TOP 5 TIPS FOR BUILDING
BIGGER, STRONGER GLUTES.

Blog post by Team Training Programming

Throughout the years of fitness trends, we have seen an obsession with training particular body parts, from big arms, shredded abs to wide backs and big chests. The current trend seems to entirely focus on a big set of powerful glutes.

Time and time again, I see people do banded crab walks to sumo deadlifts with the intention of targeting the glutes…..NO SUMO DEADLIFTS ARE NOT A GOOD GLUTE EXERCISE, “oh but I feel my glutes”, news flash, just because you feel something doesn’t mean it’s good, especially when it comes to hypertrophy.

So let’s delve into how to grow these bad boys and cut out all the rubbish we see on the internet.

First up let’s look at the anatomy of the glutes and which muscles we are specifically talking about.

First up let’s look at the anatomy of the glutes and which muscles we are specifically talking about.

For aesthetics, we are talking about 3 main muscles.

1 – GLUTE MAX – The largest muscle in the body, in short, it extends from the pelvis to the femur.

Its the primary hip extensor through the last 30-40 degrees of extension in the sagittal plane (front to back)

2 – GLUTE MED – Extends from the ilium (top of the hip) to the femur.

Its primary action is hip abduction (moving your legs apart)

3 – GLUTE MIN – When it comes to aesthetics this muscle isn’t really important as it lies underneath both the glute max and med, it assists in hip extension and abduction, so when we train both the max and med we will also be training the glute min.

5 TIPS TO GROW THE GLUTES

1 – TRAIN YOUR GLUTE MAX THROUGH ITS FULL RANGE.

When I say this I don’t mean, training an exercise through the full range of motion, I mean exactly training the muscle by using a variety of exercises that challenge your muscle through its full range.

To understand this you need to understand the strength curve of a muscle and the resistance profile of each exercise.

RESISTANCE PROFILE – refers to the relative change of resistance of an exercise through its range of motion. (at which point the exercise is at its easiest and which point it’s at its hardest)

STRENGTH PROFILE – refers to the ability of a muscle to produce force through its contractile range (fully shortened, mid-range, fully lengthened) in other words, how much force can the muscle produce as it lengthens and shortens.

Generally speaking (but not always due to joint mechanics) we tend to be at our strongest through the mid-range, at our weakest through our fully shortened position, and somewhere in-between at our fully lengthened position.

Anyway moving on, we want to pick exercises that tick these boxes.

Looking at the glute max, with its primary role hip extension which means is fully shortened position is a full hip extension and fully lengthened position full hip flexion.

Below you can see a list of exercises that match the profiles.

If we look at the hip thrust, you should now be able to see that the highest point of resistance is when the glute max is at its fully contracted (hip extended) position.

But as above, training the glutes fully will require you to pick exercises that tick each box.


2 -TRAIN THE PELVIC STABILISERS.

Charles Poliquin famously once said, “you can’t shoot a cannon out of a canoe.” Referring to the importance of stability training for strength.

Basically, your ability to exert force (strength) is superseded by your ability to resist force (stability).

The glute med’s primary function is lateral hip stability, its primary action is hip abduction.

If we want to grow the glute med we should look at the action of the muscle moving from origin to insertion, putting tension across the muscle fibres, the standing glute med kicks back is always the go-to if you have a cable machine, bands can be used as a secondary choice.

However, if we want to stabilise the pelvis we need to challenge the pelvic stabilisers with their ability to resist force.

3 – NARROW STANCE.

One thing that really needs to be put to bed, Sumo deadlifts are not good for glute hypertrophy.

Here’s why – The glute max, as we have touched on is primarily a sagittal hip extensor meaning it pushes the hip from back to front, when we take our legs away from midline we will then decrease the amount of leverage and mechanical tension the glutes have to extend the hip. In order to train a muscle effectively for muscle hypertrophy, we want to create mechanical tension, this is how great a range of motion you can take that muscle through, from a fully lengthened to shortened position, when we are in the sumo stance the glute is effectively starting from a shortened position and finishing in a shortened position, so this why we will call on more of the adductors to extend the hip.

The feeling you get when you think you’re training your glutes is more than likely your deep hip rotators, not your glutes.

So narrow stance for the win, hip-width is usually a good place to start.

4 – VOLUME, INTENSITY, FREQUENCY.

Total volume is calculated by the total number of sets per week, per muscle group, this will depend on your training level and training age. The more advanced you are the more sets and reps you should do each week for that muscle group.

Beginners 10-15 sets per week
Intermediate 16-23 sets per week
Advanced 24-28+ sets per week

Intensity refers to the number of reps from the percentage of your 1 rep max, Studies suggest that for hypertrophy the anywhere between 30-80 even 90% there isn’t much difference when performing to failure.

Now with our glutes being predominantly slow twitch, this means that working with slightly lower percentages and higher rep ranges and with women being slightly more slow-twitch than men they tend to do better with higher reps.

But I suggest for compound movements such as deadlifts and squats between 70-85% and more isolation or single-limb movements around about 60-70% would be optimal for most when going to or close to failure.

Frequency is similar to training Volume, Beginners need more rest than advanced lifters. So the more experienced you are the more you can train that muscle through the week.

Beginners 1-2 times per week
Intermediate 2-3.times per week
Advanced 4+ times per week

5 – SPRINT.

“Have you ever seen a sprinter with small glutes?“ Dr Jordan Shallow

The answer is no because the glutes move your pelvis from back to front, something sprinters are very good at. Side note, id only suggest all-out sprints for intermediate or advanced lifters as they tend to have better hip stability in order for the glutes to do their thing.

Stick to these guidelines you should see some pretty good booty gains.

Enjoy.

Example sessions

BEGINNERS – repeat and increase weights for 6 weeks, resting 3-4 days between sessions.

Glute bridges Romanian Deadlifts

INTERMEDIATE – repeat for 6 weeks increasing weights resting 2 days between sessions

Working set = not including warm-up sets
+ (plus) = to failure but load should be around the reps scheme stated.

ADVANCED  – repeat for 6 weeks increasing weights resting 1 day between sessions

Working set = not including warm-up sets

+ (plus) = to failure but load should be around the reps scheme stated.