Glutes weight training: a how-to guide

Which sports strengthen your glutes? Which glutes training programme should you choose? How do you build a glute-specific programme? We explain it all!

Glutes weight training: a how-to guide

If, like many women, you want to grow your glutes, make them rounder and give them a better shape, you're in the right place.
In this article, we provide all the information you need to succeed with weight training, like which sport to choose, how many times should you train your glutes per week, which accessories strengthen the glutes and more. Follow our guide!

#1. Anatomy: What are the glute muscles? 

Before you start programming glute workouts, it's important to understand what makes up your glutes. The glutes are made up of 3 muscles:
Gluteus maximus: the largest muscle,
Gluteus medius: situated laterally over the gluteus maximus,
Gluteus minimus: located underneath the gluteus maximus, so it's not visible.

The glute muscles belong to the group of lower body muscles that also includes: the quadriceps, hamstrings, adductors and calves. They all work together.

Did you know?
The gluteus maximus is an extensor muscle of the hip. It doesn't contribute much to walking because the pelvis is held upright by the hamstrings (the muscles behind the thighs). When movement becomes more dynamic, like walking quickly, jogging or even walking up a slope or stairs, the glute muscles are activated. So we need to amp up the intensity if you want to get your bottom moving! 

#2. Which sports strengthen your glutes 

The first and most important thing to remember is that you need to move all day long. If you train regularly, you're already off to a great start. But if you spend the rest of your day inactive, not walking much and staying in the same position, your body will suffer because the human body needs to remain active to function well and be healthy.

Next, as we discussed above, glutes require intense activity to be activated. Therefore circuit training, hiit and even strength training programmes are great options if you're starting at square one. When paired with a good diet, these programmes will help shape and tone your glutes. But if you want to bulk up your glutes, this type of training will not help you reach your goal. Bodyweight booty training workouts at home are good, but they have their limits. You need to lift weight if you want to gain volume. And don't be afraid of this word because weight training is your best option for booty-full results.

#3. How many times should you train your glutes per week

Now that you know that weight training is the answer to round, muscled glutes, your next question should be how many times should you train glutes per week.

First, there's no point in training glutes every day. As we've seen, you need to train with weight in order to grow your muscles. Weight training will require you to expend significant energy and therefore requires sufficient recovery. You should have at least one rest day between 2 workouts.Two to three workouts a week are enough to grow your glutes.

Here's an example workout plan:

*If you want to grow volume on your lower body, in particular your glutes: You do 3 lower body workouts a week made up of glute isolation exercises.

*You already have muscular legs and don't want to bulk up any more: you do one lower body workout a week with weight, specifically targeting the glutes. And then one lower body workout done as a circuit.

Keep in mind this is only a template to give you an idea of how you can build your programme. 2 workouts a week is certainly enough but some people might benefit from 3 workouts.

Glutes weight training: a how-to guide

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#4. Exercises that strengthen the glutes

Are there exercises you need to include in your glute workouts to get results? Which exercises should you do?

There are some exercises that are a must for your workouts because, while they train the entire lower body, they also optimize your muscular gain and will give you rock hard glutes. But they're not exercises strictly speaking, but rather "categories" of exercises. You can divide your exercises into three categories:

Exercises you can do standing: all squats and squat variations (back squat, front squat, sumo squat…), all deadlifts and deadlift variations (straight leg deadlift, single leg deadlift…) and lunges and lunge variations (dumbbell lunges, step ups, Bulgarian split squat…)

Exercises you can do laying down like hip thrusts, glute bridges, frog pumps, cable kickbacks…

And finally, all exercises that require a rotation/pelvis abduction like hip abductions with a machine, cable or glute band.

As for how you should break down repetitions, ideally you should spend an equal amount of time on each category.

Speaking from experience, I would recommend doing the same exercises for at least a month to see progress. Even if it's trendy to change up your routine with new exercises every workout, you need to do the same movements over a long period if you want to see real results and increase your working weight for every movement. This will both help improve your technique (to avoid injury) and increase your working weight over time (your glutes will thank you!)

#5. How do you build a glute-specific programme?

If you haven't created your own glute training programme but you don't want to consult a coach to get a personalized one, here are some tips that can help you build your own glute-specific programme.

Use the rule of three when building your programme. We will start with a base of 12 sets per workout, which comes out to 36 sets of glute exercises per week. To optimize your training, we will divide these 36 sets into 3 categories:

A/ Exercise type: for the 36 sets, 12 movements laying down, 12 standing up and 12 rotating.

B/ Weight:  for the 36 sets, 12 of your sets will be with heavy weight (1 to 5 reps), 12 with medium weight (6 to 15 reps) and 12 with light weight (16 to 100 reps).

C/ Intensity: for the 36 sets, 12 sets will be to failure (impossible to do one more rep), 12 sets will be close to failure (able to do 2 to 3 more reps) and 12 will be far from failure.

Once you've determined these 3 pillars, the goal is to find a balance between these movements. Let me explain:

Ideally, rotation/abduction movements are better suited to long, light sets. Have you ever tried to do a weighted abduction on the machine to failure? If so, you know that this isn't the best way to train your glutes. However, you can do these movements for a high number of reps and feel a great burn.

Movements you do laying down are perfect for sets with medium weight.
Of course you can use heavy weights for movements like hip thrusts and glute bridges, but for exercises like cable kickbacks, you can do sets of 6 to 15 reps with medium weight. So you can pair these types of movements with medium weights.

Finally, movements you do standing like squats, deadlifts and lunges are particularly suited for intensive efforts with short sets.

 Advice:

The greatest advantage to following the rules above is that you will get a thorough glute workout. You will also target both slow and fast-twitch muscle fibre by varying both the rhythm and intensity of sets, switching between short, intense effort and longer effort. Of course, this doesn't work for everyone. Other training programmes are available, you just need to try them and see what works for you.
And don't obsess over the rule of 3 to the point where you systematically check off each box. You should use it as a tool when building your glute training programme. Especially since to improve, you may want to focus on a single movement to improve your technique and use more weight. Let's take hip thrust for example. If, for a while, you do a few more standing movements than horizontal or rotation movements, that's perfectly fine.

#6. Equipment and accessories for strengthening glutes 

As we talked about, you need resistance to strengthen your glutes. There are 2 types of resistances you can use: progressive resistance that you get when using elastic bands and constant resistance. In the best case scenario, you use a bit of both for better efficiency: