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The Jane Fonda Experiment

By October 12, 2014November 1st, 2016Glute Training, Glutes

Being The Glute Guy‘s girlfriend has its drawbacks. My fiancee Diana constantly finds herself serving as a guinea pig when I want to test out a new hypothesis. In September of 2013, I shared with you The Hip Thrust Only Experiment, where I altered Diana’s training from a routine focused on squats and deadlifts to a routine focused on hip thrusts. The results? No weight change (which was to be expected since her diet didn’t change), no change in hip or thigh measurements (I predicted greater hip size and lesser thigh size, but it was only a 6-week experiment and she had been doing hip thrusts during her powerlifting training), and a reduction in waist circumference (presumably due to less erector spinae activation). This was a cool experiment, since it showed that it is indeed possible to maintain glute size if one drops out squats and deadlifts and keeps hammering hip thrusts.

Diana Hip Thrust

Diana Thrusting

Recently, I decided to conduct another informal n=1 experiment. For the past five months, Diana has been away – her clinical rotations for nurse anesthesia school are scattered across the United States. Due to her travels, she hasn’t been able to train with me. She also doesn’t have a gym membership, so she hadn’t been doing any weight training, just jogging, hiking, and some bodyweight squats and single leg hip thrusts twice per week when she jogged. Six weeks ago, we were reunited for our friends’ wedding, and to my dismay I saw that her butt had shrunken significantly. Diana was the one to point this out, and she asked me what she could do to maintain her glute size since she hates losing her booty. I wish I’d taken measurements at this time, but I didn’t have access to a tape measure.

High Frequency Glute Training Does Nathalia's Glutes Good

High Frequency Glute Training Does Nathalia’s Glutes Good

I advised her to just start doing Jane Fonda style exercise everyday. Some of you will recall that my friend Nathalia Melo trains her glutes almost daily, so I was eager to see how this strategy would pan out. Keep in mind that Diana doesn’t have any access to weights, so I told her to simply alternate between a bunch of floor glute exercises, spending around 20 minutes per day targeting the glutes. She decided to superset her training, performing one set of each of the following around exercises 5 days per week (it takes her around 20 total minutes to complete):

1A. side lying clam – 30 reps
1B. side lying hip abduction – 30 reps

2A. single leg glute bridge – 30 reps
2B. quadruped hip extension from elbows – 30 reps

3. side lying clam raise – 20 reps

4A. quadruped leg swing – 25 reps
4B. fire hydrant – 25 reps

Note that the “A” and “B” denote supersets. Say you’re supersetting single leg glute bridges with quadruped hip extensions. You’d perform 30 reps of single leg glute bridges with the right leg, then 30 reps of quadruped hip extensions with the right leg without resting, then repeat with the left leg. Around 2-3 minutes of rest is taken between each set or superset.

I’m currently visiting her in Montana, and I’m astonished at the rapid results. In just six weeks, her butt is markedly bigger and rounder. If I had to guess, I’d say that she’s easily put on 1-1.5 inches in this short time-frame (keep in mind that she has a muscle memory effect going on due to her prior training). In fact, her butt is almost back to full size just from doing high rep Jane Fonda exercise. The largest her hips have ever been is 37.5″, and this is when she was squatting 135 x 20 reps, deadlifting 135 x 20 reps, and glute bridging 135 x 20 reps (she could also squat 225 lbs for 1 rep, deadlift 265 lbs for 1 rep, and hip thrust 275 x 12 reps). As you can see, her glutes have reclaimed their size from high rep basic bodyweight exercises performed in the supine, side-lying, and quadruped positions. Not only that, her waist is down an inch (presumably due to the lack of erector and abdominal activation). Here is how her measurements have changed over the past year and a half.


HERE is a video of Diana’s first and only powerlifting meet, HERE is a video of Diana’s low volume squat/deadlift focus training, HERE is a video of Diana’s hip thrust focus training, and HERE is a video from 4 years ago where Diana showcased a bunch of bodyweight glute exercises.

After my PhD is completed, I would love to conduct a study comparing the effects of 1) powerlifting style training (primarily squats and deadlifts twice per week), 2) Jane Fonda style training (high rep floor work five times per week), and 3) Bret Contreras style glute training (heavy, medium, and light variations of hip thrusts, squats, deads, back extensions, lunges, and lateral band work four times per week) on glute hypertrophy in women. My prediction is that powerlifting style training and Jane Fonda style training would lead to similar results in glute growth, but my methods would lead to even greater results. But of course, I could be wrong. One thing that’s great about conducting research is that you always end up learning something in the process. It’s important to realize that there are multiple ways to effectively train the glutes. Don’t knock Jane Fonda, in situations where no weights are available, her methods are surprisingly effective.

