The traditional squat is a mainstay of many women's gluteal workouts. According to a study conducted by the American Council on Exercise in 2006, however, the squat is not the best exercise for gaining mass in your glutes. That's good news for women looking to inject variety into their workouts. If you want to build a bigger, stronger butt, incorporate some different strength moves into your resistance training two to four days a week.
Hypertrophy training is aimed at maximal muscle growth. It focuses on high levels of volume with minimal rest periods, which forces cellular changes resulting in increased muscle size. If you want to build a bigger butt, use hypertrophy principles in your weight training. Complete three to five sets of each exercise, with six to 12 repetitions per set. Lift at 75 to 85 percent of your maximal intensity. Your complete workout should consist of 24 to 36 sets.
Quadruped Hip Extension
The quadruped hip extension was the most effective exercise in the 2006 study at activating both the gluteus maximus and gluteus medius muscles. To perform this exercise, get down on your hands and knees and lift one leg up with the knee bent at 90 degrees. The sole of your raised shoe should be facing the ceiling. Exhale as you lift your leg and inhale as you lower it. To increase this exercise's intensity, add ankle weights or place a dumbbell behind your raised leg's knee.
To properly execute the floor bridge, or hip thrust, lie on your back with knees bent, feet flat on the floor and your toes shoulder-width apart, pointing straight ahead. Your arms are at your sides, palms down. Draw your navel in and activate your glutes as you lift your pelvis off the floor until your knees, hips and shoulders form a straight line. Exhale as you lift your pelvis, and inhale as you slowly lower it. Avoid raising your hips too high, which can hyper-extend your lower back. Keep your knees, hips and shoulders aligned. To further challenge yourself, complete this exercise while holding dumbbells or a weighted barbell on your hips. Other variations include completing the exercise with your heels on a stability ball or with one leg raised in the air, forming a straight line from ankle to hip.
Stand in front of a box that is about 15 inches high with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms straight at your sides. If you are using weights, clasp the dumbbells in your hands with your palms facing your sides. Step onto the box with one leg, keeping your toes pointed straight ahead and your knee over mid-foot. Transfer your weight to the leg that is stepping onto the box; your other leg should be used only for balance. Push through your heel and stand up straight. Step off the box and repeat with your other leg. Exhale as you step onto the box and inhale as you step off.
Stand straight with your hips and feet facing straight ahead. If you're doing unweighted lunges, keep your hands on your hips. If you're holding dumbbells, keep your arms straight down at your sides. Draw your abdomen in and maintain total body alignment as you step forward, descending slowly by bending your hips, knees and ankles. Activate your gluteus and leg muscles to push up and back to the starting position. Inhale on the descent, and exhale as you push back to the start.
Romanian Dead Lift
Although the dead lift was not included in the American Council on Exercise study on gluteal activation exercises, a 2009 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill study found the dead lift to effectively activate the gluteus maximus. The Romanian dead lift can be used to build mass in your glutes if you use proper intensity. To perform this exercise, stand straight with your knees slightly bent, feet shoulder-width apart and a barbell or dumbbells held shoulder-width apart. Keep your lower back flat or just slightly arched and slowly bend at the waist, keeping the bar or dumbbells as close to your body as possible to avoid undue stress on your back. Don't change the angle of your knees. Bend as far as you can without rounding your back -- which is usually around the middle of the shin -- then lift your torso back to starting position. Inhale as you lower the weight and exhale as you lift it.
- ACE Fitness; "Glutes to the Max"; Mark Anders; January/February 2006
- "NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness Training" Third Edition; Micheal A. Clark et. al.; 2008
- "The Essentials of Integrated Training"; Micheal A. Clark and Alan Russell; 2007
- "Journal of Orthopedic Sports Physical Therapy"; "Gluteal Muscle Activation During Common Therapeutic Exercises"; L.J. Distefano et. al.; July 2009
- George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.