I LOVE glute workouts. And I think that glute training is an ESSENTIAL part of any good workout routine, which is why I love writing about glute training every other day it seems.
Below are a couple of articles about glute training and a great glute workout.
Mini Bands are a one of my favorite tools to use to activate your glutes. They are cheap, easy to use anywhere and can work your butt from every angle. Here are 10 Great Mini Band Moves.
Below is a great workout using both the mini bands and a couple of my favorite glute bridge variations!
Get Great Glutes Workout
Complete 2 rounds of the circuit below.
10 steps each way Mini Band Side Shuffle
20 steps each way Monster Steps
Complete 3-5 rounds of the first exercise and then of each following superset. Rest up to 1 minute between rounds and up to 2 minutes between supersets.
5-15 reps Hip Thruster
8-12 reps per side Single Leg Deadlifts
15-20 reps Glute Bridge and Curl
8-12 reps per side Lateral Step Ups
15-20 reps Reverse Hypers
Roll out and Stretch:
Mini Band Side Shuffle and Monster Walks – Click here for a full breakdown of the moves with pictures.
Hip Thruster – Set up a bench so that it won’t move as you bridge up onto it. Take a barbell and put some padding around it. Place your upper back on the bench and sit your butt on the ground with your legs out straight. Place the barbell over your hips and plant your feet firmly on the ground and close to your butt. Drive up through your heels and your upper back on the bench. Squeeze your glutes and press your hips up as high as possible, driving the barbell up and off the ground. Hold a second or two at the top and then lower back down and repeat. Do not hyperextend your back at the top. Keep your belly button pulled in toward your spine and really squeeze your glutes at the top. Beginners will want to progress up to the barbell variation. Beginners may need two boxes to start or even start with a bridge on the ground. To do the two boxes, they will place their upper back on one and their heels on the other. Bring your butt up off the ground, driving through your heels on the box and your upper back. Bridge up into a nice straight line, squeezing your glutes and then lower your butt back down almost to the ground. Repeat, holding just a second or two at the top. To advance that move while still not using a barbell, do a single leg variation. Once you feel comfortable with the single leg variation, attempt a very light weight hip thruster.
Single Leg Deadlift – Stand on one foot with the knee of that standing leg slightly bent. Hinge over at your hips, sweeping the other leg back toward the wall behind you. Pretend you are driving the heel of that foot straight into the wall behind you. Lean forward with your upper body as you hinge forward, keeping the back nice and flat. Make sure that as you hinge, you are sitting into the heel of your standing leg. Do not lean forward and come up onto your toes. To stand back up, drive through the heel of your standing leg and squeeze your glute at the top. Try not to tap the other foot down at all or at least not till you are fulling standing. Complete all reps on one side before switching to the other leg. To make the move harder, do a 3-5 count lower down toward the ground. Take 3-5 seconds to hinge over and then push straight back up. If that is still easy, then add a little bit of weight.
Lateral Step Ups – The higher the bench or box you use, the harder this move will be. Do not use a box that is too high. If you have to push off the foot on the ground or if you really lean forward to propel yourself up, the box is too high. Stand with the box next to your right side. Place your right foot on top of it without rotating toward the box. Drive up through the heel of the foot on the box until you are standing on the box. Drive the left knee up as you lift up onto the box. Then step back down and repeat. Keep your chest up as you drive up. Do not lean forward or let your heel on top of the box come up. Complete all reps on one side before switching. Challenge yourself first with a higher box and then with weight. If one box is too high and the other is too low, you can add weight and use the lower box to make the step ups harder.
Glute Bridge and Curl – For a complete guide to the bridge and curl, click here.
Reverse Hypers – Lie face down on a table, bench or box. Make sure your hips are right at the edge. Hold on to something in front of you if you want. Keep your upper body relaxed. Squeeze your legs together and point your toes out. Lift your legs to basically parallel to the ground, keeping your legs straight. Do not hyperextend your back and lift way higher than parallel. You do not want to feel this in your low back. Hold for 2-5 seconds and then lower down. Keep your core tight and really squeeze your glutes as you lift.
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?
Yesterday I mentioned that the easier we make healthy changes, the more likely they are to stick.
