The Glute Ham Tie-In

In the world of bodybuilding, the “glute ham tie-in” receives a lot of attention. Judges will examine this region and make sure that there’s a smooth transition from the glutes to the hamstrings. It is therefore of great interest for physique athletes to optimize the appearance of this region. Discussion of the glute-ham tie-in region has led to several misconceptions, which I’d like to clear up in this article.

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An Aesthetically Pleasing Glute-Ham Tie-In is In the Eye of the Beholder

Attaining an aesthetically pleasing glute-ham tie-in has to do with personal preference. Personally, I like my women to have a little bit of junk in the trunk, I like a great deal of separation between the glutes and hamstrings, and I like the glutes to pop out visually from the hamstrings. It looks like I’m not alone. Think about which ladies possess the most popular sets of glutes worldwide…

Is it J-Lo?

Jennifer Lopez Booty

Is it Kim Kardashian?

Kim Kardashian Booty

Personally, J-Lo and Kim-K have derrières that are a bit too large for my preference, but the point is that their booties are popular because they are large and in charge. So what kind of booty is right down my alley? Let’s look at Jennifer Selter.

Is it Jen Selter?

In this case, we don’t mind the excessive anterior pelvic tilt

Here's another look at Jen Selter

Here’s another look at Jen Selter

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And another…

Ms. Selter currently has nearly 3.5 million followers on Instagram. The world seems to be obsessed with her butt. Does it look like she cares about her glute-ham tie-in? No! Her hamstring development is lackluster by bodybuilding standards, but her popularity doesn’t seem to be suffering. She just stays lean and focuses on keeping her glutes big and round via exercise. What about J-Lo and Kim K? When they want to look their best, they simply lean out and work the glutes to keep their shape.

And another...

Does it look like Jen Selter is concerned about her glute-ham tie-in?

But, I digress. In the world of bodybuilding, figure, and bikini, you need to go by the judges’ standards. The judges’ criteria depends on the category. In bodybuilding, you need to be lean, you need developed glutes, and you need developed hamstrings. In bikini, competitions are indeed won from the rear, but glute shape trumps hamstring shape, which isn’t necessarily the case with men’s bodybuilding.

Glutes

Ashley Kaltwasser: 2013 Ms. Bikini Olympia

Ashley Kaltwasser: 2013 Ms. Bikini Olympia

Nathalia Melo: 2012 Ms. Bikini Olympia

Nathalia Melo: 2012 Ms. Bikini Olympia

So how do you go about improving your glute-ham tie-in if you’re a bodybuilder?

  1. Strengthen the glutes
  2. Strengthen the hammies
  3. Get lean

Note that you must strengthen the glutes AND the hamstrings, which brings me to my next point:

There’s no “Glute-Ham Tie-In” Muscle

You have the gluteus maximus, and you have the hamstrings. These are separate muscles. When someone tells me that “this exercise really works my glute-ham tie-in, it tells me that they don’t know what they’re talking about. Sure, lunges, Bulgarian split squats, and squats will make the lower glute region very sore. Sure, deadlifts, good mornings, and back extensions do a great job of working the glutes and hamstrings together. But the various hip extensors are separate muscles, and you’re going to need a variety of exercises to maximize gluteal and hamstring shape.

For glutes, make sure to incorporate plenty of barbell hip thrusts, barbell glute bridges, band hip thrusts, and single leg hip thrusts, in addition to the exercises I mentioned above. For hamstrings, make sure you add in various leg curls and possibly glute ham raises or Nordic ham curls, in addition to the exercises I mentioned above. Finally, make sure you lean out through proper nutrition. Do these things, and you will improve your glute-ham tie-in via bodybuilding standards.

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This is a good glute-ham tie-in by most judges’ standards

My Take – Focus on Glutes!

With the vast majority of my female clients, I focus primarily on glutes. It’s not easy to create the coveted “pop” that gives the glutes such a 3D appeal. This is why we hip thrust multiple times per week. I’m trying to create a visual discrepancy between the glutes and the thighs.

This incredibly sexy lady isn’t concerned with her glute-ham tie-in…

When focusing on glutes, the quads and hams will become strong and shapely. This is due to the performance of squats, lunges, deadlifts, and back extensions. However, if I added in too many leg extensions, leg presses, leg curls, and glute ham raises, or if I prioritized these movements in my training of women, then over time, some of my clients would develop too big of legs for their liking (and not enough glute prominence). This doesn’t happen with everyone, but it does with some, especially after a few years of progressive training. If you grow the legs without growing the glutes, it makes the glutes look relatively smaller.

