My workout routine always contains a focus on my gluteal muscles. As a hard gainer my whole life, I never had much of a booty but let me tell you, it makes all the difference in the world. And it’s not just how you fill out your jeans, strong glute muscles help you live a healthier, stronger life. Most people have heard that you lift with your legs not your back. Well, take it one step further. You actually lift with your glutes. They are the largest muscles in our body and the ones we need to keep the strongest.
Bret Contreras, known as the “glute guy,” has written an entire book about the glutes. A tome of more than 600 pages, it’s loaded with advice, science and explanations about how and why we all need to focus on these muscles. I read it cover to cover! What’s more, I got my start truly lifting in earnest with Lyzabeth Lopez, known as the “booty builder.” Needless to say, I’ve come to appreciate a good butt workout!
This morning was a lower body day for me and usually one of my two lower body days each week has a glute focus. Below are four exercises from my routine:
Sumo Deadlifts: This is a hard exercise to learn in terms of form. You have to be careful to keep your back straight and hinge properly throughout the movement. In fact, I still could do better in terms of my neck and shoulders. I do these every single week, making slow progress in terms of weight. I started with the bar at 45 pounds and now am up to 105 pounds for 8 to 10 reps. These are excellent for overall lower body and glute strength.
Banded Romanian Deadlifts: Romanian deadlifts are done with a hinge at the hip and not bending the legs as much. I keep a slight knee bend due to my lack of flexibility but this exercise focuses on your hamstrings and the glute/ham connection, as well as the glutes. For this variation, I’m using a red band attached to the Smith machine to help me hinge properly and give a boost to the glute muscles at the end. (Thank you, Shawna Moran, for the idea!) Be sure to squeeze your glutes at the top of this contraction!
Cable Side Leg Lifts and Kickbacks: You need ankle straps for this exercise. I actually have my own because I find the ones at gyms to be too large for me. Find the cable machine and lower the setting to the lowest point. Attach your ankle strap and slightly bend your knees. I focus on the whole movement and time under tension, holding slightly at the top on those kickbacks. These are great for isolating the side and upper portions of the gluteal muscles!
Abductor Machine: The abductor machine is a staple at most gyms. My gym has a unique machine that allows you to recline all the way back hitting parts of the glutes you don’t normally target. Love! Go slowly and try to hold at the top of the contraction, if you can!
I would start with three sets of 10 to 12 with all of these exercises, building to 6 to 8 reps as you add weight. You can also add a set instead of lowering the reps to progressively overload your muscles and grow in strength. Try some of these in your next leg day workout!