A lot of the time I start these articles by hilariously (?) suggesting someone has asked me about my Adonis like abs/arms/chest and therefore I’ve got to write said article for them blahblahblah which is all massive lies. BUT people do genuinely ask me how I got a massive bum. My parents don’t have massive glutes, so it must be something to do with my training, right? So without further ado, here are in my opinion the best 3 exercises for dat ass, demonstrated by myself in the Blackheath gym.
These 3 exercises should be used together, as they all complement each other well for a full glute training effect.
- The Squat – the squat doesn’t get the most glute activation of these exercises but when you squat low (i.e. get the crease of the hip level or below the knee during the squat, aka squatting down til the thighs are parallel to the floor) you do get a big stretch through the glutes, important for getting some glute muscular hypertrophy (growth!), plus the squat is great for the thighs, as well as being one of the most bad ass and fun exercises to do in the gym.
Technique: If you’re a beginner start out with the goblet squat, box squat or safety bar squat and try and find someone to teach you how to do them correctly. Squat down to at least parallel, keeping the knees in line with the toes (i.e. don’t let your knees cave in), keep your weight on your heels and try not to let your torso fall forwards.
- Romanian Deadlift – again, not the most glute activation of these exercises, but the glutes and the hamstrings take a beating during this exercises when performed correctly.
Technique: again, this exercise can be difficult to perform safely and effectively, so try and find a teacher! Soften the knees, then push the hips backwards as far as you can, keeping the bar in contact with the body the whole time. You should feel a big stretch in the hamstrings at the end of the movement. Try to keep the shoulders pulled back tightly, so not to round the back forwards.
WHAT NOT TO DO #1: round the back forwards (as demo’d with the stick), lifting form the spine, you’re going to hurt yourself and won’t even train the glutes or hamstrings in the process.
WHAT NOT TO DO #2: squat the weight down, while not inherently dangerous it kind of defeats the purpose of the exercise.
- Single leg hip thruster – MAHOOSIVE glute activation during this exercise, certain to make your glutes burn and really isolate the glutes much more so than the squat or deadlift. A great way to finish off a leg session!
Technique: actively squeeze from the glute of the working leg, pushing through the heel. Fairly simple this one, just ensure you are squeezing the bum hard at the top of the movement, and not arching the lower back. To add extra difficulty put a bar across the hips as demo’d with the stick, but remember to put a bar pad on first otherwise it does dig in!
Implementation: Try doing this workout twice a week with a couple of days rest between to get you going:
Exercise 1) Squats – 3 sets of 6-8 reps (9/10 difficulty rating for each set – i.e. probably had 1 rep left in the tank in each set) – rest 3 mins between sets – consider super setting with an upper body or ab exercise while your resting the legs.
Exercise 2) Romanian deadlift – 3 sets of 10 reps (8/10 difficulty rating for each set) – if your grip is struggling try using one hand under handed grip, the other overhand – rest 2 mins between sets – again consider super setting with another non leg exercise during your rest periods.
Exercise 3) Single leg hip thruster – 3 sets of 10-15 reps (10/10 difficulty each set – i.e. got til failure) – 60s rest between sets (reps will probably drop off so start with a weight you can do for ~15 reps so by the last set you can still hopefully get 10 reps).
One final point… exercises such as glute clams or exercises where your lying on the floor lifting the leg sideways, or just generally look like the exercise below, WILL NOT have much an impact on the size/shape of your glutes. First and foremost they primarily activate the glute medius and secondly there isn’t enough resistance in place to produce any kind of significant hypertrophy or training effect.
And for those of you who think I’m talking out of my arse…
Joe Birch BSc MSc Pn-1
Personal Trainer Blackheath