One of the most frequently asked questions I hear from my clients is “How do I grow and shape my glutes?”
If booty-building is one of your goals, I can totally relate! Personally, I am on a constant mission to grow my glutes and improve their shape. It doesn’t make it any easier that the glutes are one of the most stubborn muscle groups to work on, as it can be quite challenging to target them specifically.
Want to learn how myself and my clients achieve amazing results? Keep reading to learn my ultimate glute-building tips - and try a FREE tough glute-focused workout that can help you grow and shape that peach!
One of the most common concerns is doing what’s supposed to be a glute-focused day at the gym, only to wake up the next day with sore quads and hamstrings - not the peach! A major factor contributing to this is the prevalence of sedentary lifestyles, which may cause the glutes to functionally “fall asleep”. Such “underactive” glutes are much harder to target, as other muscles may start taking on the extra load.
Because of this, I’m a big believer in using glute activation exercises to “switch on” the glutes before moving on to the main training block. Usually, I perform a few glute-specific exercises using my BBR Cotton Bands – this ensures the glutes are activated and engaged before I move into my working sets.
All BBR programs include specific glute activation circuits – which is one of the reasons why my workouts are so effective at targeting glutes!
Make sure that you are really focusing on MIND-TO-MUSCLE CONNECTION through your workout! In every exercise during a glute-focused session, you should be focusing your attention on using your glutes. With every rep, squeeze the glutes and control the movement so that you feel it in the right places. When you actively think about where you want to be feeling the exercise, it makes it much easier to target that specific muscle or area!
My Favourite Glute-Building Exercises
I prefer training glutes 2-3 times a week, targeting them from all angles at a variety of rep ranges and weights. Consistency is extremely important here – if you want to grow your glutes, train them regularly, and more frequently than just once a week!
As for the best exercises to build and shape the glutes, there are numerous opinions on this! At the end of the day, the best glute-building exercises are those that you personally really feel in your booty. Everyone is different, and there shouldn’t be a blanket approach to training.
In saying that, below you’ll find my personal favourite exercises that helped me improve the appearance of my booty – and I still utilise various combinations of them in each glute-focused session!
1. HIP THRUSTS
This has to be my all-time favourite glute exercise! When done correctly, the hip thrust can build your glutes to glory, but when done incorrectly, you may feel other muscles working or end up injuring yourself. In my eyes, these are a MUST for glute development.
Here are some tips on perfecting your hip thrust:
- Choose a weight that challenges you but allows you to maintain great form! If you aren’t feeling it in your glutes, drop the weight and focus on contracting your glutes with each rep.
- Pay attention to your foot placement! Although the hip thrust looks like a simple exercise, a slight alteration of your foot placement can change how you feel it. For the best glute engagement, I recommend placing your feet so that your heels are directly under your knees when you’re fully extended. If your feet are too far away or too close together, you may feel the exercise in your hamstrings more than glutes. And if your feet are tucked too close into you, your quads may engage more than your glutes.
- Tuck that chin! You may notice me tucking my chin into my chest while hip thrusting. I do this to create what is called ‘posterior pelvic tilt’. This essentially prevents me from overextending my back while thrusting and allows me to completely push through my glutes. If you ever feel your lower back on these, really try tucking your chin into your chest throughout the entire movement.
- Use a band to engage the glutes even more! So, you’ve fixed your foot placement, but you’re still feeling your quads engage? Place a band around the top of your knees. This will force you to push your knees outward using your glutes throughout the whole movement, and therefore, you’ll get better glute engagement!
- Play with your rep range! This is a great exercise to go heavy on and build your strength up, or even go lighter and pump out as many reps as you can. I include a variety of rep ranges when thrusting to get the most benefit out of the exercise.
Thrust away ladies! Try these in your next workout and remember these tips - you’ll be on your way to a perkier booty!
2. SUMO SQUATS
The Sumo Squat is another great exercise to target your glutes and it has so many variations. These are great for targeting the lower part of your glutes. However, not only does this exercise target your booty, it also targets your inner thighs and legs to really sculpt your entire lower body. Here are my tips on how to Sumo Squat and how to make it even more challenging for your peach:
- Find a stance that is comfortable for you! To get into the proper stance of a sumo squat, place your feet wider-than-shoulder-width apart but not too wide (this will place more emphasis on inner thighs than glutes and may cause discomfort)! Your toes should be slightly pointed out so that your knees can track them as you descend.
- CONTRACT YOUR GLUTES! Throughout each rep, really focus on contracting your glutes (squeezing them together). Be careful to not over-squeeze/arch your lower back forwards while squeezing, as this could lead to injury or strain.
- Not hard enough? Try pulse reps! Or even better… try BANDED pulse reps on the Smith machine! Squatting on the Smith machine allows you to really sit back in your heels while doing the exercise, so you can focus on pushing through your glutes and adding a band will force you to keep your knees out using engaging your glutes even more. Additionally, pulsing is a great way to up the intensity of any exercise by keeping your muscles under tension for a longer period of time!
- Not feeling it in your glutes? Place a bench behind you and squat down onto the bench for every rep. Really focus on pushing through your heels the entire time and keeping your knees tracking your toes. This will help you master the movement and place all the emphasis onto your bum.
Like when performing any exercise, focus on your form before increasing weight!
3. SEATED ABDUCTIONS
I love seated abductions as a glute activation exercise or even as a finisher! This exercise is great to develop your Gluteus Medius and Minimus, or in other words, the top of your glutes! This exercise can be done on an abduction machine, or with a band if you don’t have access to an abduction machine.
- Focus on pushing out with your glutes and controlling the movement. I would recommend squeezing and holding for 1-2 seconds at the top of each rep to really exhaust the glutes.
- Keep your spine neutral, meaning your back and neck should be straight and aligned. Avoid any rounding of your back while performing this exercise.
To incorporate abductions into your workout, try this circuit either for glute activation or as a stand-alone superset:
Here is a small circuit that you can do, either to wake up your glutes before a workout or to finish them off after your session:
This mini-circuit will work your glutes from three different angles allowing to really feel the burn and get great glute engagement!
Kickbacks are another great exercise that develop the “top shelf” of the glutes. These are a great isolation exercise that you can do anywhere, anytime. You can do these with just your bodyweight, ankle weights, bands or cables. Here are some tips on how to properly feel and perform your kickbacks:
- Find your sweet spot! For many girls, it can be hard to really feel their glutes during kickbacks. I recommend playing around with your foot placement and kickback to find what works for you. Personally, I find that if I point my toe slightly outwards and keep my leg straight throughout the entire movement, I feel the best glute contact.
- Keep that core tight! I urge you to keep your core as tight and engaged as possible during this exercise. Whether you are doing kickbacks with ankle weights or cables, etc. it is very easy to use your lower back to try and lift the weight at the top of the movement. This can lead to irritating or even injuring your lower back. Instead of letting yourself arch and use your back, keep your core tight, spine neutral and use ONLY your glutes to move the weight up.
I love super-setting this exercise with hip thrusts or sumo squats to really exhaust all glute muscles!
Bonus Glute-Focused Workout
Now that you’ve gathered all my tips on how to really work your booty, here’s a workout you can try that includes all of my favourites with some of their variations:
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