Okay, no fooling around anymore, girls and guys. What really targets the glutes? Squats? Fire hydrants? Yoga Booty Ballet? No, no, and no! If you want to build nice glutes — guaranteed — then you need to do movements that target the glutes maximally.
The Misunderstanding of Squats for Building Glutes
Squats are an excellent exercise for overall lower body strength. However, the movement does not target the glutes directly. I don’t care how many people swear by squats as a glute builder, the exercise targets the legs primarily. Here’s a new motto for ya, don’t put your bets on an indirect movement in hopes of getting a direct result. In other words, don’t emphasize squats to develop your glutes.
Traditional Glute Movements – Your Mommy’s Glute Routine
This is the age of the strong, fit, tight female physique. Old age exercises just don’t cut it. Fire hydrants, kickbacks, and other traditional glute exercises fall into this category. These exercises are only minimally effective for building the glutes because the primary focus is not on your glutes. Granted, the glutes get some stimulation. But everyone’s body is different, and the indirect stimulation that the glutes get from these movements are not enough for everyone to see results. This is why glute-specific exercises are needed.
Yoga booty ballet
Hmm, can you say fitness trend? This fitness concept takes calisthenics and stretches and claims that the movements will build your glutes. The glutes may be stimulated, but not enough for maximal growth. Another problem, specifically for yoga practitioners, is that the concept of progressive overload is virtually nonexistent. Progressive overload is when some form of resistance (usually in the form of weights) is added to an exercise on a consistent, often weekly basis, in order to force maximum muscle growth. Yoga routines don’t incorporate progressive overload, therefore achieving noticeable growth and maximal growth of your glutes are slim to none.
Now let’s get to the REAL glute workout, shall we?
The Warm Up
You can change up your warm up. The point is to get the muscles warm and pliable so they’ll be ready for exercise and less prone to injury. I like to do exercise-specific warm-ups, so on glute day, I do one of the following:
Step climber for 5 minutes, moderate intensity.
Bosu ball squat and stability routine for 5 minutes, moderate intensity. Example below.
Plyo squat and lunges, 3 sets of 15 each exercise, with a minute of rest in between for a total of 5 minutes.
Warning: Don’t overdo the warm up. Save your energy for the real workout. After a five minute warm-up, you should have a slight mist of sweat, but you should not be dripping sweat or breathing heavy. Else, you over did it.
Exercise 1: Weighted Glute Bridge
Do the worst first. As a general rule, it is smart to start a workout with the hardest, most energy-sucking exercise. This is because your energy level is at its highest at the beginning of a workout, and the hardest exercise typically yields the greatest results, so it’s important that it’s done to the best of your ability.
4 – 5 Sets in a pyramid scheme
Set 1: 15 reps with a warm-up weight
Set 2: 12 reps with moderate weight
Set 3: 8 reps with heavy weight
Set 4: 6 reps adding more weight
Set 5: 12 – 15 reps lower weight
Don’t forget progressive overload. Challenge yourself to add more weight every week, beating the previous week. It doesn’t have to be a lot of weight. 5 lbs, even 2 lbs counts.
Exercise 2: Reverse Hyperextension
You worked the glutes in one direction through intense contractions with the weighted bridge. Now, let’s stretch the muscle a bit and still target the glutes directly, via reverse hyperextensions. I do my routine in this order, emphasizing the need to stretch during the workout because there’s more hard work ahead in this routine. You don’t want to cramp up by focusing too much on contraction. Exercise order is important.
There are many ways reverse hyperextensions can be done. Variety is the key to fitness success. Choose one method and change it every 4 weeks, to keep the body stimulated. I use a back hyperextension machine because that’s what my gym has. But you can use a stability ball, bosu ball, a bench, even a custom reverse hyperextension machine (they exists).
4 – 5 Sets 15 reps each, holding at the top of the movement for 2 seconds.
Exercise 3: Single Leg Hip Thrust
There are many ways this exercise can be done. Choose what works for you and change it up.
4 – 5 Sets adding weight for sets 2-3 and again sets 4-5
Set 1: 10 reps with a warm-up weight
Set 2: 10 reps with moderate weight
Set 3: 10 reps with heavy weight
Set 4: to failure adding more weight
Set 5: to failure reps lower weight
Exercise 4: Standing Leg Abduction
3 Sets – can maintain the same weight for all sets, or add weight each set. This is not a muscle-builder exercise, it’s for overall development and shape, thus the set scheme does not include progressive overload.
Set 1: 12-15 reps with a warm up weight
Set 2: 12-15 reps with moderate weight
Set 3: 12-15 reps with heavy weight
Exercise 5: Plie or Goblet Squat
3 Sets – can maintain the same weight for all sets, or add weight each set. This exercise is for overall development and shape, progressive overload is not included below.
Set 1: 15-25 reps with a warm up weight
Set 2: 15-25 reps with moderate weight
Set 3: 15-25 reps with heavy weight
Do the above routine once per week. For best results, have a Glute Day instead of squeezing this routine into Leg Day or another routine. To complete your Glute Day, incorporate calf exercises and finish up with a cardio cool down of about 15 minutes. You’ll have a complete and effective workout, results guaranteed. The average amount of time it takes to see results is 3 weeks. From there on, how big you want your glutes to be is up to you. The trick is in targeted exercises and progressive overload.