Got a great set of glutes? If not, no problem, you’ll be there shortly. Developing your glute muscles takes time, concentrated energy, and a sufficient amount of focus. Unlike some of the other muscle groups, you can’t just perform a couple exercises and expect them to grow.
The issue with glutes is that many glute-building exercises also call your quads and hamstrings into play, which are two powerful muscles that can completely take the focus away from the glutes entirely. Let this happen and you’ll be lost for results.
To properly build your glutes, you need to sustain a high level of mind-muscle connection as you target these muscles and couple that with the right exercises to hit these muscle tissues properly.
Here are the five best glute building moves you need to get in your workout program.
That’s right – the same key move that will build your quads and hamstrings will also help light your glute muscles on fire. The key when squatting to help train your glutes is to first make sure that you lower yourself all the way down to the ground. Failing to hit the bottom will mean failing to fully activate your glute muscles.
Additionally, focus on using a wider than hip width stance with the feet turned out. This can help put more emphasis on the glute muscles themselves.
Now, really feel it. As you press up through the squat, think of squeezing your glutes the entire way through.
Begin by standing under a bar in a squat rack, hands on either side slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Be sure the feet are in a comfortable stance, turned out slightly if desired.
Take a deep breath in, un-rack the weight and then slowly bend the knees as you lower the body down into your deep squat. Pause at the bottom and then, as you think of pressing through the heels, press up to complete the rep.
The second exercise in the line-up is the single-leg deadlift. Taking a conventional stiff-leg deadlift and moving it over to one leg will help de-engage the hamstrings, putting more emphasis on the glutes.
It’ll also help work your core muscles hard as they contract to keep you stabilized. Use a lighter weight when first starting out with this exercise until you get used to the movement pattern and then step it up from there.
Hold a set of dumbbells, one in either hand and stand in front of a flat bench. Lift one leg up on the bench behind you.
Bend over at the waist, keeping the back straight and lower the dumbbells down until you’re at a 90 degree angle at the hips.
Keeping the back in position, squeeze through the glutes and bring yourself back up to an upright position. Complete all reps on one side and then switch and repeat.
Speaking of mind-muscle connection, that brings us to the fourth must-have move in your glute-building plan: Bulgarian split squats.
Whether you choose to do these in a smith machine or free standing, they’ll hit your glutes in a hurry. As you do this exercise, think of leaning back ever so slightly. This backward lean will help put more emphasis on the glutes and less on the quads or hamstrings.
Then, also focus on pressing up from the bottom of the move through the heel of the foot rather than the toes. Do this and you’ll be sure to feel it in your glute muscles.
Hold a dumbbell in either hand and then position yourself in front of a flat bench. Elevate one leg back up on the bench and once you find your balance, bend the supporting knee as you lower yourself down.
Once both knees are almost bent, press up through the heel into the upright position again. Once all reps are completed, switch sides and repeat.
The barbell glute bridge is a great isolation move that’ll allow you to lift a heavy weight, building up muscle size and density in your glutes.
Do this with a barbell across your hips and be sure to really think of squeezing the glutes together as you drive the hips up off the floor. The more of a mind-muscle connection you can get with this exercise, the faster your results will come.
Sit in front of a flat bench, backup on the bench with the knees bent and feet placed firmly on the floor. Position a barbell across the hips.
Rest the upper back against the bench and with arms on either side of the bench (or holding the barbell if you prefer), drive the hips up, squeezing through the glutes. Pause once you’re parallel with the chest and then lower down to complete the rep.
Finally, to round out your program, consider adding some step-ups to the mix. With this move, the height of the bench will make all the difference. The higher the step, the more glute activation you’ll call into play.
Position yourself in front of a flat bench. Hold a set of dumbbells in your hands (or a barbell across your back) and then step up with one
Place the foot up on the step and then, focusing on contracting through the glutes, bring the rest of the body up to meet it.
Be sure to work both sides equally to ensure proper muscle balance.
Glute training is something many people try to incorporate into their program but due to lack of specific glute focus during the exercises, fail to really active the muscles properly. Remember that when training for glutes, you’re usually better off lifting a slightly lighter weight so that you can really feel it in these muscles and not let your quads and hamstrings take over.
Once you’ve developed that superior mind-muscle connection, only then should you begin to increase the weight loads and push your muscles to the max.
Try two or three of these moves each workout hitting your glutes twice per week and you’ll be seeing results in no time.