Focus on leg development over glute development: Not the look that most of my clients are going for...

Prioritizing leg development over glute development: Not the look that most of my clients are going for…

Think of your body as a sculpture. Determine where you want to add clay, and then hammer that region with exercises that highly activate it. If you want more clay on the hammies, add in lots of leg curls. If you don’t want more clay on the hammies, then don’t. If you want more clay on the glutes, add in lots of hip thrusts. If you want to lose fat, engage in progressive overload and adhere to a sound nutritional plan.

I hope this article has given you some food for thought. Just please don’t let me hear you saying that you feel an exercise “working the glute-ham tie-in”!

41 Comments

  • Amanda says:

    “This is why we hip thrust multiple times per week”
    Really?? I started the stong curves program a couple weeks ago (butt only), does this mean that I can hip thrust every session (3xweek) n my last 10 whatever-you-wanna-do minutes or is it too much?

  • CJ says:

    Bret do you have any advice for those of us with the misfortune of having the dreaded “banana roll” fat storage pattern at the ham/glute tie in? I am 5’5″, 113lbs and have been following Strong Curves for 6 months. While I’ve been genetically ‘blessed’ with a natural predisposition toward skinny fatness, I have managed to make both strength and some appearance gains, but this area is so frustrating! It seems as if I try to eat over maintenance to build some muscle, all I build is fat in this area. And of course it’s the first place to add and the last to go. Sorry for the long comment and thanks for all your amazing work and insight!

  • Carol says:

    I have been waiting and waiting for you to mentions Jen Selter to see what your take on her physique was.
    Great, great article.
    Carol

  • Nicole says:

    Hey Bret,
    Any thoughts on how to build a good foundation for strong healthy shoulders as well as strong neck muscles? I feel these are weak areas for me.

    Thanks,

  • JohnFinn says:

    I have to admit… You chose such a good set of pictures for this post

  • Emma says:

    I love reading your articles sooo much!

  • Renee says:

    Great article up to the word “here” at the end. “Butt” I’m a teacher .

  • Kim says:

    Wouldnt you say Jen Selter is mostly a genetic anomoly? Ive only briefly looked at her page, but it doesnt seem like shes big on a lot of heavy glute work to get that look. Maintains thinness but mostly born with that physique I think.

    • Will Vatcher says:

      Kim kardashian is VERY yummy in every way

    • Kelly says:

      That’s what I thought, too. I checked out Jen Selter’s “ultimate butt workout”. Squats, donkey kicks, etc. We all know it takes more than that.

    • sean gerhardt says:

      Am I the only one who looks at Jen Selter and INSTANTLY sees the results of plastic surgery? Bret, you would know better than most… how common is it really to find that level of glute development with next to NO hypertrophy in any other muscles?

      I’m not saying she doesn’t train hard. I’m not saying it’s not good work. But I look at it this way… I compete drug-free. I have no issues with anyone who uses anabolics to train. BUT if they aren’t forthcoming, or if they lie about it, then that’s cheating. If she’s reaping the benefits of surgery and claiming that she did it all herself with light-weight pump workouts that any figure competitor would scoff at, well, isn’t some skepticism called for?

    • Ellen says:

      I personally think she already had quite a ‘big’ butt in her before pictures. Would love to know how many inches she put on… And like any ‘star’ out there, there’s a lot more work behind their looks than what they advertise. Be it surgical or not.

    • Ethan says:

      Considering she admitted to having butt surgery she just does instagram workouts to give the appearance of hard work

  • Kellie says:

    I cannot wait for Selter to talk about her Brazilian Butt Lift. Then we can all rest peacefully. 🙂

    • Jane says:

      I work so hard on my glutes and at 46 years old I have gravity against me but no matter what I do I’ll never have a butt like Jen Selter. It’s so depressing !!

  • Smokewillow says:

    Do you think girls prefer a glute tie in on men?

  • Jos says:

    OMG that Jen Selter..her physique is beyond belief! How can she be so lean with that tiny waist and such a round butt??! *envious!* Such a great genetics she has there.

