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Train Your Glutes
Do You Even Train Your Glutes?
It’s ok train the quads and hamstrings but most guy trainer don’t dare mention glutes, that’s a serious dent in their alpha male status. The same people make statements such as “Well I do squats, lunges, deadlifts, ‘good mornings’ and leg presses, that’s got my glutes covered”. Bicep curls, tricep kickbacks, leg extensions etc. all fall under the same category yet no one bats an eyelid. REPs registered PT, Ross Gilmour explains.
When was the last time you heard a male trainer say “Hey dude I’m training glutes today, see you in an hour.” Yeah, me neither. Whilst the chest, back, legs and shoulders would typically form a body part resistance training split, Glute training just seems to part of ‘leg day’.
If the world’s on top bodybuilders and sports athletes don’t shy away from glute training, so why should anyone else?
It’s time for a paradigm shift. Men should not shy away from glutes training. I have personally seen many positive outcomes both on myself and on my clients, by including more targeted glute training. They are the most powerful muscle in the human body; or as I like to call them ‘the engine of the muscular system’. The idea that glute isolation movements are girly or wimpy is just myopic.
Glutes Are Responsible For Four Main Actions
Hip External Rotation
Pelvic Posterior Tilt
The majority of the general population spends their time sitting down, which in technical terms is hip flexion. The modern lifestyle contributes to what we call ‘glute amnesia.’ Even if you’re a hardcore gym goer training five days per week, if you spend the majority of the day sitting down, the glutes are inactive that whole time. This leads to the inability to activate the glutes, which leads to less stability and strength.
I often come across men and woman in the gym who complain of such pain when they squat or deadlift. A majority of the time the main problem is weak glutes. Of course this can often be down to poor form, previous injuries, and other muscular and structural limitations. However, if you are unable to produce sufficient hip external rotation or posterior pelvic tilt for example, it’s very unlikely that movements will be great. Increasing activation and strengthening the glutes allow for higher quality movement patterns and production of greater force. Whether you’re trying to provide greater stability for the spine, increase your one rep max of a squat or deadlift, or create a shapelier butt, most trainers benefit from training the glutes in a multi-directional manner.
A Multi-planar Approach to Training Glutes
In order to get the most out of glute training, we should target the glutes from multiple angles with varying stimuli.
There is a term I like to refer to called ‘lines of pull’. The gluteus maximus fibres are directed obliquely downward and lateral. The gluteus medius and minimus have different lines of pull from this. This makes sense since performing a hip extension based exercise (such as deadlifts) feels different from a hip abduction exercise (such as cable abductions). This theory also explains why a change of stance or setup can significantly alter the line of pull and hence which muscle is receiving the most mechanical stress.
Taking a barbell hip thrust as an example; one client may perform this exercise with a wider stance or feet further away from their butt and feel their glutes best through hip extension, another may feel it best with feet closer to their butt and toes turned slightly out. Client femur length (upper leg length) and hip anatomy will also contribute to most of your clients having different lines of pull for the same given setup, so practice some patience and find what works for them.
Working With Clients At Game Changer Performance
We ensure to progressively load up movements such as hip thrusts (horizontally-based hip extension) and squats and deadlifts (vertically-based hip extension) to increase mechanical tension. We utilise single leg exercises (verticallybased hip extension) for muscular damage.
Back extensions (horizontally-based hip extension) and various lateral band exercises (hip abduction and hip external rotation) are used to create metabolic stress. We add some posterior pelvic tilting at the top of our horizontally based hip extension exercises to increase mechanical tension at the range of motion that maximizes glute activation. This method works to promote balance between the upper glutes and the lower glutes alike. We are huge proponents of utilising the same movement patterns but employing just enough variety to prevent plateaus.
My Favourite Glute Exercises
1.Barbell Hip Thruster (Strength & Hypertrophy)
Set up a bench at a height where the bottom of your shoulder blades can rest against the bench.
Using a squat pad or mat for padding, rest the bar across the crease of our hips, gripping the bar to hold in place.
Set your feet in a comfortable position, which allows a vertical shin position when reaching extension. This may be narrow or hip width apart and toes may be slightly pointed out.
Keeping the ribs down and abdominals braced, initiate the movement by squeezing your glutes and pushing through your heels.
Reach full extension and squeeze the glutes as much as possible.
Eyes should be looking at the point where the wall and ceiling meet (this prevents hyperextension of the neck).
On lowering the bar, lower the hips towards the floor whilst simultaneously allowing your body to follow with a neutral spine position. Your body will be in an almost upright position if done correctly.
Rest the bar on the floor between reps or stop just short if working with a constant tension method.
2. Crab Walk with mini-band (Activation)
Place mini band or double up resistance band just above and or below the knees.
Start with your feet hip-width apart.
Keep a slight bend at the knees and small hinge at the hips.
Keeping tension pushing the knees out against the band, take a step to the side outside hip width.
Step the trailing leg back to hip width.
Perform 10 metres in one direction as well as 10 metres back.
3. Reverse Hyper Tension (Strength & Hypertrophy)
Lay on top of the pad in a position that allows your hips to hang down towards the floor,whilst grasping the handles/foot plate.
Your hips should be flexed to start and feel like they are being wrapped around the pad.
Pressing your hips into the pad and squeezing your glutes, extend the hips allowing your feet to “kick” behind you.
Keep the abdominals braced and avoid hyper extending the lumbar spine.
Only go to the end range at which you feel your glutes contract then slowly reverse the movement wrapping your hips around the pad.
Squats, deadlifts and lunges alone are not enough to build glutes and due to the many roles and muscular structures, the glutes are most optimally trained with a tri-planar approach.
The above exercises are just a few examples. We would be happy to discuss in more detail about how we program glute training with our clients.