Building the Perfect Peach: Glutes 101 2


Squats are often touted as the end all be all for glute training.

If you search #squatbooty on Instagram, there are 235,468 pictures of fit chicks showing off their fantastic backsides.

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I’m here to tell you: squats are overrated.

At least for glute training, anyways.

Biomechanically, the glutes only reach an average of 50-70% maximum voluntary contraction (MVC– just a fancy term for muscle activation) during a squat, mostly because the glutes are relatively unloaded at the bottom and the top of the movement.

So if squats suck for glutes, what DOES make a juicy booty, a toned peach, and a rockin backside?

Enter: the barbell Hip Thrust.

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Hip thrusts (and hip thrust variations) are the best exercise for toning, lifting, and firming the backside.

Why? Compared to the squat, hip thrusts allow the glutes to be loaded consistently throughout the movement and this results in an average of about 100% MVC during the movement.

Beyond just aesthetics, there are many reasons to effectively train the glutes.

The glutes tend to get a little sleepy and have a hard time firing, especially for people who sit all day at work. This is something “Glute Guy” Bret Contreras calls gluteal amnesia. For a lot of lifters, teaching the glutes to fire correctly and increasing the strength can help alleviate pain and keep the knees, hips, and back healthy.

But also, do it for the #bootygainz.

 

Here are some quick principles to help you get the most out of your glute training.

 

#1 Train them hard, and train them often.

The glutes are the biggest, strongest, and most powerful muscles in the body. They’re highly resilient and can literally take a beating in the gym. If you’re not seeing the results you’d like increase your total volume by increasing your training frequency.

You can safely train the glutes 4-5x a week without worrying about overtraining like other muscle groups.

 

#2 Variety is king

While squats are just okay for glute activation, hip thrusts are better. But that doesn’t mean you should stop squatting.

Please don’t stop squatting.

What’s better than doing just hip thrusts for glutes? Doing hip thrusts AND squats.  

The glutes respond optimally to varying exercises, rep ranges, and loads.

If you want maximum results, combine heavy hip thrusts with medium and light load hip thrusts and different variations like the single leg hip thrust, or the foot elevated glute bridge.

Also include high rep band exercises like clamshells, lateral band walks, and seated abductions.

 

#3 Highly individualized/Mind muscle connection

Through training hundreds of women, I’ve found that the glutes are highly individualized.

Which exercises target YOUR glutes the best is going to be different than the girl next to you at the gym.

Also, there’s a huge mental connection when training glutes. You can’t rush through the reps. You need to think about squeezing the glutes while you’re doing the exercise. If at first you can’t feel a certain exercise in the glutes, slow it down and focus on what muscle group you’re actually targeting.

You may need to place the band above the knees rather than below the knees to feel the burn more. You may feel a certain exercise in the glutes more when you turn your feet out.

At the end of the day, a little trial and error and lots of practice is going to help you figure out which exercises best target YOUR booty.

#4 You’re stronger than you think.

Just trust me on this one.

The barbell hip thrust has the potential to be an extremely strong movement.

Here are two of my clients, Jackie and Karen hip thrusting 405lbs and 305lbs.

With consistent training, you should be able to barbell hip thrust much more than you can squat and deadlift.

Now get out there and work your ass ON!

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