Great exercises to grow those glutes
First off, a message to all men: work your glutes as much as (meaning more than) you work those biceps. Strong glutes are important for building a powerful body, having correct posture as well as lessening the possibility of knee issues. Equally, put simply...“ain’t nothing wrong with some male glute gains”. Unfortunately, unless you are very dialled in and ensuring you are properly engaging your glutes in lifts like squats and deadlifts, then these exercises aren’t really going to cut it and you’ll need to perform some glute specific exercises. That said, I can understand why some people are slightly reluctant to perform some of the cable glute isolation exercises that we see in the gym. Not that there's anything wrong with these exercises, however, just in case, here are 4 alternative glute exercises for you all to try!
Barbell hip thrusts - perfect for replicating the big lifts
This is a great exercise, as long as you don’t mind the slightly odd stare you will get from other members in the gym. This exercise involves lying on the ground with your upper body resting on a bench or a box and rolling a barbell onto your hip crease and thrusting the bar upwards repeatedly. Whilst this exercise is beneficial for a number of reasons...primarily it stands out as you can likely use (fairly) similar weights to your squat or deadlift whilst properly targeting the glutes. As a result, depending on the weight used and the number of reps performed, it has the potential to be a great strength exercise, having a carryover to your squat and deadlift. A great hypertrophy movement for building that all important rump and even a great warm up to ensure your glutes are firing for your compound lifts.
Pretty much any lunge - great for targeting the glutes from different angles
Whilst all lunges work the legs, you can change the direction of the movement in order to place a greater emphasis on certain muscles. Here are a few of my personal favourites. Firstly, the reverse lunge and the bulgarian split squat, weighted or unweighted, are both great for not only reducing the stress placed on the knee, but equally, for placing more emphasis on the glutes rather than the quads compared to the standard forward lunge. Next, both the curtsy lunge and lateral lunge are great for targeting the gluteus medius (the side of the bum). And lastly, the bodyweight jump lunge, the unweighted version alone is tough enough, but once you’ve mastered that, try adding some light dumbbells for a real challenge. Of course, there are many more, but the take home message is...if you want bigger glutes, do some lunges.
Bear hug squats - the real squat to build your glutes
This variation of a squat involves hugging a sandbag, an atlas ball or any odd object at around chest height and performing squats with it. By holding your object of choice and staying upright with it, your glutes are engaged throughout. What’s more, your foot position is likely to be slightly wider than it would be in normal squats in order to allow the sandbag or atlas ball to move up and down whilst you hit proper depth. As a result, your glutes are even more targeted, making it a great squat variation to do just that. If you’ve never performed this exercise before, start with a lighter weight than you would do for normal squats and slowly build up. Once confident, try bear hug reverse lunges for a real challenge.
Strongman duck walks - the weighted carry for your lower body
This will definitely get some odd looks in the gym. However, as members who came to my outdoor Bootcamp-FXT classes in the park will know, if you slow the movement down, keep your upper body upright, point your toes slightly outwards and really focus on squeezing your glutes, this movement will seriously burn, even with a light weight. If you’ve never heard of this exercise, look up ‘strongman duck walk’ on Youtube. As with its better known counterpart, the farmer’s walk, one of the reasons this movement induces muscle growth is due to the time spent under tension for the muscles involved, such as the traps and forearms. Well, consider the duck walk as the glute variation of the farmer’s walk. Perform it in the gym for a specific distance or time (preferably when it's quiet) with a single dumbbell. As always, start off light and focus on form before going heavy. Superset it with some sumo deadlifts with the same dumbbell if you fancy walking funny for a few days.
By Luca Samara