Despite the fact that it's the largest muscle group in the body, the glutes are often weak and underdeveloped. This could be partially due to the fact that in today's society, their main job is to press against the seat of a chair rather than extend the hips. No matter your fitness level, if you commit to a regular routine of glute-targeting exercises, you can develop the best glutes possible.
Tighten and Lift
The most effective way to develop your glutes is through strength training. Muscle development of any kind will only occur if you challenge your muscles on a regular basis. Experienced exercisers should opt for heavier dumbbells or, if you have a spotter, a barbell. If you're new to exercise, you can use only just your body weight or lighter weights and progressively work up. Squats, lunges, good mornings, deadlifts, barbell glute bridges, barbell hip thrusts and step-ups should all be performed with a challenging weight to build your glutes. If you're not comfortable with free weights, the leg press machine, cable tower and Smith machine are effective alternatives.
Cardiovascular exercise is primarily reserved for improving cardio fitness, but if you choose the right type of exercise, it can also aid in glute development. Stair climber machines specifically target the glutes, as does running stairs. Any type of incline is your glutes' worst nightmare; jogging or walking on an inclined treadmill or working at a high incline on an elliptical will give your glutes a grueling workout. Cycling, indoors or out, is another surefire way to get your glutes firing on all cylinders. Crank up the resistance on the stair climber, elliptical and bike to really activate your glutes. Too much cardio can have a detrimental effect on muscle building, so keep your workouts under 30 minutes.
Feel the Burn
While strength exercises develop your glutes with heavier weights, isolation exercises use lower or no weight to fully fatigue the muscle, which is necessary for muscle growth. Exercises such as the glute bridge, hip extensions, donkey kicks, cable kickbacks, hip abduction, stability ball reverse extensions, mountain climbers, box jumps and side bridges all target your glutes. These exercises can be performed with only your body weight or with added resistance.
Workout Tips to Develop Your Best Glutes
Along with the right exercises, you also must follow an effective program. Cardio exercises can be done every day if you choose, but aim for at least 30 minutes a day, five days per week. Strength training and isolation exercises should be done no more than three days per week since you're training a specific body part. On strength days, begin with a five- to 10-minute warm-up, then perform the strength exercises first while your muscles are fresh. Follow with the cardio and finish with the isolation exercises to sufficiently fatigue your glutes. Aim for three to six sets of eight to 12 reps of each strength exercise. Your weights should be heavy enough that you cannot complete more than 12 reps. For each isolation exercises, perform two or three sets of 15 to 20 reps of each.
- Strength Training Anatomy, Second Edition; Frederic Delavier
- National Strength and Conditioning Association Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning, Third Edition; Thomas R. Baechle and Roger W. Earle
- ExRx.net: Hips