Growing your glutes (the science)

Glutes can improve aesthetics, health, strength, performance and play a crucial role in injury prevention.

There are 3 muscles that make up the “glutes”

GLUTEUS MAXIMUS (the largest)


GLUTEUS MINIMUS (the smallest)

We get a lot of questions about how to better ‘grow’ and ‘shape’ the glutes. What it comes down to is proper training and food consumption!

When it comes to building bigger and stronger glutes the common mistakes many people make are:

1. Choosing the wrong exercises

2. Training with the wrong sets and reps

3. Not using the right amount of effort

4. Not eating the right foods

So, how do we train the glutes??

The main focus on developing bigger, stronger and more ‘toned’ glutes is hypertrophy!

Hypertrophy = increase in size = building muscle!

We achieve this by training often, with a moderate weight and intensity, and by applying progressive overload.

Training Volume

Remember HYPERTROPHY is to increase in size and the way we know how to do this is be able to train a muscle group again and again with good recovery in between sessions. So, one hard session a week is unlikely going to be enough to grow the glutes!

That is why we suggest training your glutes at least 2 to 3 times per week, with one or two rest days between each day.Hence why you’ll find glute focused exercises programmed into our 3PC classes multiple times throughout the week.

4 sets of hip thrusts each week just won’t cut it!

We should be aiming for anywhere between 10-20 or even 30 sets of glute focused exercises each week.

The more experienced lifter you are the more important tempo, load, ROM, and effort becomes. This is because advanced lifters cannot rely on ‘newbie gains’ as beginner lifters can.

Newbie Gains

Newbie gains are where beginners start training consistently hard and their body adapts and changes fast. After many months this will taper off which is where a new stimulus is needed for the body to adapt/change again.

Exercise Selection

There are many exercises and variations that you can do for your glutes. The ones you should choose will be a bit different from the next person, the aim is to be able to squeeze and feel your glutes majority of reps. Compound lifts are going to have the greatest level of muscle activation. Exercises like a Barbell Hip Thrust, RDL, Deadlift or Squat are all great examples followed by accessory exercises like Bulgarian split squats, step-ups, goblet squats, banded abductions, hamstring curls, back extensions to name a few.

An exercise will have a dominant muscle group however there’ll be some interplay with other muscle groups at some stage. For example, if we think about a squat, the main mover is the Quads - however, the hamstring, glutes, calves, core, and lats also play a role in shifting the weight, especially as we start to PB lifts, the whole body is being worked.

Progressive Overload

Progressive Overload is applying greater stimulus (tempo, load, ROM, reps and sets, rest periods) to a muscle group – aiming to do so almost each time you train. So, to get better results you need to change these as your muscles get stronger and more accustomed to movement patterns. This doesn’t always mean adding more weight!

Sometimes extra reps will do the trick, slowing down the movement, adding a pause. There are a number of ways you can continually add progressive overload to your training! But it is important to remember that if your training isn’t changing (you aren’t adding in progressions) than your muscle won’t change either!

The easiest way to determine when you should apply progressive overload is by paying attention to your biofeedback and workouts. Some examples include:

· The weight you started with is now easy to do

· Feeling ‘comfortable’

· Not getting out of breath

· Being bored

· Feeling like you could have done 4-5+ extra reps

Effort 1-3 RIR or 8-9/10 RPE

You need to work sufficiently hard to get an adequate training stimulus. What experience and research tells us is that you DO NOT need to go to failure. In fact, stopping short of failure is just as effective for building muscle, and in the end will likely be more effective as it will indirectly impact how consistent you can be.

RIR - Reps in Reserve - How many reps did you have left in the tank at the end of a set? We are aiming for 1-3 reps.

RPE - Rate of Perceived Exertion - on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being hardest, we want you to shoot for an 8-9.

FORM FAILURE - going to form failure is the point at which you start to see deviations from perfect optimal form. This is usually right at the ideal RIR/RPE level. Going beyond this point is when we start to hit ABSOLUTE FAILURE and when your safety gets compromised. We always say quality over quantity!

Quality Nutrition

You can train perfectly and do everything right yet your glutes can still fail to grow! How is that so? Because your nutrition might be letting you down!

Two primary focuses you want to have when trying to grow the glutes include:

- Getting the right amount of calories in

- Consuming adequate protein intake

The glutes need nutrients in order to grow and so often we see people training hard but not fuelling themselves adequately enough to reap the rewards! So, if you are putting in the effort with your training be sure to fuel yourself properly too. Be sure to hit your protein intake as far too many people under consume on their protein goal.

This is a basic breakdown of what you need to be doing in order to grow bigger and stronger glutes! However there are other important factors to consider. If you have any specific questions relating to how to train your glutes, be sure to let us know.