Glute Isolation Exercises to Build Strength and Speed
There are a lot of simple movements that can be utilized to train our glutes. On top of that, we need to think about why we are training our glutes for sports performance: more explosive out of the blocks like a sprinter, quicker with acceleration during the drive phase, a football player trying to cut as quickly as possible, or are we training for general hypertrophy.
For this article, we are going to be discussing training for general hypertrophy. We are just trying to increase the volume of our butt. The glute max and glute medius. Oftentimes coaches get carried away with ridiculous exercises. Studies are showing quite the contrary, especially when it involves the first movement we will discuss.
4. Walking Lunges
This movement smashes the glute max and even a little bit of the glute medius is just focusing on walking lunges. We recommend holding dumbbells while doing walking lunges going nice and easy. The first set, go nice and heavy. The second set, go even a little heavier. Focus on staying upright and getting a good stretch all the way in the glute before coming back up.
As the body and nervous system get more fatigued, drop the heavyweights, rest a minute to get the glycogen replenishment in the muscles, and now do a set of thirty reps straight, alternating legs to get some serious time under tension.
The first key factor here with walking lunges is to potentiate the body with heavier dumbbells and then doing drop-sets of longer durations with lighter weights to help develop the glute max.
3. Single-Leg Glute Bridge
We use this movement typically within a superset to hammer hypertrophy work. We like to use it with the #1 glute exercise that way.
Ideally, the shoulders are on a bench, the one leg is lengthened, and the toes are up with the down leg. We want to have the shoulders retracted a little bit on the bench. Drive the heel into the ground and initiate the glutes to drive the hips up. Drop the hips down and come back up.
Make sure the hips are in line with the trunk. Ideally, we want to be aware of where the hip level is from leg to leg. Do the weak side first or once fatiguing later in a workout try an alternate which side is done first so the fatigued side is not always being done last.
This is a movement that can be used as a warm-up but can really be utilized as an accessory that pairs with a movement to super-set when fully focusing on targeting the glutes. Do two to three sets of ten reps on for each butt cheek.
2. Butterfly Glute Ham Raise
This movement is used to really focus on the glute med. Get on the glute-ham and spread the legs out by putting the feet in a duck position with the knees out. It can be done with bodyweight, a bar on the back, hold a dumbbell, or a band around the neck. From there go ahead and come up, engaging the glutes to raise the torso.
We want to see the heel push in even more to get the lower back to coordinate in conjunction with the glute med and glute max to make the movement feel more coordinated. When athletes learn how to coordinate more effectively, the muscles end up spasming a little bit more. Because of that, start doing this movement for two to three weeks with no load. As the skill level of performing the movement improves, start adding reps. Once that becomes routine, start adding resistance.
A key factor with athletes with strong glutes is that they tend to have much healthier backs. The reason being is that the entire posterior chain is working together. Where if there is an inefficiency in coordination or whatever might be impinging those muscular groups may lead to issues.
Do it for two to three sets for ten to fifteen reps.
1. High Bar Back Squat
No need to make it complicated. The athletes with the largest glutes all squat: weightlifters, crossfitters, sprinters. Recently there was a ten-week study where researchers took seventeen men and had some guys do partial-range of motion back squats and the other group did full-range of motion back squats. The results came back that the guys doing full range of motion back squats, typically with a high bar, the volume of the muscle mass in their glutes grew off the chart compared to those who did a partial range of motion back squats.
What we like to do at Garage Strength when we are training athletes for hypertrophic gains in with the glutes, we will have them execute an ass to grass high bar back squat. We want the athlete to drive up through their heels and the rest of the foot once in the bottom of the position. At the top we want them to squeeze the glutes at the top of the movement.
Do two to three sets of five to ten reps. Also, remember this movement can be paired with the single-leg glute bridges to pre-fatigue the glutes for the back squat. The isolated movement with the compound movement helps trigger different responses. We can trigger different responses with the load on the bar as well. Drop sets work great in this regard.
A full range of motion high bar back squat is the best exercise to enhance the size of the glutes.
We need to remember that the glute max is the largest muscle in the posterior chain. The glutes will generate a ton of force for any person involved in athletics. A big and lean butt means more force generated. Performing these four movements, the high bar back squat with a full range of motion, butterfly glute ham raises, single-leg glute bridges, and walking lunges, all help the booty get thick, strong, and powerful. Don’t sleep on the booty gains. And when in doubt, squat ass to grass.
Dane Miller is the owner and founder of Garage Strength Sports Performance. He works with a select handful of clients on building comprehensive programs for fitness and nutrition. Several times a year he leads a workshop for coaches, trainers, and fitness enthusiasts.