The #1 Glute Workout That BLEW UP My Flat Butt (3 Exercises)
Today, I'm sharing the #1 glute workout that grew my flat butt.
Why grow glutes? Well, aside from keeping your knees and lower back healthy, my girlfriend Tahnee gives me ALL the inside talk from her friends, and apparently, a fit butt on a guy is a big turn-on.
So when she said my butt needed some work I knew I had to find the best way to grow it.
Now we’re not gonna get them to Kim K level, but we are gonna get them strong, fit, and athletic.
And to do so, you only really need 3 simple exercises that anyone can do. I’ll show you guys the full detailed #1 glute workout at the end of the article, but you need to do the exercises properly so pay attention.
Exercise #1: Hip Thrust
So when it comes to growing the glutes, typically there’s 2 exercises that people say you must include in your glute workout.
Hip thrusts and back squats.
But which grows your glutes more? If you had to choose only 1 to include in your glute workout, which should it be? There was never a study that compared the 2 exercises ...
... until now.
One of our Built With Science researchers and PhD student, Daniel Plotkin, recently published the first study of its kind.
He had one group of subjects do only back squats for 9 weeks while another group did only hip thrusts.
Guess what he found?
While squats grew the quads and inner thighs more, both exercises led to similar growth in the glutes.
Which means 2 things for your glute workout:
- If you want to grow your butt without growing your legs, then spam the heck out of hip thrusts.
- Since hip thrusts are usually less tiring than heavy back squats, you can do them more often and with more sets in your glute workout.
I’ll show you the best way to also use squats for glute growth later on in the workout, but what I personally do in my own training is start with hip thrusts.
This way, I can isolate the glutes really well so that in my next 2 exercises in my glute workout I actually feel them working a lot more.
But proper form is key.
Barbell Hip Thrust
I’ll show you guys how to do this with a barbell first and then I’ll show you another version that’s way easier to set up for your glute workout.
I remember the first time I ever tried hip thrusts during a glute workout — my hamstrings literally seized up, my lower back was on fire, and I barely felt my glutes working.
Well, this is why.
First off, if your feet are placed too far away from you, you’ll feel it all in your hamstrings. Whereas if your feet are positioned too close, you’re going to feel it all in your thighs.
To get the most glutes, position your feet such that at the very top position, your shins make a straight line right ontop of your foot.
Once you’ve got that nailed down you can grab a small plate to note your foot position, and then you can start using a bar.
Now the movement is actually pretty simple, just drive your hips towards the ceiling.
But a big mistake people make is sticking their stomach out and arching their back which can put a lot of pressure on your lower back instead of the glutes.
To fix this, brace your core hard as if someone was about to punch your stomach. Then, squeeze your glutes hard. Imagine you had a $100 bill between your butt cheeks, and you really wanted to buy some new gym clothes but I was trying to steal that money for you.
If you do this properly, at the top position your back should be completely flat and you should feel a strong burning in your glutes.
One last thing to keep in mind is that your glutes actually don’t do very much in the bottom half of the movement. So to really isolate the glutes, stick to doing just the top half of each rep with a 1-2 second pause at the top.
Barbell Hip Thrust Alternative For Your Glute Workout
Now as effective as the barbell hip thrust is, it’s a pain in the butt to set up.
It takes 10 minutes of cardio just to put everything together. And just when you think you're in the clear, the bench decides it wants to moonwalk away from you. Now you're on a scavenger hunt for some weights to build a contraption to stop the slipping.
You're sweating. Tired. And you technically haven't even started on your glute workout.
Oh, and let’s not forget the golden rule: avoid eye contact.
Trust me, it's like the 'don't stare directly at the sun' of the gym world.
I've got my own gym, but even making eye contact with myself in the mirror still just feels plain wrong.
So instead of including the standard hip thrusts in my glute workout, I’ve been doing an exercise that takes literally 30 seconds to set up and works just as well. Single leg dumbbell hip thrusts.
You just put the dumbbell across your working leg and thrust one leg at a time while keeping your other leg slightly lifted off the floor.
The most common mistake here however, is letting your hips drop to one side.
Keep your hips even by keeping your core braced just like I showed you with the barbell version, and focus on really squeezing the glute of your planted leg.
Exercise #2: Bulgarian Split Squat
Now as great as hip thrusts are, they shouldn’t be the only exercise you do in your glute workout.
They challenge your glutes the most at the top position when they’re fully contracted.
But to maximize growth, plenty of research suggests that it’s probably best to include an exercise that really stretches the glutes and challenges them the most at the bottom in your glute workout.
So let’s now move onto one of the key exercises in our Built With Science programs that’s helped grow even the flattest of butts: Bulgarian Split Squats.
Now before I show you the proper form, I gotta be honest, these are brutal.
It’ll feel like you’re doing 3 exercises in one and I personally have to tell myself all sorts of crazy things to make it through each set. But they have done wonders for growing my glutes. And that's why I'll always include them in my glute workout.
