The Glutes are made up of the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and the gluteus minimus. As a group, these muscles are responsible for hip extension, external rotation, internal rotation, and abduction in all three planes of motion (saggital, frontal and transverse).
Your butt can literally disappear as the posterior muscles atrophy from lack of use. Consequently, your physical performance will be compromised in everything you do since we can’t avoid moving in all three planes of motion. When the glutes are weak and underdeveloped, you may experience low back pain and become more susceptible to injury.
Sitting for long periods of time is usually the cause of poor glute function, but pregnancy can also be the culprit when the pelvis posteriorly tilts as the baby grows larger. The glutes tuck under, and can no longer do what they’re supposed to do.
There are countless exercises you can perform to develop your glutes. Here are five of my favorites (including a warmup). Happy ass building!
The mini-band is one of those simple pieces of equipment that everyone should have in their gym bag. It’s versatile, and you can take it anywhere. We often have our clients perform mini-band side steps, single leg swings and sumo walks in their warmup to engage the glutes after a long day of desk sitting.
Waking the glutes up before you move on to your heavy lifts will help ensure they do what they’re supposed to do, while you lessen your risk of injury. I recommend including the 2-3 sets of 20 reps of different mini-band exercises. Here are three:
My Top 5 exercises for building a strong booty.
1. The Stability Ball Banded Hip Thrust is one of our favorite glute exercises to program for everyone. No matter how strong you think you are, this movement will have you second guessing your physical prowess.
Placing the mini-band above your knees and pushing the knees out while hip thrusting will keep constant tension on the glute medius and minimus. Additionally, you’re working the glute Maximus when you go into repeated hip extension on the ball. As with every exercise you do, tempo is important. We aim for a tempo of 2-1-2-1 (2 second negative, 1 sec pause, 2 second position, 1 sec. pause/squeeze at the top).
2. The Single Leg Hip Thrust off the Bench is one of those movements that looks a lot easier than it really is. It’s important to make sure the leg that’s on the floor is doing all of the work. People will often cheat by using the opposite leg to generate momentum. Don’t do this.
Distribute your weight to the heel of the foot that is on the floor, bend the other leg 90 degrees and keep it fixed in that position for the duration of your set. Place your arms across your chest or put your hands on your hips. Slowly lower your hips to the floor, pause for a second before returning to the starting position. Squeeze your glute at the top, and repeat. This exercise requires a fair amount of strength and balance. If the bench makes it too difficult, move to the floor. We aim for a tempo of 2-1-2-1 (2 second negative, 1 sec pause, 2 second position, 1 sec. pause/squeeze at the top).
3. The Skater is a bodyweight exercise that works the glutes in the frontal plane of motion. We spend most of our time in the sagittal plane; walking, running, lunging and deadlifting, so it’s important to train the glutes in the frontal plane.
This is exercise can be scaled by stepping instead of jumping. If you want to intensify it, jump out further and move faster. Control yourself at all times so you don’t injure your knees or roll an ankle. Brace your core, and stabilize yourself before jumping back to the opposite side. Stop before you get so tired your form starts to go out the window. Fatigue is no excuse for sloppiness.
4. The Landmine Alt. Reverse Lunge is a great lower body exercise that has the added benefit of challenging the core. This is one of my all time favorite exercises, period.
Reversing the lunge is easier on the knees, so keep this in mind if traditional lunges cause you pain. You can get the glutes more involved in any forward or reverse lunge variation by thinking of yourself as being in an elevator. In the concentric phase, think about stepping up and forward instead of simply thinking about stepping forward. That ‘upward’ thinking will engage more of the glutes. We aim for a tempo of 2-1-1-1 (2 second negative, 1 sec pause, 1 second positive, 1 sec. pause/squeeze at the top).
5. The Single Leg Barbell Deadlift is a unilateral exercise that helps build strength, balance and coordination in the lower body. Single leg work is often overlooked in most programs because, let’s face it, they’re tough. Standing on one leg is difficult, and performing a loaded single leg exercise is nearly impossible for most people.
All that being said, these movements are absolutely worth your time, so include them regularly and set yourself up for success by doing them unloaded while you work on improving your balance. We aim for a tempo of 2-1-1-1 (2 second negative, 1 sec pause, 1 second positive, 1 sec. pause/squeeze at the top).