Glute training is a special interest of women who want to firm their glutes and of athletes who want to train these muscles to improve athletic performance. Let’s take a closer look, starting with distinguishing between performance and appearance.
As for athletic performance, when it comes to glutes, what you see is not necessarily what you get. The glutes are a bit like the calves in that the size of the muscle group does not necessarily reflect its strength. A bodybuilder would want a low muscle attachment so that the bulk of the muscle would be in the center of the calf to give the illusion of greater size, but for athletes a high attachment would provide better leverage for running and jumping. Likewise, it’s possible that athletes who can perform tremendous deadlifts and vertical jumps may not have significant gluteal development.
For those interested in aesthetics, specifically women, here are 10 tips to improve your approach to glute training.
1. Lose body fat.
For most individuals, simply reducing body fat will make a tremendous difference in the appearance of the glutes. Just as you can’t see six-pack abs if they are covered by a layer of fat, you can’t notice the glutes if the percentage of body fat is too high. Many women will be surprised just how good their glutes look when they get down to a reasonable body fat percentage.
2. Avoid aerobics.
The shape of the glutes is influenced by its muscular development, and aerobic training compromises muscle development. You can still perform energy system training to help you lose weight, of course, but it’s best to use exercise intervals involving the short- and intermediate energy systems (ATP-CP and glycolytic).
3. Train throughout a full range.
Partial-range training does have benefits, especially in the area of strength development, but for maximal glute development you should perform exercises throughout a full range of motion. This is especially true with exercises such as back squats, front squats, split squats and step-ups – exercises that are often performed with a limited range of motion in order to use more weight.
4. Use resistance.
Often I see trainees performing exercises such as back extensions and glute-ham raises to develop the glutes, but they err by using little or no resistance. This approach will be ineffective for anyone except beginners with extremely low strength levels.
5. Use a variety of training protocols.
For maximal gluteus maximus development, or development of any muscle group, you need to use a variety of training intensities (high reps and low reps) to work all your muscle fibers to their full development.
6. Use a variety of exercises
. It is a myth that there is one specific, ultimate exercise for the glutes; you have to allow for various factors such as resistance curves and angles of pull. Yes, back extensions with bent legs are great for the glutes, but so are lunges, back extensions and Romanian deadlifts. Also, consider that if you perform hip extensions for your glutes, you will also be using your hamstrings – there is no such thing as a true isolation exercise for the glutes.
7. Sprint or push a sled.
Sprinting is a great way to develop the glutes, but it can be impractical. However, many gyms now have pushing sleds that enable you to precisely overload sprinting mechanics. For maximum results I recommend a 45-degree angle of the torso in relation to the sled.
8. Correct structural imbalances
. Poor posture and limited range of motion will affect your ability to perform many glute-building exercises properly. For example, excessive tightness in the psoas, a muscle involved in flexing the hip, will restrict the range of motion in exercises that strongly affect the glutes.
9. Consider soft-tissue work.
Adhesions and scar tissue often develop with training over time. As such, you may need soft-tissue body work such as Active Release Techniques® to deal with adhesions and other issues that interfere with range of motion and muscle fiber activation.
10. Be smart about cross-training.
Many athletes such as figure skaters, sprinters and gymnasts have excellent glute development, so consider how other athletic activities outside the gym might affect your glutes when you want to get out of the gym to train.
Just because a magazine cover promises to reveal to you the secrets to developing glutes like Beyoncé or Jennifer Lopez does not necessarily mean you can develop a figure just like hers. But if you follow these tips, you will be well on your way to exceptional gluteal development.