Your guide to effectively build your GLUTE'S!
4 Tips To Get You Started
A round, firm and shapely butt is attractive to both men and women as it is wired into our brains that it signifies strength and good health.
The glutes are among the largest muscles in the human body and are very powerful and dynamic movers.
They are responsible for so much of your hips movements from rotation to extension and abduction (moving away from the body).
Realistically most people don’t care about any of that, most people just want their glutes to look amazing!
Majority of the time you’re involving your hips you are likely involving the glutes so it seems like they would be an easy muscle to train and grow. Unfortunately for a lot of people this is not the case.
Your genetics can play a role in this, however in today’s gym environment there are several issues I see that are impacting your glute development.
Generally speaking there are 4 main factors that are important for glute development and some people miss the most simple ones.
Factor 1: Not Lifting Heavy Enough
A while ago a horrible myth emerged that damaged proper training for women.
Women were told that lifting heavy weights would build a bulky looking body while lifting light weights for super high reps would build a toned and sculpted body.
Nothing could be further from the truth!
It is very true that lifting heavy weights builds more muscle and it builds muscle faster but this is a GOOD thing!
Think about it this way, do you want to workout for months and months with little results? Of course not and since your goal is to develop your glute muscles wouldn’t it be logical to do that most effectively through using heavy weights?
Muscles are primarily made up of 2 types of muscle fibres, slow twitch and fast twitch. Slow twitch is very good at endurance, they are low force and low speed but they are a large ‘energy source’, think long distance athletes. These muscles fibres adapt to training by becoming more efficient at their job, they tend to NOT grow and build bigger.
Fast twitch muscle fibres have an incredible capacity for visible change. That is because these fibres are responsible for high force production and strength, think of sprinting athletes.
Due to their role in the body they adapt to the right training by becoming bigger and stronger to produce more force. Have you ever looked at sprinters in the Olympics and thought ‘damn! They’re jacked’ but you almost never hear of someone watching the long distance athletes and think the same thoughts.
Train with heavy weights and you’ll see visible changes MUCH FASTER. Another bonus to this is having these fibres grow they also burn more calories. It’s a no brainer really, train with heavy weight to get a fuller and rounder glute region + burn more calories at the same time.
Long story short, if your goal is to build bigger and better shaped glutes then focus on the muscle fibres that GROW. Train with heavy weights and aim between the 6-15 rep range.
Factor 2: Exercise Selection
Majority of the time we all see a new ‘butt building’ program advertised to women and we cringe.
Most of them are extremely ineffective for a number of reasons but there is one that is common in the majority of them, they do not use the most effective exercises!
Typically they don’t use the most powerful butt building exercises known to trainers, coaches and athletes worldwide.
Some of these exercises include barbell squat, deadlift variations, lunges, hip thrusts and good mornings. Instead they prescribe exercises like donkey kick backs and legs abduction exercises, don’t get me wrong these exercises definitely have their place (which I will explain further on) but they’re inferior when they are compared to even just simple barbell squats for muscle growth.
Everybody knows that not all exercises are created equal, some build muscle faster and more effectively than others.
Barbell squats, deadlifts, lunges, hip thrusts and good mornings are considered some of the greatest strength building exercises by powerlifters, bodybuilders and athletes for good reason, they work exceptionally well at building strength and muscle.
Have you ever noticed that sporting athletes with high power demand (basketball, football, rugby, etc) have a BIG backside? Have you noticed that the best bodybuilders up on stage have striated glutes? This is not because they do donkey kick backs or glute burners with completely light resistance bands.
If your goal is to build your butt and you do not have these effective exercises in your program weekly you will have a long, hard and frustrating time ahead of you.
Solution to this is simple, add some of these exercises discussed into your program and watch the visible changes.
Factor 3: Not Completing The Exercise Correctly
(Bad Muscle Recruitment Patterns)
Sometimes you’ll see athletes doing all the above correctly but they still don’t build amazing glutes which is super frustrating!
Instead they build great quads and hamstrings which can just be straight annoying if its not your goal. The issue here can be hard to see but simple to fix.
Usually they have poor recruitment patterns and when they do these awesome exercises their quads and hamstrings do most the work. So although the exercise selection is great, the body isn’t ‘firing’ in a way that utilises the glutes to their full effect.
Your body doesn’t just automatically understand that when you do a particular exercise you want to build one specific area.
Most movements involve many different muscles and if one muscle is weak or injured the other muscles work together to ‘get the job done’. Your body also learns patterns and they can then become our ‘default’ patterns when we carry out specific exercises.
To treat these patterns we must first teach the body a more favourable recruitment pattern for your goals. You literally need to connect to your glutes better so that when you squat, deadlift, lunge etc the glutes get the muscle building signals and responds fast, ever heard the phrase ‘mind muscle connection’?
To stimulate the right muscles we must first prime the muscles for the movements. Think of priming as an advanced warm up to get the most out of your workout.
This is where those less ideal exercises we talked about earlier come in handy! Doing simple movements like donkey kickbacks and leg abduction for isolated high reps with a special focus on ‘squeezing’ the glutes will prime and stimulate your glutes for the coming exercises.
In order to make the above exercises even more effective you can get your hands on resistance band loops at local stores for usually $15-30 each, or even cheaper online. I personally use these for myself and all my clients as they come as a set of 5.
Try doing these exercises for 5-10 minutes before your main movements with the specific intention to feel those muscles ‘firing’.
Factor 4: Hitting The Glutes Frequently Enough
Study after study demonstrates that frequency of training is a much more important factor than most initially believed.
Many years ago we were told to hit the muscle hard and long but then leave it alone for at least a full week. There is some truth in allowing the muscle to recover, yes of course, but we seem to apply it incorrectly to our training and programming.
We need the muscle to recover of course, but we also need it to adapt by GROWING the muscle.
When we train a muscle with sufficient intensity we create a small amount of damage. The body then aims to repair the damage and adapt (by growing) so the next time we do those same movements with that same intensity it wont cause as much damage.
So now we know that damage will stimulate growth but all studies show that the growth process is around 48-72 hours after training and then quickly stops the growth signal and even can start to reverse it after time. Truthfully its shown that protein synthesis peaks on average at 48 hours and rapidly drops after that.
So if building muscle is the aim of the game we should build our programs to suit. For effective building of the glutes we should aim to train them more frequently than once a week.
We should be aiming to train the glutes with these primary movements every 48-72 hours to keep stimulating the muscle building response.
This does not mean we need to train super intensely! We still need the body to have the time to recover from the damage we produce and training super hard may be counter productive when we wish to build the muscles.
If you currently train hard and once a week try simply taking that intensity and splitting it into 2 or 3 different, more frequent sessions. So if you did 4 sets of 15 reps on 3 exercises (ie squats, sumo deadlifts and hip thrusts), we can simply train those exercises on 3 different days.
By doing this we can also split up our other training days to become more frequent overall to keep stimulating growth more effectively.
Remember to train effectively with correct movement patterns, heavy weights and frequently if you wish to build the muscle faster.
Don’t waste your time doing countless light ‘burner’ sets and stop looking for complicated ways to achieve optimal results because majority of the time they’re not the right way to do things. There’s a reason why these primary exercises have and always will be a staple in the fitness society!
Next time you consider doing things like ‘step ups’ on the assisted dip machine, remember this is not optimal.
Instead get a barbell, add some weight and do actual heavy step ups on a box or bench.