Building Athletic Glutes | Erin Stern

April 12, 2017

If you do a quick search on how to build great glutes, you’ll find a ton of videos of people performing leg lifts while wearing ankle weights. Glutes need a variety of different angles and rep ranges in order to grow. Higher rep circuits (like the leg lifts) can easily be done at home. Heavier glute days fit well into a leg day, or you can even work them into your training before or after upper body. If your main goal is to build glutes, then you’ll want to work them before upper body.

Let’s go through an example of an athletic glutes workout. See the corresponding video for demonstrations!

  • Dynamic barbell warm up: Here, I started with hang power clean, push press, front squat, bent over row. Rather than hopping on a treadmill, I prefer to fire up the central nervous system (CNS) with a barbell complex. This prepares the body for the rest of the workout. Try to keep hold of the barbell throughout the transitions, and aim for 4-6 exercises and 4-6 reps per exercise.
  • Barbell lunge: This exercise is deceptively difficult when performed properly. Start with just the bar to get a feel for the exercise. Widen your stance slightly, as this will help with balance. When you lunge, the rear upper leg should be at perpendicular to the ground. Keep a posterior tilt to your pelvis, and keep your core tight. Try to lift the weight with just your front leg. Focus on working just the glute. Here, form is much more important than weight. Keep your reps slow and controlled, as this will help you maintain a connection with your muscles.
  • Rack pulls: Set the squat rack guards to just below knee height. Place feet shoulder-width apart and keep a slight bend in the knees. Use an overhand grip that’s slightly wider than shoulder-width. Here, you’re thinking about exploding upward with the weight and pushing through the hips and glutes – especially at the top of the exercise. Control the negative portion of the exercise, and think about lowering the weight with just your glutes. Hip extension is one of the primary ways we use our glutes, so this exercise and its variations should be a staple in your routine!
  • Explosive weighted step-ups: In this exercise, I chose a box higher than knee-height. Anytime your upper leg goes beyond parallel, you will recruit more of the glutes. Start with just your body weight, and add weights from there. The goal is to try to use more of your front leg to explode upward, than to propel yourself with your back leg. Alternate legs and focus on maintaining a comfortable, even tempo.
  • Elevated plie squat: Improvisation is key in any gym environment! Ordinarily, I’d use bumper plates or steps for this, but neither was available. But, the dip machine steps were perfect! Focus on pushing your weight through your heels, and keep your upper body tall. Engage the glutes mid-rep, and think about lifting yourself back up with just your glutes. The wider stance and the taller posture will help to engage the glutes a little more.
  • Hack squat machine: Increased range of motion can encourage the use of glutes. By adding a couple of plates to the platform, you’ll squat below parallel. The stability of the machine allows you to focus on the glutes a little more than you’d be able to while performing a free weight squat. Try to keep your back against the pad, and try to get full range of motion – especially when you start to fatigue.
  • Weighted back hyperextensions: Here’s another exercise involving hip extension. You can start with no weight, and add weight as needed. Focus on pressing your hips into the pad and engaging the glutes. If you don’t focus, you’ll tend to feel it more in the lower back. To hit the glutes a little differently, turn your toes out.
  • Hip thrusts on a bench: This exercise is one of my favorites for targeting the glutes. Start with the barbell, and use a squat pad. The bar should rest right over your hip bones, and the bar pad takes the pain away from this exercise. Your upper back and shoulders should be on the bench, and your feet should be as close to your glutes as you can get them. Tuck your chin and maintain a posterior tilt to your hips. This makes it easier to engage your glutes. Squeeze your glutes mid-rep.

Don’t forget to the check the corresponding video below for a full demonstration of the exercises. Push yourself and stay focused through those last few tough reps. I love BetaTOR because it helps me do just that! I’m getting more quality and volume in my workouts! Thanks for reading – until next time, train hard, y’all!

- Erin Stern, 2x Ms. Figure Olympia

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