Everyone wants a bigger, rounder, more shapely butt, right?
In January, when my coach Jordan asked if I had any new goals for training, I told him I wanted to make my butt as huge and strong as possible.
Strong butt = bigger deadlift, cha feel?
2016 was going to be the year of the bootayyy for me.
We added at least one glute-specific exercise each day, in addition to my deadlifts and squats and other staple exercises that I do for powerlifting. The gains came quick and fast. My butt was GROWING. After just one month, I had added a full inch.
I wish I had before and after shots for you, but I didn’t think ahead and never took any. You’ll just have to trust me when I say these exercises work and they work well.
Here are 6 exercises I’ve been doing consistently for the past few months that I believe were crucial in the glute gains department.
1. Glute Activation Warm-Up w/ Mini Bands
I do this before every training session, and have been for almost 3 years. This was the first thing that really made my butt “pop”. Added benefit? It helps activate your glutes before you workout, which is something I had issues with when I first started powerlifting. Doing this helped alleviate my knee pain and, I think, has helped prevent any hip issues. It’s a quick circuit of three exercises using a mini band:
- Hip Internal/External Rotation (right leg, left leg, both legs), 10x each, band right below knees
- Side Steps, 10x each way, band around ankles
- Penguins, 10x each side, band around soles of the feet
Video: Glute Activation Warm-Up
Tips: get low in the abductions and side steps but keep the legs as straight as possible in the penguins. Keep the feet flat during the abductions. Start with a lighter band and work your way up to black or a hip circle. These are harder than they look!
2. Barbell Hip Thrust
The quintessential glute exercise. This is a classic exercise that I’ve seen everyone from the casual gym-goer to bodybuilders do. This one works really well, but you have to make sure you do it right! When I first started doing this, I used a regular-size bench to set-up on. I quickly realized it was too tall, and switched to a lower box. It’s only a 2-inch difference but it’s huge. I was finally able to focus on the GLUTES-and not whether or not I was going to slip off the bench.
Video: Barbell Hip Thrust
Tips: Keep your chin tucked and your ribs relaxed. Squeeze the butt at the top of the movement. Don’t worry about touching the plates or your butt down to the floor between each rep. Keep the weight light and do higher reps for a really good pump. Make sure you use padding on the bar! I put a bar pad on when I do these, but you can use a folded mat or an air-ex pad if you don’t have a bar pad.
3. Single-Leg Hip Thrust
Basically a barbell hip thrust, except without the barbell and with one leg. Again, make sure the height of your box is right before you do this one. I had the same problem with the bench being too tall. If you feel it in your quads more than your butt, you may need to adjust your set-up height. When Jordan first wrote these into my program and I did them for the first time, I wanted to kill him. These are HARD.
Video: Single-Leg Hip Thrust
Tips: Again, keep the chin tucked and ribs relaxed. Push up with the glutes, NOT the quads and hamstrings. You can add weight to these, or do them bodyweight. Throw some chains over your hips, add band resistance, or hold a dumbbell at your hips to make these harder. You could also add an ISO hold (hold at the top) or do them eccentric (3-5 second decent back to the ground). Those both suck. I’ve done them.
4. Cable Pull-Through
One of those gym exercises that you hope no one’s watching you do. But you should do them regardless of how silly you think you look. I love making clients do this one, because they always look at me like, “you want me to do WHAT?”. I’ve also heard male clients call this the ball-breaker. LOL. Using the cables and the rope attachment, you basically stand with your back to the machine, bent over, holding the rope between your legs and pull it through your legs. Here’s the video in case you’re confused:
Video: Cable Pull-Through
Tips: Keep the back flat throughout the movement and bend at the hips. Slight bend in the knees, but not too much. You’re using the butt muscles, not the legs! Make sure you stand far enough away from the machine so that you don’t clunk the weights between each rep. Use heavy weight!! I usually use between 100-120 lbs for a set of 15! And remember to SQUEEZE THOSE GLUTES at the top of each rep!!
5. Seated Band Abductions 3 Ways
I started doing this as a finisher about a year ago after I saw it on Bret Contreras’ Instagram page. I now do it twice a week as a finisher on my lower body days. Using a mini band or a hip circle:
- Abductions leaning forward-15 reps
- Abductions sitting upright-15 reps
- Abductions leaning backwards-15 reps
Don’t rest between each way, just go straight into it. I do 2-3 sets of this, depending on how I feel!
Video: Seated Band Abductions
Tips: Keep the feet firmly planted on the ground. Try not to hold on to the bench, especially in the leaning back ones. It’s hard, but you’ll also engage the core!
6. Frog Pump Finisher
Ok, I didn’t really know what to call this. Frog pumps are just part of this finisher, which I also learned from Bret’s instagram page (seriously, you should follow him if you’re serious about training your glutes. There’s a reason his nickname is “The Glute Guy”.) It’s another 3-part circuit that I do twice a week as a finisher on my upper body days:
- Band Abductions in the top bridge position-15 reps
- Band Abductions in the bottom bridge position-15 reps
- Bodyweight Frog Pumps-30 reps
Video: Frog Pump Finisher
Again, you can use a hip circle or a mini band for this. I recently upgraded to using my hip circle because the band was getting too easy, so there’s at least some proof that my butt is getting stronger!
Tips: Press your elbows into the ground. I don’t know why it helps, but it does. Squeeze the glutes throughout the abductions and at the top of every frog pump…are you noticing a trend here? SQUEEZE!!!
There you have it! Obviously there are tons of exercises that are great for the glutes. These are just my favorite glute-specific ones. If you are going to start glute training, I encourage you to take pictures and measurements along the way. Don’t make the same mistake I did by not doing progress pics!! And if you have any questions, as always feel free to email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org