| July 10, 2021
Read time: 3 min.
When I first started working out, my goal was to build nice full glute training, but to keep my legs trim. So I got to work and started doing heavy squats, deadlifts, lunges, and the works. Changes were happening, until I realized my quads kept growing, but my glutes were staying kind of the same. So I pushed the weights even more, and again, quads grew, but glutes stayed the same.
It will depend on your unique anatomy (femur length, torso length, etc.), but for a lot of women, movements like squats and lunges will bias your quads over your glutes. So if you’d prefer to grow your glutes, but not your quads, here are some tips!
The first movement to incorporate is some kind of hip hinge. Romanian deadlifts are a great option, with dumbbells or barbells. I would recommend hinging just below your knees, or when you can no longer move your glutes further back. After you’ve hinged as far back as your glutes will allow, the rest of the work will be done predominantly by your lower back. This isn’t a bad thing, but most people aren’t looking to grow a thick lower back. If your focus is to grow your glutes, reduce the range of motion.
Reverse lunges, box squats, leg press, bulgarian split squats, deficit kettlebell squats are all great options. I know, I know, I previously mentioned squats weren’t growing my glutes anymore, only my quads. You can still squat, however. I simply changed how I was doing my squats. Previously, I had a wide stance (sumo stance), with feet turned out in my squats and leg press. While still a great movement, this was training my adductors more than my glutes. Due to the proximity of the adductors to my glutes, I felt like I was engaging my glutes. This is where it can get so confusing! Just because you ‘feel’ like something is working, doesn’t mean it’s optimal. Some glute recruitment was occurring, but I was mostly engaging my quads and adductors. Again, not a bad thing, but suboptimal for my goals. Instead, keep your stance more neutral, in line with your shoulders. This will reduce the amount of weight you can move, but will more effectively grow your glutes. In addition, aim to keep your knee and legs around 90 degrees when at the bottom of these movements, rather than moving your knees past your toes. Being able to move your knees past your toes is absolutely healthy, and should be a movement you are able to perform. For our purposes though, keep knees closer to a 90 degree angle, to more effectively hit your glutes.
Glute Bridge Exercise: Constant tension hip thrusts, dead stop hip thrust, kas glute bridge, and glute trainings are all excellent options. For hip thrusts, most standard benches will be too high for the standard female. You’ll need a lower bench or box to hip thrust off of. You want your torso to be in line with your legs at the top of the hip thrust, whereas most standard benches will leave your torso higher than your legs. Make sure to really contract your glutes at the top of the hip glute bridge exercise, putting your pelvis in neutral or at a slight posterior tilt. If you’re feeling your hamstrings more than your glutes, bring your feet in more. If you’re feeling your quads more, move your feet slightly further away from your body. At no point should your back hurt in any of these movements.
Excessive band work, adductor/abductor machines, heavy wide stance leg press, and heavy wide stance squats. These movements are great, but they’re not optimal for biasing glute growth. Exercise selection matters. A final note on glute growth is to eat accordingly to your goals. You could be on the best programming and training hard, but your results will be slow if you’re under eating protein and overall calories. Magic happens at maintenance/ slightly above maintenance. Most of your year should be spent here, and as little time as possible in a caloric deficit (dieting phase). Your glutes cannot grow if it doesn’t have sufficient building blocks to do so.
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