I am going to focus todays post on my all time favorite muscle to train: The glutes. Not only are the glutes my favorite muscle to work but this is by far the most popular muscle group that I get asked about from (especially my female) clients.
When I was younger, I was a cardio queen. I used to run (jog) for anywhere from 25-45 minutes a day or I would use the elliptical. Sure I was active, and happy and no ‘body issues’ however, I was looking for improvements that I just was never able to achieve. When I started reading fitness magazines such as Oxygen or Muscle and Fitness, I was in awe of these powerful women with incredible physiques-namely their lower body. How do I get my glutes to look like THAT
Having the motivation and dedication I do hitting goals that I set, I became even that much more motivated to building my lower body…or should I say “transforming it” Years later, I decided to truly educate myself on how to target this certain area.
If you think that you can develop a beautifully sculpted behind with cardio alone-sure, its possible for some, but you are missing out on so much more potential development and possible physique changes by skimping out on the weights
10 points if you can find me in the above picture
VARIETY: I try to vary my lower body workouts because there are so many amazing and beneficial tools and exercises to help develop strong, firm glutes. Many people think that they NEED to lift extremely heavy weight when it comes to the glutes, but because the glute region is one of the hardest to properly activate, most of the time all you need is your own body weight
Progressions/Activation: Start from the ground up! It really confuses me when I see people head straight to the squat rack, smith machine or deadlift area, load up the bar and proceed with atrocious form. I always start with body weight glute activation exercises that sometimes are enough in themselves because I know that I am FULLY engaging and really making the muscles work (glute bridges, single leg glute bridges, glute marching, single leg hip thrust)
Mind-Muscle Connection: I have found that activating the glutes properly is a very challenging task. I am sure you are shaking your head saying “Naomi, I can lie down on a mat and perform 10 glute bridges no problem” but chances are you are not FULLY engaging the lower body. It is SO important to know and listen to your own body. When you perform a glute bridge you should be lifting your body up with that muscle group alone and really focus on the ‘squeeze’ at the top. I know that personally, since incorporating kettle bell’s and glute activation work into my lower body routine, I am so much more ‘aware’ and work the glutes even harder during bigger compound exercises such as squats, reverse lunges or deadlifts.
Foam Roll: I know I have talked about it probably way too much for you to listen or read about anymore but I cannot stress the importance of the foam roller when it comes to increases in strength, flexibility and glute activation! To ensure you’re hip flexors are nice and stretched out you MUST foam roll. Tight hip flexors inhibit glute activation
My Favorite Glute Building Exercises
If I could take one form of HIIT training that is the utmost effective in shaping and adds to a beautifully sculpted lower half, I would taking sprinting over virtually everything else! Incline, flat, fast, slower…as long as you are performing kick butt (no pun intended) intervals that challenge you…Sprinting will truly transform your lower body. Long distance running will not, sorry to say.
Sprint routine 1
Single Leg Deadlift
I perform these in different variations. I switch between holding a barbell, holding 2 kettlebells or 1 kettlebell (when I hold 1 kettlebell, I hold it in the OPPOSITE hand to make it ‘off set’ which really fires the core)
Set up: With your feet close together, hold a dumbbell in your right hand with an overhand grip and extend your arm. Keep your head up and a tight arch in the small of your back.
Bending your right knee slightly and keeping your left leg straight and locked, hinge at the hips to lower your torso toward the floor, using the weight as a counterbalance as your left leg comes up in a straight line behind you. With contracted abs, squeeze your right glute and hamstring as you pull your torso back to vertical. Repeat for reps before switching legs.
Single Leg Hip Thrust
Set Up: Place the benches a few feet apart and place your shoulders along the edge of the bench. Place one foot flat on the bench or box so that your knee is at a right angle when you’re at the top of the movement (full hip extension). The “resting” leg should be raised with the knee extended.
Lower yourself, with control, to a position where your hip is at approximately a right angle (from torso to thigh) Range of motion is KEY in this movement, so work your way up to a full hip extension at the top to really fire the glutes.
The difference between the Glute Bridge and the Hip Thrust is that the hip thrust is a unilateral movement with the shoulders or feet (or both) elevated) With the glute bridge, this is performed with shoulders on the ground. With the hip thrust, you are able to get a larger ROM (Range of motion) thus forcing you to recruit more force to perform the exercise, allowing you to build strength.
Marianne of “girls gone strong” Has an amazing post (highlighted there) if you want to learn more about the single leg hip thrust.
Bulgarian Split SquatI actually always avoided this exercise because it was more on the hate side of the ‘love-hate relationship’ They were just….hard! We always tend to avoid things that bring us out of our comfort zones, and you know what? I have come to LOVE this exercise after learning it properly and getting over the fact that it was even challenging with just my body weight. No, I was not using any additional weight and Bulgarian split squats were damn right challenging! Learning proper body mechanics is about proper progression. Get over your ego’s, drop the weights and educate yourself This single leg exercise improves strength, balance and hip mobility.
To begin: Stand on one leg, and keep the other leg off the ground throughout the entire set . You want to initiate the movement from the HIPS…you want a big hinge from the hips, sticking your glutes back like you are going to be sitting in a chair that is a bit far out behind you. (The majority of your bodyweight should be on your heel that is on the ground) Slowly lower yourself to the box or bench, and simply touch it…do not fully sit down. Pause for 1 second and then push through your foot using your glutes to stand back up. Try not to lead with your chest, so keep your shoulder back and stand nice and tall!
I want to pair these two compound exercises together because they are truly The KING of the booty….I love deadlifts and Squats…all variations and love to experiment. My recent favorite are the trap bar deadlifts check out THAT POST to learn all about the amazingness of the trap bar deadlifts
I have talked about them before, but I think that goblet squats are one of the most effective exercises to really teach the body proper squatting technique. There is something so amazing about how this exercise allows you to get into a deep,proper squat. The key to this exercise is the hinge at the hips and the ‘snap’ at the top. When I say ‘snap’ I mean as you come back up, really try to thrust your hips forward and SQUEEZE the glutes. It is the similar motion you will experience in the KB swing. Goblet squats give you the ability achieve a deep squat that will greatly aid you in heavier lifts such as squats as well as fully engage the core and work those glutes!
Vary up your lower body training to hit all aspects of the glute/hamstring/quad regions.
When performing bilateral lifts (barbell squats, deadlifts) it is important to balance this out with unilateral lifts as well (single leg bulgarian split squats, single leg glute bridge)
Although with unilateral lifts you will not be able to lift as much, and in some cases only your bodyweight; they are some of the most effective exercises for shaping the glutes due to the enormous amount of muscle activation involved when performed properly
Always activate the glutes in your warm up before performing your strength workout. This iscritical in ensuring that their glutes activate efficiently during heavier exercises
Lower Body Workout :
1) Barbell Back Squats 4×15,12,10,8 (increase weight each set)
2) Trap Bar deadlifts 4×12
3A) Bulgarian Split squats 3×10
3B) Single leg hip thrust 3×15 each side
TABATA-20 seconds on/10 seconds rest…complete 8 rounds. Complete each exercise twice
ANNDDD I couldn’t help but throw together some great booty shakin’ tunes
What is your FAVORITE BOOTY exercise or song to shake your booty to?