Haven’t you heard? Glutes are the new abs! They’re all the rage these days. But there’s more to strong glutes than meets the eye. A strong gluteus maximus reduces your risk for injuries of the knee, lower back, hamstrings, and groin. If you play sports, strong glutes help you accelerate, decelerate, and change direction. AND strong glutes improve your posture. Now, when most people want to strengthen their glutes, they automatically do some squats and donkey kicks. However, contrary to popular belief, squats are predominantly a quadricep and hamstring exercise. And bodyweight exercises such as donkey kicks won’t do anything for your strength levels. Don’t get me wrong – squats and donkey kicks have their place and time, but just not when you’re trying to strengthen and grow your glutes. If you’re serious about getting seriously strong glutes, check out two of my favorite posterior chain exercises. Warning: you might be pretty sore the next day!
1. Bulgarian Split Squats
Definitely one my top 5 favorite exercises of all time. Bulgarian split squats are brutal! There’s just something about them that burns so bad – but in a good way. Tests show that out of squats, stiff-legged deadlifts, and Bulgarian Split Squats, EMG (stands for electromyography – basically a way for scientists to assess the nerve cells that control muscles) readings are highest for both the glutes and the hammies during split squats. This means they are a “must do” on your next lower body session.
- Hold a pair of dumbbells at your sides.
- Stand a couple feet away from a flat bench, facing away from the bench.
- With concentration, extend one foot behind you and place your laces (the top of your foot) on top of the bench.
- Keep your weight centered in between your feet.
- Lower until your hip is even with your front knee.
- Reverse the motion by driving up through your front heel.
- Do 10 – 12 reps and then switch to the other side.
- Try to complete 3 – 5 sets
2. Sumo Deadlifts
Nutrition and strength coach Bronwen Blunt swears by sumo deadlifts. And with good reason! They’re awesome because they shorten the range of motion of the deadlift, incorporates some hip action, and is less stressful on your back. Give it a go!
- Start with a loaded barbell on the ground
- Stand so that the bar intersects the middle of your feet.
- Your feet should be set VERY wide, near the collars of the bar.
- Bend at the hips to hold on to the bar.
- Position: arms directly below shoulders, arms inside the legs.
- You may use a mixed grip or a pronated (overhand) grip.
- Take a deep breath and then lower your hips.
- Drive through the floor and spread your feet apart. Keep your weight focused on the back half of your feet.
- Drive through your heels and extend through the hips and knees.
- Just as the bar passes by the knees, lean back slightly and drive the hips into the bar.
- Return back to starting position by bending at the hips, slowly controlling the weight back down.
- Do 3 -4 sets of 6 – 10 reps
Written by GUADS staff member Angelina with contributions from livestrong.com, T-Nation,