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What Builds the Glutes Best?

By December 10, 2013January 8th, 2019Glute Training, Glutes

Two nights ago, I received a notification on my phone that somebody had tagged me on Instagram. I clicked on the notifications to find two very impressive before/after pics in terms of glute transformation. I asked Sasha (the lady who tagged me) to email me as I wanted to feature her on the blog. Yesterday, she replied with this email:

“Hi Bret!

This is Sasha, @sasha_anne_fit on instagram! I would definitely love it if you would post my pics on your blog! Let me first say that your book is incredible! When I was starting as a personal trainer I was also prepping for my first NPC show. I was looking to develop the glutes along the lines of Nathalia Melo but after my first show I couldn’t understand why the numerous amounts of squats, lunges, RDLs were not working! It was frustrating! After my mom handed me your book as a present I learned so much more as a trainer and a competitor. Hip thrusts have become my new favorite exercise. I was shocked how much of a difference they made in my shape! You are a hero to me and I’m sure a lot of other trainers and athletes. I hope to cross paths with you soon.


Here are the two pictures that Sasha posted, along with her feedback:

This is my 16-week glute transformation from the end of April to the middle of August. I put a lot of focus on my glutes and hamstrings while preparing for whichever show I was ready for next. I’m shocked at how much of a change I made in between! Naturally, I don’t have a butt at all. Heavy weightlifting helped me with shape and fullness.


Here’s another glute transformation for you ladies! Don’t think that just squatting will get you the booty you want! Biomechanically, the glutes aren’t maximally involved in squatting, lunging or deadlifting. They’re only contracted at their max potential from bent leg hip hyperextension exercises. I do a lot of hip thrusts, hip extensions (kick backs), glute bridges, seated abduction etc. to work my glutes.


As you can see, Sasha had been doing ample amounts of squatting, lunging, and RDLing, but was not getting the results she wanted. After implementing hip thrusts for 4 months, along with other specialized glute exercises, her glutes radically transformed.

My glute training regimens have always included a variety of glute exercises, and I’m a big fan of various squat, deadlift, and single leg variations. However, I center my glute training programs around the hip thrust for several reasons: 1) I believe that they maximize the tension on the glutes, as evidenced by the higher mean and peak EMG activation compared to other popular exercises, 2) I believe that they maximize metabolic stress on the glutes, as evidenced by the incredible burn they elicit when performing higher repetition sets, and 3) since I started employing the hip thrust as a personal trainer, my “glute transforming ability” increased dramatically with clients. I also receive tons of feedback from lifters like Sasha who report similar results after centering their glute training on the hip thrust.

Keep doing a variety of glute exercises, but just make sure that you’re incorporating the hip thrust. Granted, your glutes might not transform like Sasha’s, but since it’s very hard to reshape the glutes, you need to be doing everything in your power to entice them to remodel. And Sasha, you are awesome, and I’m very proud of your transformation!


  • Jerome Bolze says:

    Hi Bret, which book is Sasha referring to in this blog?

    Thanks 🙂

  • Jerome says:

    Thank you!

    What is the best way to contact you privately for your services?

  • Amy Perry says:

    Does the book include a program to follow? I compete powerlifting and so I’m trying to figure out how to incorporate hip thrust into my program.

    • Bret says:

      Yes it does Amy. But just add hip thrusts to your squat and deadlift days (2-3 sets twice per week). That should do the trick.

      • Rose says:

        Hello Bret, recently I found your blog and I’m happy I found it, however I realize I need to add weights to my exercises eventually, but what are the best glute activation exercises, and I also don’t really have access to a gym right now, is there anything I can substitute for barbell hip thrusts, squats, glute bridges etc? Like maybe dumbbells or anything really?

  • I didn’t even realize that was the same bum at first! haha Awesome work!!

  • Emily steezy says:

    Holy hotness Sasha!! Very impressive! Nice work!

  • Amanda says:

    WOW!!! I have something along her before glutes except I’m fatter and I’m now 9 months pregnant… I have been following your blog for a while and I really appreciate all the glute discoveries lol. I tried implementing some of your stuff but than I found out I was pregnant and now I’m set back but thats ok! I cannot wait to try out the ebooks and subscribe to your get glutes program. But this just made sense I know I’ve been doing it wrong all along I was focused on squats, DLs, Romanians a lunge here and there and not glute specific training. I got too caught up in the “big” “compound” heavy exercises being all you need. And I read on one of your articles that these glut-tastic Brazilians dedicate 3 days per week to just glutes- really working them and using higher reps even. I always laughed at the girls on the mats doing endless kickbacks and Jane Fonda-esque moves but it looks like I might get down and start doing them myself!! Great work!!

