How to Design an Optimal Glute Training Program

By February 11, 2015Glute Training, Glutes

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.

All right, all right!

All right, all right!

Bret’s Preference: Full Body Training

As I mentioned earlier, I love my total body training routines. I’m going to give you a sample four day glute training program that I’d give someone who trained with me at my gym – The Glute Lab. I have posted most of the exercises listed below on my Instagram channel at some point in time, and I have many detailed explanations on my YouTube channel too. I realize that most of my readers don’t have access to all of the equipment I have in my garage gym, but I didn’t want to compromise my ideal program. Later in the article I’ll stick to more common exercises. Keep in mind that I train mostly women whose primary goal is to build their glutes. I train female powerlifters differently, which I’ll outline below. By the way, this is the type of system Kellie and I use with Strong Curves and also with Get Glutes.

Monday

barbell hip thrust pyramid 1 x 10, 1 x 8, 1 x 6, 1 x 15
goblet squat 3 x 12
heavy kettlebell deadlift 2 x 15
45 degree hyper 2 x 20
band seated hip abduction 2 x 20
incline press 2 x 10
lat pulldown 2 x 10

Tuesday

band hip thrust 3 x 10
walking lunge 2 x 50 (total steps, so 25 per leg)
reverse hyper 3 x 10
lateral band walk 2 x 20
push up 2 x AMRAP
Hammer Strength row 2 x 10

Thursday

barbell hip thrust 3 x 6
Bulgarian split squat 2 x 10
45 degree hyper 2 x 30
pendulum quadruped hip extension 2 x 10
band side lying clam 2 x 20
dumbbell shoulder press 2 x 10
one arm row 2 x 10

Friday

double band hip thrust 3 x 20 (band around knees and band over the hips)
Cybex leg press 3 x 10
American deadlift 2 x 8
band standing hip abduction 2 x 20
dumbbell bench press 2 x 10
inverted row 2 x 10

Some people would rightfully point out that this is a lot of volume for the glutes, but trust me, they can handle it. When combined with sound nutrition, I would argue that this program is equally effective at burning fat since these routines are brutal in terms of revving up the metabolic rate. This is how I go about building glutes, and it’s why I see such great results with my clients.

But make no mistake about it, my clients also tend to develop great upper body strength and development simply because they’re performing compound pressing and pulling movements four days per week. The program is centered around hip thrusts, which is what I think builds glutes the best, but it contains a ton of variety to hit the upper and lower fibers with high reps, medium reps, and low reps. This routine will deliver what I believe to be the optimal amount of mechanical tension, metabolic stress, and muscle damage to the glutes (see HERE for an explanation of these terms). But not everyone wants to train in this manner, especially men who desire more isolation movements for their upper bodies, so let’s move on to other popular forms of training.

5

Justine Munro (FacebookInstagram)

Tips for Bodybuilders that Stick to Bodypart Splits

Every bodybuilder has his or her own unique routine, but the vast majority of them adhere to bodypart splits. Let’s consider the lifter that prefers bodypart split training but is severely lacking in glute development. This lifter might benefit from straying from the norm and training lower body three times per week and upper body twice or three times. For example, the lifter could train glutes on Monday, chest/shoulders/triceps on Tuesday, quads on Wednesday, back/rear delts/biceps on Thursday, and hammies on Friday. This way, the glutes are hit effectively on all 3 lower body days. Let’s assume that this lifter trains out of a common commercial gym. Maybe the various  sessions look like this:

Monday (glutes)

barbell hip thrust or barbell glute bridge: 3 x 8-12
butt blaster machine or cable glute kickback: 3 x 10-15
bodyweight back extension or bodyweight reverse hyper: 3 x 20-30
cable standing hip abduction or lateral band walk: 3 x 10-20
seated hip abduction machine or band seated hip abduction: 3 x 20-30

Tuesday (chest/shoulders/tri’s)

barbell incline press or dumbbell incline press: 3 x 6-8
barbell military press or seated shoulder press: 3 x 8-12
push ups: 3 x AMRAP (as many reps as possible)
dumbbell lateral raises or cable lateral raises: 3 x 10-12
rope tricep extensions or v-bar tricep extension: 3 x 10-12

Wednesday (quads/glutes)

front squat or back squat: 3 x 6-8
leg press or hack squat: 3 x 10-12
dumbbell walking lunge or smith machine reverse lunge: 3 x 8-12
leg extensions: 3 x 10-20
crunch 2 x 20
side crunch 2 x 20
hanging leg raise 2 x 10

Thursday (back, rear delts, bi’s)

weighted or band assisted chin up or lat pulldown: 3 x 6-8
chest supported row or seated row: 3 x 8-12
one arm row or inverted row: 3 x 10-12
prone rear delt raise or reverse pec deck: 3 x 10-12
easy bar curl or alternating dumbbell curl: 3 x 10-12

Friday (hams, glutes)

conventional deadlift or Romanian deadlift: 3 x 6-8
weighted back extension or single leg back extension: 3 x 10-12
stability ball or Valslide leg curl: 3 x 8-12
lying leg curl or seated leg curl: 3 x 10-20
calf raise machine 2 x 10
seated calf raise machine 2 x 20

As you can see, this program would hammer the glutes three times per week. Monday’s session would involve very high amounts of tension and metabolic stress for the glutes, Wednesday’s session would involve moderate amounts of tension and high amounts of muscle damage for the glutes, and Friday’s session would involve moderate amounts of tension and metabolic stress for the glutes. Moreover, the upper and lower glutes would be hit very hard, especially on Monday’s session.

