Due to the high volume of emails/messages I receive every day, I’m not able to respond to everyone. Please take the time to read through the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s) before you contact me. I’ve organized the questions around certain themes.

Personal

Why are you so obsessed with the glutes?

Growing up, I had zero glutes to speak of – my back went right into my legs, and I hated it. In order to overcome terrible glute genetics, I had to learn everything I could about the glutes. Over time, I wanted to help others fast-forward their glute building progress, hence “The Glute Guy” moniker.   

Where do you do your research?

I have a garage gym in Phoenix, Arizona that is equipped with all sorts of goodies (click HERE to check it out). I recently received a PhD in Sports Science, attending AUT University in New Zealand.

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My Glute Lab

Can I train with you in person? Can I fly out to train with you for an hour or two?

Yes, but my rates are high due to how busy I am. Please contact Maleah at maleah@bretcontreras.com for more information. My Strong by Bret program is the best route to take if you’re looking for an affordable way to train with me.

Do you do distance coaching? Can I pay you to write me a program? Can I pay you to look over my form? Do you do consultations?

Yes I do, but my rates are high due to how busy I am. Please contact Maleah at maleah@bretcontreras.com for more information. My Strong by Bret program is the best route to take if you’re looking for an affordable way to train with me.

Do you do seminars or certifications?

Yes I do, please see my speaking engagements tab. I currently don’t offer a certification but may do so in the future.

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2014 NSCA National Conference

Can I shadow you or intern with you?

Sorry to disappoint, but no. I am not taking on interns right now.

Can I interview you, or will you write an article for my website?

Sorry to disappoint, but no. I write for T-Nation.com and FitnessRx for Women Magazine, and that’s just about all I have time for in terms of writing, and I’m just too busy to be doing interviews right now.

What makes you the expert? Why should I listen to you?

You should never just rely on one person for your knowledge. You should do your homework and find out who the experts are on any given topic and learn from all of them. If you’re here to learn about glute training, check out my testimonials HERE – they’re incredible. I have an identical twin brother, and my hips are 5″ bigger around than his (see HERE).

While I was studying for my PhD, I had to read the entire body of literature pertaining to glute/hip extensor research (and I stay on top of it each month), and I’ve done a ton of experimentation using electromyography and force plates in my spare time. My clients have seen excellent results, and my methods have spread across the globe. In short, you can trust my knowledge of the glutes!

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Programming/Training

I want glutes and I want them now! What should I do?

It depends how bad you want them. In my opinion, the quickest way to build glutes would be to buy a Hip Thruster and do hip thrusts four times per week (barbell, bands, single leg). As for programming, your best bet is Strong by Bret. This provides you with detailed instructional videos and a forum so you can have me check over your form and receive feedback from like-minded, experienced ladies who have seen great results. Strong Curves is your next best bet (I wrote this with Kellie Davis). My glute eBook lists tons of different exercises and contains detailed EMG experiments, which is a great buy as well.

What's so unique about your style of glute training anyway? What are your people doing that I'm probably not doing?

I’m not going to be able to do this question justice in a couple of paragraphs, so you’re going to have to do some research and read up on my entire body of work. The goal is to build glutes, not lift the heaviest weight possible. We definitely lift heavy, but we don’t do so at the expense of using proper technical form.

We borrow from training methods employed by bodybuilders and powerlifters, but we put our own spin on it. We prioritize the hip thrust, and we know all sorts of hip thrust and bridging variations. We do American deadlifts, not RDLs. We like all types of squats, even goblet squats. We round our upper backs when performing back extensions. We lean forward slightly during lunges and Bulgarian split squats. If we perform kb swings and sled pushes, we go heavy to increase glute activation. We do RKC planks, not standard planks.  We throw in various lateral band exercises at the end of our sessions. We make sure to strengthen the upper and lower glutes. We focus attention on our glutes during both the eccentric and the concentric phases, not just the concentric. We strive to develop an efficient mind-muscle connection with the glutes.

