Glute training has become popularized in the fitness community over the last 5 years with the rise of social media platforms like Instagram where you will see endless amounts of glute selfies and butt blasting workouts. If you don’t believe me just search #glutes on Instagram and you’ll see what I mean.

Having a strong and sculpted booty is not just for the #fitfam to show off on Instagram, it has many benefits for MEN and women. Yes, men can definitely benefit from having a nice butt too! Apart from the appearance and shape, having some junk in that trunk can have a positive carry over to running mechanics, sports performance, sprinting speed, injury prevention and improving posture.

In order to develop the glutes, we must understand their anatomy, what they do and how we can apply this to our training in order for them to grow.


Glute Anatomy

There are 3 main muscles that make up your booty;

  • Gluteus Maximus

This is the largest muscle in the body, that alone should give you an idea of the potential it has to produce force and build muscle. The gluteus maximus makes up a large portion of the shape and appearance of the glutes.

  • Gluteus Medius

Is a fan shaped muscle that lies between the gluteus maximus and minimus. A weak glute medius is thought to be a common symptom in people with chronic lower back pain.

  • Gluteus Minimus

This is the smallest and deepest of the glute muscles.


Functions of the Glutes

To understand how to train the glutes effectively, we must understand what movements they are responsible for;

  • Hip Extension

Think of moving your leg forward and backwards behind the midline of your body.


  • Hip Abduction

Think of moving your leg out to the side away from your body.

  • External rotation of the hip

Think of rotating your hip, knee, and foot away from the midline of your body.


When you’re training your glutes you need to think about these movements and ask yourself these questions;

Is this exercise extending the hip?

Have I got any external rotation of the hip?

Have I got any abduction of the hip?


Exercises for the glutes?

To maximally target the glutes we must use a wide variety of hip extension, hip abduction and external rotation movements.

Glute expert Bret Contreras (Nickname the glute guy) conducted an experiment where he measured the electromyography (EMG) activity of different areas of the glutes while performing various different exercises.

His findings showed varying levels of activation in different areas of the glutes depending on the exercise being performed.

An example of his findings;

Mean upper glute maximus activation: Barbell hip thrust scored highest.

Mean lower glute maximus activation: The deadlift scored the highest.


My personal favourite glute exercises;

  1. Barbell Hip thrust
  1. Pull throughs


  1. Deadlifts


  1. Walking lunges


  1. Single leg hip thrusts (In hip thrust video)


  1. Banded hip abduction walks



Programming for glutes?

The glutes can take a considerable amount of punishment and recover pretty quickly so I find hitting them with a high volume and frequency is needed for maximum growth.

My recommendation would be to hit them from 2 to 4 times a week using a variety of exercises and rep ranges. I like to use low, medium and high reps depending on the exercise being performed.

Low reps- Exercises like deadlifts and squats.

Medium reps- Exercises like hip thrusts, lunges, pull throughs and hyperextensions.

High reps- Exercises like hip abductions and frog pumps.

It’s a lot easier and more practical to use low reps and a heavier weight on deadlifts compared to hip abductions.

I recommend varying your compound exercises every 6-12 weeks and isolation exercises every 3-4 weeks.


Barbell Squats for glutes?

A common belief is that all you need to develop your glutes is Squats. A 2015 study by Contreras et al compared gluteus maximus activation in the back squat and barbell hip thrust. Study showed the barbell hip thrust activated the gluteus maximus to a greater degree than the barbell back squat when using estimated 10RM loads.

This shows reasonable evidence that to maximally develop the gluteus maximus you need to be doing more than just squats.


Tips for training glutes

  • Push through the heels.
  • Squeeze the glutes hard on each rep
  • Correct technique is very important in recruiting the glutes during exercises. For example if your squatting and letting your knees come inwards as you squat you will not get the full benefit of using the glutes as external rotation of the hip is compromised.
  • Focusing on external rotation of the hip in movements like squats, lunges and hip thrusts will shift more focus onto the glutes.
  • Adjusting exercises and feet position can transfer more focus onto the glutes. For example Walking lunges, if you take a longer stride, have a more vertical shin angle and push up through your heel you will be using more of the glutes compared to using a short stride and having a more forward angled shin position.
  • Use a variety of equipment to change the resistance curve of the exercise. Bands, cables, kettlebells, barbells and dumbbells can all be used to effectively target the glutes.


  1. GLUTE ACTIVATION- Banded hip abduction walks 2 sets 20 reps each side.

*Focusing on feeling the glutes working and warming them up for the heavy lifts.


  1. HEAVY KNEE DOMINANT EXERCISE- Box Squats 3 sets 6-10 reps

*Focusing on getting the knees out and squeezing the glutes at the top of each rep.


  1. HEAVY HIP DOMINANT EXERCISE- Deadlifts 3 sets 6-10 reps

*Focusing on external hip rotation and thrusting into the bar at the top of each rep.


  1. BENT KNEE HIP DOMINANT EXERCISE- Pull throughs 3 sets 6-10 reps

*Focus on external hip rotation on the way down, contracting hard at the top.


  1. METABOLIC FINISHER- Banded hip thrusts 2 sets 20+ reps

*Focusing on constant tension, forcing as much blood into the glutes, chasing the “pump”


Feel free to share with anyone you think could benefit from reading this and if you would like to see another article like this on another muscle group let me know![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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