The demand for training programs that build a shapely, toned set of glutes (aka your butt muscles) has skyrocketed over the past few years. This is no surprise, as the glutes have gotten more attention as of late, especially with the rise of celebs like Kim K and Jen Selter flaunting theirs. In addition to improving how you look in a swimsuit, booty building is also beneficial for back, hip, and knee health, and athletic performance. Most people however, train them incorrectly, or leave out key exercises that aid in optimal glute development. In the following article I have outlined my approach to achieving a built bum. You can use the info here to build a strong sexy set of glutes that will not only turn heads, but also improve performance and reduce the risk of injury.
To get you started towards achieving your perfect booty, let me drop some knowledge bombs about the butt muscles. The booty is made up primarily of three muscles: the gluteus maximus, medius, and minimus.
The gluteus maximus is the largest of the butt muscles and is what makes up the majority of what people see—or grab. Developing this muscle will contribute to enhancing the appearance of your rear-end the most. The glute medius makes up the upper and side part of your hips. The glute minimus is a small muscle located under the other glute muscles. As a result, it does not contribute to the visual appearance of your booty as much as the other two. Therefore, focus primarily on the development of the glute maximus and medius to make dat booty pop. To do so, perform exercises that specifically target the glute max and medius.
I know what you're thinking, just squat! Right? Well, not quite. Yes, squats are a great exercise for glute and leg development and certainly deserve a place in your fitness routine, but they are not the king of all glute exercises. According to research by Dr. Bret Contreras (a PhD on sports science and the world's foremost expert on booty–building), the glute muscles show the highest activation from exercises like hip thrusts, hyper extensions, and pendulum kickbacks. These exercises generate twice as much glute activation compared to squats.
Here are the top three exercises I recommend for targeting the glutes that are practical to implement in most gyms:
1. Hip Thrusts
2. 45 Degree Hyperextensions and/or Reverse Hyperextensions
3. Abduction Exercises: Band Abductions, Cable Abductions, X-Band Walks.
The abduction exercises are particularly good for the glute medius.
Other great exercises for the glutes include sumo, conventional, Romanian, and stiff-legged deadlifts, squats, split squats, and lunges (lean forward a little bit on lunges to increase glute activation).
To figure out which exercises you should select, try a few of the above and see which ones you like best, and which makes your booty burn the most.
Train your glutes 3–5 times per week for optimal development. Don’t worry about over training, your glutes are very resilient muscles and can handle a tough workload. A variety of rep ranges should be utilized when training glutes. It is best to use a variety of rep ranges, as different rep ranges stimulate muscle growth in different ways. You can set this up by starting with lower reps (1–5), and then medium reps (6–15), and then to higher reps (15–30 - these are the booty burners!) in each workout. You can also have a low rep day, a medium rep day, and a high rep day.
To make your glutes grow, you’ll want to progressively overload the booty muscles. This is just a fancy way of saying to gradually increase the workload over time. During each workout, try adding some weight or a rep or two.
Sample three-day full-body routine with a focus on glutes:
Hip Thrusts 3 sets of 5
Sumo Deadlifts 3 sets of 8
Lunges 3 sets of 12 (per leg)
Band Abductions 2 sets of 20
Cable Kickbacks 2 sets of 30
Overhead Dumbbell Press 3 sets of 10
Front Planks 3 sets of 30–60 second holds
Bridges 3 sets of 10
Squats 3 sets of 10 (per leg)
Hyperextensions 3 sets of 12
X-Band Walks 2 sets of 30
Assisted Pull-Ups 3 sets of 10
Side Plank 3 Sets of 30-60 seconds
Hip Thrusts 3 sets of 10
Sumo Deadlifts 3 sets of 12
Lunges 3 sets of 15 (per leg)
Band Abductions 3 sets of 30
Cable Row 3 sets of 10
Incline Push-Ups 3 sets of 10
Cable Twists 3 sets of 15
You want to feel the muscle working as you perform each exercise. If you don’t, you are not going to get the best development. For optimal results, squeeze those butt muscles as you perform each exercise (no, not with your hands). Flexing/squeezing them will increase activation, leading to better development.
I see people make the mistake of not training the glutes with any sort of appreciable weight. A lot of workouts will consist of bodyweight kickbacks, some band balks, and clams, and that's it. Or they'll refuse to go heavy on them for some reason. Sorry, but that is not going to cut it. Glutes respond to weight training like any other muscles, and if you want to see significant improvement your going to have to get serious and do more than a few light exercises. Don't worry, you won't get muscle-bound or bulky.
For a shapely rear end that will make Kim K do a double take, you’ll want to utilize exercises that specifically target the glute muscles, like hip thrusts, hyperextensions, and band abductions, in addition to the classics like squats, deadlifts, and lunges. Steadily attempt to increase your workload over time, use a variety of rep ranges, and SQUEEZE your glutes while performing the exercises—or just all the time. Now go get to booty-building and enjoy reveling in the admiration of your friends and colleagues.