do you even glutes bro rdl

Do You Even Glute, Bro?

When was the last time you heard a guy say “hey dude I’ve got glutes today, see you in an hour”.

Yeah, me neither.

Chest, Back, Legs and Shoulders are all days in the typical body part resistance training split. It’s ok to train your quads and hamstrings but don’t you dare mention glutes, that’s a serious dent in most bro’s alpha male status. The glutes are given about as much attention as the side of greens on a 5 year olds dinner plate. Yep, feck all. The same people will make statements such as “well I do squats, lunges, deadlifts, good mornings and leg presses, that’s glutes covered”.

It’s a start and should be at the base of our programming, but the reality for most is these alone are not enough. I feel as an industry, the men need to think more laterally when it comes to glute training. We should not shy away from glute training, with our own training or when coaching our male clientele.

I have personally seen far too many positive outcomes myself and with my clients from including more targeted glute training to neglect their inclusion. Anecdotal yes, but still relevant.

The glutes are the most powerful muscle in the human body, or as I like to call them “the engine of the muscular system”. The idea that glute isolation movements are “girly” or “wimpy” is myopic at best.

Bicep curls, tricep kickbacks, leg extensions etc all fall under the same category yet no one bats an eyelid. A case of tradition trumping common sense me thinks. The world’s top bodybuilders and sports athletes don’t shy away from glute training, so why should anyone else?

Why Is It Important to Train Glutes?

The glutes are responsible for 4 main actions:

  • Hip Extension
  • Hip Abduction
  • Hip External Rotation
  • Pelvic Posterior Tilt

The majority of the general population spend their time sitting down, which in technical terms is hip flexion. The modern lifestyle contributes to what we call “glute amnesia”. Even if your a hardcore gym goer training 5 days per week, if you spend the majority of your day sitting down, your glutes are inactive that whole time. This leads to the inability to activate the glutes, which in turn leads to a lack of stability and strength. In my experience, weak and inactive glutes (and hamstrings) are one of the largest contributors to lower back and knee pain.

I often come across men and women in the gym who complain of such pain when they squat or deadlift. Very often, the main issue is weak glutes. Of course this can often be down to poor form, previous injuries, and other muscular and structural limitations. However, if you are unable to produce sufficient hip external rotation or control pelvic tilt for example, it’s very unlikely your movement will be great.

Increasing activation and strengthening the glutes will allow for higher quality movement patterns and greater force production. Whether your trying to provide greater stability for the spine, increase your 1 Rep Max of your squat or deadlift, increase power or create a more balanced and shapely butt, you will benefit from training the glutes in a multi-directional manner.

A Multiplanar Approach to Training Glutes

In order to get the most out of our glute training, we should target the glutes from multiple angles with varying stimuli.

There is a term I like to refer to called “lines of pull”. The glute maximus fibers are directed obliquely downward and lateral. The Glute medius and minimus have slightly different lines of pull from this. This makes sense since performing a hip extension based exercise (such as deadlifts) will feel pretty different from a hip abduction exercise (such as cable abductions). This theory also explains why a change of stance or setup can significantly alter the line of pull and hence which muscle is receiving the most mechanical stress.

Taking a barbell hip thrust as an example. One client may perform the exercise with a wider stance or feet further away from their butt and feel their glutes best through hip extension. Another may feel it best with feet closer to their butt and toes turned slightly out. Femur length (upper leg length) and hip anatomy varies between individuals, so will also contribute to most of your clients having different lines of pull for the same given setup, so practice some patience and find what works for them.

When working with clients at Game Changer Performance, we make sure to progressively load up movements such as hip thrusts (horizontally-based hip extension) and squats and deadlifts (vertically-based hip extension) to increase mechanical tension. We utilise single leg exercises (vertically-based hip extension) for muscular damage. Back extensions (horizontally-based hip extension) and various lateral band exercises (hip abduction and hip external rotation) are used to create metabolic stress. We add some posterior pelvic tilting at the top of our horizontally-based hip extension exercises to increase mechanical tension at the range of motion that maximizes glute activation.

This method will work to promote balance between the upper glutes and the lower glutes alike. We are huge proponents of utilising the same movement patterns but employing just enough variety to prevent plateaus.

Here are some of my go-to glute exercises:

Legs Elevated Frog Pumps (Activation)


  • Lying on the floor, legs elevated on a bench (ideally with the foot not in contact), with the knees at an almost 90 degree angle to the ankles and hips.
  • For extra bracing, push elbows into the floor.


  • Start with the heels together and knees relaxed.
  • Initiate the movement by posteriorly tilting the pelvis, creating tension in the glutes.
  • Keeping tension, extend the hips as much as active range will allow.
  • As you extend, push the knees out and down towards the bench.
  • Be sure to keep the ribcage and pelvic alignment in a strong neutral position.

Barbell Hip Thruster (Strength & Hypertrophy)


  • Setup a Bench at a height where the bottom of your shoulder blades can rest against the bench
  • Using a squat pad or Mat for padding, rest the bar across the crease of your hips, gripping the bar to hold in place.
  • Set your feet in a comfortable position which allows a vertical shin position when reaching extension.
  • This may be narrow or hip width apart and toes may be slightly pointed out.