We aim to get stronger in all rep ranges (low, medium, and high), but again, we never sacrifice good form just to lift more weight. We employ various low load glute activation techniques to warm up. We love our variety. Our glute training is versatile; we know how to squeeze in a good glute workout with just bodyweight, just bands, just barbells/dumbbells, just kettlebells, or just machines (but given the choice, we prefer to use all of these tools in our training). We have all sorts of form tweaks that tease out more glute activation, and we make sure to consider the multiplanar role of the glutes, which act as hip extensors, hip external rotators, hip abductors, and posterior pelvic tilters. We study the science of hypertrophy training and make sure to consider the 3 primary mechanisms of training for muscle growth (tension, metabolic stress, and damage). We train our glutes frequently, and we love our glute pumps.

Erin likes her glute pumps

Erin likes her glute pumps

My friend Johnny Bodybuilder told me that I should only train glutes one time per week and he's huge. Is he wrong?

His method clearly works for him, but that doesn’t mean it’s ideal for the masses. These ladies all trained their glutes several times per week – clearly it served them well. Greater frequency allows for more variety. I just don’t see how one can hit all the necessary exercises with proper intensity and hit the various rep ranges if they only train the glutes one time per week. When bodybuilders want to bring up a lagging part, they increase the training frequency. Just think of being on a permanent glute specialization program and hit the glutes several times per week. Some ladies do best with 3 glute sessions/wk, while others do best with 4 glute sessions/wk.

My friend Johnny Powerlifter told me to just squat if I want nice glutes. Is he wrong?

This is some of the worst advice I’ve ever heard for building glutes. Every bodybuilder I know and every one of these ladies employs more than just one exercise for a muscle they’re trying to build. Why not squat, and hip thrust, and deadlift, and lunge, and back extension? Squats don’t hit the upper glutes well, and you want to round out the entire glute for maximal growth. If your program is centered on glute development, then you have plenty of time and energy to devote to building them. Click HERE to read my an extensive article pertaining to this question.

I need more upper glutes. What exercises should I do?

I included an EMG chart in THIS blogpost, however, there are more aspects of hypertrophy training than just activation levels. In general, hip thrusts, back extensions with a rounded upper back, quadruped hip extensions, quadruped donkey kicks, band or cable standing abduction, band hip thrusts, and lateral band walks will serve you well.

I need more lower glutes. What exercises should I do?

I included an EMG chart in THIS blogpost, however, there are more aspects of hypertrophy training than just activation levels. In general, hip thrusts, pendulum quadruped hip extensions, back extensions, single leg hip thrusts, deadlifts, squats, lunges, Bulgarian split squats, reverse hypers, band hip thrusts, and band or cable hip rotations will serve you well.

I have a serious glute imbalance. What should I do?

This is very common, so don’t feel like you’re alone in this regard. Click HERE to find a solution.

I want my butt to get smaller, not larger. What should I do?

Diet makes the difference. The training stays the same. The training methods that cause your muscles to grow during a caloric surplus are the training methods that cause you to retain/hold onto your muscles during a caloric deficit.

Eating at a caloric maintenance while following my programs will usually result in the following: 1. no change in scale weight, 2. increased shape in key areas such as glutes, 3. decreased fat in key areas such as abs/thighs, 4. decrease in body volume (since muscle takes up 20% less space than fat at equal masses), and 5. increased strength.

Eating at a caloric deficit while following my programs will usually result in the following: 1. a decrease in scale weight, 2. maintenance of shape in key areas such as glutes, 3. decreased fat in key areas such as abs/thighs, 4. decrease in body volume.

Eating at a caloric surplus while following my programs will usually result in the following: 1. an increase in scale weight, 2. dramatically increased shape in key areas such as glutes, 3. a slight decrease in fat in key areas such as abs/thighs, 4. increase in body volume, and 5. dramatically increased strength.