Buns of Steel Works!


  • Anita says:

    Those Jane Fonda exercised from her “Complete Workout” really work! I followed that whole plan back in the day. I have the VHS tape, but nothing to play it on, so I found it on YouTube. I have incorporated it m into my routine…the butt work. 🙂

  • Andrea says:

    I’m so excited to hear that your fiancée is a nurse anesthesia student! Maybe our paths will cross one day–I am a CRNA in oregon.

  • Cherie says:

    I am super excited to see this- I tore m medial meniscus and have 6 weeks of limited training ahead of me. I was squatting 185X8 dead lifting 205×12 and glute bridging 350x 8 pre injury. I was bummed about my diagnosis – now there’s hope!

  • Amy Baars says:

    Wow-i’ve never thought about waist size increasing. I’ve always gotten disappointed while I’ve been lifting heavy that my waist is never shrunk… Maybe I’ll switch it up and try some Jane Fonda workouts!

  • Carol says:

    Loved this post Bret! Im currently experiencing the benefits of this type of program: After being off weight training for 1 year due to stubborn hip injury (tendonitis), I found this awesome ex physiologist who gave me this amazing program. Starting with a serie of stretches and then gluteal activation exercises. He gave me 2 exercises to add each week. This is my 5th week and is the first time in 10 years im not limping or having incredibly sore psoas, hip flexors and QL’s. Secondary effects are a perkier bum, 3 cmd bigger and 2 cms off waist. Awesome! (i own my life to this guy, seriously!!)

    Exercises are: 1) supine clam with glute bridge with band 2) obliques activation (supine, one leg straight, other bent at 90`, push opposite hand on opposite knee, hold for 10 secs) 3)glute bridge on swiss ball, 4) glute bridge and foot lifts on swiss ball 5) wall lunges on swiss ball with posterior tilt 6)single leg glute bridges with calf on bench, not foot 7) heel raises, superset of straight and bent raises on edge of step 8) single leg deadliest with opposite leg on bench, 8-10kg.

  • Dr john says:

    Please don’t use anything Jane Fonda has done. She is a traitor and aided the enemy during wartime in America.
    I personally know Vietnam POWs whose treatment and torture was intensified after her actions during wartime.
    I, as well as many military veterans, despise her. She is not to be recognized for anything.

    • Jerry Stumbaugh says:

      I am with you she should be in Prison at the very least.

    • E says:

      If you look on you can read the articles where it has been proven that Jane Fonda did not do the things people have said about her during the Vietnam War era.

      • Dr. John says:

        The pictures of Jane Fonda visiting the N. Vietnamese are conclusive proof she sympathized with the enemy. The other accusations may or may not have happened.
        I have personally talked with, flew commercial aircraft with, and sat next to former Vietnam POWs as an airline pilot. They spent years in prison and they all told me, the torture and abuse from their North Vietnamese captors escalated when she visited the enemy.
        Jane Fonda is a traitor and should be censored at all costs. Your comment about is useless.

        • Emily says:

          Doing the routine outlined above in no way benefits Jane Fonda, the North Vietnamese, or anyone else hostile to America. It’s not like she invented leg lifts.

        • ab says:

          What do you label yourself, a “patriot”? And you call for “censor[ing] at all costs”. How unamerican of you, doc. For shame.

  • Stephletic says:

    ankle weights aren’t that heavy to carry around, always a good addition to the suitcase and to quadruped work.

  • bert says:

    Now, see… How long diane will keep on going this style… ??

    There are well educated people who tell us,….. weightlifting takes vere little time… Intensity counts.. Having little time to exercise would then be a non-reason to loose the sexy butt. It can even be questioned if diane would be sexier with a bigger but or a nice young untrained tight but !!
    All the effort !!! Is it worth it.. Taking on a lifetime job to exercise 20 minutes a day for 260 x per year !!!

    Eating a little more will put on cm’s to her hot hips !!! Being a little overweight but with good conditioning from running hiking is scientificly proven as healthy or more healthy and relieves the effort enorm.

