Let’s talk GLUTES! Some of you reading this may be wanting to grow and/or strengthen your glutes, whether that be for aesthetic, or strength/performance reasons.
As our glutes are one of our biggest muscle groups, it forms a strong foundation for our bodies and helps us run, jump, sit + stand, and support you through many activities like mountain hikes, beach swims, or taking your doggo up and down the hilly streets on your morning walk!
One of the biggest challenges for glute development is that many of us live a fairly sedentary lifestyle, sitting for long periods at a desk, on the couch, in a car, or on public transport – the more time we spend sitting, the more our glutes can become inactive, with little to no activation throughout the day.
Therefore, specific glute-focused training is important for overall functionality and symmetry within the body, as well as for aesthetic reasons, and to support overall strength performance.
Our Glutes are comprised of three key muscles:
Gluteus Maximus – the largest of the three, making up most of what you visually see, and also one of the strongest muscles within your body.
Gluteus Medius – This muscle is located on the upper-sides of your posterior region, and is partially overlapped by the Gluteus Maximus. The Glute Medius plays an important role in pelvic stabilisation, which also aids your overall posture and mobility, and targeting this muscle will help give your glutes a fuller, rounder look.
Gluteus Minimus – The smallest of the three muscles, the Gluteus Minimus is located underneath the Gluteus Maximus and is not outwardly visible, but is crucial for movement, stabilising our hips, helping with hip adduction/abduction of the ball-and-socket hip joint.
It’s important to consider the above when considering exercise selection, to ensure that each key component of your glutes is targeted, for fuller, rounder, STRONGER glutes.
When choosing your exercises, its important to note that some will work the glutes really well from stretched position, such as full depth squats, lunges, split squats, and to a lesser extent, Romanian deadlifts. Others, maximise glute contraction in the end range, such as hip thrusts, glute-focused back extensions, and cable pull-through’s. A mix will ensure that your glutes are targeted with variety in both the stretched and contracted position.
So what exercises are “best” to grow your glutes? The simple answer? There is no one magical exercise. If we had to narrow down to a top three to cover as many bases as possible, it would be:
1 – Heavy Barbell Hip Thrust (or Glute Bridge)– Loading your glutes in the contracted position, mainly targeting the Gluteus Maximus.
2 – Any form of deep Lunge or Split Squat – Loading your glutes in the stretched position, mainly targeting the Gluteus Maximus and Minimus.
3 – Any form of Hip Abduction or Resistance Banded Exercise – Loading your glutes in the contracted position, mainly targeting the Gluteus Medius.
Working these in alongside your bigger compound lifts, such as Barbell Squats and Deadlifts (which I’d consider a *must* within any strength training program, no matter the goal!) will help you pump up that peach from every angle!
Not only is exercise selection important, but the frequency of training is to be considered – your glutes can be trained up to 3-4 times per week without exceeding the maximum recoverable volume of training, unlike smaller muscle groups which need longer time to recover between sessions.
Two heavier, strength/hypertrophy based, glute-focused sessions are ideal for most people, with 1-2 shorter bursts (such as a glute finisher) will allow your training program to incorporate heavy, moderate, and lighter (high-rep) stimulus for variety through the week.
You can perform a mix of heavy, low rep (3-6 reps) exercises for strength, followed by moderate weight, moderate rep (6-12 rep) exercises for hypertrophy, followed by lighter weight, higher rep (12-30 rep) exercises as a “finisher”, to provide a further range of stimulus – our glutes are one muscle that definitely do benefit from a higher variety of exercise, load, and rep selection!
Over time, you want to push for Progressive Overload – the concept of increasing the Physical demand on your body over time, by increasing weight, reps, or both. This will ensure you are continually challenging your muscles, as our bodies are very adaptive, and as you grow stronger, you’ll require a higher stimulus (ie heavier load, or more reps) in order to promote muscle growth.
Warming up and activating your glutes is also an important part of each workout – as many of us are sedentary through the day, our glutes can become “lazy” and require a bit more of a prompt in order to essentially “wake up”, to ensure they are activated to full capacity in each exercise, instead of allowing other surrounding muscle groups to take over, such as quads, hamstrings, or lower back. A simple mobility routine with dynamic stretching, followed by glute activation (commonly using resistance bands) is a great way to prime your muscles for a lower body workout.
Once you’ve created your training routine, your last steps to consider are: recovery, and nutrition.
Sleep and recovery time are a crucial step in muscle gain, as our muscle repairs and grows stronger in the time between sessions. So sufficient recovery, and high quality sleep (at least 7 hours per night for most adults) will help your body perform at its best by the time you reach your next session.
In addition to this, sufficiently fuelling your body will help provide enough nutrients and energy to maximise performance, and create an environment for lean muscle mass increases. In order to optimise your muscle growth, I wouldn’t recommend aiming for a calorie deficit, so eating around your maintenance (or if you’re eating intuitively, making sure you have regular meals + snacks that satisfy you both physically + mentally) or in a slight surplus will best support your training to get max glute growth!
So there you have it! In order to grow your glutes, you must consider: specific exercise selection, exercise variety, a range of loads and rep ranges, progressive overload, sufficient warm-ups/activation, maximal sleep + recovery, and enough fuel to get the most out of your workouts!
If you would like some help with custom training and/or coaching, let’s chat! I’d love to help you work towards your goals – don’t forget to check out my range of ✨feel good fitness✨programs available on the shop section of my website!