The fitness industry has had many “movements” in the past few years: calorie restriction, thigh gaps, IIFYM, and many, many more – many of which I fell victim too when I first found myself wrapped up in the #fitspo corner of Instagram. But, as of late the focus has switched to a more inclusive, “body positive” vibe, which means that all shapes, sizes, and ways of exercising (for the most part) are celebrated – yay! My favourite part about it is that women are now embracing their curves, and welcoming weight gain as a part of building a healthy body – which is a far cry from the thigh-gap, weight-loss, self destructive fitness industry that was 2013.
Women now, including myself, are celebrating their bodies whether they’re petite, thicc, muscular, or just starting out. They’re also finding the strength to view their weight go up on the scale as a good thing as a result of lifting weights (which for so long was frowned upon because “it’ll make us bulky”).
What I have found that almost every woman seems to be working towards though, is a big butt. It’s kind of hard not to notice when every fitness chick’s insta page is laced with booty pics.
Almost every girl I know wants to build a juicy behind, but not all of them know how to do it (hence why I’m making this post). Tooting my own horn a little bit here but after many years in the gym, I’ve sculpted quite the muscular, powerful behind, and I want to help you do the same. I actually had a woman come up to me the other day – as some of you may have seen on my Instagram story (@littlebitoflouise #shamelessplug) – and ask me if I was wearing the underwear with the butt padding in them because there’s “no way that’s real”. Um?? NEWS FLASH… these buns are as real as the day I was born… the glutes YOU want are attainable (without padded undies).
By adding the next 5 exercises into your leg day routine a couple of times a week, I promise you you will see some growth in your glutes (granted that you’re eating enough food to help them grow… I’ll do a blog post about that, too). If executed correctly, these 5 exercises alone make for a killer workout.
Like Bret Contreras says, “The Thrust is a MUST” (if you don’t know who Bret is 1. Where have you been, and 2. Go lurk his Instagram @bretcontreras1). Check out his Hip Thrust blog post here.
What I love about this exercise is that you can go HEAVY, but the chance of injury is quite low as no joints are put under extreme pressure. That, and the load is directly over the hips, which means that the glutes are putting in a lot of effort to get the bar up.
I know that a lot of people stray away from this exercise (especially men) because they find it painful on their legs where the bar sits, and because it’s a pretty awkward movement to perform while in a gym full of people. First of all – use a pad or a mat between your legs and the bar, that solves the pain problem. Secondly, just don’t make eye contact with anyone while you’re doing this movement, and just know that your butt is going to look better than theirs in the long run.
The key to this exercise is the set up – if you set it up wrong it’s going to feel awkward, and it’s not going to target what you want it too (ya butt). Start with a bench or box that comes to about knee height, or shoulder blade height when you’re sitting next to it on the floor. As for the bar, I find that bumper plates, or 45’s are the best plates to load with as this wa you can just easily roll the bar onto your lap. Position your back so that the bench/box is tucked right under your shoulder blades. Your feet should be placed under your knees so that when your hips are locked out at the top of the movement there is a 90 degree angle between your shins and thighs, toes pointed slightly out.
If you’re new to this exercise I would recommend starting with just your body weight so that you can get the form down before you add weight.
Push through your heels, more towards the outside of your foot – really focus on squeezing your glutes to push your hips up. Keep your chin tucked to avoid your head and torso moving around too much. Your upper body should remain stable for the duration of the movement; the only thing that should be actively moving is your hips.
You will likely be able to go a lot heavier for this movement than you think. I can hip thrust about double what I can squat to put things into perspective!
(Pls excuse my double chin in these pics… if anyone knows how to make their chin not look like a crescent roll while doing this exercise please teach me your ways)
Stiff Leg Sumo Landmine Deadlifts
These used to be a staple in my leg day routine when I first started lifting many, many years ago, and for some reason I stopped doing them. It actually wasn’t until recently that I reincorporated them into my glute focused workouts and I can fully say they’re back to being one of my faves for the booty. There aren’t many exercises that give a burn like this one does.