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From Strong Curves

My glutes don't get sore from your workouts. What gives?

This is by design. Since I espouse high frequency training, I don’t prescribe a high volume of highly damaging glute exercises  such as walking lunges and Bulgarian split squats. We definitely do these movements, but usually only a couple of sets are performed. Conversely, we do a lot of glute work that induces high levels of metabolic stress, such as multiple sets of hip thrusts and back extensions, along with lateral band work. These exercises are critical for maximum glute growth, but since they elicit peak activation at short muscle lengths, they tend to not cause a lot of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).

Exercise can be highly challenging and make you puke, yet this doesn’t guarantee results. Exercise can make you sore and make you struggle to walk properly, yet this doesn’t guarantee results. In order to attain results, you need to consistently train hard and smart, week in and week out. If you’re a beginner, you should read THIS.

The ladies in your testimonials are young. I'm 65 years old. Can I still see results?

You sure can! I’ve trained a great number of 60+ year olds, and they were able to increase function, better their physiques, and improve their functional capacity – and each of them saw good results in the glute department too. I’m training a few 60+ year olds right now in fact. Of course, the rate of progress declines as you age, but please do not let age deter you.

I want to lose fat as rapidly as possible. How much cardio/HIIT should I be doing each week and what diet should I do?

If you want an incredible physique, it’s going to take some time. You will not get the results you want in 20 days, and there are no miracle protocols, supplements, or diets. If you go on a crash-diet or resort to endless cardio, you will lose weight, but you will lose a lot of muscle tissue in the process. This will leave you looking skinny-fat, which is not what you want. You want to keep your muscle tissue (or build it) while you lose fat for weight loss.

Transformations require physiological adaptations that can only occur at a certain rate. There’s no fast-forwarding them beyond a certain degree. To get your ideal physique, you’ll likely need to lose fat while building shape. Shape is synonymous with muscle. Muscle gain is called hypertrophy. Hypertrophy requires progressive overload, or doing more over time.

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Sammie hip thrusting 225 lbs

Most of the time, you should do 3-5 strength training sessions per week and 0-2 cardio/HIIT sessions per week. A couple of times per year, when you want to tighten up the ship and peak for an event, then you may progressively increase your cardio/HIIT frequency to 3-5 sessions per week. You may be surprised to find out that the vast majority of my bikini competitor clients didn’t do any cardio in preparation for their bikini competitions – they relied on strength gains and nutrition to get them into peak shape.

As for diets, I’m a fan of If it Fits Your Macros (IIFYM). IIFYM has you figure out your caloric intake and macros, and your job is to nail those requirements by the end of the day. This gives you a lot of flexibility – for example you can eat 3 times a day or 6 times a day depending on your preference, and if there are “taboo” foods you crave, you can work these into your diet in small amounts. This doesn’t mean that you can eat whatever you want; it means that you have some wiggle-room and you can enjoy variety, rather than having to stick to the same bland and boring foods every day (if you don’t crave anything, then more power to you!). I created a simple IIFYM plan in my 2 x 4: Maximum Strength product. And see HERE regarding whether you should bulk and cut or not.

I'm doing all of your exercises and workouts but not seeing good results. Why am I not responding as fast as other people?

This could be due to many reasons. The most important factor is genetics. Humans vary dramatically in their ability to gain muscle (see HERE). In terms of glute genetics, see HERE. Genetics is the most important factor with regards to the gluteal hypertrophic response to training.

After genetics, there are still many factors. Are you adhering to the best program? Are you using proper form? Are you training with sufficient effort? Are you gaining strength over time? Are you getting enough recovery? Are you incorporating methods that target each primary mechanism of muscle growth into your routine? Are you eating properly to support your goals? Are you sleeping well (and enough)? Is your stress under control?

