Why YOU Should Workout Like An Instagram BOOTY MODEL!
(Train Your Glutes, Bro)
by Alec Enkiri | 11/2/21
Today I'm going to tell you guys why you should workout like an Instagram model! You know exactly what I'm talking about here! Those insta-famous girls with the big booty's that do nothing in the gym EXCEPT for train their glutes...and it shows! Most of you sorry saps are walking around with a pancake ass, yet these chicks have round, meaty, and strong gluteal muscles, and they do it purely for aesthetics. They just want to look good and get their daily dose of likes on the internet. However, there's a better reason to do it that extends beyond mere vanity, and that is what I want to talk about today. Hopefully in the process I'll convince a few of you guys that you too should be taking after these insta models and putting some serious effort into training your booty and trying to make that thing grow big and strong!
A Change of Heart
I didn't used to train my glutes directly. The gluteal muscles are involved to varying extents in pretty much every lower body compound exercise in existence, so you could argue that to train them directly could potentially be quite the waste of time, especially for a sport like powerlifting where the carryover feels dubious because it can be largely indirect. And I would have made that argument myself several years ago, although I would NOT make that argument anymore. In recent years I have moved more and more away from those more narrow-scoped training concepts and moved back towards performance training concepts almost exclusively in my own training. So I'm much more interested these days in my ability to run, and my ability to jump, and cut, and pivot, and move well. When you start looking at training through this particular lens, with this particular bias, you do start to see more and more the potential benefits of hitting these muscles directly - or at least in a somewhat more isolated fashion - but with focused and intense effort on training the glutes specifically, as opposed to the entire posterior chain.
In a somewhat paradoxical sense, I still don't view it as "ok I'm training the glute maximus today," but rather instead as I'm going to work hip extension using a glute dominant movement pattern. See, as gym rats we tend to work hip extension primarily using what I would classify as hamstring biased movement patterns, like Romanian Deadlifts, regular deadlifts, good mornings, hyperextensions, etc. Those are all hip extension movements, but based on the way the body is oriented against the resistance and the line of gravity the hamstrings are naturally going to dominate those patterns as compared to the glutes. So we need to incorporate something different to bias the glutes over the hamstrings. Now, we know that the glute max is responsible for hip extension, and so if you shift the orientation of the load to act directly against that hip extension by placing the body in a position that lines up the ability to extend the hips directly against gravity then you end up with a hip extension pattern that is dominated by the glutes instead of the hamstrings. And you've probably already figured out at this point that here I'm referring to hip thrusts and glute bridges and really any exercise of that sort.
This is not sexual.
Why Hip Thrust?
The benefit to incorporating movements like this is two fold: for one thing - and this might be the absolute most important reason of all so pay attention - it wakes those muscles the fuck up. Whatever the reason is, maybe they become more apt to engage in more different types of movements sooner or more intensely, maybe the joints that they control become less gummed up leading to crisper movement patterns, maybe the threshold for maximal voluntary contraction actually increases- I really don't know and I don't really care what the reason is. What I do know beyond a shadow of a doubt is that when you start training these muscles directly, specifically the glute max most of all, you feel it. It transfers over into other activities and you feel those muscles starting to work more often and more intensely, which makes more of the movements that you do smoother, and sharper, and stronger, and safer, and just plain better.
Personally, it has become very noticeable for me with my sprints lately. I can just be in the process of warming up with some easy stride outs and I'll start getting a pump in my glutes just from that, and the day after a tough sprint session they'll be sore as hell. That never used to happen before, not during my teenage years or my 20's when I was running all the time, multiple times per week. And now in my 30's I can actually sprint well faster than I ever could before in my "prime," and while there are many reasons for that, there is not a doubt in my mind that better overall glute function is a large contributing factor to it.
The second benefit of incorporating these types of movements is obviously increased force production. Now, this comes secondary to better "activation" of the muscles in general. That's really the most important aspect of all. But once you start training these muscles directly and gaining a better sense of control over them that's when you can start to reap the real benefit of strength training, which is increased force production. And this aspect kind of naturally follows the other aspect because increased force production then organically leads to better overall performance. it's simply inevitable. One thing follows the other thing which follows the other thing. If your glutes are bigger and stronger, all other things being equal, you will be able to run faster, jump higher, squat more weight, deadlift more weight, etc., etc., etc.
So like I said, in my own experience, my glutes simply engage better much better these days by training them intently and directly and with a large degree of focus and effort. That enhanced engagement then seems to be leading to better performance in movement based activity. Along with that, my hips simply feel better to me, subjectively, and I feel like they move better overall as well. My lower back feels better, my hips feel more limber in extension, and I experience less overall discomfort in end range positions, both flexion and abduction, as well as rotational.
