It's a common
problem that many people run into when they're trying
to build and work the glutes: the thighs take over the
exercises and the glutes get left out in the cold!
One of the
major reasons this happens is that some of the most
effective glute-building exercises are also among the
most effective thigh-building exercises, e.g. squats,
lunges, leg press, etc.
often, a person who has smaller glutes and whose goal
is to build their glutes already has muscle attachments
and leverage issues that favor thigh development over
glute development. This can set them back right from
If this sounds
like you, read on, because the information you get today is
going to change the way you approach your glute training forever!
Let me put it this
way...if your glutes already have a hard time getting involved
in exercises, performing more exercises won't solve the problem!
You've got to properly target your training to make sure the
glutes get worked more than the thighs or you simply WILL
NOT be able to maximize your glute development.
Today, you're going
to learn a number of training techniques that can help build
those large, round firm glutes you've been looking for! They
will help you to overcome any physical and anatomical limitations
your glutes may have.
1. Consciously squeeze your glutes HARD
while doing your exercises
Are you sitting
in a chair? Clench your glutes as hard as you can. Feel the
squeeze? This is what you need to strive for while doing glute
When you do a lunge,
squeeze the glute hard while you're pushing up. This will
help to activate the glute muscle. It's all about getting
your mind into the muscle and forcing it to contract rather
than just going through the motions of an exercise. By concentrating
on squeezing the glutes hard during your sets (of whatever
exercise you're doing), you'll be activating the muscle fibers
of the glutes and increasing the amount of work they do.
If you don't believe
this technique can work, try this: go for a walk up and down
some hills squeezing your glutes hard as you push yourself
forward with each step you take. The following day, sitting
down will take on a whole new challenge!
2. Push with your heels to activate your
of force and tension from your foot through your leg and glute
can be altered by where you put the tension on your foot.
If you push with the balls of your feet (the forefoot area),
more tension will be placed on the frontal thigh (the quadriceps).
If you focus on pushing more with your heels, more tension
will go through the back of the thighs and to your glutes.
By pushing with
your heels, you can take FULL advantage of this force/tension
relationship. For example, when you're doing lunges, try to
raise the toes of your front foot off the ground. This removes
tension from the front and focuses more on the heel. This
will, in turn, send more tension to the glutes, making them
There are several
practical techniques you can use to really force the heel
push. For example, on lunges, do them with your heel on the
edge of a stair or Step platform. Place ONLY your heel on
the surface and do the lunge from there (be careful of your
balance on this, however, as your base of support is decreased
with this technique).
If you're doing
the leg press, you can focus on the glutes by placing your
heels on the top edge of the foot plate (the rest of your
feet surface will be off the top and not pushing on anything).
When doing squats, simply raise your toes up in your shoes
to achieve a similar effect.
with the heels on the Leg Press foot place. Note how the
forefoot area is off the top edge of the footplate.
your heel on an elevated surface (such as the support
base of a machine or the edge of a stair) to force the
tension onto the heels.
3. Visualize "sitting back" when
you're doing your glute exercises
This idea is similar
to the concept of pushing with your heels above. When you
"sit back," more tension will be sent through the
back of the thighs and the glutes. If you lean forward (the
opposite of the "sitting back"), you will tend to
throw more tension on the quadriceps (the front of the thighs).
We can use both
the squat and the lunge as examples of this. When doing the
lunge, don't let your torso angle forward while you're performing
the movement. This will throw more tension on the quads. Visualize
yourself "sitting back" into the movement. Your
body won't let you lean back far enough to fall over but this
"lean-back" will put more tension on the glutes
immediately. This is something you can try at home right now
and feel the difference right away.
If, when you're
doing squats, you don't normally feel the glutes working very
strongly, you could very well be leaning too far forward as
you squat. This throws more tension onto the quads and lower
back. This problem is often caused by a lack of flexibility
in the calves. To fix this, stretch the calves for at least
5 minutes before doing any squat exercise. You will soon find
you're able to sit back more and maintain a better body position
(more upright torso). This will turn the squat into a great
glute-builder for you!
IMPORTANT! If you
do Smith Machine squats, specifically with the feet placed
a little forward of the bar while you sit backwards into the
bar as you do the movement, beware! This variation of the
squat places a TREMENDOUS shearing force on your knees.
the knee joint simply wasn't designed to push backwards against
resistance in this fashion and long-term use of this squat
variation can lead to knee injury (basically, every time you
do this exercise, you're grinding the connective tissue down
a little more - not a good situation). Don't worry, though!
Squats themselves, when done properly, are an excellent exercise!
forward while lunging will activate the quadriceps on
the front of the thigh more strongly.
back and keeping your torso vertical when lunging will
activate the glutes more strongly.
4. Pre-Exhaust Training for Glutes
is one of the single most effective techniques for FORCING
reluctant muscles to respond to training. The idea behind
this technique is simple: first, use an exercise that works
ONLY the target muscle. Then, immediately follow that with
an exercise that works the target muscle AND several other
muscles in addition. You essentially exhaust the target muscle
first (with an isolation exercise that works only that single
muscle) then use an exercise that utilizes other muscles (a
compound exercise) to help push that already pre-exhausted
target muscle harder.
The two isolation
(single-muscle) exercises that I recommend for the glutes
are low pulley glute extensions and glute push-ups.
Low pulley glute
extensions are done by attaching an ankle harness to your
leg, standing facing the pulley machine and extending your
leg straight back behind you.
are done by laying flat on your back with your knees bent
90 degrees and feet flat on the floor. From this position,
push your hips up towards the ceiling, squeezing your glutes
hard. This exercise can also be done one leg at a time (just
cross the non-working leg over the other).
Do as many reps
of this exercise as it takes to reach muscular fatigue (it
could be 8, 15 or even more, depending on the resistance and
your strength). The real muscle-building work gets done on
the second exercise.
The Smith Machine Squat - AVOID
THIS EXERCISE! This exercise, where you place your
feet forward of the bar and lean back into as you squat, places
dangerous shearing force on the knees and can result in injury.
When you've completed
your set, immediately (and I mean IMMEDIATELY - no rest periods
here) move into the compound exercise for the glutes. Compound
exercises for the glutes include squats, lunges, leg press,
and (my personal favorite glute-builder) the one-legged bench
Use a fairly heavy
resistance for the compound exercise...as I mentioned above,
this is where the muscle-building work gets done. Use a resistance
that will allow you get about 8 to 12 reps per set. This is
the most effective rep range for muscle building.
Bench Step Squats
(demo video available for this one)
In my experience,
the best pre-exhaust approach is to focus on one leg at a
time rather than doing both. It may take a little longer but
the glutes get worked more thoroughly and your results will
most likely be better. For example, do One-Legged Glute Push-Ups
with your left leg then immediately do Bench Step One-Legged
Squats on your left leg. Take a rest then do a set for your
the four training techniques I've described above can have
a HUGE impact on your glute-building progress. It's all about
properly targeting your training to FORCE the glutes to take
the lead in the exercise. With these tips, you will build
larger, firmer, rounder glutes. Guaranteed!