As a bikini fitness competitor, our primary focus is bringing an overall package to the stage that includes body proportion, shape of the muscles and stage presentation. One of the contributing factors to a winning look is the shape and fullness in the glutes and hamstrings. The standard is usually set by athletes that compete at the Olympia. As a personal trainer, the number one goal I hear most recurring is the desire for bigger glutes. This has become a trend amongst women, to have a booty like JLo or Kim Kardashian. In order to achieve this goal, your training and nutrition have to be aligned. Below, I have compiled my my Top 5 glute exercises that I incorporate into my weekly routine and have seen the best results with.
Why is it important to build the strength and stability of the posterior chain? The glutes are connected to our low back, so making these muscles strong aids in building stable muscles for the back. This helps alleviate low back pain along with improving flexibility in the hip flexors.
The first exercise that is great for building the glutes is the Hip Thrust . This exercise targets the glutes, hamstrings, quads, hip flexors and low back muscles. It can be performed in different ways including with bands, chains, dumbbells or my favorite, barbell. This is one staple exercise that activates and assists in building the upper glutes.
1) Begin seated on the ground with your back against a bench – shoulder blades should be on the bench when you lift up
2) Drive through your heels lifting the hips up and squeezing at the top; the neck should also be a neutral position
3) Knees should be at a 90 degree angle at the top of the movement
4) Lower back towards the ground and repeat
Key tips: To make sure you are activating the glutes properly think of squeezing towards the wall in front of you and focus on pushing through the heels so that you are not using the quads for this movement.
You have certainly heard about my second go-to exercise, Squats . Squats are another movement that recruits multiple muscles including the quads, hip flexors and the core.
1) Load a barbell or use dumbbells
2) Squat down to a position at least 90 degrees or lower – the lower means better activation of the glute muscles
3) Pushing through the heels, rise back up to your starting position
Key tips: Make sure to be sitting back into the heels so that you are not bringing your knees ahead of your toes, this will put pressure on the shins and can cause injuries. If regular squats are challenging for you or you are not able to feel the glute activation, try using a bench to sit down to. This will assist you in making sure your form is correct and avoid potential injuries.
Banded Abduction is a great exercise for hitting the gluteus minimus, medius and maximus. The muscle combination works on core stabilization and balance. You can perform this exercise sitting or standing, but for better control and to really make sure you are engaging the correct muscles, I like to perform these seated or lying down.
1) Begin with a band around the top of the knees, legs hip width apart
2) Squeeze the glutes and knees outward, controlling the movement on the way back in to neutral
Key tip: Make sure to hold the outward movement for at least 2 seconds in order to activate all of the muscles.
A movement that is not exactly my favorite but is very effective is the Walking Lunge . I still get sore from these when I add weight and do about four sets. Lunges hit all of the leg muscles: quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings and calves. Lunges assist with muscular imbalances by strengthening the weaker side as you are working the legs individually.
1) Take a step forward bending the knees so they are both at about a 90 degree angle; be sure the front knee is directly in line with the ankle and that the body is upright
2) Push through the front heel to bring yourself back up to a normal stance and then repeat on the other side
Key tip: Make sure to keep the feet about hip width apart as this will ensure you maintain your balance.
My favorite lift to perform is the Deadlift . I love to do a variety of deadlifts including Romanian and wide stance with different equipment including kettlebells, barbells and dumbbells along with varying resistance of light weight at a higher repetition range and heavy weight at a lower repetition range. I’m going to walk you through how to perform the Romanian Deadlift.
1) Start with the weight of choice at hip level standing upright and a soft bend of the knees, do not lock out
2) While lowering the weight, keeping it close to the body, push the butt back and bring the weight to about shin level
a) Make sure to focus on keeping the back and neck in a neutral position as you do not want to round the back
3) Return to starting position to repeat
Getting your desired results comes down to consistency and the work you put in. That work also includes your recovery and nutrition. You want to make sure you are getting adequate rest in between training sessions. As these exercises do not need to be performed everyday, a frequency of 2-4 days a week is ideal. The days that I am not training glutes or legs, I am focusing on another area like shoulders, back, arms or abs.
After every training session I am making sure that my recovery regimen is working for me and not against me. I always eat fruit and drink my Bio-Active Whey protein shake within 30 minutes after my workout in combination with L-Glutamine and Bio-Gro. This ensures that I start the repairing and rebuilding process after tearing down the muscle fibers during my workout.