Thanks to social media, there seems to be an increased focus on building your backside. With that goal comes the quest for better, more creative glutes exercises because sometimes you need a break from squats. Not that squats don’t train your glutes, it’s just that they don’t fully isolate them, and unless you have excellent hamstring flexibility, many times squats end up being more of a quad and back exercise.
Regardless of what some Instagram influencers might have you believe, building a strong butt doesn’t require any secretive potion, nor does it require doing 1,000 squats a day. Practice these exercises below and reap the benefits of a rock-solid rear end.
Heavy Hip Thrusters
As far as isolation and time under tension are concerned, hip thrusters are the holy grail of glute growth. Start your workout off with a heavy set of 5×5. Drive through your heels and squeeze your glutes at the top. Don’t rush through them – time under tension is key.
Single Leg Presses
Bilateral training is an important component of fitness. If you train both legs together, one will always dominate the other. Work these into your routine to minimize that effect.
Place your foot high on the plate, with your toes angled slightly outward. Mentally identify and focus on the range of motion that maximizes your time under tension. The key here is to take your quads out of the equation, so don’t lock your knee out at the top of the movement or bring your knee so far back that the effort transfers to your quads.
Perform four sets of 12-15 reps on each side, with minimal rest in between. Be sure to drive through your heels and mentally focus more on the muscle you’re isolating rather than on moving a ton of weight.
Concentrated Stiff-Legged Dumbbell Deadlifts
Choose two dumbbells of a weight that you can hold onto for 12-15 reps without losing your grip or rounding your back. Keep your legs as straight as possible without locking out your knees. Shift your hips back and imagine that you are trying to touch a wall behind you with your glutes. Lower the weights along your shins to just above your ankles. If you have done RDL’s (Romanian Deadlifts) before, then you are already familiar with what this should look like.
Here is where these get special: Contract your glutes and hamstrings and come up only 3/4 of the way. Do not fully return to a standing position. The key here is to maximize time under tension by not allowing your glutes and hamstrings to relax at the top of the movement. Perform 3-4 sets of 12-15 reps.
Stiff-Legged Cable Kickbacks
Choose a challenging weight. Attach the cable to your ankle and hinge forward from the hips until your upper body is parallel to the ground. Hold onto something and keep your knees very slightly bent. Kick straight back, keeping that slight bend in your knee throughout the movement. Briefly squeeze your glutes at the top and return your foot to parallel with your static leg. Do not use momentum. Maintain control throughout the entirety of the exercise. Perform four sets of 12-15 repetitions per leg. Use as little rest as possible and drop-set if you have to.
Reverse Abductor Machine
Set the pads of the machine at approximately 45-degree angles outward. Choose a low weight to start. Get on the machine backward, using the backrest to hold onto, and position your feet on the outsides of the pads. Squeeze your glutes to bring the pads together. Do four sets of 25, or five sets of 20 reps, drop-setting as necessary. This exercise is best used at the end of a workout as a burnout.