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Glute Activation: Building That Butt

Everyone wants a bigger, stronger, and nicer booty and yet the same people do not want to do the work to hear it. Anyone who has been in the gym, longer than the six weeks from January 1st to the middle of February knows that you cannot just half ass your way to a full ass. It should be common knowledge by now that you cannot cheat your way to your dream body. Unless you want to live on social media and never let anyone see you outside of your last post, it is time to head over to the iron temple and hang out at the bar.

Everyone has seen the post talking about the “Squat Challenge”. Let’s just be blunt, that do not work, and do not talk about how you did 30 days of body weight squats and now, somehow, have a nice ass. When we look at training the glutes, there are two ways to break down movements to train the muscles: posterior chain work and isolating muscle. Posterior chain work would be like doing an RDL (Romanian deadlift) and isolating muscles would be like doing a donkey kick. I’m sure every lady, and guys, have done some form of isolation training movements to hit the glute muscles. While this is good for activating the muscle and causing a “pump”, you are not going to be able to build that dense muscle by only training this way. Most isolation muscle movements are single joint lifts and the opposite can be said for posterior chain training. The posterior chain is made up of the muscles that the tendons and ligaments are mainly on the posterior of the body. This would be biceps femoris, gluteus maximus, and erector spinae.

Working the posterior chain comes from doing Olympic lifts, squats, good mornings, deadlifts, and hyperextensions. However, it is not as easy as just doing the lift. You have to work on activating the glutes, hamstrings, etc.… in order to get the full effect. Activating the muscles has to be key focuses because if you have ever seen someone quarter squat while doing that the quadriceps are doing most of the work. Yes, the posterior chain is working, however not as if they were doing a full squat and going to parallel. Just like any sport, you need to break down training the posterior chain and train the basic movements while progressing at the full movement. If you have ever done a power clean, you learn quickly that you are not able to “muscle up” the weight if you want to move heavy weight. However, you need to use the triple extension and technique in order to perform a power clean properly. The same goes for the squat if you just keep adding weight and never break down the movement and learn to use your hips, you’re just doing good mornings. This does not mean to force yourself to the ground. Remember to train full range of motion but if you need to take your time and work on getting proper form without a hip tuck or butt wink. (Check out: Five Ways To Increase Hip Mobility)

The sang “Work Smarter, Not Harder” is true, but you still need to work hard. Do not forget that part. Before you squat, try activating the glute muscles. This gets the muscles firing and ready to work. Same as you warm up before a game of baseball to get your body ready to play, you would still start by lightly throwing the ball after wares and playing catch. Basic bodyweight movements work well for this, you can also use weights. The goal is just to get the muscle to work, not do a before set work out. Try just a basic glute bridge and preform a few reps. Really try to activate the glues, squeeze at the top. Remember, you’re only trying to get the muscles firing and once down, do not take a break, go squat. Also, try pull thoughs, RDLs, hip thrusters, kettlebell swings, etc.… basically, anything that gives you the full extension of the hips. Even try box squatting and focus on squeezing your glutes on the way up and no letting the weight push your chest down. Keep that nice neutral spin. You want to train the hips by activating the glutes.

I’m sure people will say, you can so isolated movements to body build or build the glutes… yes, I know you can. However, this is about training the glutes (and even hips) to perform the way that they should during a lift. That will lead to a greater performance during the lift and also better results. Why would you want to waste energy on a movement that you are not getting the most out of? Still do the bodybuilding movements, they work, but don’t forget the basics. K.I.S.S (Keep It Simple, Stupid) and remember that multi-joint movements are always going to be king. Front squat and back squat trigger the hips very similar, however back squats lead to a little more muscle activation, why? Because the more volume, the move muscle activation, for the most part. Check out this cool video on box squats with Louie Simmons.

Founder of Fight Against Chicken Legs, part-time workout stuff, sometimes making websites look pretty, and saving the world #OneRepAtATime