    • Bret says:

      Amanda, some women see incredible results from squats, deadlifts, and lunges, while others don’t. Hell, some women see incredible results from hip thrusts, bb glute bridges, and high rep glute assistance lifts, while others don’t. I feel that the hip thrust is the best overall glute exercise, but the best methods for building glutes includes incorporating all of these exercises into a program – hence Strong Curves and Get Glutes. But yes, the Jane Fonda stuff can really help, contrary to most people’s opinion.

  • Brett YOU AND your Strong Curves book is amazing!! I too have started to focus my leg (booty, hamstring emphasis) day with hip thrust and put them in my friends training program as well and the BOTH of us have seen great improvements! I love my squats and RDLs for sure but those hip thrust take it to a new level as far as “feeling the burn” and the level of activation I actually feel in the glutes while performing the exercise. Hip thrust also feel better on my body than heavy squats or deads with my moody back! Just had to share the excitement….looking great Sasha!!

  • Sheila says:

    just…WOW!!! And of course, great work!

  • Chris says:

    I see the hip thrust has made its way to Brazil as well

    • Bret says:

      Sweet!!! I messaged her a while back and suggested she start hip thrusting. She does all the other glute exercises, so it’s time she learned the hip thrust haha. Nice to see her doing it finally.

      • Whitley says:

        Three things jump out; tempo, ROM and elevated feet. Please comment accordingly, particularly on her elevated feet. By placing her feet on a pad, her knees are slightly above her shoulders, recommended??

  • Kelli Michelle says:

    Awesome progress- Bret is a great teacher

  • Martin says:

    Hi Bret

    Remember your post asking about the kind of pics you show? Well watch it hit the fan now!! HAHAHA. They will love ya or hate ya, but this shows that you are doing a great job!

    • Bret says:

      Martin, before/after pics are acceptable. Just not zoomed in pics of girls in lingerie, etc. Speaking of, I haven’t been incorporating male glute pics lately – need to remember to do that!

  • Karol says:

    This might be a silly question.
    If I buy the hip thruster for home , will I reach a point that I need to do the exercise with a barbell?

  • BB says:

    Sasha’s results are incredible! I was reading the Jane Fonda comments above, and was just thinking, are the 6 minute butt blaster type workouts on youtube:

    effective, also? At least for activation?

    I really like how Sasha’s bum filled out at the sides.

  • Ashley says:


    I’ve been dying to incorporate hip thrusts, but it never seems like there is a convenient place in the gym to perform them. I’m sorry if this is a super lame question, but where do most people perform these? At a bench press station? Take the barbell from the squat rack and drag it somewhere else?

    I’ve just recently started doing StrongCurves and I’m pretty amped on it; I’ve been doing everything in the program except barbell hip thrusts and bridges because I can’t seem to find a good spot to do them. But my friends already say my butt looks bigger, so I’ve got that going for me 🙂 Thanks!!

    • WickedJourney says:

      I have the same “super lame” question. I am on day 4 of Strong Curves and have had the same newbie problem. Apparently whatever I did on days 1&2 wasn’t the best idea because MAN did I look/feel awkward and get stares! The deAdlifting plates didn’t look like they would give me full range of motion. So I grabbed a bar and plates from the squatrack and struggled while lying down to get them over my knees. OUCH!! Yes, grace and beauty…. That’s me!! But on the upside. I am SUPER STOKED!! I am a 49 yr old mom with cancer in my hip bone. With my Dr’s permission I started lifting to preserve/build muscle 4 months ago. The gym rat helping me quit me because my squat wasn’t improving. He said I just physically couldn’t do it and to “find another hobby!” After reading Strong Curves, I identified my weaknesses. And, after TWO workouts, I can already see improvement!! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! Now if you can just help me not look like a dork at the gym when that £#%^ gym rat saunters in……

      • Polina says:

        In the beginning , when I just started to implement hipthrust and glutebridges into my workouts, I also got wierd looks from men and women.
        They probably thought :” What the hell is she doing?”
        I felt a bit embarrased, but after few times I didn’t even care.
        They allready know, when I go to the locker to take my hampton pad out of may bag. 🙂

        I even got some weird interest from a trainer , who thought it was a good idea standing by me when I was perfoming quadruped hip extension. (standing on my all 4) and commenting on how well my glutes are working. It sounded perverse hh

        Anyway, do your hipthrust and be proud of yourself!
        Not everyone knows how to work the glutes, but we do! (thanks to Bret of course)

