Go to any gym and you will see more and more guys focusing on training their glutes, otherwise known as the buttocks. Of course, you’ll also see a lot of women training their butt for definition or muscle growth. For guys, there are many good reasons to regularly work their glutes beyond having a cute looking posterior. In this article, we identify the six best glute exercises for hitting the glutes to include in your glutes workouts.
Why train the butt?
While it’s true that women admire a good butt just as much as men do, there are more than aesthetic reasons for guys to get serious about glutes training. The stronger your glutes are, the more you’ll be able to squat, the faster you’ll be able to run and the more agile you will be on the sports field. Strong glutes will also go a long way to overcoming postural imbalances and keeping your spine problem free. It will also relieve pressure from your knees.
Your gluteus maximus muscles are, in fact, the largest and potentially most powerful in your entire body. They allow the hips to extend, adduct and externally rotate. The stronger your glutes are, the less likely you will be to suffer injury, especially when you thrust the hips during exercise or sports activity. It is because of our glutes that we are able to walk upright, perform sudden changes of direction and do all of the other things that make human movement unique. Therefore having stronger glutes has a lot of benefits.
The 6 Best Butt Exercises
While most people think of the squat as a quad exercise it is, in fact, a far more effective move to strengthen and build the gluteus maximus muscles. There are a whole lot of different ways of doing squats but two of them are especially beneficial for your butt. The first is the standard back squat. To focus on more glute activation, you should position the bar high, allowing it to run across your upper trapezius muscles. Using a wide stance will also target the glutes more.
Be sure to begin the squat movement with a natural standing position, feet flat, keeping your lower back slightly arched and your chest out and expanded. Go down into a full squat position and use drive from your heels to activate the ascent. Having the proper form is important to avoid injury.
There are a number of ways to do hip extensions but we recommend using a Swiss ball. Lie flat on the floorface up with your arms palms down at your sides and your heels resting on the top of the Swiss ball. Now squeeze your butt cheeks together as you lift your hips as high as you can. From here, pull with the hamstrings to bring the ball in towards your body. Then return the ball to its starting position, lowering your hips as you do so.
Bulgarian Split Squats
The Bulgarian split squat is a one legged squat variation that allows you to place emphasis on each glute muscle individually. It can be done with a range of equipment including a barbell, dumbbells or a Smith machine. We suggest beginning without dumbbells in your hands as this is probably the safest option as you get used to the balance required and range of motion for this exercise before doing heavy weights.
Stand in front of a bench. Place your left foot on the bench, with just your toes making contact. Keeping your torso upright, descend down into a full squat position.
If you are holding dumbbells, they should just make contact with the floor.
Now squeeze the glutes as you push back to the start position. Be sure to perform an equal number of repetitions with each leg.
Barbell Hip Thrusts
The hip thrust is an awesome and essential glute strengthener that will have a flow on effect to all of your power movements. Position a loaded barbell on the floor. If your gym has foam bar pads, put one on the middle of the bar. If not, you will probably want to wrap a towel around this area to protect your groin. Now position yourself under the bar, so that it is over your hips.
Bend your knees and lie down flat with your arms spread. Now squeeze your glutes as you push up through the butt to lift the bar towards the ceiling. Your feet and shoulders should remain on the floor. Hold the top contracted position and then slowly lower. Repeat for the required number of repetitions
Single Leg Romanian Deadlift
The single leg Romanian deadlift is another move that allows you to unilaterally work each side of the glutes. It is also one that requires a good deal of balance. Once again you can perform it with a number of different pieces of equipment but we recommend starting out with dumbbells.
Standing up straight with your feet shoulder width apart. You can have dumbbells in your hands at your sides but we suggest you try it first without them to get comfortable.
Now, without bending your knee, pivot from the hip to bring your torso down and your right leg back behind you. Continue until your torso and legs form a straight line that is parallel with the floor. Reverse the movement to return to the start position.
Make sure that the only movement happens at the hip joint.
Reverse lunges can be done with a barbell across your shoulders or dumbbells in your hands, however we advise to do them first using your bodyweight to perfect the technique.
Start with your feet shoulder width apart and your torso in an upright position. Now take a large step behind you with your left foot and lower until your left knee just makes contact with the floor. Your right foot should remain firmly planted on the floor at all times.
Squeeze the glutes and push through to return to the start position. Make sure that you perform the same number of repetitions on each leg.
Putting it all together
Now that you’ve got the six best exercises for men to work the butt, it is time to combine them into an effective workout. We suggest splitting these exercises into two leg day workouts over the course of the week. Perform 3 exercises during each workout as follows:
Squats: 4 x 15/12/10/8
Single Leg Romanian Deadlift: 3 x 10 (each leg)
Hip Extensions: 3 x 12
Bulgarian Split Squat: 4 x 15/12/10/8
Hips Thrusts: 3 x 12
Reverse Lunges 3 x 10 (each leg)
As you can see glute strength is important for everyday movement and for pushing yourself towards your fitness goals, whether it is to burn more calories or muscle growth.
In the past lower body workouts on the glutes and hamstrings were not a main focus for men but women. Women did the butt workout for a bubble butt or more definition. Men have now realised it is an area where gains can be made and be used in sports and furthering fitness goals.
There are many other ways at exercising the glutes ( using the kettlebell swing or resistance bands) but we picked the most effective. For those not confident in doing the exercise or with an injury using a personal training would be beneficial for a few sessions.
A personal trainer would observe to ensure it’s the right exercise for you based on any injury ( for example goblet squats) and that you are doing it correctly (for example do you thrust your hips correctly ?, are you doing too deep squats ?, are your hips forward ?, are you driving your hips too much ?, are your knees bent to the right angle ? or should you be pushing your hip more ?).
After you built your confidence you can progress with confidence.