By Katie Miller for MuscleTech
I was never blessed with shapely, round glutes. I squatted for them. You can always buy yourself a chest, but if you want firm, great-looking glutes, you’ve got to put in the work. During contest prep for my first bikini competition I was under the impression that shoulder-width squats on the Smith machine, leg presses and lunges would give me the glutes I wanted. Wrong! With the help of my degree in exercise physiology and my experience as a personal trainer, I was able to figure out a system that really worked.
The term “glutes” refers to gluteus muscles, comprised of the gluteus minimus, gluteus maximus and gluteus medius. Abductors also play a large role in glute toning. In order to get the results you want, you must do a different exercise for each muscle.
On top of isolating each muscle, it’s crucial to have a good mind-muscle connection. Mind-muscle connection, in my experience, involves really dialing in or concentrating on the muscle you’re engaging with each exercise.
When I was first training I also thought that heavier weight was needed to get results. Wrong again! My glutes improved significantly when I started lowering weight, increasing repetitions and really thinking about my glutes improving during each exercise.
I like to dedicate one whole day to glute training. I usually start with a heavier leg day on Monday, focusing on compound leg exercises. Thursday, when my legs have recovered, I do more isolated exercises for my glutes (this is a fun training day and you can get very creative with it!).
Here’s an example of what my leg day and “glute” days look like:
Leg Day (heavy weight)
- Shoulder-width squats on squat rack (90 degrees)
- Stiff legged dead-lifts
- One legged hamstring curl superset with walking lunges
- Linear hack squat superset with weighted hip thrusts on bosu ball
- Leg press (I like to use the squat press)
- Leg extension (light weight until burnout)
Glute Day (lighter weight)
- Box jumps to warm up
- Wide stance (sumo) squats on the smith machine with toes pointed out (deep)
- Narrow stance squats (deep)
- One legged squats on smith machine (deep)
- Glute kickbacks on cable
- Glute kickbacks (using prone hamstring curl machine backwards)
- Glute stomps (using the pull-up assist machine)
- Abductor machine until burnout (this one is done very heavy, leaning forward)
In addition to resistance training, I only use the Stairmaster for cardio exercise, and I squeeze my glutes with each step. Remember mind-muscle connection for best results. Squat for it!
Katie Miller is a national level NPC Bikini Competitor, ACSM Certified Personal Trainer and NASM Corrective Exercise Specialist with a B.A. in exercise physiology. Check her out on Instagram (KTmillerFit), Bodyspace (KTmillerFit) or Facebook (facebook.com/katiemillerfitness).