And for some people, getting to the gym on a regular basis just isn’t easy. Yes it is an excuse, but it is an excuse that causes many people to fail at reaching their goals.
Which is why I’ve become big into posting home workouts you can do with just bodyweight.
Because I also love butt workouts, today I’m posting a great bodyweight glute workout.
For more workouts like this one, check out The 30-Day Fitness Challenge.
The Home Bodyweight Glute Workout
Stretch and Roll Out:
Complete 2 rounds of the circuit below. Hold each move for 2-5 seconds at the top so you really feel the muscle begin to work.
12 reps each side Donkey Kicks
12 reps each side Clams
Do both exercises back to back then rest up to 1 minute between rounds. Between supersets, rest up to 2 minutes.
10-20 reps each side 3 Count Single Leg Deadlift
10-20 each side Single Leg Glute Bridge (Hold 2-5 seconds at the top.)
10-15 reps each side Diagonal Lunges (Curtsy to Front Angled. Both lunges equal one rep.)
15-20 reps Reverse Hyper (Hold 2-5 seconds at the top.)
10-20 reps each side Backward Lunge
10-15 reps each side Fire hydrants (Hold 2-5 seconds at the top.)
Stretch and Roll Out:
If you have weights at home, you can definitely use them. But slowing down the tempo of each move, or adding in a towel for the back lunge, can also advance the exercise.
Donkey Kicks – Start on your hands and knees with your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Flex your feet. Drive one foot back and up toward the ceiling, keeping the knee bent to 90 degrees. Make sure to drive the heel up and back. Do not arch the low back. Squeeze the glute as hard as you can at the top of the lift. You should not feel this in your low back at all if you are squeezing your glute and not arching to get the leg higher. Do not let the knee rotate in or out. Hold at the top and then lower the knee down. Repeat all reps on one side before switching. Do not bend your arms as you perform the movement.
Clams – Lie on your side, propping yourself up on your forearm. Place both legs together, one directly on top of the other. Keep your feet together and bend your knees in a bit. To perform the move, lift the top leg open like a clam opening up. Keep the feet together as you open and don’t allow yourself to rock backward. You want to press your hips forward and squeeze your glutes as you open that top leg. When you first do this move, it can be good to do it against a wall so that you don’t rock backward. To apply some resistance, press down on the top leg with your hand or place a mini band around both legs below your knees. Perform all reps on one side before moving to the other side. Below is a picture with the band.
3 Count Single Leg Deadlift – Stand on one foot with the knee of that standing leg slightly bent. Hinge over at your hips, sweeping the other leg back toward the wall behind you. Take 3 seconds to hinge over. Pretend you are driving the heel of that foot straight into the wall behind you. Lean forward with your upper body as you hinge forward, keeping the back nice and flat. Make sure that as you hinge, you are sitting into the heel of your standing leg. Do not lean forward and come up onto the toes of your standing leg. Remember to lower down for a 3 count. To stand back up, drive through the heel of your standing leg and squeeze your glute at the top. Come up quickly. Try not to tap the other foot down at all or at least not till you are fulling standing. Then slowly lower back down, taking 3 seconds to hinge over. Complete all reps on one side before switching to the other leg. You can slow it down to a 5 count if the 3 count becomes easy or you can hold weights in each hand.
Single Leg Glute Bridge (Hold 2-5 seconds at the top.) – Lie on your back with your knees bent. Your feet should be flat on the ground. Try to bring your heels back close enough to your butt that you can just graze your heels with your finger tips. Lift one leg up and bend the knee to 90 degrees. Drive up through your heel on the ground, lifting your hips as high as you can. Keep your core engaged and squeeze your glutes so you don’t feel the move in your low back. Do not let your knees fall together. Your feet should be about hip-width apart. At the top of your glute bridge, you should be driving through your heel and your upper back. Hold at the top of each lift for 2-5s. To advance this move, place your foot up on a table or chair. To regress the move, do a two leg glute bridge from the ground.
