In efforts to help the readers of my blog more effectively train their glutes, I thought I’d shed some light on program design tactics for glute building. This isn’t as easy as it seems, since the design of each training session depends on many factors, including the goal of the lifter, the training split, training frequency, equipment availability, and more. Some of my readers inevitably adhere to bodypart split routines, while others stick to lower/upper splits, push-pull splits, or total body training protocols. Some lifters train for purely aesthetics/physique purposes, while others have strength (powerlifting) or athletic goals in mind. I happen to like total body training for myself and most of my clients, but there are ways to make each training template highly effective for glute building. Below I will provide some tips and examples to satisfy a wide variety of lifters.
By Eirik Garnas
Big, powerful glutes are great, not just because they make you look good in a tight pair of jeans, but also, as all glute enthusiasts know, because a strong butt sets the stage for safe, heavy lifting in the gym, faster sprints, and a solid and injury-free lower back. The importance of the glutes – and the gluteus maximus (GM) in particular – becomes especially apparent when you work as a personal trainer or coach and see on a day-to-day basis how clients with various levels of glute development perform in the gym. More often than not, those with a strong set of glutes tend to display better movement patterns in the deadlift, squat, and a whole range of other exercises than those with a weak and flabby butt, and they also have lower incidence of back and knee pain. Since the GM is the largest muscle in the human body – and also at the center of the posterior chain – these observations don’t really come as a surprise. But why did the gluteals become such an important muscle group for humans, and why do so many modern people have weak and atrophied glutes? To answer these questions, we’re going to turn back the clock millions of years, to our days as foragers in Africa.
Question: Should women squat if they don’t want big legs?
Short Answer: Yes, as long as there are no orthopedic conditions that would preclude doing them. The squat is THE primary foundational movement in strength training and it will assist the vast majority of women in achieving their health, strength, and physique goals. The long answer is going to take me some time to fully explain, especially considering my tendency to go off on tangents, so bear with me.
Pictures Don’t Lie, or Do They?
If you’re on social media, then chances are you’re already a huge believer in squats. After all, pictures don’t lie. We have the Yeah, She Squats Facebook page with almost 1.3 million followers and a zillion pictures of amazing booties, the Squatspo Instagram page with 1.6 million followers and another zillion pictures of incredible glutes, and another hundred other pages dedicated toward teaching women through pictures why they should squat (or better yet, entertaining men for hours on end with endless butt pictures). And you thought my website was risqué..
Glute Imbalances are much more common than most people assume. For example, I’m currently training twelve different clients; ten women and two men. Out of these twelve lifters, four possess glute imbalances in varying degrees (all of them are women). Two of them seem to have gotten worse through my training, indicating that I wasn’t paying close enough attention to symmetrical movement as the months progressed. Glute imbalances rear their ugly heads most often during the squat exercise. When maxing out or repping out to failure, the hips will start shifting toward the stronger side (away from the weaker side). This is undesirable from both functional and aesthetics standpoints, so you want to nip it in the bud as quickly as possible.