  • Diana says:

    Love your articles! I do hip thrusts a 2-4 times per week but cannot do much weight without my hamstring tendons getting tremendously sore to a point walking is difficult! My glutes have become stronger and more defined however those tendon connection on the ischial tuberosity are still an issue. My physical therapist says I have hamstring tendinosis. Using the lacrosse ball across the area after hip thrusts helps. The piriformis muscle also likes to act up. How do you build the hams and glutes without tendon pain? I haven’t seen you write about this on your site yet.

    • Sean says:

      Ms. Diana,

      Do you own a foam-roller ? I’d suggest getting one and just rolling on where there’s pain. Breaking up the connective tissues of the tendons will help relieve some pain. This is called myofacial release. If you’re doing a lot of leg-lifts, the tendons at the ischial tuberosities are going to be hard and short. You should definitely make it a priority to foam-roll and stretch after any glute and leg workout. Also the piriformis would feel relief from foam-rolling. I hope this gives you some help.

      sean, bs, soon DPT

  • Magalita says:

    I echo Jane’s comment.
    I work very hard on my glutes too and seeing these pictures just depressed me, as my behind, in spite of its many improvements over what is used to be, looks nothing like those above. As a matter of fact, I honestly believe most of us women will never have physiques like those pictured above. I guess I should perhaps be inspired and motivated by these women but I just feel depressed because I compare myself to them. I guess this is what men like. Oh well.

    • Nick C says:

      The moment you compare yourself to others and let it determine how you feel about your own self worth and your accomplishments is the moment you have lost yourself. Focus on YOU and how well you can do with YOUR physique. Do not limit yourself on what you can and can’t do. Everything is possible.

    • Layla says:

      Yes, I agree Magalita. Bret, first off, I love your site and your book has helped me a lot. But, I think that posts like this that idolize women for genetic traits they were born with goes against the values and concepts you promote. Your message that women can have a great figure if they work hard is very motivating to your fans. But posts like this taint your message and do not take the female perspective (and many of your readers are female). Sure, there’s nothing wrong with admiring beautiful bodies and many women can admire the bodies of other women without becoming envious, but that’s not why we come to your site. Trust me, there are more photos and articles devoted to beautiful female bodies than we can ever consume.

      I think it was a wise decision to partner with Kellie Davis in writing Strong Curves. When I read the book I could tell that it was written from a female perspective, as it did not include male-perspective comments like those in this post. I think that what has made you so successful is A) your expertise and technical knowledge and B) your ability to market yourself to women by taking the female perspective. However, posts like this really detract from your credibility and may turn women readers away.

      • Jenna says:

        Layla: Hello Layla. I’m a bit confused. Why shouldn’t an article written by a man not include male-perspective comments? Personally I think it’s great that we have both male and female experts because they bring very different perspectives to the topic. Though some things going on in the male brain seem ridiculous to us women…. Lol. Still, I think it’s important to realize that guys (some guys) think about this stuff.

        As for the thing on genetics. Isn’t Bret the one who says genetics determine your approach, not the result? I think he puts a lot more belief in you than you do. I don’t think he is the one doubting your genetics.

        As for Magalita: As a fellow woman I can definitely recognize the emotions you are going through… However I don’t think they’re actually caused by the pictures/post as you assume. Feelings of inferiority are often caused by the habit of comparing yourself to others; You feel good when someone is worse off than you are, but bad when you see someone who is better/more fit/more beautiful than you are… The thing is, there will always be people who are further down the road than you are. Unless you correct this tendency to automatically compare yourself to people/images you will have endless opportunities to feel bad about yourself and it will destroy your self-esteem.

        Hope this was helpful to someone.

    • Maya says:

      Hi Magalita,
      I had a Brazilian butt lift surgery, many people are now prob thinking “You had surgery shame on you! You’re supposed to do this through years of work!” Well, I do work hard in the gym and lift to sculpt my figure, but I wanted a bigger booty than that could give, and I’m very happy with how it turned out. We use technology in so many ways, and I see surgery as simply another technology that we are able to use if we choose it. I live in LA where it’s more accepted as a cultural norm than in other cities. I simply wanted to share my story. I’m not telling you to go do it, I’m simply saying that for me, it was easier to go out and get it done than to reverse the years and years of ingrained self-judgement and instantaneous comparisons that resulted in self-hatred and daily frustration. That is a slow process but it can also be done. My therapist has taught me more about being the observer of my thoughts and to catch when I’m over exaggerating something that I see and fixating on it. Hope some of this helps.

