Six exercises for iron-like glutes

Posted by Dayne Hudson in Muscle Building

Estimated reading time: 6mins

Six exercises for iron-like glutes
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Which exercises will work our glutes the best?

Most people think the exercise I’m about to reveal is for legs only.

But they’re wrong.

I’m talking about squats.

Number One: Squats

So why are they so good?

Because a recent study measured the muscle growth results of the glutes from squats in comparison to hip thrusts.

Everyone goes on about hip thrusts for glute growth, and the squats don’t get as much fanfare.

The study researchers recruited advanced female trainers who performed hip thrusts and deep squats for 12 weeks, measuring their “1 Rep Max” (1RM) and muscle growth.

And not surprisingly, hip thrusts induced significant improvements in glute strength and glute size.

But when it came to overall glute growth and muscle growth, the squats were significantly better for growth.

In fact, the glute growth resulting from squats was more than twice the hip thrusts.

How did this happen?

Research shows that muscle growth is best when a muscle is under more tension. Such is the case with the squats; you'll notice there's a shorter range of motion during hip thrusts than there is with squats.

But this is not to say we should leave out hip thrusts altogether, which brings us to our next exercise…

Number Two: Hip Thrusts

There are three critical tips here:

  • Make sure you pause at the top of the movement
  • Really squeeze your glutes at the top of the movement and focus on the mind-muscle connection all the way.
  • Have your shins in a vertical position at the top, which you can ensure by having your feet not too close or far away.

You must keep in mind the three principles for muscle growth:

  • Mechanical Tension
  • Metabolic Stress
  • Muscle Damage

Hip thrusts are great at eliciting mechanical tension (resulting from the heavy weight), and metabolic stress (a pump in the glutes from the exercise, and generally feeling gassed after a set).

But we don't get much of a muscle stretch, aka muscle damage (the third principle!) during hip thrusts.

So that’s why we need a variety of exercises, which brings me to your next one…

Number Three: Weighted Lunges

With the walking dumbbell lunge, you want to adopt a stride length your shin angle at the bottom is just slightly forward.

Ensure the front of your knee is lined up with the front of your shoes and isn't spilling over it.

And here’s a super important tip: Make sure you lean forward about 20 degrees to work your glutes more (but not as far as 45 degrees).

Also, taking a short step before a rep works the quads more, whilst a too longer step will work the hamstrings more.

Try these at the end of your workout; they’re a great finisher.

Dumbbell lunges are also a great exercise for your glutes.
Dumbbell lunges are also a great exercise for your glutes.

Number Four: Single leg hip thrusts

Back to a variation of number 2 here – it’s a really effective way of isolating each glute.

You can also hold it at the top of the movement for longer than usual (up to 4 seconds).

Here, instead of using a barbell, use a dumbbell or kettlebell. If you’re working your right glute, place the dumbbell or kettlebell over on your lap on the opposite side. So here, you’d be placing it on your left.

Perform your reps, and really squeeze and hold each one at the top as mentioned.

It’s a great variation to barbell hip thrusts where you perform both at the same time. It does take longer, but it’s well worth it.

Number Five: Hyperextensions

These are very effective, but not as popular because most people don’t know how to do them.

Hyperextensions work the glutes, hamstrings, and erectors.

The other alternative to totally isolate the glutes is to "round over at your spine fully" at the bottom. This will take your lower back (erectors) right out of it, and just your glutes and hamstrings will be worked!

PRO TIP: Turn your feet outwards 45 degrees, which will also deliver more glute activation.

Number Six: The hip abductor machine

This machine is a great finisher also.

You can go much heavier than you think, too. You simply sit on the machine and make sure your bottom is firmly planted. You use both knees and push them out to the side and bring them back for one rep.

As you get more and more experienced, you can sit your bottom out of the machine’s seat a bit whilst holding performing your reps. This allows you to lift heavier and thus overload your glutes more.

