Skip to main content

Glute Genetics

By May 22, 2013January 11th, 2014Glute Training

Go to any public place and take a gander at the different glute sizes and shapes of people passing by. Many individuals have what Stu McGill would call “gluteal amnesia” as their glutes don’t fire properly. This is usually accompanied by marked atrophy, or very little glute development. Given that America is roughly 2/3 overweight or obese, you’ll see a lot of fat covering up those hips too.

Maybe this is what heaven is like?

Maybe this is what heaven is like – great butts as far as the eye can see…

But every once in a while, you’ll see a diamond in the rough. A set of athletic and shapely glutes sparkling in the crowd. What created this incredibly pair of glutes? Is it genetics, or hard work?

A recent study by German researchers examined the muscle volume of the gluteus maximus in 45 men and 48 women. The graph below shows the results.

From Preininger et al. 2012 The sex specificity of hip-joint muscles offers an explanation for better results in men after total hip arthroplasty

From Preininger et al. 2012: The sex specificity of hip-joint muscles offers an explanation for better results in men after total hip arthroplasty.

As you can see, men have greater glute size than women. But what I find most interesting is the wide variation of glute size between individuals. One man had 198 ccm of gluteus maximus muscle volume, while another had 958 ccm. This means that one guy was walking around with nearly 5 times bigger glutes than another guy!

Great glute genetics

Great glute genetics

If you’re lucky and have great glute genetics, then good for you! All you need to do is stay lean and your butt will look amazing. Eat reasonably well and stay active (even just doing cardio) and your butt will continue to look great year in and year out. But if you’re unlucky and have poor glute genetics, your only hope is the information and advice contained within this website! Folks with this disposition will need to build their hip thrust like crazy in order to just have normal glute development.

Poor glute genetics

Poor glute genetics

But rest assured, with hard work, intelligent training, and consistency, everyone can dramatically improve the size and shape of their glutes. I’ve done it myself, and I’ve helped thousands of others do it as well.


Preininger B, Schmorl K, von Roth P, Winkler T, Matziolis G, Perka C, Tohtz S. The sex specificity of hip-joint muscles offers an explanation for better results in men after total hip arthroplasty. Int Orthop. 2012;36(6):1143-8.


  • chuck says:

    this is very interesting and something i’ve thought a lot about. my wife and i both have always had bigger/rounder butts. now our kids, 10 and 7, also have bubble butts without trying. it is what it is i guess. makes you wonder how much people with poor genetics can grow their glutes.

  • Ashley says:

    So true Bret, so true. If you’ve got it then show it off! Great photo by the way.

  • alex says:

    Having poor calf genetics is even worse…

  • Andy... says:

    “Many individuals have what Stu McGill would call “gluteal amnesia” as their GLUTES DON’T FIRE properly”.

    How much of this is down to hip flexor flexibility?.

    By all accounts (due to most diets), hip flexor stretches just don’t cut it.

    ^ Rest assured, this is just the tip of the iceberg.

    Is this why most glutes don’t fire in many top athletes during the stance of running, poor hip flexor flexibility?.

    • Bret says:

      I don’t think most top athletes have a problem activating their glutes during running. They might not work optimally due to excessive anterior pelvic tilt or hamstring dominance, but most fire them indeed. Sedentary folks have issues activating glutes and this is due mostly to inactivity but also poor hip flexibility contributes as well.

  • Helen says:

    Hi Bret, I´m loving your site!
    I have a little doubt about glutes (sorry about my english, I´m Brazilian!)
    Some people have a sort of valley by the sides of their glutes (here it is called “depressão trocantérica”, in literal translation: trochanteric depression). Do you think hypertrophy training can revert this situation?
    Thanks, keep doing your nice work!

    • sarah says:

      i was actually wondering the same thing as helen. My glutes are normal at the top but have almost a valley at the sides. is it possible to fill this part out?

    • Jen says:

      Me three- also wondering about this. Brett, can you identify this muscle/area and maybe suggest which movements activate the underlying muscle for hypertrophy? (fingers crossed this is possible!)

      Thanks for all you great research!

    • Naj says:

      Why Bret keeps ignoring answer this common question in all of his articles?!!!!

  • Tom says:

    Your picture of ‘great glute genetics’ has been air brushed. But looking at the original, it really didn’t need to be.

  • Doug says:

    I have noticed that women who have naturally large breasts mostly have flat gluts.

  • Doug says:

    And I forget to add I have noticed the opposite also.

  • Mike says:

    So you’re saying with “hard work, intelligent training, and consistency, everyone can dramatically improve the size and shape of their glutes,” to where the photo of the girl in your post with the poor glute genetics can have glutes that look like the girl in the other photo with great glute genetics?

    • Bret says:

      Definitely not saying that Mike. The flat-booty woman can get “normal” looking glutes over time with optimal training. She’ll never in her entire life look like the round-booty woman. But we do the best we can with the cards we’re dealt.

      • Jen says:

        Any chance that you might provide more examples (or even a diagram) of poor/min, average and excellent /max maximus muscle genetics for males and females? I’d be interested to see what the graph numbers look like when represented visually.


