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Favorite Glute Exercises from the Fittest Females

By November 2, 2011January 10th, 2014Glute Training

Here’s the deal. I emailed 14 of my strong-bootied female colleagues to name their top 3 favorite glute exercises. Here are their responses: 

Marianne Kane


  1. Kettlebell swing
  2. Kettlebell high deficit reverse lunge
  3. Barbell glute bridge 

Julia Ladewski


  1. Conventional deadlift
  2. Reverse-stepping lunge front loaded with barbell or kettlebell
  3. X-band or ankle band walk 

Kellie Davis


  1. Barbell glute bridge
  2. High step up
  3. Band standing hip abduction 

Neghar Fonooni


  1. Single leg Romanian deadlift
  2. Double kettlebell swing (2 bells)
  3. Single leg squat on a box 

Molly Golbraith


  1. Band resisted clam and glute bridge complex with band around the knees
  2. Wide stance barbell good morning
  3. Cable pull-through with rope handle 

Jen Comas Keck


  1. Step up
  2. Back supported hip thrust
  3. Cossack squat

Rachel Guy


  1. Standing good morning
  2. High dumbbell step up with vertical shin and forward torso lean
  3. Barbell glute bridge

Jamie Eason


  1. Single-leg barbell deadlift
  2. Single leg  barbell squat
  3. Barbell bench step-up

Elsbeth Vaino


  1. Shoulder elevated single leg hip thrust
  2. Single-leg Romanian deadlift
  3. Mini-band walk – both lateral and rearward

Alli McKee


  1. Dumbbell walking lunge
  2. Barbell Romanian deadlift
  3. Barbell hip thrust

Nia Shanks


  1. Single-leg back extension
  2. Conventional deadlift
  3. Full barbell back squat

Emily Socolinsky


  1. Conventional deadlift
  2.  Weighted glute bridge
  3. ATG barbell front squat

Jen Grasso


  1. Weighted high step up
  2. Glute ham raise
  3. Barbell squat

Rachel Cosgrove


  1. Single leg Romanian deadlift
  2. High step up
  3. Reverse lunge (or low cable split squat)

Descriptive Analysis

Out of 42 total exercises mentioned on the 14 girls’ lists, 21 of the exercises were bilateral and 21 were unilateral. If we consider the squat pattern to consist of bilateral and unilateral squat motions, then a total of 16 squat movements were listed. If we consider the deadlift pattern to consist of bilateral and unilateral deadlift motions, as well as good morning, swing, and pull-through motions, then a total of 13 movements were listed. If we consider the bridging pattern to consist of hip thrusts, barbell glute bridges, and single leg hip thrusts, then a total of 8 bridging movements were listed. There were 5 exercises listed that are performed in the lateral plane. And 25 of the exercises were axially-loaded lifts while 13 were anteroposteriorly-loaded lifts.


These are some things I noticed when analyzing the different girls’ responses:

Basics It comes as no surprise that the girls prefer to perform basic movement patterns for the hips, including variations of bridges, deadlifts, squats, back extensions, and single leg movements. What I loved is that many of the girls had a hard time narrowing down their favorite glute exercises to just three lifts. Several of them added in a disclaimer at the end of their emails, saying something like, “This is so hard…I have so many more favorites,” or, “But I also like to perform sumo deadlifts, single leg hip thrusts, back extensions, Bulgarian split squats, etc.” This made me laugh as I would have done the same thing – I’d have listed my top 3 and then included several others below. It also shows that these women thoroughly enjoy glute training which is essential for success.

Variety The girls’ lists vary considerably, which just goes to show you that all types of training tools can be used to develop strong glutes and no type of equipment is “necessary” for shapely glutes. All that is needed is the human body, as bodyweight glute exercises can be very effective as long as you know how to progress to more challenging variations. However, kettlebells, barbells, dumbbells, bands, cable columns, and body-leverage apparatuses such as the back extension will allow for faster and better results.

