Best Way To Build Glutes

Having a nice backside comes with a lot of benefits.  Weak glutes can cause a bevy of issues with your low back, hips, and knees.  Your glutes are not just for cushion.  They are part of that ‘core’ everyone talks about.  Strong glutes stabalize your hips, keep your body in alignment, prevent injuries, and several other things.  Not to mention, they make you look great!  Let’s talk about how to build awesome glutes.  

Compound Exercises

Gym goers can get in the habit of doing too many smaller exercises specific to the glutes while neglecting the big moves.  This is a critical error.  Start your routine with the basic squats, deadlifts, weigthed lunges, or hip thrusters then move into a few smaller movements.  

It goes without saying, you have to make sure you are doing these exercises correctly.  If you’re not, you won’t see much payout. I’ve seen a lot of bad form in my day.  It makes me cringe and say ouch.  Bad form leads to low activation of the muscles, muscular imbalances, and possibly injury.  Not exactly what we’re looking for.

Perform lower volume sets (about 3-6 reps) at a relatively heavy load.  Once a quater go for either a 3 rep or 5 rep max to measure your progress.  You want other metrics than selfies in the mirror for instagram.  Recording your PRs has many benefits.  5×5 is the most popular prescription.  It works great but you will need to mix it up.  

You do not need to do several compound moves every leg day.  I suggest picking one or two. The deadlift and hip thruster is a killer combo for one leg day then back Squats and weighted lunges for the next.    

Once you have completed your compound movement(s), pick 2 specific exercises.  

Warm-up

Warming up is the most important component to any workout.  How well or crappy you start will impact your performance.  My standard warm-up goes as follows:

  • 5-10 minutes aerobic exercise.  This can include dynamic movements, joggin, biking, etc.
  • 1 minute pigeon stretch.  This is minimal.  You can pick a couple stretches. (many say not to hold static stretches in the beginning of the workout but that’s entire other blog)
  • 2-3 sets of an activation exercise.  My favorite is banded lateral walks.  10 steps one direction, 10 the other.  
  • Boom you’re ready

Pound The Protein

How you fuel your body will determine how well the engine runs.   Your progress in the gym falls on your diet.  Protein is the building block for muscle tissue.  It repairs and stimulates growth.  Whey protein shakes are a great way to supplement you diet to ensure you are getting the optimal dose.  I have found drinking a shake before and after workouts has produced the best results for me and my clients.  You will need other sources as well (hence the operative word ‘supplement’) but the whey protein shakes are by far the best source for quick recovery. Here is one of my favorites for the money. It’s a great product.   

The last thing you want to do is work your ass off with nothing to show for it aside from chonic soreness and an awkward limp up the stairs.  So, get your nutrition in check and make sure you are eating plenty of protein.  

My favorite exercises for building the glutes:

  1. Reverse lunges.  Perform 6 reps each leg.  Do not alternate your legs.  This will keep tension on the muscles and stimulates growth.  I do not have hard data to back it up, just my personal expereince, but I believe this to be the best of all the exercises for developing the glutes.  Dare I say better than back squats?  Yes, if we’re just talking glutes, much better!  My favorite wat to do this is with a barbell on my back.  Place the bar as you would a back squat.  Go as heavy as you can handle with proficiency.  If you want the ultimate core challenge, then do the the front rack position. This places an insane demand on the anteriror and posterior core muscles, while putting much less stress on the spine.  You can also hold heavy dumbbells or kettle bells to your side.  
  1. Deadlift.  The deadlift, in my mind is king of all exercises.  This move does amazing things for the entire posterior chain.  Learn to do it well.  
  2. Weighted walking lunges. These are not quite as brutal as the reverse lunges but are highly effective.  Do the same rep scheme as mentioned above.  
  3. Hip thrusters.  This move is easy to learn.  The form does not require a fraction of the time to master as the squats and deadlifts.  Still – find out how do it right and practice perfect form!  Concentrate on squeezing the glutes at the top, feeling them stretch at the bottom, and go at a slow tempo. :02 up, :03 hold, :02 down. 
  4. Back Squats.  The back squat is my favorite exercise to perform.  It does a body good.  They definitely have more affect on the quads than anything else.  Nonetheless, they are still great for the derrier.  They are also fantastic for core strength.  
  5. The hip abductor.  This is the only isolation exercise I will mention.  It works.  Do this exercise after the compound move you pick with high volume; 10-15 reps.  Each rep should take NO LESS than :05.  If you do not have an abductor machine, no problem.  You can use bands to get the same results.  Go slow and use the proper tension.  
  6. GHD hip or back extension.  These are amazing exercises.  They will tremendously improve your glute activation making the big moves more effective.  Furthermore, they build a resiliant posterior chain, which reduces injury.
  7. Sprinting.  Have you ever seen a sprinter with a flat ass?  Didn’t thinks so.  Enough said.  However, I warn you to ease into this!  If you are an armchair quaterback who hasn’t stepped foot on a track in 20 years, you are going to hurt yourself!  

Here a 2 example workouts guaranteed to build awesome glutes!

Workout Routines

Workout I

  • Banded lateral steps 3×10 each side
  • Back Squat 5×5 *heavy
  • Reverse lunges 3×6 each leg

Workout II

  • Deadlift 5×5 *heavy
  • Hip Thrusters 3×8
  • Hip extensions 3×15

*heavy as you can go while maintaining solid form

Key Notes

Remember this quote, ‘move well then move heavy’.  Take the time to get the form down on the big moves.  This may take a while but it is worth it.  Coaching is the most surefire way to go about it. Hiring a coach or trainer is a small price to pay for your health, safety, and performance.   There is nothing compared to learning hands on from someone who has years of experience in not only performing the training but educating people as well.   

Do leg workouts 2x per week.  If you do crossfit, you get plenty of leg work!   

One of my personal favorite brands of whey protein is Dymatize. It is high quality and inexpensive.

I hope you found this article helpful.  If you have any questions or need any help, please leave a comment below!  I am happy to help.  Thank you for reading!  

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Clay Henderson

Clay Henderson is a personal trainer and strength and conditioning specialist with over 12 years experience. He owns multiple fitness business. He is also a fitness blogger and online trainer and fitness program designer.

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