HOW TO BUILD YOUR GLUTES
Guys, are your pants falling off of you because your butt is lacking (or absent altogether)?
From a fitness standpoint, big, strong glutes round out an aesthetic physique (pun intended).
Do you feel like you’re doing all the things you should be, but nothing is helping with glute growth?
You’ve spent weeks or months doing glute bridges, barbell hip thrusts, barbell squats, and deadlifts.
You’re eating the right foods with enough protein in your diet to ensure muscle growth.
You’re doing different glute focused programs, and despite all that hard work, nothing is working for you.
First, let’s test your glutes to see if they’re kicking in. Then we’ll take a look at the reasons why your gluteal muscles aren’t growing, and I’ll give you some quick fix exercises to grow glutes.
TEST YOUR GLUTE ACTIVATION
Before we get into the best glute activation exercises I want you to test yourself.
Put your phone down, step away from your computer, and come down to the floor.
Get into an all-fours position and straighten one leg all the way back as far as you can and lift it straight up to the ceiling.
What you’re looking for here is an intense contraction in the glute max muscle fibers.
Do you feel that?
It should feel as if you just balled up your bicep and got as intense a contraction as you possibly could. If you don’t feel that, you definitely need to keep reading.
If you DO feel that then there’s a good chance that you did the test and didn’t realize you weren’t using incorrect form.
Some of may have been able to feel it because you turned out your leg a little bit. If you turn your toes out, all you do is substitute the gluteus medius or the gluteus minimus. We’re not focusing on those smaller glute muscles for this test. You ONLY want to activate the gluteus maximus.
So, try again, and this time, check back and look to see if your toe is pointing straight down or out to the side. When you don’t have good neuromuscular control of the glute max, it renders ineffective all your hard work on squats, deadlifts and other big lower body lifts.
And not only that, but it also turns you into a back dominant extender rather than a glute dominant extender.
As soon as you do that, and you perform those compound lower body movements with with heavy weights, you’re asking for low back pain.
So how do we fix all that?
HOW TO GROW YOUR GLUTES
As your trainer I want to make sure you correct the muscle imbalance in your glutes so that you can grow them.
I’m going to show you two different glute activation movements. You don’t need machines like you would for the Donkey Kick or Hip Thrust.
For one glute dominant exercise, you just need a pull-up bar and resistance bands. For the second glute growth exercise, you only need a wall.
Each movement will become almost like rocket fuel for those bigger lifts with heavy weights. Make them a part of your glute routine and they’ll also improve the more light weight exercises like Goblet Squats and Split Squats.
We’re not replacing those compound lifts with this exercise, we’re complementing them. You can add in these exercises on glute days or leg days.
No matter when you hit them, these exercises need to become a regular part of your glute workouts.
And as you’ll see here in a second, they’re the perfect complement to what’s missing in those compound exercises, which is why you want to focus on them.
Ready to feel that glute burn?
RESISTANCE BANDS KICKBACK
In the starting position for this exercise, you’ll put your foot into a band that’s looped over the pull up bar.
From a standing position, let the hip rise up as high as it possibly can, which puts you into a good degree of hip flexion and glute engagement. That’s important as you’ll see here in a minute.
You push straight down against the band and then into extension behind you.
At the end point of the movement, you’ll push against the band as hard as you can back behind you, and
lift the leg up against the downward force of gravity, so you can really feel the glute muscles working.
There is no rotation going on here. We want to keep the toes pointing down like we talked about during the glute test. This way we get good, isolated hip extension.
The reason this is such a good complement to glute days is that you have a lot of range of motion of hip extension happening all the way from the very beginning of the exercise.
You start in a position where the hip is in about 110 degrees and you end in a position of about 130 degrees of resisted hip extension.
Also, in the fully extended the position, you’ve got good tension on the glute max.
At the top of a Squat in standing position, there isn’t much activation of the glutes. In a typical Squat, you’ll get activation of the quads at the bottom of the exercise.
That causes a little bit of a conflict at the joint itself because it knows that we’re trying to either flex the joint or extend the joint. So, you start to get a little bit of reciprocal inhibition of the glutes because they can’t do both at the same time.
Any time we’re trying to cure a muscular inefficiency problem like we are with the glute max, you don’t want to take anything away from the muscle you’re trying to build.
So, in this case, we don’t have the quad contributing to the exercise as much because we’re not in that overloaded position like we are in the bottom position of a Squat.
For all these reasons, you need to make these glute training exercises part of your program. I promise it’s going to accelerate your performance on those bigger lifts.
Use progressive overload by starting with a light band and working your way up to a thicker resistance band.
WALL SINGLE-LEG GLUTE BRIDGE
I mentioned earlier that there’s another way we can do this, and that’s up against the wall.
This is very similar to Elevated Glute Bridges that you would normally do with a chair or bench.
Set up lying face up with your back on the floor, knees bent and our feet up against a wall. You’ll take the leg you’re not going to work and fold it down and under trying to get your shin as close to the wall as you can, which gives you more hip flexion.
The closer you can get, the more this hip is going to come into flexion to mirror the benefits we get from the banded of pulldown.
So, from here, you want to focus on how you push through the foot of the working leg because it matters.
If you were to take the toe off of the wall and push through the heel or maybe even pull down through the wall, you’re going to get far too much hamstring activation and that’s not what we want.
We want the gluteus maximus driving through hip extension. So instead, push the foot flat into the wall and try to push through every single inch of the sole of your foot.
Then pull yourself up into a bridge position very slowly and really try to drive through glute max.
Hold for a second or two at the top, keeping the top half of your upper body on the ground, and then come down and repeat by driving through.
Focus on high quality, good contractions, not on the number of reps.
Treat this like an exercise. It’s not simply a glute warmup. Do this two to three times per week.
If your glutes aren’t responding right now – if you’re seeing no muscle gains – it’s because you don’t have good control of your glute max.
In other words, the gluteus maximus is not firing as it should.
Make this muscle work. Treat this like an exercise as it should be. Include it into your routine and I promise you, you’ll feel it working pretty quickly!
For a complete workout program that helps you to correct imbalances while you build ripped, lean muscle check out the ATHLEAN-X Training Programs:
Program Selector ==> See which program best fits your goals
AX1 ==> Train at Home With Dumbbells and Minimal Equipment
XERO ==> Train at Home With No Equipment
- If you have tried everything to grow bigger glutes but nothing seems to work, the issue has to do with neuromuscular inefficiency. This is a lack of mind-to-muscle connection.
- First, try this glute test. Get down on the floor on your hands and knees. Start by extending one leg back as far and as straight as you can. From here, lift the heel up towards the ceiling by lifting the leg up. Notice how it feels in your glute maximus. Do you feel an intense contraction as if you just rolled up your shirt sleeve to flex your biceps?
- The first glute exercise requires a simple pullup bar and resistance band. Start by hanging a band around a pull-up bar and stepping your foot up into it. Take a couple of steps backward so that your body is angled forward at about 20 degrees. Allow your hip to raise as much as your range of motion allows you to as the band pulls your knee up to the ceiling.
- Start by pressing your foot flat down against the resistance of the band and then back behind you. This will create resisted extension of the hip with far less quad activation than would be normally seen with the straightening of the knee from the bottom position of a squat.
- The second glute exercise can be done with just your own body weight. Here you want to press one foot flat into the wall to lift your torso off the ground. Keep pushing until your hip is at neutral or even slightly beyond.
- Be careful to push through a flat foot rather than through the heel since you don’t want to turn this into a hamstring curl. If done right, the glute maximus will be the main muscle driving this and will respond with better body strength.