If you’re trying to build better glutes, undoubtedly you’ll come across advice telling you to squat, squat, squat and then do some more squats. It is solid advice, squats are a killer move for building your glutes, quads and hamstrings, but you also need to mix up the movements; and for some people squatting is not that simple. If you have a pre-existing joint problem squats can be a very taxing exercise, added with this, incorrect squat technique can then easily lead to further injury. Thankfully, there are countless other exercises that can build a booty!
1. Step Ups
Step ups can be performed with either a dumbbell in each hand, or a barbell placed high on your back (like you would for a back squat). For beginners, it’s best to start on a lower platform, but if you’re more advanced, it’s worth using something higher, like a bench. Step onto the platform with your first leg, making sure to push your weight through your heel as you bring your body up, preventing you from coming onto your toes. Place your second leg onto the bench. That’s one rep done! Step down, change legs, repeat! This exercise really works your quads as well as your glutes.
2. Smith Machine Leg Press/Inverted Leg Press
This is the kind of exercise that’s going to get you some odd looks in the gym. It’s not the most graceful exercise, but it does burn. Unlike a traditional leg press, the position you’re in with your legs vertically above you takes the pressure off your quads, and channels the effort into your glutes and hamstrings. The best way to start is by placing a mat on the ground – this exercise can really hurt your back if the floor is uncomfortable! You want to be laying on the ground, back flat, with your legs above you. Position the middle of your feet comfortably on the bar, with your legs tucked close to your chest – this is how you start. The trick is in getting the bar off of the safety catches, and then drive through your feet to press the bar up. Do not lock your knees at the top!
3. Good Mornings
When building your glutes, it’s important not to ignore your hamstrings. A strong hamstring tie in can make all the difference to your glutes. From a competitors point of view, a well built tie in is something judges really look for. Good mornings are the perfect exercise to focus your glute & hamstring combination. Starting with a barbell across your back (like a squat), hinge forward at the waist, keeping your head and chest up until you feel the stretch through your hammies. Keep your core tight for an added ab workout, and then rise back up. Keep the movement slow and controlled for each rep.
4. Dumbbell Straight Leg Deadlifts
Working with dumbells instead of a barbell on your deadlifts can completely change the muscles used. It’s vital with this exercise you pay close attention to form – rounding or arching your back or jerking the weight back up can lead to severe back problems. Starting with your dumbells in your hand and your knees shoulder width apart, slowly bend forward. Make sure to keep your chest up and your back straight. Don’t bend or move your knees, just bend at the waist until the dumbbells are above your feet – make sure you feel the movement in your hamstrings but don’t push to the point of pain! Some people with more flexibility can go deeper into the movement, but it’s not about touching your toes! Exhale as you move down, and inhale on your way back up to standing straight.
5. Pull Through
The pull through is a very classic exercise. It was a favourite of some of the biggest old school bodybuilders but seems to have become a bit lost over the years. It’s very similar to the kettlebell swing, but puts more focus into your glutes and hamstrings as well as strengthening your lower back instead of being an explosive full body movement. It’s worthwhile adding this exercise to your training plan – it’s simple, effective and concentrated. All you need for this exercise is a pulley system and a rope attachment. To start, stand a few feet from the cables, facing away. Keep your legs wide as you stand with feet either side of the attachment and focus on keeping a slight bend while pushing your knees out. Reach through your legs so your hands are behind your knees to take the attachment and then – like the name suggests – pull it through. This isn’t an up and down movement as if you’re doing a squat, it’s more back and forth. Focus on driving with your hips and glutes, not your arms and shoulders, and squeeze your glutes at the top.
At the end of the day, building a better body is about finding what works for you. Just because everyone shouts about squats and lunges being the best for a big booty, you’re not out in the cold if they don’t work for you. Experiment and don’t be afraid to try something different! As always everyone responds differently when it comes to the reps + weights equation. It’s worth experimenting to find out what suits you – whether it’s high weight and low reps, low weight and high reps, or any combination thereafter! Get to know your body; it’s hard to get results if you’re not training right for you.