Want to grow rounder, stronger glutes? You need to use the right glute exercises and the right glute workout. Today Bret Contreras and I will help you build a 12 week glute workout plan and glutes workout routine — packed with only the best glute exercises out there — designed to get you rounder glutes (translation: big butt) as fast as possible. There's 5 steps to this.
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The first step is to figure out how often to train your glutes and with how much volume. Here’s what Bret suggests: three times per week, achieved with a lower upper, lower, upper lower workout split. Bret recommends 36 sets per week. He explained, “According to the published research, we should only be doing 20 or you know, you shouldn't be doing 36 sets, but I'm telling you, the glutes can handle it.” That said, you can’t just do 36 sets of really exhausting exercises like squats or deadlifts. The key is to split up the 36 sets a week: 12 sets from vertical hip extension exercises, 12 sets from horizontal hip extension exercises, and 12 sets from abduction exercises.
As for the best glute exercises to use for each category, let’s start with vertical hip extension. The first exercise is the back squat. Use whatever stance width and foot angle is most comfortable for you, and try to descend as low as possible without too much butt wink. Next up: dumbbell Bulgarian split squats. You’ll want to lean your torso forward and descend diagonally at a slight angle backwards on the way down. Another great exercise is the smith machine reverse lunge. Finally, the Romanian deadlift. Keep your shins vertical, sit back as far as possible, and let your knees bend. Come down to just below your knee caps then use your glutes to thrust your hips forward. For this category, a lower rep range of about 6-12 reps per set usually works best.
To get the upper glutes more involved so you get a rounder butt, you’ll want to do some of the exercises from the horizontal hip extension category. One of my favorite exercises for this category is hip thrusts. Keep your mid back on a bench or pad, push up through your heels to drive your hips as high as possible. If your shins are not vertical, move your feet further in or out. Hold that position for 3 seconds before coming back down. I also like exercises that work the glutes one at a time, so the single leg hip thrust is a great option especially if you don’t have access to weights. Lastly, dumbbell glute dominant 45 degree hyper. Here you’ll need a back extension machine. Set it up so the pad is just under your hips. To better target the glutes, flare your feet out to 45 degrees and round your upper back. Keep your upper back rounded and raise your body up by pushing your hips into the pad using your glutes. If you don’t have access to this one, you can do the reverse hip extension exercise. For this category, a moderate rep range of about 8-20 reps per set usually works best.
Last but not least in our glutes workout routine, hip abduction exercises. First, seated hip abduction machine. I like to recommend leaning forward and holding onto the support. Drive your knees out as far as you can then control the weight back until your knees almost touch together. If you don’t have a machine, you can replace these with bands or the next exercise, the side lying hip raise. Get into a side plank position with your hips and knees bent at a 90 degree angle. Drive up through the grounded knee while driving your hips forward and separating your knees as much as you can. Let the hips move back on the way down. Last but not least, if you have cables make sure you include the cable standing hip abduction. Stand sideways to a cable machine and use a strap to attach the foot of your far leg to the cable. Hold onto the column with your opposite arm, take a few steps sideways until there’s tension in the cable, and then move your working leg in front of your planted leg with your foot slightly turned in. From here, swing the leg outward as far as you can to your side without rotating your foot outward. Now for this category, a higher rep range of about 12-30 reps per set is what I’ve found works best.
Step 5 to building a big butt: build your workouts. Thankfully, Bret and I have also created a free 12 week glute workout routine that will guide you week by week: https://builtwithscience.com/gluteplan/ . Big thanks to Bret for his help with this video. The man truly is a master at his craft!