The big butt craze is in full swing. And it’s not just fashionable, it’s functional.
Having big glutes will give you serious strength and performance benefits, but building them doesn’t come easy to everyone. You have to know how to emphasize your gluteal muscles if you really want a stronger butt.
Here are some simple tweaks for common exercises that will blow up your butt and make your lower body training truly ass-tastic.
1. The Lunge Tweak
To emphasize the glutes, hinge your hips and lean your torso forward. Keeping your torso upright will emphasize the quads during split squats and lunges whereas pushing your butt out by bending forward at the hips will place significantly more tension across your glutes.
Not sure what I’m referring to? Here are two videos of a split squat. The first one is a quad-dominant split squat; the second involves significantly more glute activation.
Split Squat – Quad Emphasis
Split Squat – Glute Emphasis
When leaning forward, it’s important to maintain a strong back. Think of your body like an airplane taking off. Shoot for about a 45-degree body angle between your torso and the floor.
2. The Squat Tweak
The full squat is a great glute developer all by itself, but you can add a little extra tension to the hips by placing a band just above the knees.
The band primarily activates the deep external rotators in your hips. Wearing one during squats serves several purposes:
- It acts as a proprioceptive cue to drive the knees outward, which helps prevent your knees from collapsing inward.
- It teaches the body to create more torque and external rotation at the hips by giving your knees something to press against.
- The band resists knee motion through the frontal plane. This creates more tension on your hip musculature. Since mechanical tension is a key to muscle growth and development, getting more tension across the glutes will ultimately build bigger and stronger buns (1).
3. The Hip Thrust Tweak
This is one of the most-used exercises for glute development (2, 3). To get even more out of the hip thrust, make sure you go to full lockout and do a small posterior pelvic tilt at the top.
This will help you get the maximum squeeze and will prevent you from over-arching and injuring your back. For an even greater contraction, try to hold the lockout position for about three seconds per rep. You can also place a band around the knees for a little extra resistance.
4. The Leg Press Tweak
Most lifters will unknowingly put the emphasis on their quads when doing the leg press. This isn’t bad if quad development is your goal, but it’s not ideal if glute development is what you’re after.
One simple tweak to get more glute activation is to place your legs a bit higher on the platform. This changes the angle of the pull so that more stress is placed on the glutes.
Quad Emphasis Leg Press
Glute and Hamstring Emphasis Leg Press
Note: When placing your feet higher, you have to be extra careful not to round your lower back when lowering the weight. Make sure your back and hips stay in contact with the seat at all times to keep your spine safe.
- Foley, Ryan C A, et al. “Effects of a Band Loop on Lower Extremity Muscle Activity And Kinematics During the Barbell Squat.” International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy, Sports Physical Therapy Section, Aug. 2017, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5534145/.
- Contreras, B, Vigotsky, AD, Schoenfeld, BJ, Beardsley, C, and Cronin, JA. Comparison of gluteus maximus, biceps femoris, and vastus lateralis EMG activity in the back squat and barbell hip thrust exercises. J Appl Biomech 31: 452–458, 2015.
- Neto, Walter Krause, et al. “Barbell Hip Thrust, Muscular Activation and Performance: A Systematic Review.” www.jssm.org/volume18/iss2/Cap/Jssm-18-198.Pdf, Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, 1 June 2019, www.jssm.org/volume18/iss2/cap/jssm-18-198.pdf.