  • Keeping the ribs down and abdominals brace, initiative the movement by squeezing your glutes and pushing through your heels.
  • Reach full extension and squeeze the glutes as much as possible.
  • Eyes should be looking at the point where the wall and ceiling meet (this prevents hyperextension of the neck)
  • On lowering the bar, lower the hips towards the floor whilst simultaneously allowing your body to follow with a neutral spine position.
  • Your body will be in an almost upright position if done correctly.
  • Rest the bar on the floor between reps or stop just short if working with a constant tension method

Reverse Hyper Extension (Strength & Hypertrophy)

(Video courtesy of Rogue Fitness)


  • Lay on top of the pad in a position that allows your hips to hang down towards the floor, whilst grasping the handles/foot plate
  • If you don’t have a reverse hyper bench, you can do a modified version, like with the 45 degree bench shown above.


  • Your hips should be flexed to start and feel like they are being wrapped around the pad
  • Pressing your hips into the pad and squeezing your glutes, extend the hips allowing your feet to “kick” behind you
  • Keep the abdominals braced and avoid hyperextending the lumbar spine
  • Only go to the end range at which you feel your glutes contract then slowly reverse the movement wrapping your hips around the pad

45 Degree Hip Extension with Toes Out


  • Ensure the bench is set to a height you can wrap your hips around the edge of the pad achieving full range.
  • Feet should be turned out 45 degrees.
  • Feet flat, calfs pushing back into the lower pad, quads and hips pushing down into the upper pad.
  • T-spine flexed (upper back rounded) throughout to flatten the lumbar and emphasize the glutes.


  • Starting with the hips fully flexed, engage the gluten and press the hips into the pad.
  • From there, posteriorly tilt the pelvis to extend the hips until you reach your full active range.
  • Hold that position for 2-3s in the beginning to ensure you are getting full engagement.
  • Maintain tension, then wrap your hips around the pad to return to the starting position.

Seated Abductions


  • Machine setup varies between brands, so ensure you are setup with optimal positioning and bracing before you start moving (The machine pictured is Life Fitness)
  • You may need to modify the machine to suit your levers. In this case, for my knees to line up with the optimal line of force, I have to place an abmat behind my back so my knees are further forward.
  • From here use the handles at the side of the seat to brace yourself down and back into the seat.
  • It goes without saying, avoid hyperextending the lumbar by bracing your anterior core to keep the ribcage down.


  • Before moving the weight, press the outsides of your legs into the pads just enough to initiate tension in the glutes.
  • With tension in place, push the knees out to reach your active end range. It’s important not to force it or use momentum to swing the load.
  • Pause and squeeze at your active end range.
  • Maintain this tension and return to the start position.
  • Be sure that the weight stack doesn’t rest down between reps in order to maintain constant tension.

Standing Cable Hip Abductions


  • Ideally you’ll need a cuff for strapping to your ankle. Otherwise a traditional handle can be modified (see video).
  • Hold the cable column to provide support and stability.
  • Keep the non-working leg straight or slightly soft at the knees. The non working leg will be working just as hard as the working leg!
  • The non working leg should stay completely still at all times and should not shift.
  • Pelvis and ribcage aligned, anterior core braced.


  • Create tension in the working glute before moving the load.
  • Abduct the leg away from the standing leg ensuring that the cable runs in a straight line (the cable mechanism should not shake side to side)
  • Go only to your active end range where you can maintain tension and control without compensating.
  • Think of “sweeping your foot along the floor”.
  • Control to the starting position and repeat.

Courtesy Lunges


  • Start by taking the supporting leg back and across your body.
  • How far back and wide you stand with your setup will depend on your individual anatomy and mobility capabilities.
  • Organise your ribcage and pelvis to stay in line with one another.
  • Keep your body orientated straight ahead as much as possible.
  • Lean slightly forward to place more emphasis on the arse cannons.
  • If performing the dynamic version, you want to consistently find the same setup established during the static version every rep.


Static Variation:

  • Once setup, focus bending the knee on the front leg, keeping the knee tracking over the ankle as much as possible.
  • With the bag leg, allow it to move naturally.
  • Keeping your lats engaged throughout will help you stabilize the hips.
  • Descend with a controlled tempo, only going as far as your active range allows.
  • In the bottom position, pause and squeeze the glute, then stand maintaining that tension.

Static Variation:

  • Same points as above apply.
  • When stepping, absorb the landing as softly as possible.
  • On the concentric part of the movement (standing up), move quickly but with control.
  • Land softly with both feet together, standing to full extension and squeezing the cheeks.
  • Dumbbells should stay beside your hips the whole time and not swing as you step.

In Summary

Glute training should not be avoided, on our own or with clients, men and women alike. Squats, deadlifts and lunges alone are not enough. Due to the many roles and muscular structures, the glutes are most optimally trained with a tri-planar approach. The above exercises are just a few examples. We would be more than happy to discuss in more detail about how we program glute training with our clients. Reach out to me and we’ll talk shop about how I approach glutes (training of course!).

About the Author

Ross Gilmour is a specialist in applying broad movement principles and methods to specific clients and contexts. The precision of execution is an absolute non-negotiable! Programming in order to build strength, add muscle or improve athletic performance is a real passion of his. Ross also gets an immense sense of reward from helping active populations recover from injury, bridging the gap between rehab and performance.