5 Exercises for Great Glutes!

When’s the last time you did a hip-extension specific exercise? The last time you went into the gym and just attacked your glutes? Probably never, the truth is the glutes are like a misunderstood teenager, they have so much potential but everyone seems to ignore them. From a trainers perspective this seems absolutely ludicrous! How can you ignore the glutes?? Ignoring the glutes accounts for more problems than global warming! Ok, I got ahead of myself, but the truth is there is no group of individuals that would not benefit from a larger focus on glute activation. A lack of glute activation and hip mobility is a major contributing factor in low back pain, tight hamstrings and tight hip flexors. Yet, the only people I see in the gym doing glute work are women looking to fill out their yoga pants. Whether you’re young or old, sedentary or an elite athlete, a greater focus on glute work will improve performance almost immediately. Here are 5 exercises which will help you to start building that powerful backside!

1) Bridging

Bridging is one of the most underappreciated exercises out there. Not only does bridging have great potential for glute activation, the progressions for this exercise can be used from someone completely untrained right up to the most powerful professional athletes. While bridging, really focus on pushing through your heels and driving your hips to the ceiling. The more you can squeeze your glutes the better.  Begin on the floor using both legs, once you’re ready you can progress to single leg bridges. To increase range of motion, try placing your feet up on a bench. If you’re looking for more strength, slide under a barbell and position it directly on your hips, this can add significant weight resistance.

2) Swings

If you’ve ever used a kettlebell, the first exercise you did was probably a swing. A swing is an exercise in which you hold some kind of weight and while keeping your arms extended, allow the weight to swing down between your legs, then, contracting your glutes and other muscles in your posterior chain you accelerate the weight back up to eye level. By reducing the amount of knee flexion, we can put more focus on hip flexion/extension. This means that your glutes, hamstrings and back will get a much greater focus. Focusing on a powerful hip thrust will not only accelerate the weight faster but give your glutes the work we’re looking for. Swings can be done single or double arm and use many muscle groups which make it an effective exercise for both muscle building or fat burning.

3) Romanian Deadlifts

Also known as the straight leg deadlift, it focuses more on the glutes and hamstrings than a regular deadlift. By keeping the knees from bending you can keep all the motion in the hip joint. At the bottom of the lift, the glutes and hamstrings will be in a stretch, this will help activate muscle fibres. During the concentric phase of the lift (standing upright) really focus on squeezing the glutes and thrusting the hips forward for a hard glute contraction. As an added bonus, the great stretch provided during the eccentric phase will help to increase muscle length.

4) Deadlifts

This in my opinion is the best exercise for posterior strength/power. It is also a staple exercise for those looking to put on weight through hypertrophy. As always proper form and technique are crucial with the deadlift. Poor technique and high weights can put a lot of stress on the spine. That being said, nothing can develop power in the glutes like heavy deadlifts. Explosive hip extension will help performance in nearly every sport; it contributes to a lot of jumping power, hitting power and speed. In terms of technique, when addressing the bar make sure hands are about shoulder width, arms are completely extended and knees and shoulders are above the bar. Feet should also be shoulder width apart, hips should be pushed back and chest should be visible in a mirror. Drive the heels into the ground and thrust hips forward to finish in a fully upright position.

5) Lunges

Although lunges are more often used to target the quads, your form and technique can be altered to place more focus on the glutes instead. To hit the glutes more, I prefer a reverse lunge with a barbell on your shoulders. Starting from a standing position, take a long step back and drop the knee of your back leg. At the bottom position, there should be a 90 degree bend at both the knee and hips. Make sure to keep the torso completely vertical to keep the weight over the hips. This will force the glutes to be the primary mover throughout the concentric phase. Too often, people put their torso and consequently the weight over their knees so that the quads are the primary mover, extending the knee.

Incorporating these 5 exercises into your workout program will help to increase performance, posture and even reduce injury. Then as a side effect you’ll get to fill out the pants you wanted. Let’s call it a win-win situation. Remember, It’s about getting better!

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