Diagonal Lunges (Curtsy to Front Angled. Both lunges equal one rep.) – Start standing tall with your feet together. Then, starting with the right foot moving, step the right foot across and behind the left leg. Step back toward about “7″ or “8″ on the clock. Do not step too close to the left so that you have space to sink down into a deep lunge. Drop the back knee toward the ground, keeping the front heel on the ground. You should feel the lunge in the outside of your front butt cheek. Then bring the right foot back forward and stand up nice and tall. Beginners will want to pause here while more advanced exercisers will want to go right from the curtsy lunge to the angled front lunge. Step the right foot forward out of the curtsy lunge into a front angled lunge. Move the right foot forward and out to about “1″ on the clock. Both toes should be pointing straight ahead as you bend both knees and sink down toward the ground. Keep your front heel down as you lunge down. Then drive off the front heel to come back to standing. Then go right from the angled lunge back into the curtsy lunge. Repeat until all reps are complete on that side and then switch.
Reverse Hyper (Hold 2-5 seconds at the top.) – Lie face down on a table or bed with your legs hanging off. Make sure your hips are right at the edge. Hold on to something in front of you if you want. Keep your upper body relaxed. Squeeze your legs together and point your toes out. Lift your legs to basically parallel to the ground, keeping your legs straight. Do not hyperextend your back and lift way higher than parallel. You do not want to feel this in your low back. Keep your core tight and really squeeze your glutes as you lift. You can also do this on the ground although it doesn’t give you as big a range of motion.
Backward Lunge – Start standing with your feet together. Step one foot back into as deep a lunge as you can handle, bending the back knee and dropping it toward the ground. Your front knee should bend as well, but your knee shouldn’t go forward over your toe. Make sure to really sit back on that front heel and keep your chest up nice and tall. Then, driving through that front heel, come back to standing. Step that back foot back forward. To make the move harder, place a towel or slider under the foot moving back. Instead of stepping, you will slide the foot back into a deep lunge.
Fire hydrants (Hold 2-5 seconds at the top.) – Start on your hands and knees with your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Both feet are flexed. Keeping the knee bent to 90, lift the leg straight out to the side like a dog peeing on a fire hydrant. Make sure to keep the knee and ankle at the same height. Your foot shouldn’t be way up in the air and your knee shouldn’t be way above your foot. Your lower leg should be in a nice parallel line from the ground. Do not bend your arms to raise your leg higher off the ground. Also try not to lean into the standing leg. Squeeze the glute and hold at the top, keeping the foot flexed. Then lower down and repeat.
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 this post should actually have been post number one because what you need to start with is inhibiting and lengthening the tight, overactive muscles!
If you want to work your butt, the first thing you have to do is relax the tight muscles.
You aren’t going to feel butt exercises in the correct places if the right muscles aren’t activated!!! And you won’t activate the right muscles if other muscles are overactive and tight!
SO what do you do?
The first thing I do before I workout is roll out.
And if I really want my butt to work, I’ve got to make sure that everything around my hips is loose.
While I’m fortunate enough to not be confined to a desk all day, I sit enough that my hips are flexed for a good portion of the day.
That means they are tight. And tight hips can lead to low back pain. They can also restrict your glutes from really activating during exercise.
If your glutes don’t activate during leg movements, you are going to use your low back, have inefficient movement patterns, not lift as much AND risk injury. You are also going to miss out on working one of the biggest muscles in your body!
SO roll our your hips before you begin!
While a foam roller is great, I find any sort of ball to be WAY better at getting into those trigger points around your hips.
I prefer a tennis ball, trigger point ball or lacrosse ball. I find the golf ball to be too small.
If you are just starting out, you may want to invest in one of the foam blue balls that are a little bigger and a little softer. The smaller and harder the ball you use, the more you are really going to dig in.
Ok so to roll out your “hips,” and I use this term a bit loosely, my three favorite moves are:
- The Hip U – So in this move you start by digging out the fleshy part of your butt. Literally sit on the ball with it under one butt cheek. Roll it around until you find a sore spot. Hold it on that sore spot and remember to breathe. You can also lift and lower the leg to help get deeper into the muscle. As you roll out your butt cheek, move the ball up to your low back. Find any trigger points there and hold for a bit. Then make an arc over the hip bone once you dig out your butt and low back. Hit your side butt, or glute medius. This is usually very tight on people. Again hold as you find trigger points. Then roll the ball to the front of your hip. Dig out the TFL and all the muscles right around that hip bone. Remember to HOLD if you find a sore spot…also remember to breathe! So that is the U over the hip
- Ab release – So most of the time we go for the exact spot where we “feel” pain. So we roll out our low backs if we feel pain when the cause of the pain may actually be somewhere else…like our tight hip flexors! BUT that being said that doesn’t mean we need to target the muscles that insert right below our hips. A hip flexor muscles actually connects up at a point in our spine! Which can mean that by placing a ball in your abs by your belly button and relaxing over it, you can actually help release your hip flexors! So try it…get a ball (and if you have a small ball you may need to put it on a trigger point block to really get it to dig in, but lay over the ball and relax. The ball should be to the side of your belly button and above the hip.