Low load glute activation Many of the women included that they always perform a variety of glute activation exercises during their warm-ups, which they believe is critical in ensuring that their glutes activate efficiently during heavier exercises.

Kinesthetic awareness Talk to a sprinter, a dunk specialist, a golfer, or a fighter and they’ll be able to discuss their technique for ten straight minutes. They know how their bodies work during their sport. It’s no surprise that these sexy ladies are highly in-tune with their bodies as well. All I asked for was their top 3 favorite glute exercises and many wrote back notes next to each exercise, such as, “When I perform glute bridges I really focus on raising the hips with just the glutes which makes the exercise even more effective,” or “Since I’ve been performing hip thrusts and kettlebell swings I’ve noticed that I use my hips better when I squat.” How many girls do you know who can discuss in detail their levels of glute activation during resistance training? These ladies are well aware of the way their glutes function during various movements and they understand how to manipulate technique to achieve higher levels of gluteal contribution.


If you’re unsure of any of the exercises in this article search on Google or Youtube and you’ll be able to find a video. The women on this list not only walk the walk in terms of training hard, but they also are influencial in the field, offering free advice in their blogs and training logs. You can search Google and find their blogs, Facebook pages, Twitter pages, and Youtube pages.

There are dozens of great glute exercises and many that didn’t get mentioned. For example, the reverse hyper and pendulum quadruped hip extension were amongst my female clients at my studio Lifts favorites, but the reverse hyper pendulum is quite rare, so it doesn’t get as much publicity. I hope you enjoyed the article and pictures and have found them inspiring!

What are your top three favorite glute exercises?


  • Excellent list from an excellent group of women! Sadly, many women are still reverting to those useless add/abduction machines. I saw a woman today at the commercial gym who was doing it WHILE READING A MAGAZINE.

  • Franco says:

    For glute activation I like using X-walks with resistance bands as part of my warm-ups along with some single leg RDLs… then I would have to say Bulgarian split squats, hip thrusts and regular back squats

  • Marianne says:

    I really enjoyed reading the other ladies’ responses! This will help answer a few questions I get from my readers.

    Thanks Bret 🙂

  • Derrick says:

    1. Barbell hip thrust
    2. Sumo DL
    3. Long step (full knee flexion) walking lunges

    • Bret says:

      I’m trying to determine my list and I’d have bb hip thrusts and walking lunges on there too…but I can’t determine what the third one would be…a squat, a deadlift, a back extension, a band hip rotation, a pendulum quadruped hip extension, a reverse hyper…..

  • Rachel Guy says:

    @Marianne – Same! I was wondering what other chicks did! I found it hard to pick my top 3!

    Great Post Bret!

  • Will says:

    Read this after just getting home from my last client of the morning, a female, who I just had barbell hip thrusting (shoulders elevated) 85kg (~185lbs) for sets of 6, with a 2 count pause at the top.
    Fun read.

  • Kara says:

    Might be a dumb question but what’s the difference between barbell glute bridges and hip thrusts?
    Very good article

  • Lisa says:

    I feel a “BOOK” in the making.. Better yet… A DVD~ How bout it you Stong BaddASS women~ 🙂
    Say YES~

  • Oh my gosh it was so hard to pick… I went back and forth on so many exercises… BB RDL, Hip Thrust (which I figured everyone would pick so I left it out to ensure some variety), I also really like pendulum quadruped hip extension and sumo back raises (sounds weird but if you get really wide and turn your toes out and focus on really pushing your hips back and squeeze your glutes at the top it’s AWESOME!) but like Bret said, most people don’t have reverse hypers or really wide foot plates on their 45′ back raise machines and I didn’t want to include something most people don’t have access to. Either way, great post Bret! Like Rachel and Marianne I love seeing what everyone picked!