The lifter could attain even greater volume load with the glutes by performing glute activation exercises (HERE are some examples of low load glute activation exercises) during the dynamic warm-up on each lower body day, and additional hip thrusts and lateral band work could be tacked onto the end of the Wednesday and Friday leg sessions. Of course, shoulders or arms could be taken out of the Tuesday/Thursday sessions and added onto a separate Saturday session.

Tips for Powerlifters 

There are many effective ways to train for powerlifting strength, but for the sake of simplicity, let’s consider the powerlifter that has a squat day on Monday, a bench day on Wednesday, a deadlift day on Thursday, and a hypertrophy day on Saturday. Sticking to just squats and deadlifts alone can build some great glutes, especially with males. But let’s say that this lifter isn’t satisfied with his or her level of gluteal development. Something like this could work quite well in this situation:

Monday (squat day) 

back squat 5 x 5
barbell hip thrust or barbell glute bridge 3 x 10
back extension or reverse hyper 3 x 10

Wednesday (bench day)

bench press 5 x 5
military press or close grip bench press 3 x 10
chest supported row or seated row 3 x 10

Thursday (deadlift day)

conventional deadlift or sumo deadlift 5 x 5
front squat or Bulgarian split squat 3 x 10
single leg hip thrust or kettlebell swing 3 x 10

Saturday (hypertrophy day)

lat pulldown 2 x 10
dumbbell bench press 2 x 10
inverted row 2 x 10
lateral raise 2 x 10
hammer curl 2 x 10
cable tricep extension 2 x 10
prone rear delt raise 2 x 10
lateral band walk 2 x 20
bodyweight back extension 2 x 20

As in the case with the bodybuilding program above, the glutes are hit three times per week in this sample powerlifting plan. Saturday’s session will pump some extra blood into the upper and lower glutes while not interfering with recovery for Monday’s squat session. Extra volume load for the glutes can be attained by performing glute activation exercises during the dynamic warm-up on Monday and Thursday.

4

Tips for Athletes

Athletes train in a variety of manners, but most of them stick to full body training protocols. Here’s a sample program that combines explosive training with heavy lifting. We’ll assume that the athlete trains three times per week and does his/her lifting after already completing any sprint, plyo, agility, and medball work.

Monday

hex bar jump squat 4 x 3
heavy kettlebell swing 3 x 8
back squat 3 x 6
barbell hip thrust 3 x 6
close grip bench press 3 x 6
chest supported row 3 x 8
cable hip flexion 2 x 10
ab wheel rollout 2 x 10
side plank 2 x :30 sec

Wednesday

heavy sled push 3 x 20m
explosive 45 degree hyper 3 x 8
Bulgarian split squat 3 x 8
block pull 3 x 6
incline press 3 x 8
weighted chin up 3 x 3
Nordic ham curl 3 x 3
Pallof press 2 x 10
hollow body hold 2 x :20 sec

Friday

jumping lunge 3 x 6 (3 jumps per leg)
one arm power snatch 3 x 5
back squat 3 x 6
barbell hip thrust pyramid 1 x 10, 1 x 8, 1 x 6, 1 x 20
close grip bench press 3 x 6
chest supported row 3 x 8
ankle weight standing hip flexion
RKC plank 2 x :20 sec
farmer’s walk 2 x 20m

As you can see, this routine will build and strengthen the glutes so they can produce incredible amounts of force and power in sports. This routine has two explosive lifts per day (see HERE for videos of the explosive lifts), along with a knee dominant exercise, a hip dominant exercise, an upper body push, an upper body pull, and some accessories sprinkled in such as multidirectional core stability, hip flexion, and/or eccentric hamstring work. If the athlete prefers Olympic lifts, these can be performed in substitution for the explosive lifts listed above.

Jessica Arevalo (Facebook, Instagram)

Jessica Arevalo (Facebook, Instagram)

Tips for CrossFitters

CrossFitters are already performing a high amount of work, so we don’t want to add much more onto their plates. They can just do their normal CrossFit training but add in two glute WODs per week. See HERE for some example glute WODs.

Tips for the Newbie that Trains at Home

The beginner who trains at home can train very frequently since he or she won’t be getting “beat up” by heavy loading. They can begin with plenty of low load glute activation work (see HERE), and they should master the box squat, hip hinge, and glute bridge (see HERE). They can initially use furniture to perform various glute exercises (for some ideas, see HERE and HERE), then eventually graduate to a commercial gym or purchase equipment for their home. First, some short bands, dumbbells, and kettlebells can be purchased, and eventually a barbell with plates (preferably bumper plates), a rubber mat, a bench, a power rack or squat stands, and a thick bar pad for hip thrusts (or better yet, a hip thruster for band and barbell hip thrusts). An excellent recipe for training at home, assuming the individual possessed all the necessary equipment, could involve daily band hip thrusts, goblet squats, kettlebell swings, and lateral band walks.

Conclusion

I hope that this article has given you some ideas regarding how you can best build your glutes no matter what type of program you prefer. Happy gluting!

Hip Thruster barbell band

The Hip Thruster is the best way to do the hip thrust – stable and versatile!

92 Comments

  • Danielle says:

    This is the best article EVER written about glute building, period!

  • james says:

    Tips for weightlifters?

    Thanks

    • Austin says:

      +1 to Jame’s comment. Assuming a 4-5 day per week training split.

    • Bret says:

      James (and Austin below), honestly Oly lifters do so much squatting and pulling that I’d simply add in 3 sets of hip thrusts or back extensions and 2 sets of lateral band walks or band seated hip abductions a couple of times per week. The extra volume would help with glute building without hampering recovery for Olympic lifting prowess.

  • Kristina says:

    You’re just the best. Thank you for sharing!

