Since the great poet Sir Mix-a-Lot released his infamous anthem in ’92 to nearly 20 years later as TikTok has popularized the phenomenon of building a “dump-truck” – It’s nothing new that many who step into the gym are chasing some serious booty gains. We’ve seen the squat racks become more occupied over time, but is spending hours at the squat rack alone the best way to build your backside…?
Now before you write me off – this is not just for those chasing a voluptuous aesthetic. Glute emphasis is important for everyone for improving athletic performance and preventing pain or injury in other parts of our body. When our glutes are weak or underactive, we tend to overcompensate which a lot of times leads to lower back pain. This is why it is important to not only strengthen your glutes but spend time warming up and activating them as well. Adding in foam rolling, stretching, and mobility before you jump into your lifts can make all the difference.
Once you’ve completed your dynamic warmup, it’s time to strengthen. But what exercises should you be performing to grow those glutes? The best results come from a well-rounded (pun intended) training program. The squat, hinge, lunge, and all of their different variations are very important vertical hip extension exercises for building muscle and strength in your lower body. Some of these popular variations include:
- Barbell Back Squats
- Goblet Squats
- Sumo Deadlifts
- Romanian Deadlifts
- Bulgarian Split Squats
- Reverse Lunges
These are great but is your training neglecting horizontal hip extension, flexion, abduction, and external rotation? This could be what you’re missing as combining a mixture of all the above targets muscles in different ways. Now what exactly are these horizontal hip exercises you may ask? There are many variations but here are a few to get started:
- Glute Bridges
- Frog Pumps
- Band Hip Abductions
- Cable Kick Backs
- Lateral Band Walks
- Reverse Hypers
Last, but certainly not least my weapon of choice-
- The Barbell Hip Thrust
If you haven’t been already, let me introduce you to the barbell hip thrust. This is arguably one of the best exercises for growth as the glutes are maximally contracted from bent-leg hip hyperextension exercises. Meaning you’re able to target them specifically without emphasis on the rest of your lower body. Because of the setup of this exercise, you can also load more weight without beating up your shoulders and back. As a beginner, another perk of the hip thrust is that you will typically be able to progress higher in weight quicker than with a standard squat or deadlift.
There are many methods of training and exercises you can utilize to grow your glutes- from heavy weight with low reps, to lighter weight with high volume and multiple sets and reps. The decision is ultimately yours on how you decide to go about your glute training and finding what works best for you; But the main objective is to make sure you hit it from all angles ensuring that you develop a well-rounded backside for performance and aesthetic appeal.
Written by our personal trainer, Hayleigh.