    • Bret says:

      Molly – this is hilarious! You and I are both so “Elitefts-influenced” that we think the same way. The PQHE is amazing if you do it right – squeezing the side rails for bracing and kicking all the way up to full extension – it works the hell out of the core. I love my reverse hyper, ghr, and ultra wide 45 degree hyper. Turning the feet out increased glute activation significantly in one study (by 30% or something like that), but we didn’t need a journal to tell us that! Take care! -BC

  • allie says:

    Fabulous post! Super women to ask of course! I looooved sumo deadlifts, hip thrusts/glute bridges… High step ups… The list goes on and on!

  • julia says:

    great list ladies! was hard to pick 3, so i went with a “strength” movement, an assistance/volume movement and an activation exercise. LOve all the other picks!

    • Bret says:

      One thing about advanced/strong lifters is that we can make any exercise great for the glutes…I was talking about this with Ben Bruno the other day. So I’d imagine someone like you would be able to heavily tax the glutes with just about any movement by making little tweaks to your form.

  • jen says:

    Awesome post Bret! I agree… this was so hard!!…there are so many to choose from and that I love! I said these are my favorite 3 today but ask me tomorrow as my answers may all be different;)…great responses from all the ladies!

    • Bret says:

      Exactly! Favorite glute exercises are in a constant state of flux. I recently tried high step ups after having not done them for a while and was reminded how great they are for the glutes if you do them right.

      • Esmee says:

        *If* you do them right? That begs the question, what is the right way to do them?
        Vertical shin and forward leaning torso as espoused by one of the fantastic ladies in your blog post?

    • Marianne says:

      I agree Jen, it does change every once in a while. But, I found it easy to answer because I went with “3 favorite right NOW”. Actually I only needed a third because KB Swing and BB Glute Bridges will always be at the top and they are straight forward exercises for most people to perform at some level.

  • Bryce says:

    Great field work Bret. Enjoyable read for sure!

  • Jess says:

    3 current faves to do from home
    1.Shoulders & feet elevated hip thrust
    2.High step up with forward torso lean
    3.Sliding dumbell reverse/curtsey lunge combo

    Searching for a good gym with reverse hyper,GHD & specialty bars. Miss having access to this equipment so much!

    Looking forward to lifting heavier again for a better butt while saving my shoulders.

    Experimenting with a TRX row, unilateral anteroposterior bent leg, push-up 60 day challenge(Modified version of Chad Waterbury’s PLP 60 day challenge).

    Keen to know which HFT programming methods have been effective for other ladies ???

    Thanks Bret & to ALL the ladies 🙂

    • Bret says:

      Great list. Gyms with the equipment you mentioned are hard to come by, but most major cities have at least one or two to choose from. Once you’ve gotten accustomed to all the ammenities it’s really hard to feel like your training is the same if you don’t have the rev hyp, ghd, etc.

      I have a HFT testimonial coming out in the next two weeks that will be very good.

  • Mike says:

    None of them named sprinting, jumping, hill or resisted running. Don’t they ever get out of the gym?

    • Bret says:

      Mike – I asked them for exercises…not activities. Most of them are highly active…Nia runs hills, Rachel does MMA training, Alli does all kinds of circuits, most of them drag sleds, Neghar and Marianne bust out high rep kettlebell circuits, etc. I try to get my female clients to stop sprinting, jumping, etc. and just focus on getting stronger at these exercises. Better for hypertrophy and long-term joint health in my experience.

  • Bianca says:

    Hi Bret,

    as far as I am concerned, I have noticed that the glute exercise (if I can call it like that) which produces a higher level of DOMS the day after training is taking long “upwards walks” (the equivalent of lots of high-step ups, though bodyweight only) in the mountains. It definitely seems to “hit” my glutes more than the majority of the other exercises.

    That’s why, the other day, I asked you that question regarding walking upwards on a treadmill (as I live in a big city and can’t take walks in the mountains 3 times a week, I suppose I’d have to use a treadmill).

    And would walking upwards on a treadmill very different from doing high-step ups?

