As you’re reading this, it’s highly probable that you’re sitting down on one of the most important muscle groups in your entire body. This muscle group is collectively known as the Gluteal Region, and more commonly known as your butt 🙂
The muscles of the Gluteal Region are largely responsible for major athletic activities like sprinting, jumping and changing direction quickly. They are also a major component of what is known as the posterior chain – a group of muscles that includes your lower back and hamstrings. When properly developed, your glutes can make you a better athlete, look way better in a pair of jeans and improve your health (reduced risk of injury).
In this article, I’m going to give you my favourite exercises for maximum glute development along with a great workout to build muscle and strength.
Quick Training Tips for Great Glutes
- Squats and deadlifts are your best friend. Consistently training with a variation of the squat and deadlift will help to develop your glutes faster than any other exercise.
- Always include single-leg work. Exercises such as step ups, split squats and single-leg deadlifts help to improve balance and coordination. More importantly, they ensure that you don’t develop strength imbalances.
- Use a variety of rep ranges. The glutes don’t respond best to just low reps or high reps. A combination of both (as in the workout below) is best for optimal development.
- Use a variety of rep tempos. Some exercises should be performed more explosively while others should be slower and more controlled. Vary your tempos frequently for the best results.
- For athletic development, include jumps in your training. Explosive exercises like standing long jumps or box jumps place a great demand on the glutes. If you want to be a better athlete, jump training should be an integral part of your program.
- Get regular maintenance. Heavy training of such a large muscle group can lead to adhesions and scar tissue build up, which if left untreated can lead to sub-optimal muscle function and/or activation. Make friends with your foam roller and schedule regular appointments with your athletic therapist or massage therapist to ensure your machine is running smoothly.
Six Exercises for Maximum Glute Development
There are literally hundreds of exercises you can do for glute development – some are great, while others are a waste of time. Here are six of my personal favourite exercises for the glutes:
This is a favourite that I use with my strength athletes as well as with many bikini/figure/physique competitors. It’s one of the two primary deadlift variations in competitive powerlifting and allows you to handle a ton of weight. Check out Coach G’s technique tips on this exercise here.
Bulgarian Split Squat
The Bulgarian split squat is great for correcting strength imbalances and magical for targeting the glutes. A few sets of these done with a slow tempo will guarantee deep muscle soreness the next day. Learn the technique in the video here.
This was my main accessory exercise to build up my squat leading up to the 2015 Canadian Powerlifting Championships. Pausing for 2-4 seconds per rep in the bottom position will build incredible strength while increasing time under tension (a key variable to stimulate muscle growth). Check out the video demo to learn how to do these here.
Cable Pull Through
The cable pull through is another effective exercise that allows you to overload the entire posterior chain (lower back, glutes, hamstrings). This is a popular one for glute development among powerlifters and fitness competitors. Watch the video for a demonstration of proper technique here.
Single-Leg Glute Bridge
This seemingly innocent exercise is a killer for the glutes. You don’t even need much external resistance to get the benefits of this exercise. Higher reps are very effective with glute bridges – check out how to do them properly here.
Side Single Leg Press
I learned this one from legendary bodybuilding trainer Charles Glass. Charles is an absolute wizard in the gym and has invented many unconventional yet effective exercises. As with every exercise, form is everything. Watch the video here to learn how to do this one.
4-Week Program for Max Glute Development
- Pause Squat: 4 sets of 6-8 reps at a 2/3/1/0 Tempo. This tempo means you will take two seconds to lower the weight, pause in the bottom position for three seconds, and lift the weight in 1 second, with no pause at the top.
- Split Squat: 4 sets of 10 reps at a 4/0/1/0 Tempo. This tempo means you will take four seconds to lower the weight, no pause in the bottom position, and lift the weight in 1 second, with no pause at the top.
- Side Single Leg Press: 4 sets of 12 reps at a 2/0/1/0 Tempo. This tempo means you will take two seconds to lower the weight, no pause in the bottom position, and lift the weight in 1 second, with no pause at the top.
- Sumo Deadlift: 4 sets of 6-8 reps at a 2/0/1/0 Tempo. This tempo means you will take two seconds to lower the weight, no pause in the bottom position, and lift the weight in 1 second, with no pause at the top.
- Cable Pull Through: 4 sets of 12 reps at a 2/0/1/0 Tempo. This tempo means you will take two seconds to lower the weight, no pause in the bottom position, and lift the weight in 1 second, with no pause at the top.
- Single Leg Glute Bridge: 4 sets of 15 reps at a 1/0/1/0 Tempo. This tempo means you will take one second to lower the weight, no pause in the bottom position, and lift the weight in 1 second, with no pause at the top.
Do each of the above workouts once per week for four weeks. You should strive to gradually increase the weights you are using from week to week (always remember the law of Progressive Overload), without sacrificing form.
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