For those of you on my email list, you’ve probably already realized that I love glute training since EVERY email this month has been about butt exercises and butt workouts!
So why am I so obsessed with glute training?
Last week was my Recovery week from all my super heavy lifts and my 10-7-3-1 workouts.
Sometimes my “recovery” workouts aren’t easy at all. Sometimes they are simply DIFFERENT exercises and “lighter loads” than what I’ve been doing.
Sometimes they simply require my body to move in a different way than it’s been moving for the last 3-5 weeks.
I also love doing single limb movements and more bodyweight moves during my recovery workouts. These moves aren’t EASY though. I just find they really force me to work more on activation and correcting imbalances.
Recovery doesn’t always mean time off and it doesn’t always mean EASY.
Here is my far from easy (and actually made me super super sore) recovery Glute Workout from this past week.
Recovery Glute Workout
Foam roll – lower legs, hamstrings, hips, back
Stretch – Calves, hamstrings, hips
Activate – Glutes with lateral and monster band walks
8-12 reps each side Single Leg Deadlift holding double kettlebells
(Increase weight with each round if possible unless 8 rep max hit. Keep standing leg slightly bent and back flat as you hinge over. Hold one kettlebell in each hand by your side. Do not let your back round as you hinge over.)
8-12 reps each side Single Leg Glute Bridge Off Box
(Heel up on box and bridge up. If you can’t get up as high as with a two leg bridge then stick with a single leg bridge off the ground)
8-12 reps each side Curtsy Lunge holding double kettlebells
(Increase weight with each round if possible unless 8 rep max hit. Make sure as you lunge back and come to standing that you are in full control of the lunge and driving off the heel of the front leg. Really cross behind and keep your chest up as you lunge. Hold each kettlebell down by your side.)
8-12 reps each side Single Leg Step Down
(Start standing on the box as if doing a lateral step up. Step down to the side of the box, hinging over a bit as you lower down. Lower down slowly. Do not let the foot going down fully touch the ground. Only let the toe lightly graze the ground and then press quickly back up to standing. Only go as low as you can control. DO NOT push back up off the ground!! The higher the box the harder the move.)
40 seconds of work, 20 seconds of rest
Heavy Kettlebell Swings
While these moves didn’t use the heavy loads that many of my lifts have required recently, the loads were still heavy and CHALLENGING for the moves I did.
And the bodyweight bridges and bodyweight step downs were far from easy.
These moves all challenged my glutes to work and stabilize to become stronger for my heavy lifts. Since they were also single limb movements my dominate leg couldn’t take over and compensate. My weaker leg was forced to work equally hard, which helps to correct any imbalance that may exist.
And my butt was sore for days actually and my glutes were definitely shaking a bit during the workout.
My rest periods were also very short during the workout since I wasn’t trying to lift my max, making it a rather quick workout. However, I did rest enough that I could still use CHALLENGING weights and give a good work output each and every round.
The little conditioning blast at the end was also short and sweet. It worked on grip strength and power. It also got my heart rate up a bit while working my glutes that last little bit to utterly fatigue them.
What do your recovery week workouts look like? Do you simply take the week off or do you do workouts to work on your weak points?
So the glute bridge is one of my favorite moves. It can be a good part of any warm up or a great strength exercise by itself.
It is also a great way to mix up your hip hinge workouts from vertical to horizontal! It is also incredibly hard for many people to keep their core tight enough so that they don’t feel this in their low backs, but instead feel it in their butts.
Really really focus on drawing your belly button in toward your spine when doing this move so you DON’T feel it in your low back!
So the basic glute bridge is done on the ground. You should place your feet about hip width apart and bend your knees bringing your heels in close enough that you can touch them with your finger tips.
You then squeeze your butt cheeks and raise your hips as high up as you can. You should basically be on your shoulders and heels when you drive up. You should actively squeeze your belly button in toward your spine and squeeze your glutes.
Make sure that you aren’t just simply pushing back into your shoulders off of your heels. You actually want to drive straight up and while you are pushing through your heels you want to actually think about driving your shins forward.
You should feel this move in your glutes and a bit in your hamstrings NOT in your low back.
You can also do this move with one leg raised. I like to do it with one leg off the ground with the knee bent to 90 degrees and the foot flexed. I focus on getting my hips up just as high as they were with two legs. Try to also not let your hips rotate!
Another variation that I like of the basic glute bridge is the bridge on the power wheel.
Basically the same as the glute bridge on the ground EXCEPT you have to really drive your feet straight down into the ground and squeeze your butt and core or you are going to wobble over or the wheel will run off.
Many people also feel this move a lot more in their hamstrings.
This variation is a great way to advance the traditional glute bridge and make it into a great part of your workout.
To make this move harder, you can actually roll the wheel out and then back in toward your butt. The key though is to NOT drop your hips even as your roll out.
A great intermediate move if the power wheel is just a bit too hard especially moving it in and out is the glute bridge on the sliders.
Put your heels on the sliders and raise up into a glute bridge. Just like with the power wheel, straighten the legs out keeping the hips high and then bring the heels back in so that you are in the basic glute bridge position. Repeat slowly and make sure to keep your core tight so that your low back doesn’t feel this move.
The last glute bridge variation that I really like to use is a great strength move. A beginner can do this with only their back on the bench and feet on the ground. To make it more advanced, you can do it with your back on a bench and your feet up on a bench as well (or your back on the ground and feet up). To make that harder, do it with only one leg.
The hardest variation actually returns you to the position with your back on the bench and feet on the ground. You can add weight to this position by laying a barbell across your hips.
Actually you can almost weight down any position to make it harder EXCEPT the power wheel. If you advance from this move, you could weight down the one-leg variation.
But make sure that when you weight down the glute bridge, YOU DON’T FEEL IT IN YOUR LOW BACK.
Focus on really keeping the core tight by “drawing in” your belly button toward your spine!
So if you want a bootilicious (aka perky, toned) butt, try some of these moves. They will also really help up your deadlift numbers if you are looking to get your lift numbers higher!
What’s your favorite glute bridge variation?
So the other night I was talking to one of my male clients who I was making do some clams (the exercise where you have a band around your knees and lay on your side and externally rotate at your hips and knees).
It was a stabilization workout and he really needs work on activating his glutes. And although clams may be a Jane Fonda move, they are a great way to get those butt cheeks firing!
Of course he was slightly embarrassed by doing them even though it was just his wife, me and his 19 month old daughter there.
He says to me, “You know this is one of those moves that guys AVOID doing at the gym.”
I said, “Yea I know….Ever notice how many guys have SMALL INACTIVE butts?”
He laughed and repeated what I said and continued to do the clams.
Out of the corner of my eye though I saw his wife shaking her head in agreement.
What I said is completely and utterly true. Most people, especially men, don’t focus on getting glutes that activate.
They are much more interested in working on their beach muscles. Although they do pride themselves on being able to lift heavy weights.
But if they took the time to do some of those “embarrassing” glute activation exercises like band walks, glute bridges, clams and straight leg deadlifts they would be able to LIFT MORE.
AND they would look better. (Sorry but pants that sag because you have no butt is not attractive).
Plus they would also probably suffer few injuries. Active glutes me proper movement patterns!
So to anyone out there who skips those “embarrassing” butt exercises, but wants to lift heavy…Don’t.
That includes you ladies. While lifting heavy is essential that doesn’t mean totally leaving out the Jane Fonda moves…It just means not ONLY doing them!
For more on glute activation, check out this article on T Nation! LOVE IT!