6 mistakes made when training glutes
Written by Mark Coles - Follow on Google+ | Facebook | Twitter
Have you tried countless glute exercises but still don't see the progress in your glutes that you would like?
On a daily basis we consult and train day to day female clients whose main priority is to get the shape back in their lower body. Most of them have a combination of body fat to lose and muscle to build.
Take a second to look at the picture above, you will see that the glutes are comprised of 3 muscles, the gluteus maximus, the gluteus medius and the gluteus minimus. Whilst the medius and minimus are extremely important muscles, we think you will agree with me that the amount of muscle contained in the maximus makes it a very key player in glute development.
A lot of the articles you read regarding glute training go into a lot of depth about the muscles and then give you a program to try. We are still going to give you a program but in today's article, we will also take a slightly different approach. We are going to tell you why we think some women fail to develop a really great set of glutes, even though they use all the key exercises.
1. When you try and do split squats or lunges all the weight comes through your toes. If you’re struggling to feel your glutes, just watch what happens when you lower into a lunge or split squat. If you feel all the weight is on your toes, you can almost definitely guarantee that the main emphasis of the exercise is coming through your quads and hips, not your glutes. To change this you need to make sure that the weight is placed centrally through your foot and make sure your toes are relaxed. I always refer to a parrot on a perch when I explain this. The parrot’s feet are clenched round just like your toes are when you’re gripping the floor. If you squeeze and push through your toes, you will negatively impact the biomechanics of the ankle joint, which will limit your range throughout the exercise (the next point explains a lot more about range).
2. You only train in a partial range. When I watch a lot of women train they use very poor range, especially when they’re trying to target their glutes. Take the squat for example, I see so many women going half way down and then think that they’re going further down by bending all the way forward (not good for your back). If you’re someone who doesn’t squat right down to the floor with good posture, you’re not going to be targeting your glutes anywhere near the same as the girl who does. Your glutes and hamstrings come into play a lot more when you go past half way. If flexibility is an issue for you, take some time to work on your range (foam roller techniques, stretching and regular massage) but don’t waste time on half squats if you want a nice set of glutes. I remember advising a female client to drop her group class in favour of training in the weights area (the class where they use weights, you all know which one I mean!!). In this particular class you’re not encouraged to put your knee over your toes when you do a lunge. As a result you develop quad muscles but have very poor glute development. In no longer than 4 weeks training with proper technique, her glutes started to pop out and she’s a regular in the weights area now.
3. Women wear high heels a lot, which makes their calf muscles very tight. So when they try and do a full range squat, split squat or lunge their range is very limited. Despite having poor range women still do all the exercises they read about, but they don’t make the gains they expect. Once again, if you can’t go past parallel in your squat you’re not going to hit your glutes properly. In the same case of the split squat, if you don’t get your hamstring to touch your calf muscles on the way down you’re not going to be targeting those all important glute max muscles I talked about earlier.
4. You rush your exercises. This is very common, how many times do you do a set quickly, you then get to the end without really feeling the muscles you’re trying to train. This is where the good old mind muscle connection comes into play. Before you start the exercise, contract the muscles you’re about to train. On the way down really work hard to maintain your concentration on the muscles throughout, this will help to slow you down. Place the muscles under full stretch and then concentrate all the way back up. This works great in split squats for example, right at the bottom of the exercise really contract your glutes and hamstrings before returning back to the starting position.
5. Staying with the speed of the exercise, to slow yourself down you should employ a principle called time under tension. For muscle building you need to be doing the exercise for a minimum of 40 seconds. If you do your reps too quickly you all too often only take 20 – 30 seconds, which isn’t good for muscle building. Have a set tempo for each exercise that you do. So for a 10 rep exercise, your tempo could be something like 3010, 3020 or 4010. To use 3020 as an example, you would lower the weight for 3 seconds, have zero pause at the bottom, you would then return back up with a count of 2 seconds, before returning straight back down for another 3 seconds. When you see the program at the bottom, you will see the tempo that I use for each exercise.
6. I see so many women lifting light weights or using the same weight week in and week out, usually expecting to see results. If you want rounder and firmer glute muscles you need to build them up (hypertrophy), this isn’t going to happen if you lift the same weight all the time. Unless someone is genetically gifted there is normally a very strong correlation between great shaped glute muscles and the women who lift heavy and continuously make strength gains. Your program needs to be progressive, if you’re not moving forward you’ll stagnate and so will your glute development.
Just take a minute to think about the training you’re doing at the moment, where do you really feel the exercises you perform? Obviously I’m talking about lower body training here! Here’s an example, when women squat most of them feel a large percentage through their lower back, hips and quads. Don’t you think you should be feeling it through your glutes and hamstrings as well as your quads?
Let’s use the back extension for example, how many of you fail when you use it because all the load is coming through your lower back and you can’t carry on because of the burn? Now the next time you use it, lower the hip support slightly, keep your chest up and lower down until you feel a large stretch at the top of your hamstrings. Contract your glutes and come back up to a fully extended position. You should really notice how much more your hamstrings and glutes are involved. So you can now change your back extension from a direct lower back exercise to a full posterior chain (glutes, hamstring and lower back) exercise very quickly (as it’s supposed to be). That’s just one example of doing an exercise and missing the point of it completely, just because you didn’t know what you were supposed to be looking out for.
So as promised, here’s a program for you to try. The objective you’re looking for is not direct strength work, it’s hypertrophy training. So I’ve used one of my most popular methods, giant set training. The combination of the exercises that I have selected will give you a great set of glutes in no time. Before you try it, go back through all the points above and implement them as you go through. Remember, a program can always look fancy on paper but it’s all down to how you execute it.
If you do this right, you’ll notice a huge difference to how your glutes and hamstrings feel all the way through. You’ll also feel them for the whole of next week, trust me!!! Good luck sitting down!!
A1 2 inch Heels elevated Back squats (heel wedge helps you get all the way down)
Reps 10 – 12 tempo 3020 (3 seconds down and a strict 2 seconds back up)
A2 Barbell Romanian deadlift standing on a 2 inch box (keep the bar close to your shins at all times)
Reps 12 – 15 tempo 3110 (take a 1 second pause in the most stretched position)
A3 Drop lunges (do the all reps on the same leg before switching)
Reps 10 – 12 tempo 20X0 (X means you explode from the floor)
A4 45 degree back extension (use my tip above to feel your glutes)
Reps 12 – 15 tempo 3110 (take a 1 second pause in the most stretched position)
Total 4 sets
Rest is 10 seconds between each exercise (be strict) and take 3 minutes at the end of each set of 4 exercises.
If you’ve been struggling with your glute development and you’ve found this article helpful, please get in touch and let me know how you get on.
Happy glute training!!
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