Putting it together – a glute workout

You could try switching between these glute workouts from one week to the next:

Week one

  • 4 x squats (15 reps, 10, 8, 8).
  • 4 x barbell hip thrusts (15, 15, 12, 12) Don’t go too heavy here, it’s counterproductive.
  • 2 x dumbbell lunges (12, 10).
  • 3 x hyperextensions (15, 12, 12).
  • 3 x hip abductor machine (12, 10, 10).

Week two

  • 4 x squats (15 reps, 10, 8, 6).
  • 4 x single-leg hip thrusts (15, 15, 12, 12) Remember not to go too heavy here, it’s counterproductive. And remember to pause for 3-4 seconds at the top of the rep.
  • 4 x dumbbell lunges (15, 15, 15, 10).
  • 4 x hip abductor machine (12, 10, 8, 8, 8) Do them all seated up out of the seat once confident. Don’t start too heavy until you know how much you can handle.
Try these two workouts, or create your own using the given exercises!
Try these two workouts, or create your own using the given exercises!

And that’s it!

Six great exercises for your booty are squats, hip thrusts, single-leg hip thrusts, dumbbell lunges, hyperextensions, and the hip abductor machine. With those exercises, you’re allowing for a great range of motion to grow your glutes, whilst staying in line with the three principles of muscle growth. Squats perform better than hip thrusts in research examining glute growth. But make sure you’re combining both, whether in the provided workouts, or one you create yourself.

References:

  1. Barbalho M, Coswig V, Souza D, Serrão JC, Hebling Campos M, Gentil P. Back Squat vs. Hip Thrust Resistance-training Programs in Well-trained Women. Int J Sports Med. 2020 May;41(5):306-310. doi: 10.1055/a-1082-1126. Epub 2020 Jan 23. PMID: 31975359.
  2. Baz-Valle E, Schoenfeld BJ, Torres-Unda J, Santos-Concejero J, Balsalobre-Fernández C. The effects of exercise variation in muscle thickness, maximal strength and motivation in resistance trained men. PLoS One. 2019;14(12):e0226989. Published 2019 Dec 27. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0226989
  3. Calatayud J, Vinstrup J, Jakobsen MD, Sundstrup E, Brandt M, Jay K, Colado JC, Andersen LL. Importance of mind-muscle connection during progressive resistance training. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2016 Mar;116(3):527-33. doi: 10.1007/s00421-015-3305-7. Epub 2015 Dec 23. PMID: 26700744.
  4. Contreras B, Vigotsky AD, Schoenfeld BJ, Beardsley C, Cronin J. A Comparison of Gluteus Maximus, Biceps Femoris, and Vastus Lateralis Electromyography Amplitude for the Barbell, Band, and American Hip Thrust Variations. J Appl Biomech. 2016 Jun;32(3):254-60. doi: 10.1123/jab.2015-0091. Epub 2015 Dec 22. PMID: 26695353.
  5. Krzysztofik M, Wilk M, Wojdała G, Gołaś A. Maximizing Muscle Hypertrophy: A Systematic Review of Advanced Resistance Training Techniques and Methods. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2019;16(24):4897. Published 2019 Dec 4. doi:10.3390/ijerph16244897
  6. Neto WK, Soares EG, Vieira TL, et al. Gluteus Maximus Activation during Common Strength and Hypertrophy Exercises: A Systematic Review. J Sports Sci Med. 2020;19(1):195-203. Published 2020 Feb 24.
  7. Phillips SM, Tipton KD, Aarsland A, Wolf SE, Wolfe RR. Mixed muscle protein synthesis and breakdown after resistance exercise in humans. Am J Physiol. 1997 Jul;273(1 Pt 1):E99-107. doi: 10.1152/ajpendo.1997.273.1.E99. PMID: 9252485.
  8. Schoenfeld BJ. The mechanisms of muscle hypertrophy and their application to resistance training. J Strength Cond Res. 2010 Oct;24(10):2857-72. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181e840f3. PMID: 20847704.

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