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Glutes Workout For Rounder Butt (5 Sneaky Mistakes Keeping You Flat!)

by Jeremy Ethier - July 2, 2022

Want round, firm glutes? Then you'll have to avoid making these 5 mistakes in your glutes workout. At all costs.

For most men and women, round, firm glutes are seen as more attractive than having a flat, pancake butt.

Aesthetic butt

A nice-looking butt isn’t just important for turning heads though. The glutes are a key muscle for athletic performance and keeping them strong can also go a long way to preventing back and hip pain. The problem is, that most people program and/or approach their glutes workout the wrong way.

There are 5 mistakes in particular that are most common. Whether you’re:

  • Chasing the next Gymshark sponsorship
  • Want to boost athletic performance
  • Fix low back pain OR
  • Just want to look better in a pair of jeans

... Pay attention to the next 5 mistakes, as I guarantee you're making at least one of them.

Before that: if you're looking for a training program that'll help you set up every single one of your workouts for optimal muscle growth, I've got just the thing for you. Every BWS program is designed to be an all-in-one, science-based process that’ll get you building muscle FAST. For more information:

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Glutes Anatomy

Before we dive into the mistakes you're making in your glutes workout, it’s important that we understand the anatomy of the glutes. Most people are unaware that the glutes are composed of 3 muscles: the gluteus maximus, the gluteus medius, and the gluteus minimus.

As for which of these 3 muscles is most important to develop, let’s take a look at this recent 2020 study. Researchers used MRI scans to compare the glute muscles in elite-level sprinters, sub-elite sprinters, and average untrained men. Here are the MRI scans of the three groups.

Glute anatomy

 

The big orange area in the back represents the gluteus maximus, whereas these other two areas represent the gluteus medius and minimus. You can see just how much larger the gluteus maximus is compared to the other two regions. It’s actually the largest and heaviest muscle in the human body.

Not only is it a big muscle, but researchers also found that the size of the gluteus maximus was a strong predictor of sprint performance. In fact, the gluteus maximus in elite sprinters was on average 45% bigger than it was in sub-elite sprinters.

Size of gluteus maximus in elite athletes vs sub-elite athletes

Since this muscle makes up most of your butt and seems to be the most important region for boosting athletic performance, it only makes sense to make it the focus of your glutes workout. But most people fail to do this because of the following 5 mistakes.

Glutes Workout Mistakes Keeping You From Achieving That Round Booty

Mistake #1: Exercise Selection

The first glutes workout mistake has to do with exercise selection.

The primary function of the gluteus maximus is hip extension, the movement of driving your hips forward.

Gluteus maximus and hip extension

Most “glute exercises” you’ll find online either:

  • Don't train hip extension at all and focus on the smaller glute muscles OR
  • Train hip extension, but NOT in a way that enables you to use heavier weights over time

The best glute exercises (i.e., what I'd like to call "rounder buttocks exercises") are, instead, the ones that focus on hip extension and enable you to use heavier weight over time. Examples include the:

  • Back squats
  • Leg presses
  • Bulgarian split squats
  • Deadlifts
  • Hip thrusts

These exercises aren't fancy, but if you use the right form and get really strong with them over time, the incorporation of them into your glutes workout be the key to the glutes growth you're looking for.

That said, even if you picked the right exercises for rounder buttocks, if you don’t perform them with the right form you’ll end up working other muscles rather than the one you intended to. This brings me to the next two glutes workout mistakes, which both have to do with exercise execution.

Mistake #2: Exercise Execution (Quads Takeover)

The second mistake is working your quads more than your glutes whenever you do leg exercises in your glutes workout.

The reason for this has to do with the angle of your shin and the angle of your torso as you perform these exercises.

Based on multiple kinematic analyses, the more forward your shin angle is, the greater the knee movement and the more the quads will be involved compared to the glutes.

On the other hand, the more forward your torso is, the more the glutes will be involved because this increases the degree of hip extension in the movement, which as you’ll remember is the main function of the gluteus maximus.

Torso and shin angle affects involvement of the quads and glutes

Now, based on your anatomy, some of you will naturally squat in a way that is already more glute dominant with a vertical shin angle and leaned forward torso. Whereas others will squat in a way that’s more quad dominant with a forward shin angle and upright torso.

This is fine and the glutes will still be heavily involved either way, but in other exercises like leg presses and Bulgarian split squats, we do have a greater ability to adjust our form when performing our glutes workout to better emphasize the glutes.

How To Preferentially Target The Glutes In Your Workout To Avoid Flat Butt

Let's take the leg press, for instance. If you were to place your feet higher up on the platform and stop each rep once your knees hit 90 degrees, this would enable your shins to stay vertical over the foot throughout the movement and will also involve more hip extension, therefore emphasizing the glutes more than the quads.