This article in video format on my YouTube channel!
How To Incorporate It
So as for how to go about incorporating this work, where the glute max is concerned (which is the one aspect I really want to cover today because that's the daddy of all the glute muscles) there is really only one exercise that you need, and that exercise is the hip thrust. As I mentioned earlier, the glute max is the muscle that is primarily responsible for extending the hips (along with the hamstring muscles), and the hip thrust puts us in an ideal position to drastically emphasize the glutes over the hamstrings. I prefer the hip thrust with the shoulders and upper back elevated onto a box or a bench, as compared to the glute bridge which is done with the shoulders on the floor, because the hip thrust takes the hips, and as such the glutes, through a much larger and more important range of motion.
The bridge version is basically just that, an abridged version of the hip thrust. And while it can be useful for training that end range contracted position, it does not take the glutes through a very substantial range of motion and because of that it basically lacks an emphatic negative phase as well. Whereas with the thrust you can lower the load under control, get a big stretch on the glutes under load as you do so, and then turn the weight around into the next rep without ever having to deload the weight onto the floor and off of the glutes. And not having to deload the weight in between reps ends up becoming a hugely beneficial aspect of the movement. You still get that same end range contraction that you get with the bridge, but you also get so much more. Basically it just makes the movement much much better overall, and it ends up being well worth the extra setup involved in having to situate the upper back onto a bench.
Now, a big mistake that people make here is that when they do actually train this exercise they tend to go way, way too heavy to the point of basically losing all the benefits the movement confers in the first place. If there's ever a time that you want to train "like a bodybuilder" this is it. The focus should be on controlling the load and feeling the muscles do the work. You want to get a big, deliberate stretch on the glutes at the bottom by really digging into hip flexion - let the external load pull your hips into the deepest levels of flexion they can achieve (you can even elevate the feet, as shown in my first picture way above, so that you can get into even deeper hip flexion without having to worry about the plates hitting the floor) - and then once you've hit that end range position you want to punch the hips up into a powerful, maximal contraction. Be sure to hit full hip extension at the top of the movement and focus on squeezing the glutes as hard as possible in the fully contracted position without hyperextending the lower back.
Sets, Reps, and Loading Recommendations
Basically, keep it light here. Less is more with this exercise. You can increase the load slowly and surely, and you will be able to do so gradually in time, but you should NOT do so at the expense of losing the aforementioned characteristics that I just discussed. I recommend using sets of 12 to 15 reps most of the time. When you are first starting off and getting used to the movement you can even use sets of 15 to 20 reps, and really focus on trying to make your ass burn by the end of those sets. You want to feel it. I typically program 3-4 sets of 12 to 15 reps, one or two times per week, and that'll get the job done plenty. I generally start people off using approximately 30 to 35% of the current conventional deadlift max, which sounds light because like I said most people go way too heavy here, but when you execute the movement like I have described here this will be more than enough weight. Your ass should be very sore the next day, like you dropped the soap in the prison shower type of sore. From there, I like to keep the weight static typically for 3 weeks at a time, just building quality reps over the course of those 3 weeks, and then I'll add 5 pounds to the bar and start the process over for the next 3 week wave.
It truly does require you to leave your ego at the door because you're probably going to be using less weight on this exercise than most of those Instagram models that I was talking about before, but in my opinion, this is where the true benefits of this exercise lie. If you start to go too heavy too soon and lose that feel then you lose the transferable benefits of the movement in the process. If you have to, to keep your ego in check, you are better off thinking of it as prehab or activation movement than you are trying to go too heavy with it. So check your ego, keep it light, and bust your ass, man, literally! You should view this process with a long term vision in mind, but if you are able to do that and execute the exercise correctly then you will be more than satisfied with the results you get in the end.
And then all you need to do is start wearing some of those fancy, overpriced Gymshark tights to show off the booty gains and you'll be well on your way to Instagram fame! But more importantly, you'll also be the proud owner of a pair of round, meaty, strong and functional glutes.
So there you have it! You ready to become the next big booty model? And if you have a friend who suffers from PAS, pancake ass syndrome, then be sure to share this article with them as well because a pancake ass is a terrible, terrible thing.
If you enjoyed this article it please feel free to support the production of more free content like this by picking up one of my training programs! The Ultimate Performance Manual is my pride and joy and the feedback I have gotten from the program over the past year has been immense. If you need a solid program to get your ass in gear then you should definitely check it out. Keep training hard and I will catch you guys next time!