  • Luke says:

    Hi Brett,

    I’ve been using the red “squat sponge” for hip thrusts for a few months. I guess it’s starting to get too compressed as most of female clients that are doing anything over 135 are saying that hip thrusts will leave them bruised.

    Have you came across this issue? Do you have any suggestions aside from buying a new sponge?

    Thanks,
    Luke

    • Debbie says:

      Hi Luke,

      I got the thick Hampton bar pad that Bret recommends for Hip Thrusts (found mine on Amazon). The PTs in my gym have real weedy ones they don’t share 😛 I use mine 4x/week and it is wearing well 🙂

      Debbie

    • Bret says:

      Luke, yes I have come across this. Many of my female clients started feeling the same right when they got to the 135 lb mark, and we used to put additional padding in the form of a towel underneath the squat sponge. But then out of nowhere they could suddenly tolerate the loading. I suppose they learned to position the bar more appropriately, or their tissue/skin toughened up (doubtful)? At any rate, they’ve outgrown this issue. But feel free to use a towel with your clients. But if it’s that the squat sponge is indeed compressed, then maybe you should buy a new one.

      • sandy says:

        Have you ever heard of heavy bridges and thrusts causing pelvic problems such as intrauterine bleeding or even uterine prolapse? Wondering how heavy you can go without doing any damage. Obviously it depends on how/where you position the bar, but i could see the potential for problems. Anyone have any thoughts?

        • Bret says:

          Sandy, the hip bones and hip flexor musculature protect against this. The bar can’t squash down further than the hip bones jut out, so I don’t think you can inflict too much damage. In 8.5 years of prescribing hip thrusts, I’ve never had an issue with clients aside from some bruising that lasts for a few days. But I’ve also always used ample bar padding with clients, starting off first with the Hampton thick bar pad many years ago, then moving onto the Airex Balance pad, and finally to the squat sponge.

    • Claudia says:

      I am using a personal yoga mat i wrap on the bar. Working just fine with heavy load (265 lbs).

    • Charles says:

      I use my blue FatGripz on the bar for hip thrusts – no problem for me up to 315 – 360#. If you got the larger Red FatGripz it would distribute the weight even more. You could still add padding on top if needed.

    • Dav says:

      Luke look into getting a hampton pad

      http://www.amazon.com/Hampton-International-Bar-Pad-Extra/dp/B00FRSTEXE

      It”s made to take a beating. But very durable for glate ham presses. Happy Hip Thrusting

  • Sandra says:

    Any tips for building beginner a protocol for my husband? He has a 10mm L4-L5 disc herniation and his PT recommended he grow a butt (seriously, he has none at all) to help protect the lower back. He can’t deadlift or squat for sure, and I doubt he’d be able to hip thrust through the pain, either.

    • Bret says:

      Sandra, I’m not a doctor or physical therapist, so take please have your hubby consult one prior to implementing my advice. But what he needs is graded exercise. He should learn to move through the hips and stabilize the spine. He needs to practice activating his glutes with low loads and gradually increasing the reps and loading. Over time, he can build himself back to very impressive levels, so tell him to stay positive and not feel defeated.

      • Sandra says:

        Thanks for the recommendations! We’re working with the PT and starting off with bodyweight and banded exercises only. I read the article that your wrote a while back about your fiancee’s bodyweight protocol – would that be a good place to start?

  • Zaim says:

    Great Job Bret.

    You help so much us.
    Good work in hamstric muscle could be ease to build glute. If possible to have good glute with poor hamstric muscle?

    • Bret says:

      Yes it’s possible Zaim. If you just did squats, leg presses, and lunges your whole life, you’d have big quads and some glutes with poor hamstrings. So you need to do various deadlifts, back extenisons, and leg curls for hammies.

  • Polina says:

    Hi Bret,

    I am interested in purchasin a hipthrust unit, I live in Iarael. Does the company that manufactures them have a shipping service to my country? I

    Polina

  • cosmin says:

    In the first split I don”t understand….Monday and Tusday same muscle group no recovery rest? I see that they are different reps ranges but even so…. Im confused.

    • Bret says:

      Cosmin, this is a common concern with my programming for glutes. I know you think they can’t recover, but they can. Give it a try and see if it works for you, it has for most of my clients.

  • Polina says:

    I just cheked the hipthrust site, they don’t ship to Israel.

  • Deniza says:

    Definitely best article on glute training! I train at home but have a lot of equipment. However I’m not allowed to use weight on legs due to muscle imbalances that caused a ligament strain in my hip. It’s been 10 weeks now and I’m surprised that I didn’t lose muscle , actually my glutes grew because I’m working them 6 days a week! Mostly with low load exercises but I work myself up in ankle weights and strong bands . And I do high step ups, Pistols and Towel Leg curls. This was a nice experiment for me as I was lifting heavy (for me) before (bodyweight on HT) and thought I would lose all progress when changing to bodyweight. I do your 2-1 method for muscle imbalances and it works!! Thank you!

    • Bret says:

      Great story @Deniza! There’s always a lesson to be learned in training. If it weren’t for that injury, you wouldn’t have realized how effective the other stuff was. This is what life-long lifting is all about. Nice job!

  • Matti Putkonen says:

    Bret, how do you feel about splitting the home gym trainees sessions to two seperate workouts ? Like upper/lower body ?

    • Bret says:

      That would work just fine Matti. Either full body every session or a lower/upper split, but bodypart splits don’t usually work very well for home gyms unless there is ample equipment (which is rare in home gyms).

  • Erin says:

    This rules, Bret! Can’t wait to pass it on.

