The glutes are critical to just about every athletic and lower-body compound weightlifting movements you make. Before we get moving, here is a snapshot of what we mean when we refer to the “glutes”:
Gluteus Maximus: In short, it’s your butt. Its main function serves to strengthen the hip, enabling you to run faster or jump higher.
Gluteus Medius: Its major function is the abduction of the hip, and is utilized in lateral movements.
Gluteus Minimus: A secondary muscle that helps produce hip extension; it’s function is similar to the medius.
Think about it: accelerating, stopping, jumping, making quick cuts, sinking into a defensive stance — they’re all activities that rely heavily on your glutes. Additionally, adequately developed glutes can relieve tension from the lower back and hips, and help protect the knees from injury. The trouble is that many people forget to focus on their glutes because they’re not as visible as, say, the quads, calves, or biceps.
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The first direction people usually veer toward for lower body development is the squat or deadlift. Two great exercise options, but keep in mind that it’s how you target the muscle that counts. So using heavy weight on the squat may not be your remedy for better glutes. Instead, consider keeping the weight light to moderate and using a variety of squats — the back squat, front squat, Bulgarian split squat. Do the same with deads — stiff-leg, Romanian, trap-bar. Aim for higher reps of 20 but concentrate on where you’re feeling the reps.
To hit more of the glutes you may have to adjust your stance or positioning with each exercise. With the squat, if you’re on a Smith Machine, that may involve moving your feet forward more than you typically would; as you sink down into the squat position you’re likely to feel more activation in the glutes than with a standard squat rep.
Barbell hip thrusts are another great glutes-development tool. They seem simple and look kind of goofy, but they work. Place your back against a sturdy bench or box. Keep your feet flat on the floor and bend your knees. Drape a barbell across your hips; squeeze your glutes (butt) and raise your hips until they’re in line with your body. Slowly go back to the start position and repeat. Start light, doing three sets of 20 reps.
Lunges, whether reverse, walking, leaning, or standard, train the hip extensors (glutes and hams) and the knee extensors (the quads). You’re recruiting the same muscles as the squat, but are increasing the range of motion and achieving more glutes and hamstring development. Whichever variety you choose, use a weight that enables you to keep your knee from touching the ground as you execute each movement.
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Want something bodyweight orientated? Try the TRX Glute Bridge. Under the anchor point, lie on your back with your arms to your sides and stick your heels into the handles. Press down with your heels and pull your heels toward your hips until the knees reach a 90-degree angle. Drive your hips upward until your body — shoulders, hips, and knees — are in alignment. Pause and then return to the start position. Aim for 12-15 reps and progress from there.
Perhaps the easiest way to determine weakness in any body part is to use an isolation movement. Compound movements recruit other muscles to pitch in, and while compound movements have been shown as the best route to build strength and mass, isolation exercises demonstrate just how much you need to bring an area up. The butt blaster machine is a great tool that’s often overlooked by some men and women who believe it’s effeminate. It’s not. If it’s a way to produce strength or growth in the glutes — which can translate to better performances on the field and in the gym — where’s the downside to that?
Of course, your ability to train with intensity is contingent upon your energy levels. Two of the best pre-workout supplements for an energy rush are P4’s Pre Game Formula and Energy Formula. When you want to go all out, Pre Game is your choice. It contains caffeine, creatine, and beta-alanine to provide a pre-workout energy surge that helps promote strength and muscle growth. EnergyFormula is creatine-free, but still offers long-lasting energy that’ll power you from your first rep to the last. When your workout is complete, reach for Recovery Push Formula; filled with electrolytes, an intense vitamin matrix, KarboLyn, GlutaZorb, and AminoZorb, it contains the right ingredients your body needs to ignite the recovery process.