Everyone is well aware of back days and arms days - but what about glute days? You rarely hear of dedicated glute days making their way into people's training week. Damn, even finding glute specific exercises in people's training week is hard enough. Why is this?
I don't think having a great set of strong glutes is something that people have an objection to. In fact, it's something that most people want. It's more just a case that people either believe that the glutes get enough love in exercises such as squats and deadlifts. Or, maybe training glutes directly is something that just hasn't made its way into popular training culture.
Either way, having a great set of strong glutes or a great ''booty' as it's more commonly known is great for a number reasons. It helps when it comes to increasing athleticism, looking good on the bodybuilding stage or even looking great in a set of pants. If either of the aforementioned sounds like something you are interested in, keep reading.
The Glutes And What They Do
Glutes, the butt, booty or more formally known as the gluteal muscles are comprised of three main muscles, the gluteus minimus, gluteus medius and gluteus maximus. The primary butt muscle is the gluteus maximus muscle and an interesting fact, this is the largest muscle in the body.
This makes it even stranger that people don't generally place an emphasis on it in their training. The glutes have a variety of functions including internal and external rotation of the thighs (turning the ankles in and out), thigh abduction (lifting up the knee and moving it away from the body), and thigh extension. Now we have a bit of background on what the glutes do let's take a look at how to train them.
Best Exercises To Train The Glutes
This is a hard question to answer as it can depend on a lot of factors such as what someone's goal is, how long they have been training and how competent they are at correctly hip hinging. That aside, we can take a look at this assuming that everyone knows how to hip hinge and has a decent amount of training experience.
A lot of people assume that because deadlifts, squats, lunges and even leg press work the glutes that there is no need to work them more directly. Powerlifters might also tell you that squats and deadlifts are the best glute builders. While the aforementioned can still build you a great set of glutes, a good way of looking at it is like any other muscle. For example, bench-press incorporates a lot of triceps and yet people still target the triceps directly for multiple exercises. The glutes should be no different, especially given their size.
Hip thrusts are the king when it comes to creating a set of strong and big glutes, but they can be tricky to learn and also a little embarrassing as it does look a little like you are humping the air. Well, it's exactly what it looks like but who cares.
There are a lot of variations of this exercise, but the best place to start is with the bodyweight version. Once you become proficient at this you can add some resistance and move onto the banded hip thrust and the barbell hip thrust.
Setting up for the barbell hip thrust at a commercial gym can be an art in itself. But, using a bench, a foam pad or a yoga mat, and power rack you can set yourself up quite well. Bret Contreras the aptly named 'Glute guy and the foremost expert on glute training (check out his website) has an awesome instructional on how to perform this exercise correctly.
Pull-ThroughsI love pull-throughs. I feel they are a lacking staple in everyone's training routine. They have been a common feature in strength athletes training routines over the years due to their ability to be able to build big glutes, work the posterior chain and abdominals. Pull-throughs also teach people the important 'hip-hinge' and proper hip mechanics essential for deadlifts and squats. It's very beginner friendly too. Here is a quick video on how to perform it.
Obviously, we can't cover all the glute exercises. Other honourable mentions are:
- Bulgarian split squat
- Back extension
- Glute ham raise
- Kettlebell swings
The movements above are staple exercises for glute training focused on training the gluteus maximus and the main function of the glute, hip extension. Another function of the glute is hip-abduction and this can be worked through the following exercises:
How To Best Train The Glutes
Training the glutes can be approached in many different ways. In terms of frequency glutes can handle a lot, but given that most people are moving from not focusing on them at all anywhere from 1-3 times per week would work. I personally focus on my glutes when I deadlift, and also incorporate glute exercises on lower body training days.
A variety of exercises should be used with an emphasis on the hip thrust. A good approach is to perform heavier, lower rep barbell hip thrusts and then use a variation like the banded hip thrust at higher reps and throw in a combination of the other exercises mentioned - including some kind of abduction training. This will ensure you optimally target all fibre types in the glutes and hit them from every angle.
While squatting and deadlifting can built you a great butt, it is definitely worth looking at incorporating some more glute exercises into your routine if you are just relying on them - after all, the glutes are the biggest muscle in the body. Working the glutes more not only makes you look better in pants but it can help you from an athletic standpoint, a strength standpoint and make you look better on stage.
If you want to work the glutes more, you should focus on the hip thrust and its variants while incorporating in some of the other exercises, in different rep ranges.