    I’m doing your 2×4 program right now and really wanting to maximize glute building. I’ve been following your suggested accessory work pattern and doing activation drills as part of my warmup, but is there room for extra glute training? If so, where would you put it?
    Thanks so much for all the time you put into this blog, it’s really inspiring.

    • Bret says:

      Erin, good question. Since I wanted the focus to be on building maximum strength on some selected lifts, I placed limits on other lifts to prevent interference with recovery. It’s good to narrow your focus for brief periods throughout the year and then broaden it during other times. You won’t lose glutes during the 14 week 2×4 program, and you could very well end up building them up a bit. But what’s nice is that you’ll gain strength, and this will provide a bigger foundation for future success. When you return to a routine focused more on general hypertrophy and glute building, you’ll be using greater loads, so 2×4 sets the stage for greater muscle growth down the road. But I don’t see why you couldn’t perform hip thrusts and lateral band work twice per week; it won’t compromise recovery. So feel free to add in slightly more suggested volume for the glutes if you feel like what I already have in there is suboptimal.

  • sarah says:

    Perfect timing, Bret! I have been glute training for nearly 5 mos now – incorporating your training methods 🙂 and am looking to switch up my current routine. The full body training module
    is perfect. Thanks and keep up the awesome work!

  • Jamie says:

    Hi! I just bought Strong Curves and I can’t wait to get started! I have been working out hard for a year now with a trainer and while I’ve come a long way, I suspect his routine isn’t working for me anymore. I’m 5′ 2″ 115lbs and skinny fat.

    My concern is that I think I have weak hip abduction. I can feel it the most when doing the clam. There is a lot of tightness. In the past, doing weighted glute bridges have led to hip joint inflammation and permanent damage (one hip always gets aggravated). I have no issue doing glute bridges with no weights. My question is, what is the best way for me to proceed? I want to built glute strength but avoid injury. I also think I have knee valgus when I walk/run.

    • Bret says:

      Jamie, I advise you to see a physical therapist or sports doc, but in general “graded” exercise is the best approach. Begin with a variety of movements that are well-tolerated, and gradually increase in range of motion, repetitions, and load. Never push through pain. Ensure proper hip mobility, glute activation, and spine/hip stability (in other words, do the exercises properly), and eventually you’ll gain strength and become more athletic. If your knees are caving when you walk/run, I would work with a physical therapist in fixing this. A combination of gluteal strengthening and motor control exercise (with a lot of practice and consistency) will likely do the trick. Best wishes!

      • Jamie says:

        Thank you! I went to one and he just gave me a cortisone shot which didn’t work. I will try the graded exercises with no weight for now. Thanks again!

  • Elva says:

    YES! Thanks for this article Bret! I needed some new routines and havent had a chance to sit down and come up with some

  • Nick says:

    Bret,

    In reference to the bodybuilder spilt, why only 1 hip thrust variation for the week and why no band work on the Wednesday and Friday?

    • Bret says:

      Nick, as I mentioned underneath, extra hip thrusts and band work can be performed on those days. To a bodybuilder who feels that they should only train a bodypart once per week, it’s important for them to train one part each day (even though the muscles are getting worked more frequently…forearms get worked daily, so do spinal erectors, so do abs/obliques, just by gripping and carrying db’s and moving plates around…front delts and tri’s get worked with any press, rear delts and bi’s get worked when doing back, glutes get worked with compound quad and ham movements, etc.). So I wrote it this way to satisfy the psychological need of the bodybuilder who prefers the typical bodypart split, but I think better gluteal results would be realized if hip thrusts and lateral band work were indeed worked into all 3 days. Great question!

  • Rich says:

    Bret,

    Thanks for another great post. To your point, I’m one who still wrestles with the idea of bumping up the frequency of training, particularly when it comes to managing fatigue, recovery, and DOMS. In your opinion have we gotten a bit “soft” and underestimated the body’s ability to adapt?

    Also, in the examples you provided the first three groups’ weight workouts will most likely be the extent to which they train on any given day. The athletes group will most likely have done a combination of sprints, jumps, and throws before they even touch a weight. How much of a factor is this in your overall thought process when it comes to fatigue, frequency and volume?

    Thanks!

    • Bret says:

      Great questions Rich. I don’t think we’ve gotten “soft,” I think the ideal routine depends on the individual in question (their unique anthropometry, soft-tissue strength, and recovery abilities). Look at the best powerlifters in the world – some of them are hammering squats 4 times per week while others squat once per week (I know of a couple who alternate heavy squats one week with heavy deadlifts the next). So again, it depends, and routines written on paper should be tinkered with to best suit the lifter.

      With regards to athletes, yes, this definitely needs to be taken into consideration. If an athlete just spent 90-minutes on the field performing various sprint/plyo/agility/ballistic drills, then it may be more appropriate to drop the explosive lifts and just perform the strength lifts. There are many factors to be considered here which is why it’s hard to write a simple blogpost like I did.

