Unless you’re a genetic freak, building a respectable set of cheeks takes a bit of work and a bit of variability. No one really wants to hear this, but it’s the truth. You need to really come at your butt from all angles, all loading schemes, and all intensities if you want the best ass your jeans are capable of holding.
We all know that squats and deadlifts help, but often times for people, jumping straight to the bar can be intimidating.
Below are 6 exercise variations that can hammer your glutes without the stress of the barbell, and without slaving away on overrated machines. Gone are the days of awkward eye contact on the “inner and outer thigh” machines.
1.) Kettlebell Deadlift vs. Band – My good buddy Angel Jimenez of Boston Strength and Conditioning unveiled this exercise on social media not too long ago, and ever since, I’ve had a much easier time grooving every one of my new student’s hip hinge and deadlift patterns. This exercise does a great job of teaching hips back to the point of solid hamstring tension, and helps people differentiate the difference between squatting and hinging right away.
2.) Body Weight Hip Thrusts Wide & Narrow Stance + Band Abductions – Heavy banded and barbell hip thrust variations have their place in muscle development endeavors, no doubt about it, but high rep hip thrusting from a bench with a small loop resistance band and different foot placements can get you what you’re looking for when you’re not looking to load it up. Mix up holds, abductions on the ground, or even abductions at the top for an even stronger burn.
3.) Bodyweight Glute Bridge Wide/Narrow Stance + Band Abductions – This, to me, is a solid place to begin your quest to great, bullet resistant glutes. Push through the floor from both a wide and narrow stance for 10-15 reps each, then add in some band abducting at the top to further the burn. Varying wide and narrow stances allows you to hit different areas of the hamstrings and glutes, while adding the abductions can target hard to hit areas of the hips and glute medius.
4.) Stability Ball Leg Curls – This is a great way to target hamstrings and glutes simultaneously. By holding a locked in bridge position, and digging the ball in a leg curl, it will provide a nice catch all posterior chain activation and burn. You might find this slightly more advanced, as it can be a challenge to hold the glutes in bridge position while curling, but its an excellent progression once you have enough strength to hold that position.
5.) Loaded Back Extensions + Bodyweight Back Extensions + Band Walk – Nearly everyone you’ll see do this exercise fires with the back instead of the glutes. I teach my students to drive their hips hard and squeeze the hell out of their butt at the top. Grab a dumbbell or plate, hold it tight to the chest for 10-15 reps or whenever you feel a solid burn, then drop the weight and hammer out another 10-15 reps with just bodyweight. Step out of the back extension, and use a small loop resistance band to perform a band walk to hit the outer glutes as seen in video #6 below.
6) Band Walks – Another way to hit outer hip trouble areas, as well as make your glute complex more stable via glute med. I like these targeted movements for nailing often forgotten areas. X-Band walks, and side-lying clams are also excellent ways to ensure you keep those muscles outside of the sagittal plane firing. It may seem easy, but the outside part of your hips will be on fire if you do these correctly.