  • Erin says:

    Love it Bret. When people say that sort of thing I cringe and die a little inside

  • Laura says:

    Great stuff thanks but Bret, when you say ‘do lots of’, how many reps and sets are you talking? Thanks for clarification.

  • Jamilah says:

    I am genetically predisposed to having a naturally large posterior which is enviable via pop culture but not so much in the female physique world. I’ve dieted hard, done just about every exercise on this page and lots of cardio with no real changes.

    The past 2 months I’ve seen a dramatic difference however. Lifting heavier on glutes and hamstrings, eating more fibrous carbs and…changing my cardio— steady state running twice a week plus hill sprints, running stairs and sprints/running on the track. Legs and glutes, are all tighter.

  • bodynsoil says:

    I’ve always been genetically inclined towards good glute development. As I age, I find myself doing more glute focused work to fight the effects of gravity. I’ve followed Bret’s programming for at least a year and I’m very happy with the results; I’m now keeping up my conditioning and keep my tush in it’s original location.

  • Jas says:

    Hi Bret, great info. I’m hoping to lean out but not sure which route to go…I am able to slightly alter my diet but to be completely honest it’s really hard for be to adhere to a strict diet so i am hoping for some advice on types of exercises to do to lean out (mainly concerned about my jiggly belly) or maybe foods to avoid (I don’t eat fast foods, junk foods, and a couple of fruit servings a day)

  • Everyone already knows there is no glute hamstring tie in muscle. The term “glute ham string tie in” is just describing the area in which we are talking about.

  • Turbo says:

    I have been doing cardio / lifting weights now for 25 years, and I can say with absolute certainty genetics largely determines the results in the butt/thigh area for women. This area is known to be the most stubborn and intractable (because long ago we dropped babies in the fields, and had to feed them when we hadn’t eaten) although hard work can make a difference. While I hardly have a butt anymore, thanks to body fat in the teens, my butt and upper hams will never be dimple free, smooth and tight. I have accepted the limitations of my body. When I look at pictures like these, I remind myself 1) I have earned everything I have without drugs or surgery 2) I have great symmetry and proportion 2) I have a PhD. Ultimately, your self-esteem should not be determined by the shape or texture of your ass. If it is, you need to see yourself first as a human being, not as a piece of flesh.

  • Mara says:

    I swear i store 99% of my body fat in my butt…yes it is big but god damn it is hard to tone and it jiggles like crazy. I have been trying so hard to improve the glute meets hammie area but it just seems to look saggy. If I show a pic of my booty side on it looks incredibly plump and round but from the back view it looks deflated it’s so frustrating. After a good glute session I see and feel my glutes popping so I know there is muscle there but the amount of fat surrounding it is hindering my progress. If I lose weight I will fall into an unhealthy weight range, there really is no other place on my body that has any fat.

  • Amanda says:

    Lol at how all the women you find “perfect” have silicone in their asses. For someone purporting to be the glute guy you sure are a moron about this. In the words of our great leader, “sad.”

    • Amanda, I know some of these ladies and have followed the others and witnessed their rather linear progression in glute growth over time. They don’t have silicone, but it makes you feel better about yourself to think they do. Ironically, you are the moron here. In the words of a very smart man, “You are pathetic.”

      • John says:

        Attacking your readers is unprofessional and it indicates that you are insecure. I believe Amanda meant plastic surgery when she said ‘silicone’. So, while some of those women don’t literally have silicone in their behinds, they have had plastic surgery. This isn’t an opinion, it’s a fact. You can read legal documents filed by Kim Kardashian, online, which refer to her surgery. Or you could use your own common sense. If you actually believe that her ass is real, you probably are, as Amanda said, a moron. But more importantly, you lack a basic understanding of anatomy and physics.

        • Good job white knighting here LOL. None of the ladies I featured on this blogpost have silicone in their glutes. That’s the discussion. Try to stay on topic and don’t veer off to Kim Kardashian. And spare me the lecture on professionalism – it’s my blog.

  • Rosanna says:

    I have been doing your STRONG CURVES workout for about four weeks. My problem is that I was born with great thighs (not too big but shapely), hamstrings and legs but my butt has absolutely no muscle. My lower body looks great from the side it looks FLAT and wide because of the lack of muscle. What exercises from the book should I work harder on or should I supplement other exercises.

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