  • Jim says:

    (The following is meant for athletes and those who desire real world functionality)

    Bret, I wholly agree that the body should be trained as a whole as that is how it behaves in real life, however, from a neurological perspective the body moves proximally to distally via irradiation. We all have similar neurological patterns established in early childhood. We developed these as we learned to lift our head in the crib, situp, crawl, stand and eventually walk. They are very consistent across the human population because we all had to and have to deal with the same force of gravity. Our organ of pattern recognition, the brain, finds the most efficient methods of movement under these conditions and they are the same for every human. Over time we learn alternative and less efficient ways to move, these are called compensation patterns. We lean to one side while standing, we breath with our intercostals instead of our diaphragm, we become front dominant supporting the body incorrectly while standing instead of using our posterior chain etc. These compensations cause muscles to shorten, generate inflammation and hamper organ function. They are caused because of injury, poor habits, trauma (emotional and physical) or learned behavior like seeing our father, sister, mother, brother move in such a dysfunctional manner. You don’t see animals show as much variation in movement patterns because of the lack of pre frontal cortex development. They rely on the reflex arcs established in early life. I’ve never seen a feline lean to one side bracing with one side of the body while relaxing the other.
    My point is unless we move correctly we hamper performance, enhance compensation and accelerate the death process (inflammation). The good news is we can reestablish these patterns if we have lost them and if you live in the western world or have ever had an injury, you most likely have lost them. They are reestablished and reinforced when we put the body in the correct position and send information to the brain via high load, high velocity, and high volume ie a lot of neurological input. When this occurs we get everything we want. Immune function is enhanced to ever greater level as is the function of organs the endocrine system, digestion, sleep, and the thought process itself is enhanced. And most importantly performance is enhanced in every way. When we get into the mindset of training like a sprinter or a powerlifter or as a discuss thrower we can easily disrupt the harmonious action of these established reflex arcs. If however we train these reflex arcs our body will be in the right position use the right muscles and perform at a high level that is replicable and can be duplicated again and again without degradation of performance. This is neurological training and it is sorely lacking in the athletic world and the human world at large.

    • Bret says:

      Jim, while I’m inclined to agree with most of what you wrote, I’d like to add that some of what you’re saying is logical rationale that is lacking support in the research. I definitely don’t like labels that can place limits on an individual, but there really isn’t a way around it if the athlete is participating in a sport and knows that they’re primary purpose of training is to get better at that sport. I suppose we could tell them that they’re performing “general athletic training for functional performance,” but still you have to tailor the training to their unique goals/sport/position.

      • Jim says:

        Bret, what is common to all movement from getting out of a chair, to sprinting in a olympic 100m final, to hitting a 100 mph fast ball? When one muscle contracts the opposing muscle must elongate (eccentrically contract) at the same time, intensity, velocity, and for the same length of time. If this does not occur muscles go into concentric contraction, blood flow is hampered, performance suffers and inflammation insues. For this to occur one has to be in the proper position and communicate with the brain at high velocity. The slower we move the more compensations we produce. The harmonious interplay between opposing muscle groups is a skill that can be trained and heightened. Neural pathways can myelinate and the body begins to communicate with itself the way it did when we were babies. If we train this we get everything we want. Our bodies develop to the ideal proportions. Then we can quickly adapt and acquire sports skills. We are in a state of heightened allostasis.
        I believe that when a person complains about lack of adaptation, they say they have bad genetics etc it is really a mater of neurological inefficiency. Every human being is a miracle we all have the apparatus for profound change but when we are out of balance it cannot occur. When we compensate it cannot occur, at least not effectively. Fix that and you can build glutes, run fast, lift heavy loads, acquire sports skill and more importantly continue to adapt and grow as a human being.

  • rita says:

    hi Bret,
    This is the post that I’ve been waiting for- thank you! Just a quick question, I xfit twice a week, and use three days for spot training. In this case, would you recommend the: glutes only, mix up the upper body for bis, shoulders and triceps, and finally glutes and quads mix? Thanks a lot Bret! My glutes have not been responding as of late.

    • Bret says:

      Rita, if it were me, I’d do 3 full body strength days that included variations of squats, deadlifts, hip thrusts, bench press, and rows. But it all depends on what they have you doing with your CrossFit WODs – it’s not always predictable.

  • Anna says:

    Bret,

    How and when would you recommend to incorporate sled and tire work for the physique competitor trying to build up legs? Should it be heavy and slow, or on the lighter side and explosive?

    Thank you for your advice

    • Bret says:

      Hi Anna, this would require it’s own article. There are pros and cons to sled/tire work. I could argue both sides very well. It lacks an eccentric component (good for recovery, not quite as good for muscle growth), it’s easy/simple/no-brainer with form, it’s well tolerated, but it’s not as easily quantifiable due to two variables at play – load on the sled and speed of the push (and I suppose distance pushed as well). If you have access to a sled at your gym and you like it, I say have at it.

  • Steph says:

    Hi Brett, I enjoy all your posts!
    What’s your opinion on including 5×5 before that bodybuilding training workout. Would it still be optimal for strength/powerlifting.

    • Bret says:

      Steph, do you mean take the first lift of the day and do 5 x 5 on it, then follow the rest as planned? If so, yes, this would be very effective. But it wouldn’t be optimal for powerlifting – for powerlifting prowess you wouldn’t start off the week with a glute day…you’d start off the week with whichever lift is most important to you at the time (squats, bench, or deads). And you plan the week trying to maximize frequency/volume while still being able to recover (which is dependent on the lifter). If trying to maximize powerlifting strength while still building glutes, I’d either 1) go with the powerlifting program I wrote here, 2) do 2 x 4, or 3) do a daily undulated periodization program where you undulate squats, bench press, and hip thrusts (but do low volume low frequency deadlifting). Hope that helps!

      • Steph says:

        Thanks for the tip! I usually do basic hypertrophy training but will use your powerlifting plan to help with my strength. Cheers!

  • Kelly Bozek says:

    F.A.B. fabulous as always!!

  • Jen says:

    Hi Brett! In contrast to some of your previous commenters, I have no concerns about working glutes every day. In fact, my concern is at the opposite extreme. You’ve said in many previous articles that daily glute training can be effective. I *hate* rest days (I know I’m not alone!), so I lift pretty much every day. I alternate a heavy glute day with an upper body/light glute day. Once every two weeks or so, I’ll throw in a rest day. At what point does daily training become counterproductive? I’m not talking about CNS fatigue or overtraining in the hitting-a-wall-and-feeling-like-crap way, but in the slowing down hypertrophy and strength progression way. Thanks so much for this article!