    Thanks for another brilliant article.


    • Bret says:

      Bianca, I wish so badly that you could attend one of my glute workshops. All of your burning questions would be answered. I explain in detail DOMS, the pump, etc. and go through torque loading at the hips and discuss the different physiological mechanisms at play. But soreness doesn’t equate to hypertrophy, so don’t look into that too much. Get stronger at a bunch of these exercises and try to not get overly sore as that interferes with progress.

      • Bianca says:

        Hi Bret,

        I’d love to attend one of your glute workshops too, but you are in New Zealand and I am in Italy.

        I am sorry that I keep asking you my “burning questions” – as you have correctly defined them – but I guess the fact that I am curious by nature and a journalist by profession doesn’t help me limit them. And it’s your fault anyway: your blog is such a great source of valuable information!


  • This is such a fantastic post! Thank you for the inclusion.

    I love that the butt is back in style 😉 This post has me fired up to go train lower body!

  • Esmee says:

    Is the pendulum quadruped hip extension remotely like the butt blaster or the cybex eagle glute machine?

    • Bret says:

      Most glute machines look good in theory but when you get in them and perform the movements you just can’t get your all into it. Mose 4-way hip machines are this way, and many of the standing machines are this way too. However, the butt blaster is actually a very good piece of equipment and I suspect it leads to very high levels of glute activation.

      That said, I have two different pendulum movements I like which I perform underneath the reverse hyper. The first is that PQHE (pendulum quadruped hip extension), which is performed with bent knees, and the second is the PQDK (pendulum quadruped donkey kick), where the knee is bent at the bottom but extended at the top. Both are great, but the latter involves higher outputs of quadriceps.

      The butt blaster is similar to the PQDK.

  • Emily says:

    I have to agree with all of the ladies…it was difficult to pick just three….I love my low bar back squats too! All in all, squats, deadlifts and glute bridges have to be my absolute favorite. I have to watch it sometimes because I can get a little carried away! My kettlebell swings are even better thanks to all of my other work!I loved reading the other ladies choices. Gives me some ideas of what to tackle next and take my training to the next level! Great post Bret! Thank you!

  • Tom says:

    Maybe Part II should be a survey of your clients to see which of the exercises you program they like the best or work the best for them.

    • Bret says:

      Great idea Tom. Part II is actually on its way…I’ll post it next week and it will contain some of my male colleague’s favorite movements. I should put this out there to my clients and former clients as well. You and Caren would have a tough time choosing!

  • Michele says:

    Hey Bret – Love your site and your knowledge about body mechanics and mm function! Just wondering – I looked up “single leg barbell squat” and really only found Bulgarian split squats – is this accurate? Just wondering as I thought I saw, months ago, another woman with her non wt bearing leg slightly extended/abducted and possibly the stance leg was on a small lift. Any information you can give me to complete these properly!? I would appreciate it!!
    Michele 🙂

    • Bret says:

      Hi Michele, thanks a lot for the kind words. I’m not sure if Jamie meant barbell Bulgarian split squats or simply “pistol” type squats while holding onto a barbell. I don’t know any women who have the strength to pull this off, but if the bar was a lighter bar (25 lbs) and the depth was slightly above parallel, it could be done. My guess is the Bulgarian split squat.

  • Kim says:

    Thanks for the great article, Bret. I really like the high step up, kettlebell swings and walking lunges right now. Do you (or anyone else) have a suggestions for a “hugh step” I could use at home? There is a perfectly level, just high enough, cut up tree trunk at my favorite park but it isn’t always feasible to go there. A set of plyo. boxes is too expensive for me right now. I’ve been racking my brain lately to come up with something stable and inexpensive.

    • Bret says:

      Kim, they can be performed on the arm rests of many types of couches, or maybe you could stack things together and figure something out. Be like MacGuyver!