Client results vary dramatically, but rest regardless of genetics, everyone will see decent results if they’re dedicated and consistent. Some put 2″ on their glutes in a couple of weeks, while others take an entire year to pack on 2″, but everyone makes progress.

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Alli gained 2″ on her glutes in two weeks of training with me

I would like to train for powerlifting (or maximum strength) but I also want to shape my glutes. Is there any program I can do?

You’re in luck! My 2 x 4: Maximum Strength program focuses on squats, deadlifts, and bench presses, but it provides built-in assistance work so you can include your hip thrusts, back extensions, and lateral band work too. This way, you can build maximum strength while making sure to optimally build the glutes at the same time.

I don't have access to a gym and I have limited equipment. Is there any program I can do?

I recommend picking up my Bodyweight Strength Training Anatomy book. You’ll learn the best bodyweight glute exercises to perform, and there are training program templates you can use as well.

I love your scientific approach and want to delve more into the science of strength training. What should I do?

I highly recommend subscribing to my research review service that I do with Chris Beardsley each month HERE. We do the hard part by sifting through the journals and summarizing them. You can kick back and enjoy your monthly report. Chris and I also created a variety of products to inform you about Hip Extension Torque, Hip Extensor Training, Sprinting, Jumping, Kettlebell Training, and Background.

If you want a couple of scientific articles on the glutes, read HERE and HERE.

SCR

What are the biggest mistakes that women make in their pursuit to develop their glutes?

I could go on and on about this question. From choosing the wrong program (many times this involves copying an idol’s program) for their goals, to using sloppy or improper form, to doing too much total exercise in general, to program hopping, to combining multiple programs, to poor dietary practices, to insufficient sleep, to excessive stress levels, to suboptimal training frequency, to poor exercise selection, to suboptimal effort, to insufficient recovery, to poor attitudes, there are numerous potential roadblocks to success.

However, in my opinion, the biggest mistake that women make is engaging in unnecessarily risky endeavors which often lead to injury. As long as my clients remain healthy, I can continue to improve their glute development. But if they injure themselves, my ability to help them is limited. People need to ease into things, use especially strict form, and make wise decisions inside and outside of the weightroom. For example, when given the option of performing sprints, hill sprints, or sled pushes, the physique client should usually abstain from sprinting as it’s more risky. There’s no sense injuring one’s self when suitable alternatives are abound.

Women (and men) should certainly be concerned with progressive overload, but never at the expense of using poor technique. This is especially relevant with squats and deadlifts, where individuals tend to chase certain numbers and allow their mechanics to degrade, which is a slippery slope. Stay healthy and your glutes will stand a much better chance of growing.

Stay injury-free if you want your glutes to thrive

Stay injury-free if you want your glutes to thrive

What type of cardio should I be doing for my glutes?

I would look to resistance training to build the glutes, rather than cardio. Make sure to throw in high rep glute work such as band hip thrusts and lateral band walks for a few sets of 20-30 reps and you’ll ensure that your type I fibers are thoroughly worked (type II fibers will get hit during these bouts, but you’ll be doing heavier work as well which arguably hits them even better). With cardio, just don’t get injured! You can make good progress with your glute training as long as you’re consistent. You can’t be consistent if you’re sidelined from nagging pain or injury. Therefore, I’d opt for low-impact cardio such as inclined treadmill walking and the elliptical, but variety is good so feel free to work in cycling, the stepmill, and the stairmaster too.

I'm currently doing __________'s program but I want to do yours too. Is that okay?

No, it’s not okay. Pick one program and stick with it. I write my programs with the assumption that you’ll be doing my program only. If I felt that more exercise/volume/frequency was beneficial, I would have incorporated more into the programming. But this isn’t the case; my programs contain the optimal amount of exercise. I’m sure that the creators of the other programs wrote their programs with the same assumption in mind. Too much exercise will hinder progression and development, so train wisely.

I am suffering from back (or knee, or hip, or shoulder, or any other type) pain. How should I modify my training?

