ne of the most commonly asked questions I get from women these days is: “How do I get a round and perky butt?”
To put it frankly, creating shape and adding muscle to your backside is a slow process that takes time, dedication and a training program focused on that particular goal. When training to increase the size and strength of your glutes (your booty), it’s important to combine a wide range of compound and isolated exercises, utilizing everything from light to heavy loads as well as resistance bands to hit your glutes from all angles – vertically, horizontally & everything in between.
It must be recognised that nutrition is also a key component to growing your glutes. It is a huge misconception that significantly reducing your calorie intake will help you in your efforts to increase muscle “tone”. Ensuring you’re eating enough food throughout the day that’s rich in protein is key to promote the growth of all muscle - and the glutes are no exception!
Understand from the get-go that it will not be a quick process. However, the results can be dramatic. With the right nutrition and resistance training programming, you’ll be on the right track to having that set of well-developed glutes you so eagerly desire!
So here are some of my absolute favourite exercises to grow your glutes. Aim to include these 5 exercises into your training regime 1, 2 or ideally 3 times per week.
Sit on the floor with your upper back supported on a bench (or exercise step) and your feet hip width apart with a barbell sitting in your hip crease. Look to add a thick foam bar pad on the barbell for comfort. With control, drive your hips up firmly from the floor, emphasizing on pushing through your heels. Your hips must come into full extension, focusing on your pelvis achieving a posterior pelvic tilt at the top of each repetition. Pause at the top for 1 second before lowering your hips to the floor (with control) – and repeat!
Note: Keep your head and neck tucked, looking forward towards your knees (not upwards). This will ensure your hips (glutes) are the driving force of each repetition, not your back!
The ‘deficit’ term in this exercise means to raise the front foot of the lunge onto a small platform (5-10cm) in order to increase the range of motion (ROM) and stretch of the glutes. Place the back foot onto a small step or typical gym bench, allowing for roughly a 90-degree angle at the front knee and ankle when bent. Holding a pair of dumbbells by your sides, ensure majority of your weight is kept over the front foot with the back foot stabilizing. Ensure your hips are slightly hinged back with your torso leaning forward and lower your back knee until it lightly touches the ground. Drive through your front heel back to the starting position.
Note: The angle of your torso should NOT change throughout the movement. The slightly hinged hip position must remain throughout to ensure you’re loading the front leg/glute.
This movement follows the same method as a sumo deadlift with a kettlebell, however by raising the platform and using a loading pin, it allows you to increase both the ROM and the potential load beyond what most kettlebells will allow for your everyday gym-goer. Stand with your legs wider than shoulder width, toes pointing slightly outwards, on two raised platforms or blocks (one under each foot) about 40cm high.
Hinge the hips back as you reach down with a braced core and hold on to the handle attached to the loaded pin. Squeeze your lats as you drive your knees wide (over your turned-out toes) and firmly press down through the platform/s until both knees and hips have reached full extension. Pause (with a strong glute squeeze) at the top for 1 second, then lower back down with control ensuring the movement from the top is initiated by the hips moving backwards (hip hinge) with the knees driving outwards.
This exercise removes the stress of heavy weights and replaces it with not 1 but 2 resistance bands and elevates both feet onto a small step/platform which (like the Split Squat above) increases the ROM. The set-up and execution of the movement is similar to the Barbell Hip Thrust. Set up the resistance band to sit across your hip crease using a heavy dumbbell on each side to secure it in place. Wrap a mini-band or hip circle resistance band around your legs (just above the knees). Perform the movement as detailed above in Barbell Hip Thrust whilst driving the knees outwards throughout the entire movement, in order to take advantage of the mini-band’s lateral resistance.
Note: This variation is much better suited to higher volumes of work (sets X reps) as the load is pre-determined by the resistance band/s. It will also feel very different as the resistance increases the further your hips drive into extension (more tension placed on the band) versus a barbell, which holds the same resistance throughout the entire movement.
Attach a large resistance band around a well-secured post (just below waist height) and loop around your waist. Add a mini-band or hip circle around your legs just above your knees. Take a large step forward so the band is taught and sitting in your hip crease with legs hip width apart. This movement really starts from a standing position but will initially require you to pick up the desired load from the floor.
With your core braced and shoulder blades pulled back and down, push through the floor into a standing position. The eccentric (lowering) phase is initiated by slowly allowing the band around your waist to pull your hips backwards as your torso folds forward towards the floor (whilst maintaining a neutral spine), lowering the chosen load (barbell or dumbbell). The range of motion will typically be determined by hamstring flexibility (or lack thereof). Initiate the concentric (upward) phase by slowly lifting the torso and firmly driving the hips forward until full extension is achieved (with a posterior pelvic tilt).
Note: The knees are pushing outwards throughout the movement, working against the resistance band above the knees. Although the barbell/dumbbells move vertically, the emphasis of the movement is the horizontal loading of the resistance band across the hips.
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