Appearance, a decrease in lower back pain, increased strength, increased power, confidence, sports performance, are just some of the perks of having a better butt. So pretty much your life just gets better. So how do you get that nice backside that will make Kim Kardashian jealous? First let’s dispel some myths about glute training.
Myth 1.) Squats are the best exercise to maximally activate your glutes.
Truth 1.) Squats are a great exercise and have many benefits. However, for maximally activating the gluteal muscles hip thrust have been researched and proven to do a better job.
Myth 2.) Glute targeting exercises such as standing leg abductions, seated abductions, and quadruped kick backs are useless and are only for women.
Truth 2.) If your goal is to build a better butt continue to do your multi jointed more powerful lifts such as hip thrust, squats, and deadlifts, but also key in on the glutes and isolate them, especially if they are a weakness with you. Think of this as doing pull ups to increase bicep strength, don’t you also do some variation of curls at the end? That was a rhetorical question, we all know you do.
Myth 3.) Guys don’t need to do glute exercises
Truth 3.) Just don’t talk.
Myth 4.) Targeting the butt will make your butt too big.
Truth 4.) Yes, your butt may gain a little size if you currently have a small butt, but guess what that’s okay. If you have a bigger butt it will make it better formed and by adding muscle it will decrease the fat. If you have this notion that you are going to do some glute work for 2 months and all of a sudden be dancing in the next MC Hammer or Sir Mix Alot video, then get that out of your head right now. You can’t teach what those girls have!
Myth 5.) Cool, hip thrust and these other glute exercises make my butt look better but my coach says they don’t transfer over to the athletic field
Truth 5.) The best athletes have big strong butts. Dr. Bret Contreras and Dr. Brad Schoenfeld have done wonderful research the last couple of years in comparing the hip thrust to the back squat and front squat in terms of athletic performance. A couple of their findings include the hip thrust triumphs both squat movements in 10m and 20m sprint times and horizontal jumping. This is incredibly important because a majority of sports movements are horizontal, (sprints, cutting) as opposed too vertical (jumping), and most sprints are done within 20m or less.
Now that we have that out of the way what do we do in the gym?
1.) Don’t complicate things. I have seen too many.. well let’s just call it weird things going on in some gyms. Things from running backwards on the treadmill for 30 minutes, to doing round house kicks all in an attempt to get a better butt.
Hip Thrust, squats, lunges, rear foot elevated squats, step ups, deadlifts, back extensions, reverse hypers, frog hip thrust. These are all great exercises to build a strong butt, and complement those exercises with lateral band walks, standing hip abductions, seated hip abductions, and quadruped kickbacks.
2.) Add Weight. To get stronger, to get more powerful, to get a nice butt we must add weight! Let me say that again we must add weight. Before people get mad let me first say this, it’s okay to rep out some body weight exercises, and its okay to play with loads lifted and intensity day to day and week to week. What’s not okay is lifting the same load day after day with the same rep range and scratching your head as to why you aren’t seeing results. Three important things to think about when it comes to building any muscle is mechanical tension, metabolic stress, and muscle damage (Contreras 2013). How is this accomplished? By continuing to manipulate the load being lifted, time under tension, and volume and intensity. Continue to challenge yourself and don’t just do a lift and load because its comfortable.
3.) Train Consistently. I know with a busy schedule, life, kids, and re-runs of Grey’s Anatomy it can become very hard to get to the gym. But try your best to make it a priority. When we get to the gym train smart. If you go to the gym 1-3x a week, chances are to see an improved physique and butt you will need to train like it. If you are doing a Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule, Hip Thrust at least 2 days, squat 2 days, and perform some kind of deadlift at least 1 day. On top of that hit other movements 1-2x a week, such as lunges, hip abductions, and back extensions. Too many times I see people who train 2x a week and do body part split style workouts. While the workout itself may not be bad, the training frequency becomes a problem.
4.) Evaluate. Evaluate what you are great at and not great at: We have all seen those people who just seem to be natural born squatters or naturally great at deadlifts. Rather it is hip anatomy, femur length, torso to arm length ratio, or hypermobility for some people the traditional lifts just seem to come much easier. If you are great at these two lifts continue to do them but throw some horizontal work in there as well. Hip thrust, KB swings, and banded pull throughs should be added to the training session. If you aren’t great at the more traditional lifts, turn your focus to these horizontal movements and single leg movements, maybe those will be more of a strength with you.
Get great at a movement and find something that you excel at doing. We are all built different and come from different back grounds. Just because we see certain exercises on the internet/television, or see an online program that calls for deadlifts 5x a week doesn’t mean we should be doing that. Find what works best for you and try different things.
Summary: The glutes have become a part of the body that get ignored and neglected. The common phrase put on memes and t-shirts alike is “want a butt, then squat.” But it is not always that black and white, and we must recognize that. Continue to do traditional movements but mix in some different movements as well. Keep your programming simple, target the glute muscles, train them more than just 1x per week, and evaluate what works best for you.
Brett Cummins, CSCS, USAW, CSAC, CSAS, CFSC
Trainer at Forge- Rx
Image Source: Bret Contreras: Bretcontreras.com