  • Kim says:

    Eeek, sorry about the typos. I meant “high step” of course. 🙂

  • Michael Terry says:

    1. Hip thruster
    2. Band hip rotation
    3. An abductor exercise I invented (or at least haven’t seen anywhere else). Sit perpendicular to a cable machine with the cable at the bottom setting. You should be in a glute stretch position like the second picture here:

    The ring of the cable (where the strap attaches), would be to his left, and a little behind him. Attach the cable with a strap to the knee of the raised leg. At the start position, the cable should be pulling the bent knee over the straight leg, and a little behind, and the athlete should feel a stretch in the side and upper glutes. If the athlete is very flexible, she can push against a bosu ball placed behind her, to push the upper body forward and further the stretch.

    The ROM is fairly small, simply using the upper and side glutes to draw the knee and thigh in front of the chest and touching the toe on the other side of the leg. Basically, the ROM ends where it would just be starting on an abductor machine.

    The great thing about this move is that it works the muscle in the stretched position. Your upper and side glutes will definitely be sore after you do this.

    Question: What would be the be the best exercise to target the glute-ham attachment while using the quads as little as possible?

    • Bret says:

      Glad you like the band hip rotation; it’s an amazing movement if you learn how to perform correctly. In my glute workshops I get everyone doing these right and they love them.

      I can envision the exercise you mentioned and this would strengthen the hip external rotation/transverse abduction component to the hips in a very flexed position. Might be able to reproduce with bands in a seated low box squat position?

      Lower glutes are activated best with deadlifts and hip thrust variations.

      • Kellie says:

        That’s another one of my favorites. I always get lots of interested looks when I do them. BTW, do you think people are starting to wonder if I have a face. 🙂

  • theMikeD says:

    Why are you referring to these women as “girls”?

    • Bret says:

      Since I’m getting gray hairs now (true story – I found some in my goatee and on my chest and I’m not happy about it) I’m officially over the hill and see these young, vibrant women as “girls.” I don’t know the rules about female lingo…is “girls” disrespectful? If so that was not my intention.

      • Marianne says:

        Not if you’re a Girl Gone Strong 😉

      • Rachel Guy says:

        i will forever be just a “girl” no matter how old i get! 🙂

      • Esmee says:

        Since you asked I think it is, it’s keeping women in a perpetual state of immaturity and underdevelopment. Not only that it’s a tacit acceptance of society’s disregard for adult females, to the point that women are embarrassed to call themselves a woman and would rather be referred to as a child.

        • Bret says:

          Jeez Esmee! Take a chill pill. I did ask, but personally I think you’re overreacting. I guess if someone referred to me as a “boy” I might be offended as I like to be called a man, but for women I think the double-standard is fine. To me “girl” is not a disrespectful term but I’ll try to not use it in future posts (but will probably forget and slip up).

          • Esmee says:

            For what it’s worth I don’t think you meant it disrespectfully — even though that’s what I said, I meant more broadly — but words do have power and the way we refer to ourselves and the way other people refer to us, does matter.
            Matters of preference are interesting — and complicated. As well, I think it’s worth considering why we feel that a double standard in this regard is acceptable and thinking about the implications. What does it mean?
            But on the other hand, I don’t really care which one you use as I’m not here for insights on gender and society. It is something I personally think about and actually like thinking about and discussing. I wouldn’t normally mention it…again you *did* ask. 🙂

          • Bonnie says:

            Girls vs Women: one of those blanket PC rules that doesn’t allow for context, assumes weakness (on the part of “the oppressed”) and is useful mainly to send a discussion off track. 😉

            P.S. I often use the term “boys” in the gym. As in, “You boys move along now.” Ha!

          • Marianne says:

            I don’t care if you “slip up” Bret, it’s no big deal, next you know you’ll have girls being offended at being called women – so you can’t win, best to continue being you 🙂

            While men are not referred to as boys (although many should LOL), society does frequently refer to them as “guys” which to me is the equivalent to “girl”. I reckon it is more a fashionable way of referring to the gender rather than a patronising one; so to me there is no double-standard.
            An older generation for example may find calling a grown woman a “girl” patronising.

