Back in February, I shared the pic above on instagram, discussing how I've been incorporating new-to-me movements to build strength through the glutes, and we got such an overwhelming response from people asking for more info that I thought I'd do one big post on it, so here we go.
In the past, I'd never really paid much attention to my bum. I didn't see it in the mirror, so I was never really thinking about it, you know? But I've come to really like what I see in the mirror from the front, and so I thought it might be time to focus on the glutes and posterior chain. Before we get into it, why would anyone want to work on glutes? Well, strong glutes may improve posture and prevent injury. Strong glutes may also improve overall athleticism, and strength and power.
Through my own research which included closely following Marcus Filly, Bret Contreras, and Ben Bruno I learned that there are various exercises you can do to build strong glutes. The exercises are categorized by force vectors, which is the direction of the load relative to the body, and they are:
- Vertical Loading Exercises: movements like step ups, squats, deadlifts, good mornings, RDLs
- Horizontal Loading Exercises: movements like hip thrusts, frog pumps, reverse hypers, cable pull throughs
- Lateral Loading Exercises: movements like lateral band walks, side lying hip abduction
- Combo Loading Exercises: movements like Kettlebell swings, lunges, reverse hack squats
*Note that there are many more exercises in each category, but for our purposes here, I've just written down a few as examples. Please also note that in the above exercises, the examples are just one way you can do the exercises. For example, in the step ups exercise - there are lots of different ways you can do a step up. You can do it with just your body weight, or with a barbell on the back, or a barbell in the front rack position, or kettle bells, or dumbbells, etc. Basically, just like with yoga, there are so many options and places to go within each movement.
So in my workouts over the last few months I've been trying to incorporate multiple exercises from each category every time I'm working on the glutes (which is about 3 times per week). So, for example, one day I would do 5 Rounds of 10 step ups, 10 hip thrusts, 10 lateral band walks, and 10 kettle bell swings. Later that week I would do 3 Rounds of 10 lunges, 10 deadlifts, 10 reverse hypers, 10 side lying hip abduction, and 10 kettlebell swings. I feel like when working out, the rules of yoga should apply. You should link breath with movement, don't allow your thoughts to get in the way, learn your body and know its limits, and make the movements work for you. If an exercise doesn't feel right, I'd ask a trainer to help spot something you're doing incorrectly, or do a different exercise in the same category. I'm not going to give my exact workouts because what works for me may not be appropriate for you, so my suggestion would be to work with a trainer, or just mindfully delve into it to figure out what your body will best respond to.
A couple people messaged me asking about building glutes without building big thighs. I think you have to be careful with that mentality - like you can't have strong glutes without having at least a *little* muscle in your thighs, and I'd imagine you'd want to stay proportionate. That being said, I think the key to avoiding huge legs is found in the variety of the exercises. Like if you only ever squat for glute strength, and you happen to be quad dominant, then yes, you'll likely build large quads as well. But if you perform the movement correctly (fix that quad dominance) and you incorporate the horizontal loading exercises, the lateral loading exercises and the combo loading exercises, you may be able to build strong, "well rounded" (see what I did there?!) glutes with legs that are proportionate to your bum, does that make sense?
The cossack squats you see above are new to me and I love them. They'd fall into a combo loading exercise category because you're moving both laterally and vertically.
It was a fullll day today! Jet lag had me wide awake at 4am which was great because I got some work done (we have a new workout post up on YBC), got to call home and say hey to my mama, and then did a helicopter tour (insane), discovered the western most bookstore in the USA (got The Girls), practiced handstand walks near this cool swinging bridge, and then hit the gym at @koloalandingresort. The workout was: 5 Rounds - 50 seated banded hip abduction, 20 hip thrusts w 30lb DB, 10 banded squats w 30lbDB and 10 banded DL with 30lbDB. (Fair warning, your 🍑 will be on 🔥)Followed by (not recorded): 3 min burpees 😑💦 #alohakoloa #kauai #yogabycandace #gym #workout • song is Donut Shop by @stlgld, produced by @thearcitype #arcproducedthat
Above you can see a bunch of glute movements I've been doing.
Here’s a snippet from my Bird of Paradise pose tutorial which you can find on my Highlighted Stories on my profile (if you don’t see it, make sure you have the most recent version of Instagram), and then part of my workout today. Got in some hip thrusts (I just started incorporating them a few times per week for the last few weeks and liked hearing the @barbellshruggedpodcast with @bretcontreras1 the other day), then did a quick hiit workout. 30-30-30, 20-20-20, and 10-10-10 box jumps, ball slams and jumping lunges. Finished it off with ab wheels and a good yoga sesh because #balance. Let me know what pose you’d like broken down in the next IG tutorial and in the meantime make sure to check out my book Namaslay, available on Amazon, at Barnes and Noble and most major bookstores everywhere. 💕👊🏽 #ybcgym #workout #yoga #gym
I'm still incorporating hiit workouts as well, as you can see below. I've noticed the hiit workouts help keep me lean (sort of, haha, I know I'm not that lean).
So that's pretty much it! I'm happy with the journey I'm on. I'm not 100% where I want to be, but I'm definitely getting there, and I love implementing what I learn and seeing how my body responds. I'd love to hear what you've been working on in your strength building, if you'd like to share down in the comments section!