“Guys train legs; they don’t focus on glutes,” my editor told me, as he once more shot down my idea for a “Men’s Guide to Glutes” training feature.
1 Go Glutes First
Any leg workout worth its salt starts with heavy squats, and you won’t get any argument from me here. The squat is the single-best overall lower-body builder, targeting the quads, hamstrings and glutes. There’s no variation that really “isolates” the glutes, but if you’re looking to emphasize them, here’s a suggestion: Do the type of squat that powerlifters use, which is called a low-bar squat.
The bar is placed a little further down on your shoulders, resting on your rear delts—not your traps—which keeps you in a more inclined position and slightly changes your center of mass. You’ll immediately be able to use more weight with greater glute/hip action and less lower-quad activation. There’s also less stress on the knees with this version.
2 Go Deep
Ever see the skinny guy at the gym who loads up the bar or leg press and descends just an inch or two, apparently impressing himself that he can handle the heavy load? Doing such partial reps shortchanges results, but nowhere more than the glutes.
The glutes and hamstrings work hard to control the rate of your descent, but they really kick in when exploding out of the bottom position. If you’re not descending to a point at which your thighs are about parallel with the floor—a knee bend of about 90 degrees or less—the glutes just aren’t getting maximal activation. Shallow depth-of-squat moves more predominantly target the quads.
This applies to all your multijoint movements, not just squats, so endeavor to descend to a point as deep as you can in all multijoint lower-body movements.
3 Go High
While some exercises hit the glutes better than others, exercise selection isn’t the only thing that matters. Your foot position on leg presses, machine squats, hack squats, Smith-machine squats, and lying machine squats can all be adjusted to make the glutes work harder.
One goal when targeting glutes is to reduce knee flexion and extension, which lessens the stimulus on your quads. When you place your feet higher on a platform or sled—rather than directly beneath your body—the degree of knee flexion/extension gets reduced, and you’re able to better stimulate your glutes.
4 Go Wide
Long-limbed bodybuilders have long opted for a wider stance for comfort, but a wider stance also means greater glute activation. That’s because this stance allows for greater posterior displacement of the hips.
5 Let’s Go Lunge
You may think lunges aren’t as manly as squats, but would you think otherwise if I told you four-time Mr. Olympia Jay Cutler used to finish his two-hour weekly leg assault with walking lunges with 225-275 pounds on his back for 25 steps outside on the blacktop in the 130-degree Las Vegas summer heat?
Lunges can be a great finishing move for glutes because of the degree of hip extension involved, especially when you take longer steps. They range from very simple—the unweighted stationary lunge in which your feet remain in a split position, for example—to very challenging, such as weighted reverse lunges. Hold dumbbells in your hands or a bar across your back to work in your desired target rep range. You can even ditch the weight as you reach failure for a dropset that’s sure to get your glutes pumped.
………………..so a movement like Romanians targets the hamstrings mainly from the hip joint. The emphasis is not only on the upper hamstrings here but the glutes as well, so give them an extra squeeze in the standing position. And be sure to include some kind of leg curl to complete your hamstring workout.
………………..because of the degree of muscle mass involved. When your goal is to bring up a particular muscle group, preceding it with a rest day better ensures you’ll have the energy to tackle the heavy weights. Your muscle glycogen stores will be topped off when you’ve eaten well, and you’ll be well rested. And don’t precede your workout with an extensive cardio session; limit it to just a warm-up to get the blood flowing.
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