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Brazilians Know Booty Best: An Interview With Nathalia Melo (Ms. Bikini Olympia Champion)

By September 5, 2013October 20th, 2016Glute Training, Glutes, Interviews

Glute training is a serious matter around the world. However, no other region of the world places more emphasis on the backside than Brazil. Indeed, the Brazilians have honed their craft regarding glute training.


Last week, I sat down to talk booty building with Nathalia Melo. In case you’re not familiar with Nathalia, she won last year’s Ms. Bikini Olympia contest and is currently out here in Arizona preparing for this year’s Bikini Olympia (wish her luck!).

I can’t tell you how happy I was to hear what Nathalia had to say. In essence, she validated all of the things I know to be true about building the glutes – methods that I’ve learned on my own that Brazilians figured out long ago.

Without further ado, here are some of Brazil’s (and Nathalia’s) secrets:

1. High Frequency Glute Training

Nathalia trains her glutes 7 days per week. Yes you read that right. She trains her glutes every day. So next time some meathead tells you that you should only train glutes once per week, please politely inform them that 1) Brazilians train the glutes frequently, 2) Nathalia Melo trains her glutes frequently (and she has arguably the best glutes in the world), and 3) Bret Contreras trains his clients’ glutes frequently (and they’ve seen better results). Seven days of glute training per week can indeed be done if you don’t overdo it.


2. Variety

As you’ll hear in the video below, Brazilian gyms typically contain a separate section dedicated to glute training. You will see ankle weights, you’ll see reverse hyper type machines, you’ll see hip abduction machines, you’ll see various squat and hip extension machines, in addition to free weights. Nathalia utilizes a variety of bridging/thrusting, squatting/lunging, deadilfting/hip-hinging, abduction/rotation, quadruped/prone, and free weight/machine exercises. She also makes she she employs a variety of rep ranges.


3. The Mind-Glute Connection

Bodybuilders often speak of the “mind-muscle connection.” In essence, you must learn how to activate a muscle properly if you want to maximally develop it. Brazilian women naturally do this with glute exercises. Nathalia speaks boldly about the importance of glute activation and feeling the glutes do the work. Moving heavy loads and getting stronger won’t reshape the glutes if you’re not activating them properly in the first place!


4. No Squat Worshiping 

Don’t get me wrong, Brazilians squat. But they value it as one of many great glute exercises. They don’t worship it for glute building like they do here in the United States. Hallelujah! I’ve been saying this for years.


5. Emphasis on Exercises that Highly Activate the Glutes

High muscle activation on a frequent basis sets the stage for a nice pair of glutes! As I mentioned before, Brazilian women employ a wide variety of glute exercises. They pay close attention to the exercises that they feel working their glutes the best, and they make sure to perform those exercises regularly. They don’t care about different gurus’ opinions about what is and isn’t “functional,” they don’t care if the exercise is performed in the standing, prone, supine, quadruped, seated, or side-lying position, and they don’t care so much as to whether the exercise utilizes barbells, dumbbells, cables, bands, or kettlebells for resistance.

What they do care about is how the exercise makes their glutes feel. If they feel the tension and the burn, they like it. Nathalia happens to love cable kickbacks, hip thrusts, lunges, db squats, back extensions, glute bridges, reverse hypers, and lateral band exercises.


 Interview with Nathalia Melo

Here is a quick interview I did with Nathalia. It was very refreshing to speak with a high-caliber bikini competitor who can laugh and have a good time. As you’ll see in the video she’s a very fun person!

Please follow Nathalia at:



  • Dawn says:

    Can’t wait to see videos of her training! I agree with the lack of glute machines. Most gyms I’ve been in cater to upper body work and squats for lower body. After hearing your brief interview with Nathalia, I realize I need to invest in heavier ankle weights. I never thought about that before.

  • Moira says:

    This is awesome, thanks!!

  • Rachael says:

    She’s the best, with an attitude to match her magnificent ass!

  • Jake says:

    I’d be interested to hear what Nathalia thinks about the Miss BumBum contest in Brasil, then.

  • Mimmi says:

    Great info! Could you elaborate on the high frequency glute training? Don’t the glute muscles also need rest to grow? Don’t quite get it! *Newbie*

    • Bret says:

      Yes, they repair overnight. You’re training glutes for 30 minutes and they have 23.5 hours to repair. The repair mantra is greatly exaggerated.

  • Tom says:

    Holy Jesus, what a fox!! And she is absolutely right about the gyms in Europe. In my gym (I am in Europe) we have only one machine for the glutes, its a kick-back machine, and some ankle straps, that’s more or less it. To be honest I have seen several gyms in my country but none of them had really some good equipment for working out the glutes. And I am the only one who does Glute bridges in my gmy and everytime I do them, I get the weird looks from the people training next to me, like I am doing somethin “weird”. I have ankle weights at home and I am really looking forward to your video of Nathalia showing the exercises. I hope to add some to my arsenal for a better glutes workout!! THX Bret!

  • Rafael Nardi says:

    True. Here in Brazil you will find a lot of diferent glute exercising machines, tons of ankle weights and stuff, but in most gyms you won´t find a single squat rack, let alone olympic bars and plates for deadlifting!

    • Guilherme says:

      This is so true Rafael, here in Brazil most gyms have only machines (incl. a Smith for squatting), some ankle weights and small DBs. The only bar they have is for the bench press lol. And I think I´ve never seen someone deadlifting in a commercial GYM.

    • Bret says:

      Very interesting Rafael. I guess there aren’t many “perfect gyms” out there.

  • Joe says:

    Hi Bret:

    Looking on Amazon I’ve only ever been able to find 20lb ankle weights. Are there other brands out there that go up to 25 and 30lbs?


  • Claire says:

    Hey Bret,

    I was shocked to hear that Nathalia trains glutes 7 days a week!! I’ve heard so many times that you need several days of recovery time that it’s hard to change my way of thinking. I’ve kind of got a mental mind block against training one body part so frequently. From everything I’ve heard before it seems like it would be detrimental, but obviously it’s not since she’s getting amazing results and your clients do as well. At the same time though, I know you definitely shouldn’t be doing the same glute exercise every day. Would some of the days be more activation body weight exercises? I mean I can’t imagine doing heavy hip thrust every day of the week.

    • Bret says:

      Hi Claire, I really like Nathalia’s approach. She’s already built up the mass. But fitness is her career, so why risk injury by continuing along with progressive overload when she sees excellent results by really concentrating on firing the glutes with higher reps sets and lots of time under tension? She doesn’t crush herself with extremely heavy or damaging exercise each day, she performs a variety of movements and gets a good workout in while really focusing on glute activation and quality rather than quantity. Why don’t you start out seeing how you like training glutes 3X/wk? If you see good results, try 5 days/wk. If you feel like it’s too much, drop down. You’ll never know if you don’t try. Hope that helps.

  • Sarah says:

    For the sake of avaliable gym time I’ve decided to do plyometrics on one glute day and heavy weights on the next glute day. What do you think about this approach? I agree with many of the comments about gyms lacking glute workout equipment.

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