            Besides if I am referring to a girl a lot younger or more immature than me, I describe her as a “wee girl” 😉 *Translation – young girl* lol

            Language is also always in a state of flux 🙂

          • Bret says:

            Well it’s nice to hear about this issue as it’s something I’ve never devoted much thought too, and if the comment was just toward me then I can handle it in stride. But I felt that Esmee was saying that women these days are afraid to call themselves women and are forced to go around referring to themselves as “girls” to cater to men’s double-standards (something to that effect…with the “Girls Gone Strong” theme…insinuating that you’re bowing down and catering to these double-standards). So I got defensive over my “girls” and wanted to jump to your defense as I feel the name is cute and creative, period. But maybe I was reading into things too much. Either way, the point is noted, but I’ll probably still use it from time to time and intend to disrespect if it happens in the future.

      • Julia L. says:

        that’s funny, b/c I never even noticed it when i read the article!! I had to go back and look. We know that Bret meant no disrespect whatsoever. Double standard- perhaps. Girl and woman tend to be interchanged more than boy and man. and I’m fine with that! Girl Gone Strong! 🙂

        • Derrick says:

          So would it be okay if I used it in this context, “Could you girls go make me a sandwich? I’m tired from doing these hip thrusts!”

          (quickly logs off and runs away as 81 posts turns into 119..:)

          • Derrick says:

            Hopefully everyone understands that this is just pure mischief on my part..Sometimes humor doesn’t translate online..

  • Excellent article! Only thing I’d suggest as an health & fitness expert, athlete, NPC judge & competitor is let all females know they should have a certified trainer/athletic expert teach them the technique. Avoid unnecessary injury & down time rehabbing. Just because someone else does it well & genetically has it going on doesn’t mean they can explain the science behind it or train others effectively injury free. Love the article.

    • Bret says:

      Michele – of course. I have Youtube videos of most of these exercises so my readers know how to perform them correctly. But we all know that it takes time for many folks to get their basic squat, deadlift, lunge, and bridging movements down pat even with just bodyweight. That’s the struggle of being a fitness writer – if you write to the beginners the advanced are bored, if you write to the advanced the beginners are overwhelmed, etc. If you write to the middle it doesn’t work either, so I try to mix up my posts.

  • solid article…I love what you said that all of the women had such different favorites depending on what works for THEM…each body is different and we all respond differently to exercises, reps, sets, training styles etc. I love seeing the variety from these amazingly strong women!

  • Bruce says:

    I used to not do any glute exercise at all (except Squats, RDLS) and once I learned about Hip Thrust only then I know how my ass works. After learning about Barbell Hip Thrust from Bret, my ass gets sore easier after my workouts :). Definitely one of the best glute exercise.

    Only thing about doing it is that I train in a commercial gym full of curl monkeys and chest pressers. I will be the core attention when I do hip thrusts and I often hear people laughing. But who cares of those guys anyway, let them resort to their half curls. The great thing of this people is that the Squat rack and Power rack is always empty even though the gym is during the peak hour with all the benches/weight machines/cardio machines occupied.

    Hip Thrust is the best. Pull-throughs are great to feel the glutes as well (except cannot be done too heavy or I might fly backwards).

    • Bret says:

      I can relate Bruce…and this is why I can’t stand training in commercial gyms. The single leg hip thrust never looks very awkward and can be performed virtually unnoticed anywhere.

  • Simon says:

    I think many of these selections are plain silly.

    The best 2 are IMO hip thrusts and horizontal hyper if the bench allows ur pelvis to posteriorially rotate and u have a rounded upper back.

    Brett – do u train any male bodybuilders wanting bigger glutes? I don’t mean to be disrespectful but surely for women it is easier to achieve proper glute shape simply because they do not want large upper glutes and many exercises will hit bottom 2/3’s of glutes? Getting that sprinters upper glute development is surely more challenging?

