How to grow your glutes- if I had a dollar for every time someone asked me how to build a backside, I’d have a lot of dollars.
Let me first say that yes, genetics do come into play with glutes. As they do with hamstrings and boobs and really any other feature that differs among us.
Let me also say that I am the queen of being genetically predispositioned towards pancake-assery. Exhibit A:
Let me elaborate a little bit on the difference between these two pictures. On the left, I had never picked up a weight in my life. I ran between 30-40 miles/week, and I thought that being a vegan would make me skinny.
On the right, I had been weight training for approximately five years (I started in 2013), and I eat whatever I want because I track my macros. I lift 5-6x per week, and generally run once. My other cardio go-to’s are HIIT and the dreaded stair master.
What Your Glutes Need to Grow
How often should you train your glutes? Most people you ask will say twice a week. In my case, I knew I wanted to grow my backside, so I literally trained my butt any time that it wasn’t sore.
Sometimes this looked like twice a week, sometimes three times. Most often though, my routine looked like 2x weight training and 1x glute-centric plyometrics.
To be safe, I would say 2-3 times per week. Yes, your bum needs time to recover, but your glutes are the largest muscles in your body, and it takes a lot more to break them down and build them back up than you think.
The most important aspect of how to grow your glutes: consistency.
You cannot train your backside 3x one week and then take a week off and expect to see results. Building muscle takes time. You are looking at a minimum of six months to see measurable results, and 1-2 years to see significant, like whoa, results.
If you have weeks where you’re traveling, or on vacation, or don’t have access to the same time of equipment, make your primary fitness goal your priority.
It’s better to train your buns 1x per week, 53 weeks out of the year, than 2-3x per week every so often.
You. Need. To. Mix. It. Up.
Your body is smart, it learns and adapts quickly to the challenges you put it under. Variation of exercises, loads, and order of exercises is crucial to making continuous progress.
What do I mean by that?
Progressive overload: consistently increasing the weight or reps of your core exercises. The three best booty exercises to track progressive overload with are: barbell or smith machine hip thrusts, barbell glute bridges and sumo deadlifts.
Variation of exercises: mix up the exercises in your routine regularly. You don’t need twenty million different exercises, as Instagram would have you believe, but you do need to cycle the same 10-12 exercises, and put them in different orders.
For example, on Tuesday you begin in sumo deadlifts and end with barbell hip thrusts to failure. On Friday you begin with a heavy 5×5 set of barbell hip thrusts, and continue on with other isolation exercises.
Variation of resistance: you can do most exercises in a wide variety of ways. For example, stiff leg deadlifts can be done with a barbell, dumbbells, single leg dumbbell, cables or Smith Machine.
Variation of angles: most exercises can be modified simply by changing the angle at which the weight challenges the muscle group. The most common way to accomplish this is by turning your toes in or out, but research the variation before you do, to ensure that you are not placing undue strain on your knees.
Ladies- you must lift heavy if you want to grow your glutes. Body weight donkey kicks, glute bridges or kickbacks on the stair master are not going to cut it. You need to put some weight on the barbell and move it.
This does not mean that every single exercise in your routine should be heavy, but that you should generally start with a challenging base movement before moving on to high volume.
This is a huge question that I get all the time: should you train glutes on “leg days”, or should you have individual glute days?
Honestly, this really depends on your goals and the tendencies of your body. You should have at least one dedicated glute training day per week, with an emphasis on glute-centric exercises on the other days if growing your backside is your primary goal.
Most often, I do end up doing glute and hamstring days today, because both muscle groups are ones that I am massively trying to develop, and because they work together and support each other so specifically.
Personally, I rotate my lower body days like this:
- Squats- glutes/hamstrings
- Glutes- more glutes
- Deadlifts- glutes/quads/calves
- Lower Body Plyometrics
For specific workouts, get my complete training program trifecta for 60% off here.
Time Under Tension
This is where the work happens. We don’t think about it, but the micro-second pauses at the top and bottom of movements are actually rest periods that allow hypertrophy to stop or slow down. You want to minimize this as much as possible.
Ways to maximize time under tension:
- Don’t lock out your knees. Ever. This especially pertains to the leg press, the top of split squats, the bottom of glute-centric hyper-extensions, and the bottom of prone or standing hamstring curls (on a machine).