    • Bret says:

      Jen, unfortunately we are “pioneers” in this area as we don’t have research to go by, just anecdotes. I know of some lifters who train so hard (their effort is through the roof) that they go stale quickly if they train too frequently. I know of others who don’t push themselves as hard that can train very frequently (and because of their lower effort, they benefit from the greater frequency). But effort, load, volume, and frequency are intertwined, and you can’t address one variable without addressing the others. Let’s say someone did goblet squats, band hip thrusts, back extensions, and lateral band walks every day – 2-3 sets per exercise without going to failure or striving for PRs too often, just trying to feel the burn and attain a nice glute pump. This way of training would be very effective. However, someone doing a ton of volume with many of the sets to failure on daily squats, deadlifts, lunges, and hip thrusts would fizzle out very quickly and spin their wheels…or worse, go backwards. I think you’re learning how to make it work for you, but the question is, would you see better results if you trained 4-6 days per week instead of 7? A good lifter must always be asking him/herself these types of questions. There’s effective, and there’s optimal. Just because one way shows results doesn’t mean that it’s the absolute best way to train. I look forward to learning more about your question over time.

      • Jen says:

        That makes sense. My main goal in glute training is hypertrophy (bikini competitor!), so I’m not as focused on PRs and training to failure, though I do aim for progressive overload over time. I also separate out my big compound lifts so they’re not on the same day. So far so good, as far as I can tell, but you know how it is… you always wonder if you could be just a little bit better! Thanks for your response!

  • Claudia says:

    For the past 4 moths i ´ve been sticking to the kind of mixed bodybuilders-powerlifter splits body part routine you describe ( i have adapted it from several of your posts actually and strong curves ebook :)) ). I do:
    hipthrusts (265 x 3 x 10, 265 x 3 x 6, 155 descending 5 to 1 with 5,4,3,2,20 second pause on the top, 155 x20 ) , deadlifts (3 x 6), squats (3 x 8) and hip abductions (2 x 20), 2 times a week (MONDAY, WEDNESDAY), glute variation axcersices 1 time a week (cable kick back, high step up. walking lunges, cable hip abduction, back extensions) (ON FRIDAY) and upper body excersises 2 times a week (TUESDAY, THURSDAY). On the upper body days i also sprint and sometime i replace this days with swimming as it is summer in my country. Also if i feel too tired o sick sometimes i always take a day off and also i keep a journal and progress every 4 weeks loading more weight or adding reps. For the moment this routing is making wonders for me and i am excited to see the long term results! Also it addapts perfectly with my work shedule. My question is should i go on adding more weight or at some point just stop or drustically change this routine and try another one? My goal is not to become too muscular and i am almous perfectly happy with my physic just right now which means the goal is near. It just feels son boring to give up on adding weights and progressing… and i don´t want to loose all the work… Please some advice!! And amazing post. I am also very curious about your 2×4 method, but could not find any resume or short description of what it is about on the site. 2 sets for 4 reps? Please shed some lights beforei can buy the book :))) Appreciate.

  • Maria says:

    I currently follow PHUL, only with tweaked lower body routines since I felt it didn’t target the glutes enough, while having a lot of isolation work for quads and calves. I love the upper body routine, developing chest and shoulder strength like crazy. I’ve been toying with the idea of doing another day of lower body, though. Currently I do sumo deadlifts, hip thrusts, reverse lunges, bulgarian split squats and cable donkey kicks one day and front squats, hip thrusts, hi rep back extensions or bulgarian deadlifts with kb the other. Always warm up doing side lying clams or other accessory work.

    I own a copy of Strong Curves. Am a little reluctant at starting with the glutes only program, though. I do 121 lbs deadlifts 12 x 4, 137 lbs hip thrusts 12 x 3, 100 lbs front squats 12 x 4, reverse lunges with 44 lbs kettlebells (metric system though! These weights has been translated) and I do them with good form. So starting out with bodyweight exercises feels like taking a step back? What would you rather recommend, the glutes only program from Strong Curves or the above example for body part splits?

  • C. I says:

    I am in PT for a grade 2 glute med tear and looking to get back into lifting. (& running) Which of the above glute routines would you suggest following as my PT has recommended I build my glute muscles to protect my tendon from further tearing.
    I have been released to go back to the gym but don’t know where to start as I have never focused so much on glute I have just done more compound leg movements.

  • maureen says:

    Very thorough article. You even managed to cover the group not listed Program Hoppers. I am sure there are many out there who feel they just hit the workout lottery. Thanks for all the great info as usual. You go above and beyond.

  • Jan says:

    Great article Bret! I’m a distance runner, and my main interest is building glute strength to power my runs and help prevent injuries. Squats and lunges don’t always agree with my knees, so I really appreciate the alternate exercises. Which exercises do you feel are the most beneficial for the glute med? I’m prone to ITBS, and have been told that one of the main causes is having weakness in the glute med. Thanks!

  • Wow. Comprehensive list. Here’s my favorite quote: “Some people would rightfully point out that this is a lot of volume for the glutes, but trust me, they can handle it.” Let’s not overlook the fact that in a world of “sitters,” most people not only can handle it just fine, if they don’t start hitting some volume they can just book the doctor appointments now for their disc MRI. The upshot for glute work is it’s not all pennance. There is something very empowering about deadlifting, especially for women, or people who don’t think they are strong. Then they get stronger.

  • Jen says:

    An executive that I admire once said ‘success is achieved by sharing information, not hoarding it’ – an you, sir, are generous in that regard.