- The peanut – So one of my absolute favorite foam rolling tools is what I call the peanut. It is two tennis balls tapped together. They are perfect to use on the area around your spine. I like to hit my lower (and upper back for that matter) with these two balls. You can really get in and around your SI joint and then up into your low and mid-back. You can even target the spot where you psoas connect up in your spine.
So while these aren’t the only moves to use and you may also want to hit your adductors, calves and chest (other common tight muscle groups) these three moves are a great place to start!
After foam rolling, you will then want to do some dynamic stretches for these muscles before you begin your workout.
Notice I said DYNAMIC. Save the static stretching till afterwards!
A dynamic stretch is a stretch that you don’t hold for a long period of time, but actually move through (not bouncing though). A static stretch is one you hold for about 30 seconds or so. A static stretch is great for flexibility BUT has been show to reduce power during the workout.
So in an effort to increase mobility without any strength or power lost, we will use only dynamic stretches BEFORE exercise.
Here are some great moves I use to open up my hip area:
- Leg swings – You can do these swinging your legs forward or back or side to side. Both ways open up your hips. Try to increase the range of your swing without leaning your upper body forward and back. It is best to hold a wall when doing these.
- Hurdles – These are a variation of the leg swing. You can do these going forward or backwards (or BOTH!). What you do is bend your knee and swing your hip as if stepping over a hurdle. Alternate sides. Do about 10 per side.
- Simple kneeling hip stretch – So the basic stretch for your hip and even your quad is the kneeling hip stretch. Kneel on your right knee with your left leg bent to 90 degrees in front. You can make this dynamic by stretch by pushing the hip forward and then relaxing back. You can also add in a reach overhead and across. So if your left knee is forward, your right arm is going to lift up overhead and across. Then you will relax back down. You can also do a rotational stretch, so rotating over the front knee. To increase this stretch down your quad, you can also pull in the foot of the knee that is down and then release. By pulling the foot of the knee that is down up toward your butt, you will bring the stretch lower in your quad.
- Lying glute stretch – Lay on your back with your right knee bent and foot flat on the ground. Cross the left ankle over the right knee. Then grab behind either your right hamstring or in front of your right shin. Pull the right leg with the left foot across it unto your chest and then release. You should feel that in your glute. This stretch will make sure you are loose all around the hip joint! (I love doing the pigeon pose after my workouts as my static stretch!)
- Spider stretch – So this stretch is great to open up the hips. It can get your groin and your hamstrings and even calves too! So to do this stretch step one leg forward in a lunge. If this is too much you can put your knee on the ground. So if you lunge your right leg forward, you will then drop your right elbow right into your instep. Then rock back and sit on your other heal and straighten that forward leg to stretch the hamstring. Then rock back forward and drop your elbow again. Do about 10 each side moving smoothly through the movement.
- 360 Lunges – One of my favorite dynamic moves to warm up the hips is the lunge. BUT I don’t just use the forward lunge…I lunge in a few different angles. One lunge out front. Maybe one front at an angle. One out to the side. One opening up back. I do those four lunges on each side to create a 360 circle!
These stretches and even the foam rolling moves aren’t the only ones you can do. I didn’t even really get into static stretching…BUT the point is these are good ones to start with and are very efficient ways to target all the muscles in and around the hips.
So between the foam rolling and stretches, your hips should be loose and ready to let your butt be activated!
Check back for Part 3 when we discuss glute activation exercises to use in your warm up!
P.S. I will add more photos! Sorry for these few that I managed to quickly take a few weeks ago after a workout!