- Integrate cable exercises. Examples: cable pull-throughs, cable stiff leg deadlifts and cable kickbacks or side kicks.
- Integrate isometric holds. Hold the weight for a period of time at the top of hip thrusts, glute bridges, glute-centric hyper-extensions, reverse hyper-extensions or cable kick backs.
- Add a booty band. When you place a band around your knees, you cause your glutes to continue firing against the tension, regardless of where they are in the movement of your primary exercise. This is especially useful for exercises that do not typically fire your glutes very much at all (looking at you, squats).
10/10 recommend getting cloth covered booty bands, as they won’t roll down your legs or cut into your skin during an exercise. You will rarely find these in a gym (and frankly I wouldn’t use them from a gym anyways, gross) so I recommend getting your own. No need to spend a ton of money on “specialty” ones from a fitness influencer.
These ones I’ve linked from Amazon will work just fine and save you a pretty penny.
Always be thinking about the muscle that you are trying to work. This means stop going through the motions and concentrate. Often times we can do the same exercise, but with half the effect, because we are mindlessly compensating with other muscle groups.
This is especially true when we start to get tired. A cue that I give my clients constantly is to drive through your heels. When training glutes, your heels should never come off the ground- in fact, quite the opposite. Oftentimes (unless needed for balance) my toes will be slightly off the ground.
Be conscious of whether you need to shift your hips forward or back (depending on the exercise). This serves two purposes: to engage your glutes, and to disengage your quads. If you’re a quadzilla like me, they love to take over. Don’t let them.
For the complete art and science of glute training, I highly recommend picking up Bret Contreras’ newly released book from The Glute Lab. Follow @bretcontreras1 on Instagram for that social proof.
The book is a little technical, but if you’re a trainer or coach, it’s a must have for your library.
If you are a fitness professional or looking to become one, also check out:
How to Multiply Your Fitness Income Online
10 Ways to Make Serious Money With Fitness – Anyone can do these, even if you are not a trainer.
Finally- you must EAT. Your glutes need food to grow. This does not mean free range bulking season, and you can still grow muscle while in a slight deficit (highly dependent on your current conditioning, body composition and macros), but you should not be trying to shred and build a booty at the same time.
Ideally, you want to eat fast burning carbs before training, and quick digesting protein after training. Your pre and post workout nutrition is more important that the timing or quality of other foods that you eat throughout the day.
Your post workout nutrition is the most important aspect of recovery and progression. I have linked the post workout stack that I use and swear by. I will do an entire post about why it works, but in short:
-When you train at the gym you break down your muscles and deplete them of glycogen
-If you only take protein after training, your muscle will metabolize that protein in to glycogen instead of using it to build muscle. This equals no booty gains.
-The 1stPhorm post-nutrition stack is the fastest digesting carb and protein products on the market, allowing you to recover faster and actually make the progress you are working so hard for.
*Ad: 1stPhorm does not run sales or promotions, because their products are high enough quality that there is constant demand. However, you can get free shipping by ordering through the links above, or at 1stphorm.com/halfpint .
Thank you for contributing to my donut fund- and the ability to do fun things like product giveaways.
If you are on that two a day grind, I recommend doing cardio in the morning when you are more fasted, and lifting in the afternoon when you have more nutrients in your body.
Note: do not use regular pre-workout for HIIT or cardio. I use a blend of Essential Amino Acids (EAAs), which are a step up from the so-popular BCAAs. EAAs are the nine amino acids that your body can not produce on its own, but that you must have to build and preserve muscle.
Preserving muscle is especially important during cardio training. The product I use also has caffeine and electrolytes, so I drink it before and during the workout for energy and hydration. It’s literally the most perfect thing ever, and the Lemon Drop flavor is the bomb dot com.
If you need ideas for easy and nutrient dense dinners, with eye candy to boot (sorry dudes, if you’re reading this. My audience is arguably mostly women.) I use recipes out of this book probably 2-3x a week.
If you’re new to muscle building nutrition, there’s also a ton of education on how to structure meals, the best meal components and where to find them, and simple alternatives for anyone with meal restrictions.
There you have it- an overview of my best guide to growing glutes. If you have any other glute related or training questions, drop a comment below! If you got something out of this post, please do your girl a solid and share to your social media or pin it to Pinterest.
Feel free to connect with me via any of my social media links on the main blog page! Happy Bunday Funday! (That’s every day fyi.)
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