Find yourself a barbell, and a corner… or one of those thingies on the ground that you can slot the end of your barbell into (anyone know what they’re called??). Load the other end of the bar up with plates – I find using smaller plates for this exercise is better as it allows for a deeper hamstring extension before the plate hits the ground. You’ll likely be able to lift a lot more weigh than you think in this exercise. Stand facing the bar, stranding it with a wide stance and your toes pointing slightly outwards. The end of the bar should be just about in line with the bottom of your shoe laces.
When initiating this movement, your focus should be on pushing your hips backwards, as opposed too moving the bar up and down, this way you will increase the stretch in your glutes and hamstrings. Your glutes should feel like they’re being “stretched apart” at the bottom of the exercise (when the bar is closest to the ground). When bringing the bar up (or bringing your hips forward), push through your heels and the outside of your foot (much like the in the Hip Thrust). At the top of the movement, keep your pelvis tucked underneath your body, and over extend your hips a little bit for that extra glue squeeze.
Reverse Hack Squats
I actually never used to be the biggest fan of machines but over time I have realized that there are a select few that serve a great purpose for targeting specific muscle groups; the hack squat machine being one of them.
I originally was going to put Good Mornings onto my top 5, however if we’re talking specifically glute building, I think that the Reverse Hack Squat serves better. Good Mornings are more of a complete posterior chain, and core stability exercise, which although great, not what the point of this post is. The Reverse Hack Squat allows you to go heavier without compromising your low back and form, which allows you to put more of a load onto the glutes.
HOWEVER, if you don’t have a hack squat machine in your gym, good mornings will work just fine, just make sure to increase the reps a little to account for the lack of weight loaded onto your back.
Facing the machine, adopt the same stance that you did with the Landline Sumo Deadlift (wide feet… or as wide as the platform will let you, toes pointing slightly out). For added resistance to the medial glutes, I add a hip circle around the tops of my knees.
Much like you did in the Landmine Sumo Deadlift, initiate this movement by pushing your bum back out behind you – hinging at the hips. Bend as far as you can without putting strain on your low back – you want to feel almost as if you’re being folded in half. Then, push your hips forward by squeezing your glutes while keeping your pelvis tucked under your body. Super similar in movement pattern as the Landmine Sumo Deadlift except the load is on the shoulders, not below your hips!
Like most glute exercises, you will get some funny looks doing this one… mostly because you’ll likely be the only one in the gym doing these. I have only ever seen these done by one other person, and that is Robin Gallant (@robingallant) – who inspired me to include it into my routine (see the video she did on it here). What I love so much about this exercise is that I feel it in every. single. part. of my glutes… and it BURNS.
You’ll need a hip circle/mini band to perform this exercise, these are the ones that I use.
Place a hip circle around the tops of your knees and grab either a dumbbell or a plate. I usually use a plate as I find that it’s easier to grip and doesn’t catch as easily on the hip circle. You want a wide stance for this exercise – not as wide as the Landmine Sumo Deadlift, but wider than your regular squat stance. Again, toes pointing out.
Push your hips back (are you noticing a theme here?) and slightly bend your knees to lower the weight down between your legs and backwards – like you’re reaching to tap your heels. Keeping your knees pushing out into the band and squeeze your glutes to bring yourself back to standing. At this point your pelvis should still be tucked under your body – try not to fully extend your torso at the top of this movement to keep your gluts stressed for the entire set.
Another one of the few machines I use is the hip abduction machine. Hip abductions can also be done with one of the mini bands I mentioned above, but to create more of a resistance, the machine works better as you are able to increase the weight significantly more.
Traditionally this machine is mean to be sat on in an upright position, with your back against the pad, and your arms down by your side. I don’t know about you, but when I do hip abductions in this position I just end up getting an awkward cramp in my hips and no glute engagement. So instead, I opt to scooch my bum forward on the seat, and lean forward so that I can place my hands onto the machine itself.
When performing the movement, make sure you’re focusing more on pushing out into the pads with your knees as opposed to moving the levers with your feet.
My favourite way to execute this burnout is to do a pyramid with the weight, and on the way down treat it like a drop set.
I hope you found this post helpful in your quest to building a big, strong backside! Let me know what you think of the exercises if you decide to give them a try!
Until next time