How to Look Good Naked Part II: Developing the Glutes
This article on glute training was originally written for AskMen.com, however the information is 100% relevant for members of both sexes who want to tone, tighten and develop “winning glutes”! Of course, “winning glutes” may mean different things to different people, so at the risk of sounding like something from Cosmopolitan magazine let us agree that it means rounder, firmer, and perkier!
I sometimes wonder whether we should rename AskMen as AskWoman. After all in our male quest to be buff, and as the saying goes “look good naked”, our very first port of call should be to ask women what it is that they find physically attractive in a man. Sure, some of them will drip on about nice eyes, but that’s fairly useless to us as it’s largely something you are born with and thus beyond our control (unless the metrosexual in you goes down the highly questionable coloured contact lense route), and let’s face it only nice girls go for the eyes, and we all should want a bad girl at least once in our lives! Maybe more, but best not to let my own personal peccadilloes dominate this article.
And what do most bad girls want? A recent informal survey conducted at my personal training gym came out with a 92% vote in favour of a “nice tight butt”. In plain, business-like English that means a round, firm set of glutes that lifts out a pair of jeans from the rear. In other words, not a wide ass, and not a flat ass! Go on, crane you head around in the mirror and take a look at your own rear end. The chances are that your own glutes / butt could do with some improving. The rest of what is to follow will tell you how, and if you take my advice and stay disciplined for the next month should result in a trail of admiring glances following you whenever you decide to strut your stuff walking down the street!
Anatomy of the Glutes
The glutes comprise of three muscles that make up the overall “gluteals” – gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus. Although all three muscles are important to proper athletic balance and function our primary goal should be to stimulate hypertrophy (muscular growth) of the gluteus maximus muscle, one of the strongest and largest muscles on the human body. It is the uppermost of the three gluteal muscles and therefore the one responsible for the “lifting” effect of the perky derriere on both men and women.
Glute Training Explained
There are generally two main difficulties associated with effective glute training. Firstly, given the size and strength of the muscles involved it is just plain hard work. A few tight butt clenches just won’t cut it – you need to shift decent weights for deep movements that activate all the targeted muscle fibres (more on this in the next section). Secondly, just as with training the upper back, glute training can be hampered by the very fact that you can’t actually see what you are supposed to be exercising. I’ll give you a brief lesson in how this works. Go ahead and contract your bicep. A tenner says that you looked down at your bicep whilst you squeezed it. Quite simply it is far easier to contract a muscle that you can see. Effective posterior chain training (nit just the glutes but also the hamstrings and back muscles) takes practice to develop that all important “mind-muscle” connection.
Glute Training Workout
I am very much a believer in the Law of Specificity – you get what you train for. So in order to achieve the best results with your glute training, or any other body part specialisation plan, you must focus all of your energies on that one thing and not get caught up with any other distraction. Perform the following workout by itself twice per week (best would be on a Monday and a Friday), and the only other resistance training that you undertake should be an upper body workout every five days. Do this for a month and both your legs and your glutes will be rounder, firmer and draw admiring glances from afar!
Perform giant sets (do one exercise after the other) with no rest between exercises, resting 3 minutes after the last exercise (cable pull throughs) before beginning again. Complete a total of 3 or 3 giant sets depending upon your training age and how much guts you have for hard work and pain!
1. Step Ups / 15 reps each leg / tempo 20X0
Step up onto a regular flat bench. Perform 15 reps per leg, exercising one leg at a time. If 15 reps are easy then be a man and add some weight.
2. Romanian Deadlifts / 12 reps / tempo 4010
Grasp a loaded barbell with a medium width grip and bend forward at the waist. Bend your knees slightly and then keep them stiff, push the hips back and always maintain a straight or slightly arched lower back. Do NOT round your lower back at all! Keeping the bar as close to your body as possible, you should be able to take the bar down to mid shin level only until you can’t stretch anymore without losing form. Then stand up straight and tighten the glutes and lower back. That’s one rep, eleven more to go.
3. Lunges / 15 reps each leg / tempo 2010
You should all know how to perform lunges by now. Fifteen reps, one leg at a time. Again, you must add weight as and when you hit the prescribed repetition goal.
4. Cable Pull Throughs / 10 reps / tempo 4011
This exercise does take a bit of a knack to get the hang of, so rather than jump straight into it I’d advise you to spend 10 minutes warming up on it and becoming familiar and comfortable with the movement. Slightly bend your knees, and with your feet wider than shoulder width apart, face away from a low cable pulley and take an overhand, two-handed grip on a rope handle. Ensure that your lower back is arched and your shoulders are back at all times, and then simply pull the rope handle through your legs until you are stood upright with glutes squeezed together in a hard contraction.
Please note that tempo denotes the speed with which you must perform each stage of the exercise movement. So “4010” means 4 seconds down (negative), 0 seconds pause at the bottom of the movement, 1 second up (positive), 0 seconds pause at the top of the movement. With the step ups, where I have written “X” this stands for “explosive” – so go up as quickly as you possibly can.
A word on nutrition for the glutes
Nobody wants to be a fat arse, and no matter how developed your gluteal muscles are they will always look like saggy and wobbly without the necessary low body fat. For a man anything over 14% body fat is a wide arse, so make sure that you are reasonably lean and stay away from the refined carbs!
Glute Training Conclusion
This is a killer glute workout that will also fry your quads and hamstrings and leave you so sore that you will curse my name every time you are forced to park your butt on anything other than the softest of cushions. However, just when you will have gotten sick and tired of cursing “Mitchell, the pain in the ass” you will change your tune as the muscular gains this programme always unleashes are well worth the effort and sacrifice. Just don’t blame me when you have to invest in a whole new set of jeans and trousers!
About the Author:
Nick Mitchell is a personal trainer and strength, conditioning, and nutritional coach who specialises in body composition and reprogramming for fat loss and muscle gain. His personal training clients run the gamut from Victoria’s Secret models and professional bodybuilders, to Men’s Health editors and senior diplomats, and he is known for his success in rapidly transforming a body in as little as 4 weeks. He is the head coach and MD of Ultimate Performance, one of the UK’s leading personal training companies.
He can be contacted via Caroline@UPFitness.co.uk