So, just remind yourself we’re all suffering here and you just gotta push through the pain to build those buns.
Getting Maximum Glute Growth With Bulgarian Split Squats
Now to perform these in a way that actually targets your glutes, just like the hip thrust, it all starts with your foot placement.
To start, sit on a bench and extend your legs straight out. Where your feet end up is usually how far away your front foot should be planted from the bench.
But to double check this, get into the bottom position.
If your shin is bent forward, then your foot is positioned too close to the bench which will lead to more quads and less glutes. You want to adjust it such that your shin is straight up and down right over your foot.
Once you’ve got that down, do a few reps without any weight to just practice the movement.
At first, you'll probably end up hopping around and struggling with your balance. This is perfectly normal, and I’ve seen it happen with plenty of our Built With Science clients.
So there’s nothing wrong with grabbing onto someone or something for support as you learn the movement.
Placing your back leg onto something lower like 1 or two weight plates can also help out.
But once you’ve got the hang of it, here’s 1 more tip to get even more glute activation. On the way down, bend your torso forward. But don’t just round your back. Keep your back straight and bend at your hips to fully stretch your glutes.
Lastly, think less about dropping straight up and down.
This is great for your quads but for your glutes, think about dropping backwards on the way down and then driving your hips forward using your glute on the way up.
Now if you’re still really struggling with this movement, a good alternative to start out with for your glute workout is a simple reverse lunge. Just remember to apply the same form tips we talked about with foot position and leaning over your torso.
Exercise #3: Squats
So far, we’ve activated the glutes and we’ve worked them in a really deep stretch.
But there’s 1 more exercise I’ve been throwing into the end of my glute workout that’s been making all the difference. Squats.
Now I know what some of you might be thinking.
“Squats?? At the end of the glute workout??”
Well, like many people I would always do heavy back squats in the beginning of my leg days.
But I’d always end up feeling them more in my lower back or other muscles instead of my glutes. Also, after just a few heavy sets I’d be gassed for the rest of the workout.
Hip thrusts were far better at isolating my glutes without taxing other parts of my body.
Then by moving squats to last, I don't need to go nearly as heavy yet my glutes are still working just as hard if not harder.
For example, I usually squat around 300 lbs.
But when it’s done last, I can only do like half of that but I’m able to actually feel my glutes working so much more.
However, and this is very important, this only works if you nail down your squat form.
Now you can do these in your glute workout either with a barbell or even a dumbbell since you’re not going that heavy.
But to really target the glutes, I’d recommend trying out a fairly wider stance, pointing your toes out.
Take it slow on the way down. Sit your hips back, and lean your torso forward just like we did in the Bulgarian split squats.
Now for the most glute growth, how deep you go is important.
A study from back in 2019 compared the glute growth you get from doing half squats versus full squats.
The full squat group experienced over 3x the growth.
So try to get low enough such that at the bottom your upper thigh is parallel with the ground. Then, use your glutes to drive your hips forward on the way up.
- To get the most glute activation out of barbell hip thrusts in your glute workout: 1) ensure your shins are vertical to your foot at the top position, 2) brace your core, and 3) focus on the top half of each rep with a pause at the top. Alternative: single-leg dumbbell hip thrusts.
- Bulgarian split squat form tips: 1) vertical shins at the bottom position, 2) bend your torso forward on the way down, and 3) drive your hips forward on the way up. Alternative: reverse lunge.
- Barbell back squat form tips: 1) take a wider stance with your toes pointing out, 2) lean your torso forward, and 3) try to hit full ROM (upper thigh parallel to the ground).
Full #1 Glute Workout Breakdown
So now let’s break down the full glute workout.
For hip thrusts, I’d recommend doing at least 1 set to failure just to really get your glutes activated.
I’ll personally do anywhere from 1-4 sets depending on how much booty I’m looking to gain, but always with relatively lighter weight for about 10-20 reps to really focus on that mind-to-muscle connection.
Then for Bulgarian split squats, since you’re working one leg at a time it’ll feel like double the work. So here I’m usually just doing 2-3 sets per side with around 8-12 reps per set.
And lastly, I’ll finish it off with 3 sets of light back squats but performed really slow and controlled for about 6-10 reps per set.
And if you’re wondering why there’s a 4th exercise in the glute workout, it’s because to fully round out your leg development from this workout, I’d highly recommend adding in some kind of hamstring exercise like leg curls since none of the other exercises really work this area.
But guys, while we’ve looked at effective ways to build your glutes, you can develop a really nice physique by pairing them with well developed shoulders.
I’ve recently been using a science-based workout that’s been growing my shoulders like nothing else before.
But if you’re looking for more personalization and a step by step plan that shows you exactly what workouts to do every week to get into the best shape of your life, just take our quiz to find the best plan for you and your body.:
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Thanks for sticking to the end, and I’ll see ya next time!