Workout of the Week: Glutes

The gluteal muscles, or ‘glutes’ are three muscles located in the lower body which together have a variety of the functions including extension, abduction, external rotation and internal rotation of the hip. Gluteus maximus is not only the largest of the gluteal muscles, but the largest muscle in the human body! When we consider this, it’s surprising that so many people have trouble growing and/or activating their glutes, especially as powerful glutes can drastically improve your squat, deadlift lockout and even posture in day to day life. Say goodbye to lazy gluteal muscles which this workout!

Warm up

Hip Thrusts

These are a killer compound exercise to kick off a leg day. If you train two heavy leg days a week and one is focused on squats, I highly recommend this for your second session if glute development is the goal. Ideally, you want to set yourself up on a box or step under a bar loaded with bumper plates. Not to worry if you’re not at that stage yet, you can use a pre-loaded barbell while you progress! Most people feel these best with their shins at around a right angle to their thighs. Look forwards, drive through the heels and squeeze the glutes at the top.

Single Leg Press

Unfortunately, some leg press machines are set up better for this than others, but it is usually possible once you find a comfortable position. Some may allow you to angle yourself on a side on the seat to achieve a greater range of motion. Unrack with both feet, get the foot of the working leg set positioned around the middle of the plate and push through your heels, feeling the tension in your glute-ham tie in at the bottom of the movement.

DB Stiff Legged Deadlifts

These can be performed to target either the hamstrings or glutes more. For hamstrings, stop and go back down just before lockout to keep the tension on the hamstrings. For glutes, lock out and squeeze the glutes slightly at the top. This variation is also called an ‘American Deadlift’ (slightly more bent knees than a Romanian Deadlift).

Barbell Split Squats

These can be performed with dumbbells, a plate, body weight, a smith machine, the list goes on. I prefer the weight to be loaded on my back rather than my sides for glute isolation however as dumbbells can push you more onto the quads.

Cable Pull Through

This works similar to a hip thrust in that it is hardest at the top of the movement. Use the rope attachment set on the lowest pin and, facing away from the stack, pull the rope between your legs, squeezing at the top. These are a great little burn out when performed for higher reps. Alternatives for this would include glute focused hip extensions or kettlebell swings.

Hip Abductor

Highly, highly underrated machine! Not many exercises target the glutes in abduction, however this is a great way to recruit the glute medius and achieve a more rounded, full look.

About the Author

Savannah Westerby BSc Sport and Exercise Nutrition.
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