Hey. Hi. Hello! My calendar tells me that it’s Friday, so that’s what we’re rolling with today. I still have no idea what day it is, which is a common theme here, but especially so because my sleep schedule has been all sorts of messed up thanks to the wonderful magic of 4am inventory szn. But you know what else is in season? Butts.
Booty’s are having a MOMENT. I feel like everywhere I go people are talking about their butts, posting workouts centered around growing their butt, even using emoji’s to replace using the word butt. It’s really time to let the butt shine!
I’m a fan of a good leg day just like anyone else. I used to get a lot of my workouts from people on Instagram because I often get bored with my routines a lot. However, I’ve noticed a fair amount of them only do accessory work most of the time. While accessory work definitely has it’s time and place, scientifically they’re not the best way to maximize the muscle’s abilities to do work. According to all the major sources out there, compound exercises are the way to go when it comes to growing muscles, like the butt.
Before we dive right into the main topic of this post, I do just want to talk a little bit about nutrition. I’m sure you know by now, but if not, I’d like to remind everyone here that in order to grow muscles, you need to be in a caloric surplus. Muscle growth is typically a time that people refer to as “bulking” because you’ll realistically be putting on both fat mass and muscle mass do to the increase in calories. The gluteus maximus is the biggest muscle in the body, so it grows just like any other muscle, but needs the right sort of nutrition to do so. Obviously increasing protein intake a proportionate amount is key, but overall just making sure your body is getting the right nutrients to grow during this time is going to help.
Now for the exercises! Like I mentioned before, compound exercises are going to be the best exercises to help you maximize booty growth. A compound exercise is one that maximizes multiple muscle groups, while accessory work or “isolation exercises” are intended to target a specific muscle group. I’ve compiled a list of the 5 best exercises scientifically shown to grow your glutes – four are compound movements, and one is an isolate exercise. Everyone’s body is different, so these exercises may not feel like they’re targeting your glutes, but I’ll talk through some progessions to do that can help build up this activiation as well!
- Hip Thrust – This is my (and Instragrams!) all-time favorite exercise that target the glutes. By the time I finish these my butt is literally shaking and I cannot sit comfortably the day after. The key that I’ve found to really making this exercise effective is by focusing on keeping the upper body neutral, and driving through the heels to contract the muscles on the way up. A traditional hip thrust is done using a loaded barbell and a bench, but there are plenty of progressions for beginners. The most basic one is the normal glute bridge, where you focus on drive up onto your shoulders as you contract the glutes. I like to hold a three second squeeze at the top to make sure I’m firing up my glutes. This can be progressed to adding a resistance band, a dumbell, one legged, and then up to the normal hip thrust.
- Squat – I’d say it’s a tie between this and the deadlift for the most basic compound exercise. As a very quad-dominant individual, it took me a long time before I was able to get my glutes to activate during squats. The biggest trick that I’ve found is by again pushing through the heels on the way up, and giving a good ole granny squeeze at the top for a few seconds. I’ve also found that using hip circles or resistance bands, especially for sumo squats, has helped to really burn out my glutes when I do squats. I’d recommend starting with air squats or goblet squats first, then adding in a resistance band, and then working into normal barbell squats. Honestly once you’ve started added granny squeezes in, they’re hard to stop, but your butt will thank you.
- Deadlift – Some people like to refer to the deadlift as the king of all compound movements. It literally utilizes so many major muscle chains, you could probably only deadlift for the rest of your life and still look good. Much like the squat, this one was hard for me to feel it in my posterior chain, due to how quad-dominant I was. I’ve found that doing a straight-leg deadlift was really the only way for me to feel the tension in my hamstrings, so that’s typically the variation I go with. However, no matter the variation, you should make sure at the top of the movement you’re contracting your glutes to bring your body to the top of the movement. In case you can’t sense a theme here, it’s always to drive through your heels for contraction, and to squeeze at the top of your movemnts to fully activate the glutes. REMEMBER THIS FOREVER.
- Lunge – Now, lunges aren’t usually something I do much of in my workouts. After like six my quads are blown out already, but I do try and throw them in as an accessory movement with my squats and deadlifts. My absolute favorite lunge that I feel in my glutes everytime is a bulgarian split squat, with my toe pointed on the box instead of having my foot flat on it. Another trick I’ve found with lunges (a trick that I learned from my barre classes) is to shift your weight onto your front foot so that you’re driving the movement through your quad of your front foot, which will kick in that glute at the top of the range of motion. And always keep both knees at 90 degrees in the motion to prevent any sort of pronation in the ankle. Honestly not one of my personal favorites, but is one of the ones to help grow glutes…plus it has a 1001 different variations that you can do at any gym or skill level.
- Back Extension – This is the only accessory or isolation exercise I’ve thrown in here, but it literally is one of my favorites. I’ve been supersetting my hip thrusts with back extensions recently, and let me tell you my glutes have definitely felt it. For the longest time this was a movement I felt in my lower back and hamstrings (for good reason) but never my glutes. However, the gym I got to has an actual back extension machine that allows you to change the angle, and that has been game changing (I keep it at a pretty high angle to get a deeper range into the bottom portion of the movement, so I can really use my glutes on the way up). The trick with these is to not go all the way up to the top of the movement, but instead stop just below it, to the point where it’s your glutes contracting your body up and not your lower back. Not many gyms are #blessed enough to have a back extension machine, but if you find one that does, utilize it for all it’s worth (great for ab excerises as well, but you know I’m not about that!)
Now, those are my top 5 best booty exericses, brought to you by science and me. I don’t think it needs to be said, but in order to truly get the most out of any leg/lower body exericse days, you really do need to warm up and do some glute-specific activations. Whether that means warming up with a light version of your compound movements, or doing specific band-activiation works (which is my personal favorite), you should always take at least 5-10 minutes before every workout to warm up your muscles so them fibers are ready to break (in like the nicest way possible ya know)! I’ll post my favorite glute activation exercises in another post, but if you’re in the market Whitney Simmons and GraceFitUK always post videos about them!
Well, that’s it for me this time! I’m off to Florida this weekend to surpise someone (hopefully it’s still a surprise!) So until next time, xoxo.