  • Jackie says:

    Thank you so much for your research Brett. I have “pancake genetics” and the barbell hip thrust has been a great asset in my quest for bigger glutes. I have a question about the pendulum quadrped hip extension. I don’t have access to that machine; will doing the same motion on a smith machine be the equivalent? What about placing a dumbell behind the knee and kicking back? Thanks so much for your input and hard work.

  • Marcy says:

    Hello Bret!

    I’m three weeks into your Strong Curves program (and I have your earlier glute pdf ebook). I really like the workouts! I’m convinced you’re a glute genius! The activation exercises and the way you have it arranged burns my glutes better than any single exercise (like heavy glute bridges or hip thrusts). I believe it’s working already. Since Jan I’ve lost 15#, 2 1/2″ from my waist, 3/4″ bust, and none from hips. I took pictures yesterday and a month ago in the same jeans and same body position. There is definitely a lift happening, and some rounding.

    I’m writing to ask if being overweight can give an appearance of great glutes. I have a combination, as crazy as this sounds, of the woman in white pants with great glutes and the blond with poor glute genetics. The bottom (near the middle of each glute – near the crack) looks like the poor genetics girl, but the sides and top look like the great genetics girl. Will your program give me bouncy glutes near the crack area, too? (Sorry to be crude about it, but I don’t know how else to describe it.) I never feel a burn in that area either. Or is this an overweight issue that will resolve as I lose the weight?

    Thanks again for a great book and program! You’re the best!

  • Judy says:

    always wondered despite of such hard workout, why my glute not filling.

  • Dave Madarro says:

    Hi Brett, interesting statistic!
    So many people walk around nowadays looking like they literally don’t have any natural glute development. I’m especially in shock when I see very overweight women, with no glutes, it looks so abnormal!

    It really makes me wonder, from a evolutionary point of view, why would mother nature (or whatever you believe in) provide anyone, and especially SO MANY people with a starting point of a flapjack ass?

    I doesn’t make any sense to me why so few people are gifted with great glutes, when it’s such an important area of the body you’d think most people were naturally strong and muscular in this area.

    Is it possible that the human body has already adapted to the sedentary lifestyle of man the last 50+ years, that it passes weak glutes down the gene pool of newborns?

    I know the human genome doesn’t change fast, but is it possible that people who completely atrophy their bodies due to lack of movement, directly pass down this to their kids?
    In other words, could kids nowadays be predisposed to worse glute genetics than their parents, directly because of their parents non-active lifestyle, and not so much because of the glute genetics of their grandmother’s grandmother’s grandmother?

    I admit, I don’t really know what I’m talking about here, but I’d love to understand it! 🙂

  • Kaz Adams says:

    Bret you should make “she thrusts bro” t-shirts/ singlets and start advertising that hip thrusts activate the glutes more then the squat..? Wait am I right when I say that?Correct me if I’m wrong cheers!

  • Laon says:

    I just want to add that the picture of the “great glutes woman” (in white jeans) is a Photoshop version. You can easily find the real photo with google image. So it’s a bad example

  • suggestions please says:

    Hi Bret. I also have your strong curves book and am following your program.I really wish you would address the question above about the “trochanteric depression” aka the parts of your butt that go in at the sides that many women with a more traditional bubble butt shape simply do not have. If I have an okay butt, but I even after seeing gains and improvements doing your program, i still have those depressions at the side and do not have a bubble butt, will I ever be able to get a bubble butt aka more rounded flutes that are full from the back as well as side? can you explain please? i would really like your help. thank you.

  • Bella says:

    Hi Bret, great article!
    My butt looks more or less like the poor developed glute picture. I have read on the comment above that the best results someone with that butt would be a normal butt. So i guess my only option for a great butt are butt implants, as i am looking forward to have a butt men would turn to stare at.
    It is possible to exercise the glutes after butt implants? Or do you think exercises should be avoided?

    • Emilia westgate-jones says:

      Hi. I like all your work and expertise,but I have big problem with my glutes. Well I’m really narrow hips and small ish butt well it’s very firm and in shape, I do gym and lots of glutes exercises,but my sides of glutes when you look from behind are flat and have dents.i mean it now roundness in my shape from behind its just tottsly straight, it’s the sort of part of very upper side thigh….any advice what I can do please…I have been looking everywhere for some advice. Emilia

  • Tiffers says:

    I’m not really sure what’s going on with my butt. I’m 5ft, weigh around 100, have a 24-25″ waist and a 37-38 (sometimes more) butt. The front of my body is really lean and toned so I never noticed until my husband pointed out that I have this enormous rear! I have always liked the way my butt looks in jeans (a lot like the good genetics picture) but lately I’ve been looking at it in the mirror naked and it’s kind of a mess. It has structure but incredibly jiggly and oddly shaped (without the jeans to hold it all in place!) working out does absolutely nothing for my butt. Hubby says its like draining a lake, the rest of my body tones up because there no fat covering the muscle, but my butt muscles ( the bottom of the lake) are covered with a ton of fat! But I need that other fat or else I’ll look like a skeleton with a bubble butt? What? Not good. So, am I stuck with my butt? Are good butts made of fat, or muscle? A little of each? (Btw hubby LOVES my BIG jiggle butt!)

Leave a Reply


and receive my FREE Lower Body Progressions eBook!

You have Successfully Subscribed!