. Do not let your abs relax and your body “rock” backwards to generate momentum to stand back up. The stand should be done from a complete stop to effectively target the glutes.
Because of the difficulty of maintaining focus and tension during these I would suggest 3-4 sets of 4-6 reps per workout.
3. Hip Thrusts with Rep + Hold Combinations
The hip thrust is an exercise that is often done with super heavy weight making the trainee feel as though they are getting an amazing workout. More weight = more gainz right? Not quite true in this case.
In fact, most people would be better served by lowering the weight and changing the rep scheme. Anytime you can create less spinal stress but increase the training effect, go for it!
For this particular rep scheme, you’re going to do a combination of timed holds and reps. Start with a ten second hold at the top position of the thrust, immediately followed by ten dynamic repetitions. Move immediately into an eight second hold and eight repetitions and so on for six, four, and two. If you are feeling bold, move back up the ladder again.
Try this with a 40 pound dumbbell on the hips and good luck sitting the next day. Repeat this combo for 4 total sets if you don’t plan on moving for a couple days.
2. Conventional Stance Deadlift
I can’t make a post about glute development and not talk about the deadlift! In terms of sheer ability to apply resistance to the glutes, the deadlift is definitely king.
Pay particular attention to the lockout to really attack the glutes. For a little extra burn, attach a resistance band to something sturdy, like a squat rack, and set up with the band looped around your waist. This extra resistance at lock-out will challenge the glutes in ways you would have never imagined.
Because of the weight involved when deadlifting, keep the reps low. Try 3-5 sets of 3-5 reps in a workout.
1. Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat
How could this not be number one? Nothing makes the glutes scream quite like a couple sets of rear foot elevated split squats (RFESS). I find these produce a bit of a special burn in that they really target the distal attachment of the gluteus maximus, ensuring that sitting comfortably will not be a realistic option for several days post training.
These also receive top marks because the weights need not be heavy to produce the training effect, saving your spinal health, but killing your glutes! You will find the RFESS very taxing on both the legs and the lungs. Start with 3-4 sets of 6-8 reps/leg to feel this one out.
There you have it! My top five exercises laid out for anyone to use.
I wouldn’t recommend using all of these exercises in a single sessions but they could be mixed into two lower body days, one time per week each.
If you prefer to train legs only one time per week, shame on you! But seriously, you could also select three and rotate through the exercises every month or so.