I am NOT a medical doctor or a physical therapist. I can give general suggestions, but this advice would likely be far inferior to what you’d learn if you visited a qualified professional who can work with you in person and not over the Internet. Please seek out a doc or physio who understands the rigors and requisites of resistance training.

The Hip Thrust

What's so special about this hip thrust exercise?

It’s very easy to learn, it’s well-suited for most body-types, and it’s very effective in building/shaping the glutes. Click HERE to see how it’s evolved over time.

How do I hip thrust?

Please read HERE and HERE to learn how to hip thrust.

Is there any science behind the hip thrust?

You should know that there is currently no long-term research pertaining to the hip thrust exercise. This will come in time. So right now, the benefits are anecdotal and based on conjecture. I happen to know that hip thrusts lead to very high levels of glute activation based on electromyography (EMG) – in fact they usually elicit the highest glute activation out of a dozen or so popular glute exercises when you perform case studies. Moreover, THESE ladies swear by the hip thrust and noticed expedited gains when they started incorporating it into their training. HERE is a scientific article on the topic if you want to delve deeper, but just know that in time we’ll know much more when proper research emerges. In the meantime, keep in mind that variety is ideal, so do your hip thrusts, along with your goblet squats, your American deadlifts, your back extensions, your lunges, your lateral band work, and your other favorite glute exercises.  

Casey Bergh performing heavy hip thrusts

The hip thrust is embarrassing. I don't want to do it at my gym. Is this okay?

Trust me, I understand. But I’ve done them at numerous commercial gyms over the past 8 years and nobody has ever given me any flack. If you want maximal results, you need to get over your fears and start doing them. After a few sessions, you’ll realize that your insecurities were silly. THESE ladies conquered their fears and started hip thrusting, and so should you. The Romanian deadlift and seated hip abduction/adduction machines are socially acceptable to perform in gyms, and these are just as embarrassing as the hip thrust motion in my opinion. It’s must that we’ve become accustomed to them. Over time, the same will be true for the hip thrust.

My back (or neck, or hips, or knees, or wrists) hurts when I hip thrust. What should I do?

Click HERE to read an article on this topic.  You might want to read part I and part II from this series while you’re at it.

What's better - band hip thrusts, or barbell hip thrusts?

Personally, I think barbell hip thrusts are better due to the constant tension. However, there are many individuals who feel the bands working their glutes much better than barbell (click HERE to read more on this). I feel like best results are realized when you perform both types of hip thrusts. The benefits of barbell hip thrusts are greater tension through the full ROM and also that they’re well-suited for progressive overload. The benefits of band hip thrusts are that they’re comfortable on the hips, easy to set up, good for high metabolic stress, very low in terms of recovery-requirements, and high in tension at end-range hip extension. Since lifters tend to cheat by skimping on their range of motion and cutting their hip thrust short at the top of the movement, it makes sense to use bands from time to time to keep end-range hip extension strength as strong as possible. In this way, the two variations feed off of each other.

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Sammie performing band hip thrusts

I feel hip thrusts mostly in the quads. What gives?

Click HERE to read an article on this topic.

I feel glute bridges working my glutes more than hip thrust (or, I feel hip thrusts working my glutes more than glute bridges) - is it okay if I just stick to those?

I feel that lifters should master both the glute bridge and the hip thrust. If you mostly do one of them, then chances are, you’ll like that exercise much more and the other exercise will feel slightly strange. However, with practice, you will likely learn to enjoy both of them. I lean toward the hip thrust being the better movement between the two simply because of the added hip range of motion (which is good for hypertrophy), but greater load can often be used with the glute bridge, so both are great. If you’re dead-set on just doing one of the movements, then it won’t hinder your gains that much. As long as you’re doing one of them consistently, you’ll likely see good results over time.

Kel

The lovely Mrs. Kellie Davis busting out bb glute bridges