Winning a bikini contest, locking out world record deadlifts, jumping higher or sprinting faster. All of these scenarios have one thing in common: a strong, powerful, well-developed set of glutes.
Bottom line, well-developed glutes benefit everyone.
Bikini competitors are penalized for carrying too much muscle mass but are expected to have full, developed, round glutes. In bodybuilding, the stage has been set; if you want to consistently bring home the prize, striated glutes are the standard.
It’s mindboggling that these same athletes will spend an entire day trying to isolate the biceps by working them at every conceivable angle, but their glute workout does not go beyond squats or lunges (the harder-working athletes might do a combination of both).
Both of those are great exercises, but they are compound movements working multiple joints and muscles. If you follow this logic for glute development and apply it to your “guns”, then all that is needed to maximally develop the biceps would be chin-ups and couple other compound pulling movements that involve elbow flexion.
To fully develop a muscle compound in isolation, movements need to synergistically blend together like a perfectly conducted symphony. It is not a natural movement pattern to isolate a muscle, but in physique sports sometimes unnatural development is needed to develop body parts beyond natural limits. This is accomplished by unnaturally isolating a muscle. What natural movement isolates the quadriceps?
However, if you want to fully develop the vastus lateralis (quad sweep), you are going to do some leg extensions.
With that in mind, great deadlifters display very forceful hip extension. Olympic lifters display the same thing. Visualize strongman events such as:
- keg throws
- log cleans
- power stairs
The common denominator in all these movements is a strong hip extension.
When it comes to extending the hips, the glutes are the prime mover.
Weak glutes can cause your pelvis to lift forward. Obviously, this isn’t easy on the eyes. In addition, it is not easy on your back because it puts stress on your lower back and makes your stomach stick out. Even if you are contest ripped, you will look ready to give birth. During any explosive hip extension movement, the hamstrings assist the glutes. If the glutes are weak and cannot do their job, assisting muscles are called into play to do the job of the prime mover. The results aren’t pretty. Habitually, when sprinters injure a hamstring, it is because of weak glutes. This is called synergistic dominance.
If you want to bring weak glutes up to best, they cannot be targeted with just movement-based compound exercises. Let’s take a look at a problematic deadlift lock as a result of weak glutes. To remedy weak glutes, you cannot just overload the movement with rack pulls (partial deadlifts). If the glutes cannot do the job with a submaximal weight, what do you think will happen with supramaximal weight? The take-home points are you have to directly work the muscle regardless of what the residential functional trainer says.
Barbell Hip Thrusts
It directly targets the glutes and heavyweight can be used. From a strength standpoint, this will enhance the deadlift lockout or any hip thrusting motion. I have used these frequently with my clients.
How to correctly perform a barbell hip thrust:
Start with your body seated on the ground with your back rested upon a bench, make sure the bench won’t move. Place a weighted barbell on your hips, lean your shoulders back against the bench with your shoulders resting on top of the bench. Forcefully push your hips up vertically, keeping the bar rested in your pelvis region. Hold this top position and return to starting position.
For strength, keep this in the 5-8 rep range and for physique development in the 12-20 rep range
Single-Leg Cable Kickback
This isolation exercise is very effective for targeting the glutes.
How to correctly perform single-leg cable kickbacks:
Hook a cuff around the ankle (you can use ab straps or even free motion handles). Face the weight stack approximately two to three feet from it, hold the steel supports to balance yourself. Slightly bend your knees and tighten your abdominals, using the leg that has the cuff, kick back as far as you can. Hold your leg at the position for a second to get a good peak contraction, return to the starting position.
This exercise can also be done with resistance bands.
Regardless of whether you’re a woman trying to impress a boyfriend at the upcoming pool party or a hardcore bodybuilder trying to take your physique prowess to the next level, strong, powerfully developed glutes are a must. Try these two exercise and see the results.