Foot stance on the leg press

In fact, in muscle activation studies where they compared various foot stances, they found significantly greater glute activation with a higher foot stance and significantly greater quad activation with a lower foot stance.

Foot placement on leg press and glutes involvement

You can do these one leg at a time as well, and you can also apply this concept to lunges and Bulgarian split squats as well.

You can perform the Bulgarian split squat with an upright torso and let the shin travel forward to emphasize the quads more.

On the other hand, by leaning forward and taking a slightly wider stance, your shin is able to remain vertical and you're able to emphasize the glutes more.

Just remember that my back is still neutral, I’m not rounding my back but rather bending over slightly at my hip.

Proper form for the Bulgarian split squat

Apply this tip to these exercises during your glutes workout and you’ll feel the difference right away.

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Mistake #3: Exercise Execution (Low Back & Hamstring Takes Over)

Alright so we talked about the quads taking over but in other glutes exercises, the lower back and hamstrings actually have a tendency to take over.

Let’s take a look at a great glutes exercise, the Romanian deadlift.

Although this exercise will work both the hamstrings and glutes, you can modify your form during your glutes workout to emphasize one or the other.

If you try to keep your legs completely straight on the way down, that’s going to emphasize the hamstrings more. Instead, to emphasize the glutes more, you want to use some knee bend. This incorporates more hip extension into the exercise, which as you know, is the main function of the gluteus maximus.

How to emphasize the glutes on the romanian deadlift

In addition to this, on the way down, many people try to go as low as possible. But you should only go down as far as your mobility allows you to. This is the point at which the hips stop moving backward on the way down.

You can see here that once my hips stop moving back, my lower back will start to round if I try to get any lower than this. This takes tension away from the glutes and places it on the lower back.

Proper form on romanian deadlift

Instead, try to look in the mirror when you're performing your glutes workout and spot the point where your hips can’t move back. Stop each rep at that point. For some of you, this will be around the level of the knees whereas others will be able to go lower depending on your mobility.

Mistake #4: Glutes Workout Programming

Alright so we already covered what some of the best glute exercises are, but the way you program them into your workouts is also very important.

This is because different exercises challenge a muscle in different ways.

Bulgarian split squats, for example, challenge the glutes the most at the bottom position when the muscle is fully stretched. At the top position, however, there’s no tension placed on the glutes. The same is true for back squats, leg presses, and Romanian deadlifts.

Now while these are great glute builders to use in your workout, and while research does indicate that challenging a muscle when it's in a fully stretched position seems to be most important for growth, we may be missing out on some potential growth if that’s the only way we train our glutes.

In fact, some research shows that challenging a muscle in different ways may lead to more complete growth in the various regions of that muscle.

So in the case of the glutes, we’d want to include an exercise in our glutes workout that challenges the muscle when it’s fully shortened, or in other words at the “top part” of the movement.

Glute exercises hardest at top position

Exercises like the hip thrust and the 45-degree hip extension both do just that, by providing little resistance at the bottom when the glutes are fully stretched and the most resistance at the top when the glutes are fully squeezed.

To apply this to your glutes workout, I’d recommend picking 1-2 exercises that challenge the glutes most at the bottom position when they’re fully stretched, and then also include 1 that challenges the glutes most at the top position when they’re fully squeezed.

Mistake #5: Glute Activation

Although picking the right exercises and performing them correctly in your glutes workout will set you up for success, some people (especially those who sit a lot) will still have a hard time activating and feeling their glutes working.

One way of improving this is with activation exercises.

These are simple exercises that force the target muscle to carry the load so that your nervous system can learn how to use the target muscle and recruit it during your main glute movements.

A recent 2022 paper provides some evidence behind this method. They had subjects perform glute activation exercises twice per day for a week, and found that subjects were able to recruit their glutes with on average 50% more activation during a bodyweight squat compared to before.

As for the exercises I’d recommend, I’d highly suggest giving this past article on glute activation a read. It’ll cover a quick daily routine you can do to start awakening your glutes so that you’re better able to use them during the glute-building exercises we covered earlier.

Wait, What About Your Other Muscle Groups?

Right. So, you now know what to do (including specific exercises)—and what not to do—for the "resuscitation Implement these 5 things in your glutes workout, and you’ll very quickly start to feel and see the difference in your glutes development.

But, guys, it’s important that you take this same step-by-step, science-based approach to all the muscles you train if you want to maximize your efforts. For a plan that puts this all together for you, just head on over to builtwithscience.com and take our analysis quiz to discover which of my step-by-step programs are best for you and your specific body.

For a plan that puts this all together for you:

Click the button below to take my analysis quiz to discover the best program for you:

 

Also, you can check out the following part articles for more tips on:

By the way, here’s the article summed up into a YouTube video:

ROUNDER GLUTES: 5 Mistakes Keeping Your Butt Flat

Glutes Workout For Rounder Butt (5 Sneaky Mistakes Keeping You Flat!)

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