Are you doing plain-old squats every day hoping to grow your glutes with very little results to show for it? Studies have shown that while squats do activate the glutes, there are much better exercises for building the booty.
To really understand glute training, let’s dive a little deeper. There are three main muscles that make up the glutes: gluteus maximus, gluteus minimus, and gluteus medius. These muscles' primary action is to extend, abduct, and externally rotate the hip. In order to grow the muscle, you’ll need to apply tension and stress. For most of us, this means resistance training.
Compound exercises like a squat or lunge do apply tension to the glutes, but they also activate the quadriceps, hamstrings, and back muscles. This makes the glutes activate to a lesser degree.
So instead of spending every session squatting it like it’s hot, try these other exercise variations to really target those glutes from all angles and grow that booty!
The hip thrust is probably the #1 glute exercise for most people. It keeps the glutes under constant tension, moves the hips through a wide range of motion, is well suited for all body types, and can be done easily with a wide range of equipment. It is very safe and easy on the lower back when done properly.
To do a hip thrust, you’ll need a bench and weight. Hook your shoulder blades onto the edge of the bench and position the weight at your hips. Use a pad to protect your hip bones if necessary. Keep your head forward, tuck your chin, and maintain a neutral spine. Squeeze the glutes, pushing through your heels to raise your hips up to full extension. To lower back down, think about keeping your abs tight and back flat.
The deadlift is tricky to master and takes a lot of practice, but the results are worth all the hard work. Although it also works the hamstrings, this exercise is a gluteus maximus killer. The stretch and contraction during a stiff-leg deadlift are hard to beat when it comes to glute growth.
Start with your hips shoulder-width apart, hinging forward at the hips with a soft bend in the knees and your hands on the weight. Get tight by bracing your spine and abs, pushing the chest through, and pretending to stick the tailbone out. Keep your arms relaxed and the weight right next to your body as you drive through the hips until reaching full extension with a slight glute squeeze at the top. Lower the weight by sitting your hips back staying tight as you slowly reverse the position.
Lateral Band Walk
This exercise targets the gluteus medius and minimus, also commonly referred to as the abductors. These muscles fill in your outer hip and give the glutes a perky, round shape. To perform a Lateral Band Walk, place a resistance loop above or below your knees. I often prefer to do above with a cloth band and below with a rubber band. Walk along one side, driving laterally into the ground with the first leg while following back in with the opposite leg. Keep a hips distance between your legs at all times while you walk down, then return the same way to work the other side.
Reference: Bret C PhD and Glen C. Glute Lab . Victory Belt Publishing Inc; 2019.