Perfect Glutes in 4 Exercises
The perfect glute workout doesn’t exis—
Wait, Yes it does. And you can be the proud owner of a perfect set of glutes for the low time commitment of only 4 exercises and 3 gym sessions per week. This is something that you can plan into your current training schedule or build the rest of your week around your glute training if buns of steel are a priority for you.
The glutes are a powerful set of muscles that are responsible for the hinging of your hips and to a lesser extent, the external rotation of your legs. There are quite a few exercises that stimulate the glutes, but there are a small selection of them that tend to activate them to a high degree and give you lots of strength and size gains if your diet and supplementation is on the right track. If you have trouble improving your glutes, these exercises should do the trick! We’ll note a little tweak for each exercise that can boost its efficacy and your results.
If you are a quad dominant individual and you never feel that hard glute contraction at the bottom of your squat try these adjustments and cues to facilitate some extra glute contraction.
Tricks + Cues:
Use a Wider Stance
When your feet are close together, your quads end up doing most of the work, extending your legs throughout most of the movement. When your stance widens, your hips activate throughout more of the ROM ( Range of Motion) and therefore stimulates your glutes to a higher degree.
Screw Your Feet into the Floor
Remember that part of the glute’s job is to externally rotate the legs at the hip, so keeping some light tension on the glutes by actively externally rotating the legs will help with glute activation. Don’t twist hard, but keep your toes pointed out and your knees tracking over your toes.
Use a Band
The glutes also act on the leg to abduct it, or move it away from the body. By using a band wrapped around your thigh while using the above two cues, you’re adding tension to the glutes from the beginning to the end of the movement and cuing your body to use proper movement patterns during the squat. Even a very light band can do the trick for adding just enough tension to “wake up” the glutes, but a full blown “booty band” will add a significant amount of tension and help a lot if your glutes are strong enough to use it while maintaining good form.
Like a wider stance squat, the sumo deadlift emphasizes the hip-hinge, and therefore the glutes. Think of the sumo deadlift as a combination of a squat and a good-morning/RDL. Your hips will stay a little higher from the beginning of the movement, but you’re using your glutes to open your hips into a standing position by pushing with your feet and pulling the weight vertically, predominantly by squeezing your glutes to straighten your body.
Banded Barbell Hip Thrust
The Barbell Hip thrust can be done with or without a “booty band” and is a great way to more or less isolate the glutes. The focus of this movement is simply on using your glutes to push your hips forward as a hingle. Place your feet in a way that puts them perpendicular to the floor at the top of the movement. You may see people using very heavy weights for this one, but that isn’t necessary. If you have weak glutes, it’s better to use a moderate weight and perform it for a repeated effort lift, from 12-15 reps. Make sure that you are using your legs and feet just for stability. If you push through your toes, you can end up taking some tension off the glutes and transferring it to the quads.
Front Foot Elevated Split Squat
The split squat is a great way to build your legs and in particular, your glutes. There is a lot of stabilization involved and your weight is loaded over your hip in such a way that it provides a good stretch and contraction that is hard to replicate. If you add a slight elevation to your front foot, which is the one doing the work, you’ll be able to get a deeper stretch, a fuller ROM, and ultimately more growth.
BONUS: Glute Activation Movement
Before you start, it’s a good idea to do some light movements to practice firing your glute muscles before you get into the more heavily loaded exercises. One simple way to do this is to lay face-up on a mat with a band around your ankles. Abduct your legs hard, and then externally rotate your legs for a couple sets of 15 with a nice isometric hold on each rep. To anyone watching you, it’s just going to look like you’re laying there moving your feet, but your glutes should be firing. Once you’re finished with these, you can dive into your glute training!