    • Bret says:

      Simon – these are definitely not silly exercises…just because you don’t feel the glutes working much on squatting type motions doesn’t mean that others don’t (though I agree based on the literature and on my experiments that they won’t maximize mean or peak EMG).

      And even though I agree with you completely about the hip thrusts and hypers – when you combine hip extension with posterior pelvic tilt the glutes get hammered – this is currently our opinion. No scientific studies have confirmed that they lead to more hypertrophy than other movement such as squats. This is why we need more researchers in the field! I believe I’ll be looking at this with my PhD thesis but this will take time. So until then this is our [educated] opinion.

      As for upper glutes, many women need those too. As more research comes out we’ll learn more about this and can make more definitive statements. Until then, we need to be respectful and restrain ourselves from being overly critical of other’s glute routines.

      I realize that I started all of this, and I still believe it to be true based on my knowledge, and now I could make a much greater case for my theories. But theories hold much more weight when there are studies to support them, and right now we have none.

      Last, “favorite” glute exercise can simply mean somebody’s favorite to perform. Doing hip thrusts at my facility was convenient and fun, but others don’t have the same setting, so these exercises might be a pain in the ass for them in to do in their facilities. Moreover, exercises like kettlebell swings are fun and metabolically demanding, and lead to high levels of glute activation.

      So rather than be overly critical of these lists, let’s just be happy that glute training is evolving. Five years ago back extensions were considered back exercises, nobody knew of hip thrusts, kb swings weren’t popular, and everyone’s lists would have consisted of mostly squats, lunges, and deads (not bad exercises but to me they ignore end range hip extension torque production). – BC

      • Simon says:

        yes Brett – you are correct (i shouldn’t call them silly). I should also add “sled pull throughs” as a great glute exercise.

        I do find my glutes look most ripped (as in striations appear quickly) if I sprint, esp uphill.

        I’m not sure if this is just blood flow (I noticed my quads are most striated when bike sprinting on very high resistance) [i am simon headland who often posts on ur FB wall] or very minor spot reduction that happens on people under 10%.

        I am hoping to try a lot of sled sprinting this summer and see how it works.

        BTW, i believe i have the best physio in this state (in fact it seems a univeral opinion for all his clients) and he’s against excessive arching of the back because “it switches abs and glutes off, and favours hip flexors and hamstrings”. I also showed him the hip thrust he remarked “yes – that is the best glute exercise you can do”…not sure if he reads ur blog or formed same ideas independently. I’ll ask him whether there is any research on arch back and glute/ab deactivation. He shares same opinion with u re ab wheel form (posterior tilt, calling standing version dangerous if that can’t be maintained) so i’ll see if this is based on his own anatomy understanding or research.

        I do think as u say lifting results are individual – i’ve never got much hamstring growth from any deadlift variety, but have from hypers and GHR

        • Bret says:

          Simon – I don’t believe that sprinting is needed for maximal glute growth. My opinion could change over time but I don’t believe you get more glute activation than with sprints than hip thrusts, or more hip torque, but no good studies have been conducted.

          Ripped would simply imply less bodyfat…packing on muscle is a different story (as I’m sure you know). So sprinting is king for fat loss but it’s also hard on the body and many individuals (especially women) don’t handle sprinting forces properly amongst the joints.

          Furthermore, I believe that resistance training leads to fuller range concentric/eccentric performance as during sprinting the activation is choppy.

          Finally, I’m sure your physio is great. The fact that he understands some of this stuff is impressive. When he says “excessive arching” he’s referring to lordosis/anterior pelvic tilt. There aren’t any studies examining this (we need research in this area…there are studies which we can extrapolate from but none directly measuring RDL’s) but I’m in complete agreement which is why I like my American deadlift as opposed to the RDL. But this is a different phenomenon than what we’re discussing regarding the hip thrusts/back extensions.

