So, you’ve been working out at the gym for a long time now. You eat well accordingly to your goal, you train hard, you lift heavy weights. Your whole body is getting lean and nice, but something is wrong with those glutes, because even with all this hard work, they are still not growing enough!!
There are a number of reasons why this could be happening but the most common ones are:
1. You haven’t been activating your glutes.
Before each and every leg workout, it is crucial to WAKE UP those big sleeping giants. You need to FEEL them and GET THEM READY for your workout. So when you do perform you big lifts, you are using those glutes instead of compensating with your quads or whatever other muscles are involved in the exercise.
Later in this article I will give my favourite activation sequence for you to use as an example.
2. You haven’t been doing the right exercises for your glutes.
I hear people saying all the time “she has a big bum, she must squat!”. Well! This is not really how it works.
I am fan number one of big compound lifts and some isolation exercises, such as squats, deadlifts, hip thrusts, leg extension, leg curls, etc. I always enjoyed this type of training very much, and I thought that this would be enough to give me the glutes I wanted, only to find out that glutes are a little bit more complicated than that.
Glutes are secondary muscles. For that reason, all these big lifts are great for our body, but they do not target specifically our glutes. And if you want to make them bigger, you will need to do extra work.
According to the Glute Guy – Bret Contreras – and all his scientific study, the best glute exercises are:
- Hip thrusts
- Glute bridges
- Pendulum quadruped hip extensors
- Back extensions (Glute focused)
This does not mean you shouldn’t do your basic lifts anymore, and just perform these exercises. This is just a guide for the ones that really want stronger and bigger glute. You can incorporate these into your routine and focus on progressive overload on these ones.
3. You haven’t been working your glutes with the intensity and frequency that you should have.
Glutes do not work like the rest of our lower body muscles. They need a lot more stimulus than just the typical 3 sets of 12 heavy and compound lifts, twice a week.
We have slow twitch fibres and fast twitch fibres in our glutes. Each of these muscle fibre types require a different workout (heavy weight/low reps will target more slow twitch fibres, while light weight/high reps will require more fast muscle fibres). However, both of them have significant effect on muscle growth and they need to be worked equally.
So make sure you include in your glute workout different exercise intensities to target all muscle fibres:
- Heavy weight/Low Reps (4-6)
- Moderate weight/ Moderate Reps (8-12)
- Light weight/ High Reps (15-20)
Also, according to some of the experts, the optimal training sets for growing glutes as fast as possible is 15 sets a week. And for maximal stimulus, you ideally spreads those 15 sets over 3 to 6 days of the week. As soon as recovery and adaptation of the muscles is completed, you should work out again.
The adaptation time in between workouts varies from 1 to 3 days, depending on what type of exercise you are doing on the day. Some of them will require short recovery, while others require a longer one. However, you should not take longer than 4 days rest in between workouts, if your goal is maximal growth.
Now, how to know what exercises need a short or a long rest?
Basically, they are divided into three types of exercises:
- Full range of motion with heavy weights (take longer to recover, 3-4 days).
Ex. Barbell squats, Bulgarian Split squats, Deadlifts, Stiff Leg Deadlifts, Barbell Lunges, Front Squats, Sumo Deadlifts, etc.
- Smaller range of motion with a lot of stress on the glutes (take a little less time to recover, 2-3 days).
Ex. Barbell Hip Thrusts, Standing Hip Abductions, Cable Pull Through, Back Extension, Kick Backs, Weighted Quadruped Hip Extensions, Step-ups, etc.
- Short range of motion with low weight or resistance bands. (recovery is much quicker. These ones can actually be done very frequently. 1-2 days). Ex. Frog Pumps, Band Quadruped Hip Extension, Band Glute Bridges, Band Side Walks, Clams, etc.
Ok, so now that you guys understand a little bit about our glutes, how to put all this information together in a workout?
I wrote down my favourite Beginner glute workout that incorporates everything above. You can change the exercises around to find what suits you best.
Let’s start with the Warm-up/Glute Activation: 15 minutes total.
5 min Master Climber (or any other machine to get started).
And than move into the glute circuit:
2×20 band kneeling squats
2×20 multi-directional lunges
2×20 glute bridges
At this point your Muscle to Mind Connection should be firing too.
Now you are ready for the workout:
3×12 Hip thursts
3×8-12 Bulgarian Split Squats
2×20 Banded Glute bridges
2×20 Banded Crab walks
3×8-10 Barbell Squats
3×12 Barbell Glute bridges
2×20 Banded abductors
3×6-8 Step back lunges
3×12 Back extentions (glute focused)
2×30 frog pumps
2×20 side lying raises
3×8-10 Sumo deadlifts
3×12 Romanian deadlifts
3×12 Cable Pullthrows
2×20 Banded quadruped extensions
Remember guys, on the exercises when repetition is from 8-12, the weight should be relatively heavy. You should just be struggling to finish by the time you get to the 11 -12 repetition. If you finish your 12 reps during all sets, that’s a sign you need to increase the weight for the next session.
Small changes will make differences, so on the next session make sure you add around 2.5kg on each side of the barbell, and if you are able to finish all your sets again, then you should increase your weight one more time and continue to do this over the next weeks.
Try it and let me know your thoughts, or any questions on the comments bellow.
(I will leave you with a photo of my fav dream booty to motivate you hehe)
Thank you for reading!!!
Much love xxxx