In Glute Workout Part 1, I talked about how you want to find exercises that focus on hip-extension and hyperextension to really target your glutes. Last week’s post focused on exercises that don’t require much equipment so you can do them at home. This week, we’re going into a few great moves that require more equipment but are really solid staples for a glute training program in the gym.
Deadlifts are arguably one of the greatest exercises for your whole posterior chain so I go over a few variations for you to test out. However, deadlifts aren’t for everyone. If you are working around any mobility issues or have a difficult time properly stabilizing your spine you may want to start with the exercises where your spine isn’t loaded.
I love the Kettlebell Deadlift for anyone new to or unsure of a deadlift. They tend to be a little more “fool-proof” because a kettlebell is easier to keep close to your body compared to a barbell. You’ll also know if you’re messing up your form because the kettlebell won’t land in between your feet if you’re rounding your back or starting to squat. These can also easily be modified by raising the kettlebell up on to a step or a sturdy yoga block if you don’t have good control of all that mobility to get the bell down to the floor.
Grab a heavy-enough kettlebell. By that I mean make sure you have enough weight that your body has enough feedback to actually deadlift the weight. If it’s too light, you may automatically start to squat it. You almost need to feel like the weight is pulling you a little forward. Set the kettlebell in between your feet so that it lines up with your arches. Set your feet about shoulder-width apart and squeeze your glutes tight together to figure out how far your feet want to turn out.
When you go to pick up the kettlebell, your knees should bend but shouldn’t come forward like they do in a squat. The bend is really so that your butt goes backward. Grab the bell, pull your shoulders tight, load your hamstrings and your glutes, then think to push the ground away through your feet. Be sure to use your breath to help you brace. You should be exhaling to come up to standing.
These turn into a bit more of a Romanian Deadlift because you won’t be bending down as far as you would with a kettlebell or barbell deadlift. I find this is a great exercise to isolate those glutes and hamstrings a bit more and can help people get a feel for how you should be pulling out of a deadlift in general. With the weight yanking you forward you almost have no choice but to brace through your hamstrings, glutes, and shoulders. You may also notice you’re putting more pressure through your toes to push the ground away which is what should be happening in your regular deadlifts as well.
Set the cable at the base of the machine with whatever bar-like attachment you can get your hands on. Be sure you can grab the bar with your hands shoulder-width apart. Set your feet shoulder-width apart like you would for your regular deadlifts. Be sure the weight is heavy enough that you feel you have to brace to keep from getting yanked forward (going really light on this one tends to backfire so play around with the weight to see which feels best).
From standing, hinge at your hips to send your butt behind you with knees bending just enough to let you hinge further. If your butt stops going backward, you’ve reached the end of your motion. If you keep going lower and your butt isn’t going back anymore it typically means you’re starting to squat or you’re rounding at your back/shoulders. Keeping your shoulders pinned back the whole time and keeping your arms straight, push through your feet to come back up to standing. Be sure not to turn this into some weird arm row – your arms are just an extension of your hips.
In my last blog, I talked about how motions simulating climbing were great exercises to target your glutes. Step-ups do just that – especially high step-ups. You can do these with weights held by your sides or you can try without. Be sure that these feel controlled before you start to add weight.
Find a sturdy step, box, or bench. Stand close to it and place your working leg on the step. Think to dig down through your heel on the step to push yourself away from the floor. I say it this way so that you don’t spring off of your back leg to get on top of the box. Be sure the leg that’s on the step is doing all of the work.
When you come down, come down with control so that you don’t slam your back leg down and you’re working on that nice eccentric contraction on the working leg. I’m a big fan of doing a set on one leg at a time rather than alternating so that you can smoke that leg and be sure that you’re using them evenly,
These are a great alternative if you have issues with deadlifts. This is isolating that hip extension/hyperextension movement that I mentioned is exactly what you need to work your glutes the most. You’ve likely seen these done with weight across the hips which is a great way to progress these. To show you the full motion, I just went with bodyweight in the video below.
Find a bench or a box that is SECURE either by making sure it’s against a wall or bolted to the floor. Make sure it’s a height that works for you. Look for something that is about knee height – give or take an inch. Set your shoulders on the bench with feet hip-width apart.
Test your angle out – you want your heels to be in line with your knees when you come up into full hip-extension. If you are using weight, be sure it can safely and comfortably rest on the front of your hips. You can pad the weight with a towel and lightly hold it with your hands to be sure it stays in place.
Once you’ve got your set up, dig through your heels to drive your hips upward. Do not arch your back to get higher – just focus on your hips! You’ll notice that I have a beautiful double-chin in many of my reps. This is because this is a safer position for the neck than letting it lurch behind you. Think to look at the ceiling or a little bit in front of you. If you let your head fall back, you’ll arch your neck which may lead to arching in your low back.
This one is the most isolated way to work on your hip-extension. This takes all load away from your spine and your knees to let you focus on what is happening at your hips, while still working on a decent amount of resistance.
Come down into a tall-kneeling position on a mat that is a few inches high if possible. Anchor a band behind your or have a friend hold one so that it can sit right at your hip crease. Be sure you’ve got enough tension to have something to fight at the bottom of the motion.
Starting from a tall and upright position, fold at your hips so that your butt goes behind you. The tricky part here is not to go so low that you turn this into a kneeling squat. You shouldn’t be trying to sit back on your feet. You just want to fold forward at your hips so that you feel your glutes loaded. Push against the band with your hips to come back upright. This one takes some playing with but if you feel your glutes doing all of the work you’re in a good position!
Your glutes should really be working on all of these. If they are not, check your form or tweak the weights you’re using. You could need lighter or heavier. My glutes were sore just from filming these videos for you so I hope you get a great workout out of these!
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