Want Great Glutes? Stick to This Plan

The “slide” of your backside is not inevitable, believe it or not. I used to have the flattest butt around. In fact, the primary reason I started weight lifting years ago was because of a comment a guy made while I was having drinks with friends:

Me: “I laughed my ass off about that!”

Him: “What ass?”

Nice, huh? I didn’t hang out with that guy much after that but I certainly took a look to see what he was talking about. I did start lifting weights and seeing results, but it wasn’t until recently – in the last few months, actually – that I’ve seen real “wow” results in that area.

The Magic Three

Where the glutes and hamstrings meet is called the glute-ham tie-in (where your hamstring meets your glute). If you want knock-out buns, it’s crucial to do exercises that work the tie-in area and not just the glutes and quads. You also need to hit your hamstrings if you want glutes to die for.

Squats, deadlifts, and lunges are the three best exercises for stand-up glutes. Both stiff-legged deadlifts and regular deadlifts are a must, and you can rotate among these exercises each week. No need to do them all in one day, although admittedly I have done this on more than one occasion just because I enjoy it. Stationary lunges do the job, but walking lunges with dumbbells really hit the muscles the hardest. For a little variety you can throw in leg presses if you keep your heels high on the foot plate.

I might add that barbell hip thrusts are another fabulous posterior chain exercise, though it is an isolation movement.

Use Both Free Weights and Machines

Those machines that isolate your inner and outer thighs are an abomination. Your thighs are trained with any compound lower-body movement; you’re wasting your time on the adductor/abductor machines.

There are benefits to isolating the hamstrings and quads with machines such as the prone leg curl and leg extension. These are nice finisher exercises for an added burn after deadlifts, squats, and lunges.

Use the Smith Machine, which mimics the vertical movement of a barbell but has guides that keep it from moving side to side, in moderation. You’ll see the best results using free weights (barbells and dumbbells). You use your core more intensely when using free weights and frankly, the Smith Machine just keeps you in a rut.

Squat Rack Tips

I started doing barbell squats and barbell deadlifts five months ago (according to my trusty journal) when I saw a woman like myself standing at the squat rack. Honestly, I had never even considered using the squat rack before. I usually saw guys there lifting ridiculous amounts of weight, plus I had been quite happy relying on Mr. Smith. It felt safe because I didn’t have to use my balance while lifting heavy. But suddenly, like a thunderbolt, it dawned on me that I needed to be using the squat rack. Sure, my glutes had firmed up since getting back into lifting, but I’m quite certain I’d hit a plateau.

The first thing I discovered about using the squat rack is that an unloaded barbell (called an Olympic bar) is quite heavy. It weighs around 45 pounds by itself, so I decided to start out using it without plates. Before I could do that, however, I had to figure out that you can adjust the height of the bar with pins, and that it’s very, very important that you put the pins low enough – right below your shoulders. If you’re trying to put a heavy barbell back on the rack and it’s too high, well, you will certainly hurt yourself while you reach up standing on your tippy toes.

It’s best to take it slow when starting to use an Olympic bar. Get used to having a long, heavy bar on your shoulders and in your hands. You’ll use a lot of balance but that comes quickly and is one of the reasons barbells help to work your core. It only took me a few times before I was ready to load it up with plates. However, I would recommend starting light and easing into heavy loads.

You can use the squat rack for lunges, deadlifts, and squats, but also for back, triceps, and shoulders exercises. To learn how to do these exercises and see videos, visit the Muscle & Strength web site. I absolutely love this database!

Your Plan

Pick two of these glute burners and do three sets each of 10-12 reps (for example, squats and walking lunges). Add in any other leg exercises you want (such as calf raises) but do the big compound exercises first. Once you’ve done those for three weeks, switch to new glute burners (deadlifts and leg presses). Make sure you rotate between straight and stiff-legged deadlifts.

Enjoy your results! You may even come to love leg (glute) day.

Important: You can hurt your lower back doing squats if your form is bad. Follow correct form to a tee, and as I said earlier, start with a light load (or no load). Make sure your knees never overshoot your toes and don’t worry about going all the way down to a sitting position right away. If you have knee issues, you can do a partial squat and still get great results. Keep the weight in your heels and push up with an explosive motion.

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