Category Archives: Glute Training

Operation Get Strong and Sexy: Week 1

I’m very excited to have convinced my clients Erin McComb and Sammie Cohn to compete in their first powerlifting contest in early November! They’re both well-experienced in bikini competition and now wish to broaden their training repertoire. I’ve been training Erin for just over a month now and I just started training Sammie again this week. If you’ve been reading my blog for some time now, you’ll know that she was part of the Glute Squad last year (see HERE and HERE to read about the glute squad – we trained out of my 6th floor condo for six months haha). We have 6 weeks to prepare!

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The Hip Thrust Only Experiment

My fiance Diana has an incredible body. She’s currently studying like crazy for nurse anesthetist school and doesn’t have much time to train. Her goal is to keep her booty while training as little as possible.

Just over six weeks ago, I posted a video of Diana squatting 135 lbs for 20 reps, deadlifting 135 lbs for 20 reps, and barbell glute bridging 135 lbs for 25 reps. Here it is in case you didn’t see it.

At that time, I measured her waist, hips, and thighs. Here were her measurements.

Measurements 8/9/13

  • weight 118.8
  • thighs 22″
  • hips 37.5″
  • waist 27″

For the past six weeks, I decided to augment her training. Prior to the time the video above was taken, she was performing one set of squats, one set of deadlifts, and one set of barbell glute bridges to failure every 5 days or so. I wanted to see what would happen if I had her stop squatting and deadlifting and just had her hip thrust.

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Squat Biomechanics: Butt Wink – What is it, What Causes it, & How Can it be Improved?

“Butt wink” is a common issue for the majority of squatters. But what exactly is butt wink, what causes it, and can it be improved? If so, how?

In the video below, you will learn:

  • The biomechanics of squatting pertaining to the lumbopelvic hip complex (click HERE to see another video on the biomechanics of the LPHC during other exercises such as the hip thrust and back extension)
  • Length changes in two-joint muscles during the squat (hamstrings and rectus femoris)
  • The importance of ankle dorsiflexion mobility to prevent low back rounding (click HERE to read how limited ankle dorsiflexion causes knee valgus as well)
  • How anatomy influences hip mobility
  • Why motor control and not just hip flexibility is critical for optimal performance
  • Why properly functioning glutes are critical in the squat (click HERE to read why they’re critical in a lunge as well)
  • Why daily goblet squats are a good idea (click HERE for a good article and video on goblet squats)
  • Why rock-bottom full squats aren’t for everyone (click HERE to read more about proper squatting technique)
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Average Female Strength Gains Over a Six Month Period

graph

I decided to create this graph so women, personal trainers, and strength coaches could gauge their progress in lower body strength exercises and create expectations, goals, and benchmarks. The graph below represents the hypothetical average lower body strength gains for a woman who trains with me two times per week.

Clarifications

Let me make some clarifications before posting the graph.

  • I didn’t take actually calculate averages; this is hypothetical.
  • These strength levels are in the 3-8 rep ranges.
  • Obviously someone training with me is going to see a lot quicker progress compared to someone training by themselves or training with a crummy trainer. There’s an art and science to developing maximal strength, and the majority of individuals just don’t understand it. 
  • Obviously these are just averages. While the deadlift and hip thrust are more consistent, the squat varies dramatically, mostly due to anthropometry, starting fitness levels, and age. Cases in point:
  • My girlfriend Diana (weighs around 120 lbs) was squatting 225 within 6 months of training with me, but she was already in good physical shape from rock climbing and she also has a good build for squats. I trained a client several years back who took several months just to be able to perform a bodyweight low box squat due to age (she was in her late 50′s), poor mobility, and inferior strength in her knees and posterior chain. I had to start her out with ultra-high box squats where she barely squatted down, but at the six month mark, she was performing goblet full squats with a 30 lb dumbbell for 10 reps.
  • My client Sammie (weighs around 125 lbs) was hip thrusting 385 within 6 months of training with me, but she was already in good physical shape from working out, and she is a natural at hip thrusting. Older clients might just get to 135 after 6 months of training with me as they’ll progress a bit slower than younger clients.
  • My client Karli (weighs around 125 lbs) was deadlifting 275 within 2 months of training with me, but she was already in good physical shape from working out, and she is a natural at deadlifts. Older clients might only be deadlifting 135-155 lbs after 6 months of training with me.
  • Obviously heavier individuals will have an absolute strength advantage compared to lighter individuals; this graph assumes around a 120-150 lb weight range.
  • Not everyone can full squat or conventional deadlift properly due to anatomical mobility restrictions or prior injuries. Most can squat to parallel over time, and most can safely perform box squats. Similarly, most can perform rack pulls from below the knees over time, and most can safely perform trap bar deadlifts.
  • These averages are for individuals who train with me twice per week. If they trained more often, their progress would be greatly fast-forwarded. In fact, if they trained 4 times per week, I imagine that progression-rates would double.
  • This graph assumes a starting point of 0 lbs (just bodyweight) for squats and hip thrusts, and 45 lbs (just the bar) for deadlifts. This is a typical starting point for a brand new beginner who is in good health but new to strength training. Diana, Sammie, and Karli started off with heavier weights due to good prior fitness levels.
  • This graph also assumes proper form. Obviously you could just “get someone better at sucking” by adding weight to their crummy movement patterns, but time must be taken to develop proper squat and hip-hinge patterns. Hip thrust patterning isn’t so hard though as it doesn’t require as much mobility, stability, or coordination.

As you can see, graphs that report averages can be useful but they don’t paint the entire picture. Nevertheless, hopefully this graph will provide you with some insights.

Strength Graph

Here’s what you might notice:

  • Women tend to be strongest at the hip thrust, followed by the deadlift, followed by the squat, assuming sound training is performed for all three exercises. 
  • After a solid month of training, healthy beginner females tend to be using around 65 lbs for 3-8 reps for the squat, 95 lbs for 3-8 reps in the deadlift, and 135 lbs for 3-8 reps on the hip thrust.
  • Strength gains are fastest in month one and have slowed down markedly at the six month mark.

Genetics and Glutes

Last thing – there’s a huge genetic component to developing nice glutes (click HERE to read about the genetics of glutes and click HERE to read about bodybuilding genetics in general). Many lucky ladies can develop amazing glutes without going too heavy by just focusing on glute activation and using a controlled tempo with lots of time under tension. For example, Nathalia Melo has some of best glutes in the world and she doesn’t use very heavy weights. However, she highly activates her glutes and performs a ton of volume. Conversely, there are many unlucky ladies who gain tremendous strength and still don’t possess great glutes. Therefore, you should always make sure your strength is gained through great form and proper glute activation. However, everyone can indeed improve their glutes, and you just do the best you can with what mother nature gave you!

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