If there’s one thing Instagram has taught us, it’s that ass is in. It always has been in my book, but with the rise of social media fitness figures, the booty is in your face like never before. A shapely and firm backside is aesthetically pleasing, but strengthening your glutes is also paramount for improving athleticism and posture, not to mention it can fix some common muscle imbalances.
So while the masses are drooling over round cheeks peeking out of the bottom of boy shorts, I’m trying to get my glutes on walnut-cracking status. So I can lift more, that is. And well, I’d be lying if I said a little extra roundness isn’t nice too.
The Benefits of Strengthening Your Glutes
So how do you effectively target your glutes for optimal growth? Read on…
A Quick Lesson
First of all, what does your butt do? The glutes are responsible for hip extension, abduction, and adduction. WTF does that mean? Your butt is responsible for pulling your leg behind you (like when you kick back–this is hip extension), pulling your leg out to the side (abduction) and rotating it inside (adduction). That means you want to do exercises that mimic those movements.
Your glutes aren’t going to grow if they aren’t working. The more sedentary the lifestyle, the more likely that the glutes are not firing properly. So when you are doing an exercise that should recruit the glutes, other muscles like the hamstrings pick up the slack for them instead. I have a big issue with that. You want to activate your glutes during your warm-up so they’re ready to work.
Prior to your workout try:
Has your butt ever been really sore? From working out that is ;). Then that’s an exercise you want to keep doing. Focus on your glutes as you do your exercises to reinforce the mind-body connection and also pay attention to which movements recruit your glutes. This will require you to play around with your form a bit so that you’re getting optimal glute action. For example, you may have to move your legs wider during a barbell hip thrust, go through a deeper range of motion with lunges, or lighten the weight you’re using.
Yes, that’s right–you may have to go lighter than what you’re used to. In some cases the heavier you go the more other muscles will compensate for the weight, and you will no longer be primarily using your glutes. For example, I feel my glutes working the most when I use about 95 lbs with a barbell hip thrust. I am capable of doing heavier weight, however when I do my hamstrings start working more than my butt. Same thing goes with kettlebell swings.
Just keep in mind that with every glute-focused exercise you do, you want to feel your glutes working. If it feels like another muscle group is working harder, play with your stance and the load.
Aim to do several glute exercises a week, either sprinkled into your leg days or with a dedicated glute day.
- Barbell hip thrust – *place your upper back on a bench. The more upright your trunk is (vs. lying down on the floor) the more you focus on your glutes.
- Kettlebell swings
- Pistols or single-leg get-ups.
- Standing multi-hip machine – This is a good way to get some hip abduction, which is often neglected in glute training.
Start training your butt with consistency and rigor and watch the magic happen. Not only will your posterior look perkier, but you’ll likely see improvements in the way you move and how much you can lift.