By Brian Klepacki, MS, CSCS, FMS2
Hey, what’s up everybody? I’m Coach Brian Klepacki, MS, CSCS, FMS2, Certified Strength Coach here with Criticalbench.com and I’m giving you exactly what you need to do to build strong glutes.
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Now, everybody loves a nice rear end, you know, a nice, shapely rear end or booty, if you will, but not everybody trains for strength, especially the women and also men. They just think, hey, I’m going to do these couple exercises with these numbers and expect my glutes to be strong.
So, first things first. If you want strong glutes you’ve got to train your glutes. Don’t be doing leg exercise expecting your glutes to get strong. But glutes, they’re not really part of your legs, are they? They’re part of the lower body. What I recommend for you is to do a glutes specific strength training protocol. Again, we’re going to go through, step-by-step on what that exactly looks like.
So, what is strength? Strength is actually not muscle density, but muscle concentration of the ability to move a heavy object, that’s strength. We’re not talking mass here, we’re talking actual strength. So, we need to apply basic strength training principles.
So heavier weight. You’ve got to lift heavier weight. Anything between 75% and 100% of your max effort or your 1RM max. I don’t expect you to know your Bulgarian split squat max effort. But what that looks like is anywhere from three to six, maybe eight repetitions. And depending on who your coach is or who you get your advice from or what your trainer says or even the certifying agency that you might be affiliated with, these numbers can vary. You know some Olympic lifters, powerlifters, they don’t get past three reps. Sometimes it’s even two reps and that’s it. They just do a whole bunch of different sets.
But for the general population, I would say three to six reps of a heavier weight, maybe eight reps depending on which exercise. But now you want to make sure you’re doing two to five minutes of rest in between each set. Now how many sets are we talking about? Anywhere from three to six sets.
I was taught by a professor that he says there’s really only one main set, everything else is a warm-up. So, three sets, you’re really not truly warmed-up to lift heavy if you do three sets. You might take five, six sets in order to get next to that 100%, which is three reps. I mean it wouldn’t be three reps, it would be one rep at that point. But in order to lift heavy you’ve got to rest longer. So, the moral of this story of all of this is that it will take time but the main thing is no circuit training.
So, what does that look like? In just a moment you’re going to see exactly what you need to do to implement this, but in summary, lift heavy, light on repetitions, so lower reps, resting two to five minutes, no exceptions because you physically might be okay, but internally your muscles are saying, “Hey, I’ve got to restore my ATP… I’ve got to renew my energy, my phosphate, creatine system…,” all this whole scientific nonsense that you don’t care about, that takes place on the inside where the outside may be like, “Alright, I’m ready to go again,” but don’t go again until two to five minutes is up. Three to six sets, no circuits, so stay with one exercise and move on.
That’s years of education right there in a nutshell. And if you’re asking where I got this information from, I get it from the NSCA, National Strength and Conditioning Association. I’m certified through them. I’ve been certified through them for about 10 years now. That’s where I get all my research from, that’s where these numbers actually come from.
So, what does this look like in a workout… all these principles combined, glute training, glute specific? If you want strong glutes, glute specific. And let me guess, you’re going to think number one is—take a guess. Chances are you’re wrong because squats and deadlifts aren’t the number one answer. Hip thrusts, that’s the number one answer. That’s it, right there. That will solve all of your issues. Hip thrusting is the number one answer.
Now there’s a couple of different types of hip thrusts. We’re not going to get into that right now because all different types of hip thrusts will still target the glutes. But that’s your main exercise for glute specific strength training. The second one, squats are good, but again that’s not glute specific. That is also quad specific. So, for the sake of number two, I will put squats, but I will also put deadlifts because if you’re doing a lower body workout you will still hit the glutes within squats and deadlifts, I would just do a normal back squat and traditional RDL deadlift.
Now we’re going to go into things like the glute bridge. I love the weighted glute bridge. You really get the peak contraction at the top of the lift there. So, one, two, three. Another exercise is your Bulgarian split squat. That’s a great exercise to do. It will target a little bit of the quads as well just because all that weight is going to be applied on that front leg there. And really the fifth one is kind of like the shotgun approach. I’m going to write a couple different exercises here in order for you to build strong glutes.
1) Frog Pumps with resistance, 2) Clam Shells with resistance…that’s how you build strength. There would also be 3) Band Walks, some kind of 4) Glute Machine at your gym (whether it’s a reverse hyper or a glute/ham developer), even like a 5) Donkey Kick machine, things like that. So, these are kind of all your secondary exercises right here. I don’t expect major strength to come from those, but if you’re doing one through four, you will see strength.
Now, again, if you’re brand new to glute training you’re going to see strength by just the neuromuscular adaptations that will just take place naturally just through exercise. All of these will require resistance training or an added form of resistance if you’re seasoned to training. That’s where you start applying these. Again, these can be done pretty much at the gym, at home, anywhere as long as you have just a little bit of space to do this with. Hip thrusts takes place on a bench, squats can be done with the barbell, kettlebell, things like that.
So, there you have it. If you apply these tips or these principles you will build stronger glutes, there’s no doubt about it. Again, really quick in summary, strength training principles, you’ve got to apply this to build strength, not size, not definition, but actual strength to get stronger which will obviously help with performance, injury prevention, lifting heavier weights, things like that.
And apply these glute specific exercises: hip thrusts, squats or deadlifts, glute bridges, Bulgarian split squats and all your secondary exercises: frog pumps, clam shells, band walks, glute machines. There really are a lot of different, I call them secondary or ‘show’ exercises that you’ll get strong in, but they won’t build strength like your first four exercises right there.
So, there you have it. This is the format you need to follow to build strong glutes, but not only that, I want to give you something for free to use with your training.