  • Diana S. says:

    She may also want to take a look at the old Callanetics hip & butt exercises from the 1980’s.
    I try to do a round of those at least 3 days a week and they do make a difference for me.

    • Callenetics is hard core and very deep muscle work.. I ‘m really happy you did this experiment. I have clients who have issues where they need floor exercises instead of weight bearing. It’s good information.

  • Nancy says:

    I always tell my clients not to knock the old Jane Fonda workouts. I rocked those workouts back in the day! Out of all the workout videos I did back then, hers were my fave.

  • claire says:

    hey Bret! fellow trainer and obsessed glute girl here…. I actually workout like the plan listed at the end b.c I added your style to my workouts almost 2 years ago, would love to be your next guinea pig if need be.

  • Rook says:

    Hanoi Jane! She betrayed America she’ll definitely betray our glutes

  • Silas says:

    Hi Bret, impressive stuff! Do you know how her strength levels have been affected? Pad on the back for the great blog! Regards Silas from Denmark

  • Samantha Mulvaney says:

    I can’t believe I just found this workout! Just finished it and man, my buns are on fire. Thank you for this!! Reading your stuff makes me not afraid to train my glutes 3-5 days a week!

  • Portia says:

    Bret, I know this post is old, but a after stumbling upon it, I just have a question. Will this (or any glute workout) grow ones gluts if they are on a caloric deficit? A calorie surplus is needed to grow muscles, correct? Thank you in advance for your time!

  • Ren says:

    Hi Bret,

    I’ve been working out for the past 7 years now and the glutes remain the toughest area to grow for me. I’ve been reading a lot of your articles and starting include more variations to my glute training.

    I just finished the routine above and it really gave a good burn! Would it make sense to do this routine maybe 4 days a week but also incorporate 3 days of heavy weight glute training? Meaning, 3 of those heavy weight training days would end off with the Jane Fonda training.

    I’d love to hear your thoughts!

    • Sandy says:

      I have lost 54kg doing my Jane Fonda tape each morning, followed by a 5km walk and then 500 sit ups. I have a shake with spinach, blueberries, protein powder, chia seeds and powdered fibre for breakfast, salad for lunch and a healthy evening meal. I started on 1st Jan 2016 and I feel fantastic! My body is now lean with great muscle definition. Finding my old Jane Fonda tape and spending $5.00 for a tape recorder at a market late last year has changed my life! Just do it!

  • Marianne says:

    I know this is an old thread but I just found it and would love an answer to my question. My left glute is weaker than my right, causing knee pain when I jump or squat heavy loads. I also have very strong quads and I’d love for my glutes to match my quads in strength and looks. I like plyometric training so I don’t want to quit jumping and I don’t want to quit heavy squats. I read your article about removing quad and hamstring work and focusing on glute work (like glute bridges, hip abductor work, etc). Is the Jane Fonda workout, coupled with your other non-hamstring/non-quad exercises a good way to address a glute imbalance and strengthen my glutes enough to safely add plyometric work and heavy squats back into my routine eventually?

  • Mara says:

    The quadruped leg swing- how can one do that without a bench? The intro paragraph mentioned they were all floor exercises, so I’m wondering if there’s some kind of adaptation not shown in the video?

  • Katharine says:

    Off hand, I would think that the Jane Fonda approach would have one significant advantage over the other two workouts mentioned, which is a far less likelihood of injury. I am a woman in my mid-40s who has worked out with heavy weights for years but approach lifting with more and more trepidation as I have accumulated injuries over the years. I stumbled across this post as I was looking for bodyweight floor exercises to replace the heavy weights and am happy to see that one can get fairly good results from them. At my age, I think I will give up a little bit of booty for a lower chance of injury :).

    • Katharine says:

      Funny, I just read that Jane Fonda was 45 (my age) when she released her first exercise video. Very inspiring!

  • Emma says:

    Is it possible to significantly grow your glutes with this style of workout? Or is heavy lifting necessary?

    I know hip thrusts are really encouraged, but I much prefer to workout at home and don’t have a barbell.

    Would bands or ankle weights make this workout tough enough to significantly increase glute size? Without growing the quads much.

  • Diana McBride says:

    I’d love to hear Brett’s answers to any of these comments !!

  • Angela says:

    Thanks for this! I’m about to go traveling for six months and although there will be some gym access it will be infrequent! This will be perfect especially for all the swimsuit time I’ll be clocking!

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