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Best Exercise For Targeting Glutes

Best Exercise For Targeting Glutes

The glutes, also known as the gluteals, are a large grouping of muscles that are your buttocks: gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus. The major function of the glutes is extension of the hips. Imagine when you’re getting up from out of a chair, your hips are creased in a ‘L’ position, and the glutes contract along your backside, thus extending the hips to a ‘|‘ position and causing you to stand erect. It is a part of a series of muscles which include the erector spinae (lower back) and hamstrings. These make up the ‘posterior chain’ along your backside. For most people, the weak-link in the chain is the glutes. This is quite evident when somebody stands up or bends over to pick something up. If they have weak glutes, the body will usually bypass them and utilize either the hamstrings or lower back to perform a task. For instance, a person getting up from a squatting position will usually lean forward and elevate themselves first with the hamstrings. Likewise, a person who leans over to pick something up may leave the legs mostly erect and crane over the object, lifting it with the erector spinae muscles. These motions, especially when coupled with resistance training, is dangerous and must be addressed. I’m going to share with you the best exercise for targeting glutes and that will greatly improve your lifts, physique, and over-all quality of life. Yeah, your butt matters that much!

Best Exercise For Targeting Glutes: Hip Thrusters

Yes, there are countless isolation movements that one can do to target the glutes using dumbbells, kettle bells, etc. But the best exercise for targeting glutes is in fact barbell hip thrusters. Of course, I am beholden to defend my thesis, so I’ll explain why this is so. Other compound movements develop the glutes, like barbell squats and barbell deadlifts to name a couple, but they do not specifically target, or isolate the glutes. If a person only does these exercises and over time a disparity between the glutes and the other two muscle groups arise, there is nothing in the programming to coerce recruitment of the gluteals, thus over time causing them to not keep up in development with the other muscle groups of the posterior chain. That is the point where your body will begin relying largely on the over-developed hamstrings and erector spinae and bypass the glutes. It’s a vicious cycle. So training strictly large compound movements that include glutes, but doesn’t isolate them, is not adequate in and of itself.

On the other hand, smaller single-joint, isolation movements handling moderate or light weight can help, but will not be adequate to address the disparity present in the other muscles due to the larger compound movements. So in order to develop the glutes, you will need to specifically isolate them. You will need to use a heavy weight. It must not equally recruit the hamstrings and erector spinae, meaning you have to isolate the movement to just the hips. The best exercise for targeting glutes that meets all these criteria is the barbell hip thrusters.

How To Perform Hip Thrusters

Okay, so now that I’ve hopefully convinced you that hip thrusters are the best exercise for targeting glutes, I’ll share with you what you will need and how to perform hip thrusters. Though the exercise is highly effective, you’ll rarely see it done because it requires a special piece of equipment. So the things you need to perform heavy barbell hip thrusters are:

  • Bench (preferably a sturdy utility bench (non-adjustable))
  • Non-whip bar (a rigid bar that doesn’t bend excessively if possible, but any bar will do)
  • Hampton Extra Thick International Bar Pad (gym probably won’t have it, you can order on Amazon for $35)

Simply slip the Hampton pad over the central knurling of the barbell, load the weight you’d like to use, and position the barbell alongside a bench. You’ll then sit on the ground, sliding your legs under the barbell and then place your erect back against the side of the bench. You’ll then roll the barbell towards your trunk, rolling the pad over or up onto the crease of your hips. At this point, make sure the slit of the Hampton pad is facing up and not down (towards your crotch) otherwise the barbell will pop out of the pad and be resting directly on you–not a pleasant feeling when the weight is heavy! Hook your shoulder blades onto the edge of the bench, stabilize the barbell by holding it with your hands, and hitch the barbell up into the air by working your feet under your knees. Once you’re hips are locked out at the top with the weight stable on your hips, you can either keep a hold of the barbell with your hands to stabilize it or you can rest your arms to your sides along the top of the bench for stability and support.

Now that you’re in the starting position, initiate the movement by reversing movement at the hips, dipping down towards the ground as if you’re going to sit back down. Stop the descent once the hips have dipped as far down as they can before the knees start traveling away from the feet (if the knees move closer towards you, causing you to extend your legs slightly, you’ve gone too far). Scoop the weight back up to the staring position with your hips and momentarily pause at the top; you’ll notice your glutes are tightly squeezed at the top if done right. I said ‘scoop with your hips’ because that is the motion you need to be doing with the hips. It’s not a straight up and down movement. Your hips from the bottom position will pivot forward and upward until it locks out, at which point they will then remain locked out and push the hips up in an ascent until the trunk, hips, and legs are in-line. A popular and effective analogy trainers use to explain the scooping movement of the barbell hip thruster is the motion of the scoop of an earth mover. Imagine the scoop of an earth mover scooping dirt and then tilting the scoop upward, and then raising it up into the air. That is exactly how your hips will move during this exercise.

You Need To Do The Best Exercise For Targeting Glutes

I know it may look awkward, but since it really is the best exercise for targeting glutes, you can’t afford to pass over it. Investing in the Hampton pad is more than worth it since it will enable you to do this lift. Since it is a barbell exercise that isolates the glutes, you can go extremely heavy and really blast those buns. Give them a try and you’ll probably end up loving hip thrusters and may wonder how you’ve lived life up to this point without doing them. Watch the YouTube video I’ve included below, the visual demonstration will help you perform it right. Also in the video you’ll see how much of a difference hip thrusters helped me in less than a year of doing them.

Do you have a fitness question you would like to ask me? Send me a message below and I’ll gladly respond!


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