    As a longtime blog reader, a Strong Curves ‘graduate’, and most recently a Get Glutes trainee, I thank you. Your dedication to the scientific process, constant testing, reevaluation and dissemination of information is admirable.

    Yes, I can see from my results (and your client testimonials) that your process & recommendations work, but you have also been helping to educate me on ‘why’ for years. Keep it up, and truly: thank you!

  • Anna says:

    Bret, thank you for answering my previous question. Should I train glutes even though I still feel sore from my previous session, or should I give them one extra day off to recover?

    Thank you again

  • Kourtney says:

    Hi Bret – Great material, as always. I eat this stuff up! Couldn’t be better timing either, as I am just finishing up the Strong Curves Gluteal Goddess program, and am trying to figure out what to do and where to go next. I have made killer progress doing only the 3 workouts per week, and with my schedule, that is probably going to continue. While I have seen great progress, I still have a ways to go! Would it be better to repeat the GG program again just working on upping weights, or moving to a program like this? And if I move to something like this but want to stick to 3 days of training, what would you recommend I prioritize? Glute development is definitely my #1 goal. Thanks a ton!

  • Rebecca says:

    Hey Bret,
    This kind of plan was just what I was looking for. However you say to do either conventional deadlift OR RDL. I have always done both, with conventional on back day and RDL’s on leg day. Would it be ok change up one of the back exercises for conventional deadlifts, and then do RDL’s on hams/glutes day?

    I have my favourite lifts that I don’t want to omit, so just wanting to know how much I can play around with the suggested plan.
    Many thanks

  • Sarah says:

    I was just wondering about a small discrepancy in the above program vs what you outline in your Strong Curves Book. IN Strong Curves you recommend doing horiz/vertical push pull exercises on separate days, with a higher tendency towards the horizontal push/pull moves for proper balance in muscle. In the above program you have an incline press (horizontal push) and lat pulldown (vertical pull) in the same workout. Which version would you recommend? Doing horizontal push AND pull on the same day, and in a 3 day/wk schedule, doing horizontal twice, and vertical once…or do the above workout as is? Thanks for any clarification.

  • heidi says:

    Hi Bret!

    I am just wondering something, you mention a lot of sense in your articles, and I think they have great information, just one thing you rarely talk or I haven’t seen is about nutrition in order to build the glutes. I know every person is different but what would it be for you the best split macro to start with? and is it really important to upper calories or its possible to build glutes eating at maintenance. Thank you so much…

  • Noora says:

    Thank you for this informative post! I actually copied this into my notebook, so I could start doing these workouts at our gym. Just as a short question: when you prescripe pyramid hip thrusts, should I be doing all of them with the same weight or should I alternate the weight load?

  • dlh says:

    Thanks for the first picture. : ) I appreciate a beautiful female physique (and how hard the models have worked to get it!), but it’s refreshing to see a well-developed male one. And thanks for all you do and give Bret, top-notch!

  • Kevser says:

    is it okay for me to train legs and glutes on one day? I think I should train glutes 2/3 times per week and 1 day legs. Is this a correct thought, bret? My quads are still overpowered after i followed the Strong Curves Goddes program. I want my glutes bigger than my quads. I really hope u can answer my question.

  • Beth says:

    Your are awesome to reply to all these comments! I have always had great glutes but thanks to you… They will be a-maz-ing this bikini season! Thanks! URSH<3

  • monica says:

    Hey Bret! I love and appreciate all your articles and information you provide. You are definitely very inspirational and a wise man . Ive been following your tips for quite sometime and have altered my workouts big time- and my gluten size. Ive become very strong at my hip thrusts especially. (285 for 6 reps :D) . I’m kinda lost to what program I should follow because I would love to build my squat and deadlift strength while still building and growing my booty. I have a muscular figure n want to continue getting stronger But reduce my body fat percentage to show more definition overal. What type of programming would work best for me? Powerlifting with extra hip thrust and band work or your first system you mentioned, full body ? I’m lost :s thank you in advance to taking the time to read this, hope to hear from you soon. 🙂
    Monica

  • Ryan says:

    Bret,

    You’re the best.
    That is all.

  • Paul Stout says:

    Mr Contreras,

    I do not know if you pinged the answer to my question that fast but if you did thank you very much!

  • Kayly says:

    Hi Bret,
    This is such a great post.
    Just started doing your body building split body part template, what’s you recommendation for cardio with this routine. Thanks!

  • Amber says:

    Love this article! From the looks of it, I workout way to much.

  • Estefania says:

    Hi Bret!
    I have a question:
    I train every days full body (Zuzka Ligth) plus go running twice a week for 6 KM which takes me 30 min (just for pleasure). I am very happy with this training since i have achived the best body I have ever had. (I am 37, always have done sports, I look thin but athletic). I want to train my glutes harder ( just to see if they can grow even more!) with specific program but don´t know wich program of yours to follow. I buyed your book and I am reading it right now but I feel it is for not trained women as I am.
    What do you recommend in terms of frequency/week(is it beeter few intense days of WO or is it the same everyday but softer in terms of quantity of exercices?).
    I am eally confused and don´t know about amount of series, reps, weight…I do on my own twice a week hip thrusts and dead lifts (3X10 reps with 50kg(barbell included), but I feel It´s not enough. Can you help me???

  • April says:

    For the full body routine, how can I incorporate squats to not lose strength? OR, how long should I stick to this routine before adding squats back in?

  • Jeann says:

    For a female that has ample glute/leg development and isn’t looking to add more muscle how would you suggest they organize their training?

  • Jen Z says:

    I love the body builder split routine, thanks so much for posting! How many weeks do you recommend doing this routine for in order to see results? How long do you recommend resting in between sets?

