When it comes to how to grow your glutes, you need to first realize that you can experience much more overall growth and strength in the different glute regions (e.g. gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus) by implementing the right variety of glutes exercises in your glute workout. The best glutes exercises and butt exercises will vary individually but generally, to grow the glutes, you’ll want to ensure that you’re training them with at least one exercise from each of the following 4 categories: thrust/bridge exercise; squat/lunge exercise; hinge/pull exercise; abduction movement. To help us out with choosing the respective appropriate exercises, we’ll rely on the expertise of Bret Contreras, aka the Glute Guy. A well known published researcher and author, who initially popularized the hip thrust. Here’s what he recommended.
Going into the first category of a thrust or bridge movement, Bret prefers the hip thrust, with a pause at the top. To really grow the glutes, he advises a horizontal torso at lockout, neutral or posterior tilted hips and squeeze glutes hard, and vertical shins at top. The main thing is avoid overextending and excessive anterior pelvic tilt. A suitable home alternative that Bret recommends would be the single leg hip thrust, with your back resting on a bench, couch, or any elevated platform.
Going into the squat lunge movement for the lower glutes and quads, Bret recommends the walking dumbbell lunge as one of the best glutes exercises. You should take a stride length such that your shin angle at the bottom of movement is just slightly forward so that the front of your knee lines up with the front of your shoes. And you’re going to lean your torso a little bit, but not too much (around ~20 degree torso lean). Also focus on pushing through the heel and avoid letting the hips shoot up. A suitable home alternative would be the deficit reverse lunge, where you elevate your front foot onto any elevated platform.
Next, for the hinge or pull movement for the lower glutes (gluteus maximus) and hamstrings, Bret recommends the 45-degree hyperextension. There are 2 ways to do this exercise. One is the neutral feet, neutral spine. That’s going to work the hamstrings, glutes, and erectors really well. If you’re trying to bias the glutes however, you’ll want to round over at the spine fully. This shuts down the erectors (lower back), which makes it now a pure glutes/hamstring movement. Turning out the feet to 45 degrees also creates higher glutes activation. And as far as alternatives, something like reverse hyperextensions done on a bench or even a countertop would be suitable.
Lastly, we have the abduction movement for the upper glutes (gluteus medius), and Bret recommends the bodyweight side lying hip raise. To do this, start in a side plank position on your elbow with your hips and knees on the ground. Then you push through the grounded knee, push as tall as you can and aim to achieve maximal hip separation. When you’re at the top, drive the hips forward and at the bottom sink the hips back. Another great alternative for this is the seated banded hip abductions. Here you wrap a mini-band around your knees, and perform reps of pushing your knees out by using your upper glutes. Perform 10-15 reps with your back straight up, 10-15 reps with your back bent over, and then another 10-15 reps with a lean back.
Here’s how to grow your glutes with the various recommended exercises mentioned (with sets and reps):
1) Thrust/Bridge Category (Upper & Lower Glutes)
Paused Barbell Hip Thrust: 4 sets of 8 reps (with 3s pause)Alternative = Single Leg Hip Thrust
2) Squat/Lunge Category (Lower Glutes + Quads)
Walking DB Lunge: 3 sets of 20 reps (10 steps each leg)
Alternative = Deficit DB Reverse Lunge
3) Hinge/Pull Category (Lower Glutes + Hamstrings)
DB 45 Degree Hyperextension: 3 sets of 15 reps
Alternative = Reverse Hyperextensions
4) Abduction (Upper Glutes)
Side Lying Hip Raise: 3 sets of 12 reps
Alternative = Seated Banded Hip Abduction
You can add these exercises into your weekly routine as needed, or even perform it as a complete lower body workout on its own. But hopefully you were able to see that to speed up your results and train efficiently, you need to play close attention to both the exercises you include in your routine, but also how you perform them. And for a complete step-by-step science-based program that shows you exactly how to train, eat, and recover week after week to maximize your results, then simply take the analysis quiz to discover which science-based program would be best for you and where your body is currently at below:
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