5 Must-Do Glute-Building Exercises for a Stronger Backside

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Guys, let’s be honest: When’s the last time you thought about your glute workouts?

Yes, “booty training” has been stereotyped—unfairly, we believe—as primarily a focus for women in the gym. At last check, however, guys possess a set of glutes as well. The key misunderstanding is that there are more benefits to training your glutes than just how you’ll fill out a tight pair of jeans. Whether you know it or not, your glute muscles are the under-the-radar foundation for every lower body and lower back movement you’ve been doing on a daily basis.

If you’re neglecting working your glutes, you’re doing so at your own peril—especially those of us who are relegated to desk duty for eight-plus hours a day. Sitting for prolonged periods, on top of sporadic glutes training, will eventually cause your posterior to diminish in both strength and functionality. From there, the rest of the body is more than likely to follow—from your lower back to your knees, ankles and so on.

Don’t make the mistake of skipping out on focused glutes training, say celebrity trainer and MH Advisory Board member Don Saladino and Men’s Health fitness director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S. They suggest these five backside-building and strengthening moves that both men (and women) should incorporate to not only give you glorious glutes, but enhance your overall posterior power and strength.

“You can’t really get strong period in the gym without strong glutes,” Samuel says. “That’s why the five moves we have for you are going to help you strengthen your glutes. But you’re going to find that they hit other muscle groups—your hamstrings are going to work, your lower back is going to work because your glutes are a muscle group that need to be hit with weight and need to be challenged.

Benefits of Training Your Glutes

●Build power and strength

●Aesthetics (you’ll build your butt)

●Helps lower back health and posture

●Key foundation for athleticism

●Work with heavy weights

5 Must-Do Glutes Exercises

A key function of our glutes is that they drive our hips into extension, and an isolation movement such as the hip thrust is such a great exercise for this. It allows us to work on maximizing our hip extension, probably the most challenging point of hip thrusts. The move’s effectiveness is one of the many reasons why the hip thrust machine is becoming an increasingly popular staple in all types of gyms. But if your club still doesn’t have one, a loaded barbell placed over your waist (a foam pad is recommended at the waist as well for comfort) works just as well.

“I love doing them not only to isolate the glutes, but to get those hips firing,” Saladino says. “So when we go into our compound exercises, our bodies just feel more loose.”

The RDL is a phenomenal hip hinge movement as well as one of the more adaptable exercises we can put in our glute workouts. You can do these with barbells, kettlebells, and dumbbells. This hip-dominant, power-generating exercise allows you to work with heavier loads, which will help build loads of lower-body strength. Not only are you hitting your glutes, most of your posterior muscle groups are put to work as well, including hamstrings and even your lats.

“What I also like about the Romanian deadlift is that we’re getting so much recruitment from tracking our shoulder blades and getting our lats to fire and our cores working,” Saladino says. “It really has been one of those go-to hip hinging movements for my training… It’s something that I just like to go heavy and hard on.”

Kickstand RDL

Yes, it’s similar in execution to the traditional Romanian deadlift, but the main difference is in the setup. You’ll take a staggered stance approach, turning this into a unilateral move. As we lower, you’ll quickly notice the load that’s is mostly placed on that front leg, followed up by a good and strong hip extension as we stand, giving us more of an athletic-type feeling throughout the movement.

The kickstand RDL is also a much better alternative than single-leg deadlift for most of us for an obvious reason: It’s pretty hard to balance on one leg for a decent number of good reps. (Seriously, how many single-legs can you do with good form without breaking?)

“There’s balance, there’s load, like as you go heavier it’s going to be difficult to balance,” Saladino says. “Fatigue is gonna force you to lose your balance and I think at times, it can get a little sloppy, and a little dangerous. So what I love about that kickstand position is that we can put putting about 90 percent of our weight on that grounded leg.”

Wide-Stance Box Squat

To make squat day more glute intensive, try using an exaggerated wide stance. This is similar in a way to a sumo stance as you squat and sit on a box in a slow and controlled manner, focusing on maintaining a vertical shin position perpendicular to the ground. The goal is to focus on pulling slowly back onto box using glute and hamstring strength while avoiding driving your knees forward. You’ll soon feel much more muscle recruitment.

“It’s almost like a like a sumo wrestler,” Saladino says. “When you’re seeing them sit wide and they’re sitting into that position. That is basically what we’re looking for. Right now. We want that movement to start with our glutes sitting back, not our knees moving forward. That is what we mean by glute dominance opposed to knee dominance.”

When it comes to generating hip and glute power, the kettlebell swing has no equal. Done correctly, the swing allows you to focus on your hip hinge while also working on max hip extension at the top. While this is a move that you want to load up on as much weight as you can, it can only be done properly one way for best results: fast and explosive. And because it’s such an exhausting power-generating move, it can be easily incorporated into your cardio and conditioning training.

“You can use it as a cardio move or use it on the back end of a leg workout. We can use it in our speed training. You can use it so many different ways and you almost always have access to something because it doesn’t need to just be a kettlebell,” Samuel says.

Want more essential exercises for your most important muscle groups? Check out all of our Muscle Musts.

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