  • KAYLA says:

    Hey Bret, I follow you on ig and I’ve been doing hip thrusts for a couple years now. I have a bikini competition coming in 5 weeks. I’ve trimed down but I really want to kill my Glutes to make them superb for stage. I do upper body 3 days a week and currently 1 leg day. 4-5 days of steady 30min cardio. What do you suggest to really hit them good maybe some growth and round them more?

  • Savannah says:

    Hello Bret,
    I have been following you for a while and actually you featured my before and after in one of your articles before. I currently am struggling a bit..I was trying to lean out some and I currently am 5’3, 125lbs. Despite training hard, eating quality nutrition and tracking all of my macros..I feel if anything I look “puffier” and I do not see any changes or results from my training. I was hoping to lean out to about 122lbs but my weight loss has completely stalled. I had to take a week off a while back because I was sick and actually lost weight and once I started back up working out I gained up to 128, with no change in my nutrition. I no longer really feel hungry anymore. My typical workout schedule is legs and glutes monday and Friday, cardio and upper body Tuesday and Thursday and glutes only on Wednesday. My workout sessions are about an hour to an hour and a half, and I try to keep all my lower body exercises as heavy as possible. I typically do about 20 mins of HIIT training on my cardio days. I’ve been eating about 1,300-1,500 calories daily. In the past I followed a smilar routine and consistently and steadily leaned out but now I am seeing no progress, if anything I feel I am losing progress. I had looked at your Glute routine in the past and I had actually thought wow, that doesn’t look like enough volume..but I think I may be doing too much currently. I want to give this routine a shot and stick to it strictly. I had a couple questions though, where are the barbell squats? Lol is there a reason they are not included? And could I subsitute an exercise listed for barbell squats? Also, should I do any cardio with this routine? Thank you very much!

  • Sean says:

    I see that all of these are single set exercises. For hypertrophy purposes I have found supersets to be effective for example: Hip thrust/Bulgarian split squat. Any reason you don’t include supersets?

  • Bianca pollio says:

    Hi Bret, It’s s great article and I’m a big fan of yours. Im cuttently struggling with my glute development although I use a combination of reps, heavy weight and exercises such as squats deadlifts and hip thrust…. And plenty of glute activation. My splits are 4 days a week, upper and lower body, alternating between strength and Hypertrophy ( basically the same structure that Candito has got in his linear program). I find my upper body is responding very well, to the point that i might to tone it down a bit… But my glutes are not doing great. Do u think i could add some extra hip thrust somewhere in the week? Maybe in my upperbody day? Considering that my legs sessions are not easy xx Thanks so much X

  • Maya says:

    Hello from Cyprus!
    Bret, I’m an ectomorph trying to build my glutes. Would training them 3-4 times a week be too much?
    What would you suggest?

    Thank you and all the best to you.
    Maya

  • Marisol says:

    Hi !! I’ve been doing exercises at home and I would love to start doing the 4 days program at the gym for building my glutes while doing some yoga and cardio hiit at home.

    But I’m pretty new in that and I would like to know for how long should I follow this before I reach a plateau. And Should I warm up around 10 mins before starting ?

  • Bret, I know you’re an advocate for high volume/frequency for the glutes, but how much would you say is TOO mUchiha volume per week for the glutes?
    I train lower body (pretty glute specific most of the time) 3 days per week with a pretty large quantity of exercises. I have reached the point where I don’t get sore very often, but I am wondering if this is necessarily a bad thing? It’s common to associate soreness with effectiveness, and while I know this isn’t true, do you think I could be hammering the glutes with too much volume for hypertrophy?
    I know this is a highly variable question, and different individuals will handle volume differently, but would you say there’s any rule of thumb as to what is ‘too much’ for the glutes?
    Thanks!

  • […] are many ways to go about this in terms of programming. HERE are some options I detailed last month. However, one such option is to simply perform some heavy […]

  • Daniella says:

    Hi Bret , I want to do the full body plan 4 x a week. But how long can I do this. How can I create a plan like this on my own

  • Amanda says:

    Bret,

    What is your suggestion for a 4 day body part split? Thanks!!

  • Heather Hooton says:

    Bret, I need help!. I’ve been training for almost 6 months. I usually do legs and glutes on the same day (Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday) I workout for about 1 hr 20 min. I’m always sweating, heart rate up… I take minimal breaks. Knock out 3 sets of 10 and immediately to the next thing. I’m losing weight no problem, and I have muscle but I want my thighs and hamstrings bigger! Especially my no butt! I’ve been trying to get bigger glutes forever. They’ve lifted, but no growth… Sample day for me .. 3 sets of 10-12 sumo squats (50lb barbell) , 3 sets of 10-12 straight leg deadlifts (45 lb) , 2 sets of 10 glute bridges, 1 set of 1 legged glute bridge, 3 sets of 90 lb straight squat (machine) , 180 lb leg press (2 sets of 12), 3 sets of 10 cable kick backs (25 lb) , 3×10 leg extension (50 lb), 3×10 leg curl (50 lb), 3×10 hip abduction 85lb), then I end with a glute exercise like weird donkey kicks…. Following day is arms and back, day after that I’m back to the same glute routine… Please help. Instagram- heatherFitnessFreak

  • Sean says:

    Hi Bret,

    I’m trying to wrap my head around why there is so much high rep stuff going on in that first program. Would you mind explaining the reasoning behind it a bit? From a building stand point, wouldn’t this be considered way more geared towards endurance as opposed to hypertrophy (especially when it’s not just at the end of the workout)? Any thoughts on this would definitely be appreciated.

    Thanks for all the great info!

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