    • Becky G says:

      I have had the same problems with the gym. I work out at LA Fitness and all the benches are bolted to the ground! What I started doing just to get in the groove was body weight bridges 3-5 x/week off of a row machine back in the corner that doesn’t get used as much and is a good height off the floor. That alone was helful. Then I discovered I can use the short bar (for arm curls) and set up in between two flat benches but it is still hard to do as real estate is at a premium in the evenings. My husband marks out my territory and I “mark” my station by laying on the ground and not leaving, kind of like a dog marking his space I guess, I toss my estrogen around as hard as I can! Once they see what I am doing I get appreciate winks and glances but so far not a single person has tried doing them with me and I have challenged a few of the guys and trainers! I don’t lift too heavy as it is a lot of plates to put back and I also don’t use the 45’s as I don’t get as good a range of motion. I have been using 25’s and adding 10’s to them, so far I am up to about 125# I think. My last day of work is Monday so we are going to start working out in the mid afternoon when we can have the floor to ourselves then I will start lifing heavy and i can’t wait!!!

    • Eden Elan says:


      I always do my hip thrusts in a squat cage. I work out at LA Fitness and they have the aerobic step benches. I just put a step with 4 risers in the cage, set up the barbell at the lowest setting, load it up with plates, (on heavy days I’m doing 5×5’s with 295#) and I then pick up each side of the barbell to set it on the ground. The cage seems to keep the pervs at a distance 😉 Anyway, hope that helps!

  • emarnyc says:

    Ashley, I do my barbell hip thrusts in the gym using a bench. Pending the amount of weight you can handle, you can use a weighted barbell, or use a barbell and add the needed plates. I always use a spotter the latter. I’m up to 6 45 pound plates so I usually have two spotters, one on each side. Because it’s such a different exercise, you won’t have a problem getting a guy to help you pump all that weight!

    And I’m up 2.25″ extra across my glutes since I started, so Bret is a master at his program!

  • Polina says:

    The most difficult question that people ask, when they see me doin hipthrusts is this :” DOes it works>” ” Do you see change?”
    Whst am I supposed to answer?:)
    My glutes didn’t get bigger, but I certainly feel more pleased with them.
    THey are much stronger and a bit rounder.

    I am always afraid to say, :”‘Yeah, it works” and to hear someone tell me :” YOU can’t tell by hoe it looks” hh

    Maybe it’s just me insecure , does anyone has thoughts on this subject?

  • keith22fine says:

    WOW!! that is an amazing transformation

  • Jennifer says:

    Fantastic work!

  • Tanisha says:

    Wow!! These photos are such great inspiration!! Great job Sasha!

  • Brad says:

    I’ve struggled feeling my glutes when doing hip thrusts until I performed them on the floor by spreading my legs way out, and pulling my feet as close to my butt as possible. This seems to allow me to keep a natural curve in my back, and I’ve actually made my butt sore; even though I’m weak as h@## with this lift (I use a dumbbell). Furthermore, I had SI joint issues from doing lunges, and this lift has seemingly corrected this issue and eased my back pain. Have you experienced anything like this with any of your clients? Why do you think this is so effective for me when others seem to benefit from your traditional form? Anyways, thanks for the research, and innovation. Your hip thrusts may just change my life to one without back pain!

  • Deepika says:

    The results look awesome!! I do squats, lunges and step-ups but my glutes are not showing any great results as my quads and hams. Will start with hip thrust now. I can learn the form from your videos right? How many sets and reps do you suggest? I understood to include it on squats and deadlift day. But not clear how many sets and how many reps. Please suggest. Thank you

  • patricia says:

    amazing awesome great work!

  • Natasha says:

    What do you do if you don’t have a strong guy like yourself to place the heavy bar on you for hip thrust? I tried to modify with the Smith machine, but it didn’t work so well. Aside from the Smith, there is an EZ Curl bar, some dumbbells and a bench. Any suggestions would be great.

  • Ruby says:

    Hi Bret!
    I got your SC book and I’ve been dying to try it out, except the gym that I’m at doesn’t have a squat rack or bars! I wanted to try the beginner program, but now I might be leaning towards home program instead.

    I guess my biggest question is would I be able to develop those nice strong curvy glutes without the use of a squat rack/doing weighted hip thrusts? If so, would the best outline to just follow the home regimen you have in the SC book?

  • Nick Steel says:

    I did hip thrusts and ended up building the upper outer part of my glutes far too much. It makes my hips look broader from the front. Any suggestions?

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