          I posted a video a long time ago on ab wheel – it can be done but only in very strong people. My buddy Ben can do it. I can do it from kneeling but not from standing. So I totally agree with him there.

  • Simon says:

    BTW – most girls i have trained with (a lot ask me to do glutes and hamstrings with them) prefer horizontal hyper with rounded upper back

  • Bret says:

    This is a byproduct of using the glutes to raise the torso and entering into posterior pelvic tilt – it will induce some thoracic kyphosis. Physios have trained themselves to detest kyphosis – which is typically a good strategy. You wouldn’t want somebody to be overly kyphotic during farmer’s walks for example. But physios typically don’t perform advanced exercises and don’t know the first thing about advanced exercise performance, so the strength coaches have to rise up and make recommendations.

    The best practice IMO is to encourage PPT during hip thrusts and back extensions. This may induce kyphosis during the movement but it won’t induce negative postural adaptations especially if deadlifts, good mornings, squats, and the like are performed with “chest up” which will strengthen the erectors and improve spinal posture. Furthermore, if we perform thoracic extensions on a foam roller during our warm-ups (as well as different t-spine rotation drills), this will ensure proper t-spine extension as well.

    • Simon says:

      i agree – and iassume u prefer “the american hip thrust” to ur own variety because it favours kyphosis more? That’s what i noticed

  • Sirena says:

    Hi Bret, and all the lovely ladies. Thank you for such a great post. This was really inspirational and fun to read from some of my fave female fitpros 🙂

    Thanks again!


  • Tara says:

    I’ve just come across this site….wow I can’t stop reading all the comments and clicking on the daily blogs. Off to try out my kettlebells with a timed workout. This site has been added to my favourties and I will be popping in on a daily basis. The women on here look amazing. Our bodies are complex but once you have good technique you can do what ever you want….the proof is in the pudding as they say (well the pictures on here anyway). 🙂

  • Carolyn says:

    Hi Brett,
    Really like your site. I have been reading alot of your articles. I have been doing squats, lunges, and deadlifts for about 6 months now. Seen improvement, but it hasn’t helped that much with butt sagging. If I add the hip thrusts to my routine, how long does it take before you start seeing improvement? Because ultimately that’s when you know you are on the right track.
    Thanks, Carolyn

  • I don’t think I could choose. I love working my gluteus to the maximus! he he.

  • Nicola Burgess says:

    This is all very well but what about if you have back problems (which I do)?
    I would love to do all of these exercises and have glutes like these ladies but unfortunately my mid and lower back weaknesses stop me from progressing. When my back is ok I can do walking lunges and reverse lunges with heavy-ish weights and some other exercises but barbell squats and barbell glute bridges give me back pain. I think I have to accept that I will never be anything like these ladies and being able to lift what they do and have glutes like them. I end up hurting my back and having to stop weight training until my back feels better and doing back strengthening exercises. My height of 6ft is what I believe effects me. Any advice from anyone would be appreciated.

    A frustrated Nicola. x

  • Pamela Bloom says:

    I am new to this training but am a MAJOR athlete. I am doing squats, reverse lunges and deadliest holding 15lbs each hand, and kickbacks with 8 lbs on ankle.
    I am getting results, I needed it I was doing insanity w/os and lost too much weight.
    i want to start to do glutes bridges, have a very strong core but don’t know how much weight to start with.
    And where should I be with weights for standing patterns: squats etc.
    TY!!!! Pamela

  • concerned says:

    I noticed with these women and many other fit women who like to work on their butts that the butts don’t necessarily grow that large. They get perked up and in some cases it seems like they slim up. Is it possible for a female with a small butt to actually grow a very large one??

  • tractari says:

    Wonderful website you have here but I was curious about if you knew
    of any community forums that cover the same topics talked
    about in this article? I’d really like to be a part of group where I can get responses from other experienced people that share the same interest.

    If you have any suggestions, please let me know. Thanks!

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