Science Based Glute Training
Everyone likes well developed glutes. Here's how to optimally train them:
1️⃣ Highest Muscle Activation: Multiple studies have shown hip thrusts elicit the highest glute EMG activity.
2️⃣ Best squat variation: A back or smith machine squat with shins vertical. It's critical to keep the shins as vertical as possible for maximum glute activation in the squat. Doing so takes some emphasis off the quads and places it on the glutes.
3️⃣Stance width: Studies have shown taking slightly wider stance with the toes pointed out will activate the glutes more compared to a regular squat.
4️⃣ Depth: Glute activation has been shown to not change with varying squat depth when a relative load percentage is assigned. Basically, if you squat 315 ass to grass it will be better than only quarter squatting it because of the larger range of motion. However, if you take 405 to parallel or a bit above, it will actual yield the same percentage of glute activation. I would recommend using a weight you can squat to parallel and using that as a benchmark for depth when targeting the glutes. *Numbers are just made up, not actual examples*
5️⃣Accessory Exercises: There are three main categories of glute exercises: pumpers, stretchers, and activators. All three categories are critical to complete glute development. Good stretcher exercises would be Romianian deadlifts and walking lunges with a long and controlled stride which have both been show to activate the glutes well, making them solid accessory exercises. For activators, some good go-to's are cable pull-throughs and cable kick-backs. Both have been shown to target the glutes very well. For the last group, pumpers, banded sumo walks and frog pumps are great movements!
▪️Volume Recommendations: Studies show training the glutes at least two time per week is key. Glute expert, Bret Contreras recommends hitting stretchers such as squats and lunges every 3-4 days, activators like hip thrusts and cable pull throughs every 2-3 days and pumpers like banded sumo walks almost everyday.
▫️Fiber Type: The gluteus maximus is pretty much and even 50/50 split of fast and slow twitch fibers while the gluteus medius is slightly more slow twitch dominant. Thus, using high and low reps is important with a slight bias toward more high rep work.
▪️Tips and Tricks: Utilizing a warm up/activation circuit is hugely beneficial for establishing a mind-muscle connection with the glutes which is very important for targeting them. Exercises like a banded sumo walk are great for this. Slow eccentrics always help with breaking down the muscle which is critical for muscle growth. Eccentric-focused reps are a great addition for any hypertrophy-focused plan. Also, adding a slight pause at the top of the hip thrusts to squeeze the muscle increases time under tension which can lead to greater muscle gains.
▫️Sample Glute Focused Leg Day:
•Banded sumo walk 2x8 steps/side
•Frog pumps 2x20
1️⃣Hip thrusts 4x8 ➡️Hold last rep of 4th set at top for as long as possible
2️⃣Walking lunges 3x10/side
3️⃣Romanian deadlifts 3x12
4️⃣Cable kick-backs 3x15/side
5️⃣Back extension w/glute focus 3x20
For more glute training and advice check out Bret Contreras aka "The Glute Guy" !