Category Archives: Glute

The Contreras Files: Volume I

Volume I

glute exercises

To say I’m a workaholic is like saying Tiger Woods has commitment issues. Through all the lifting, training, reading, and researching that I do, I’m constantly being exposed to and coming up with new ideas.
This column will introduce T Nation readers to just some of what I happen to stumble upon every day, in no particular order of importance. The typical lifter, athlete, personal trainer, strength coach, or physical therapist is bound to find something useful in this article.

1. Low Load Glute Activation is Legit

One thing I love about T Nation is that often the best coaches in the world are years ahead of the research. You might remember Mike Robertson and Eric Cressey writing about glute activation as early as 2004. I can remember thinking, “Why in the hell would I do some silly Jane Fonda exercises?”
When other top coaches including Mark Verstegen, Mike Boyle, and Martin Rooney started recommending glute activation, I could no longer ignore their advice. I got down on the floor and got my bridge, clam, and bird dog on and immediately recognized the potential in these simple movement patterns.
And thus began a love affair unparalleled by any other. Some guys have pictures of their girlfriend on their nightstand. Me? A picture of some glutes with a bouquet of roses stuck in-between the cheeks.
Kidding. But I do keep my eyes and ears open for new glute research. Case in point:
Australian researchers recently put 22 professional Australian Football League (AFL) players through three different warm-up protocols:

  • Standing on a whole body vibration platform for 45 seconds at 30 Hz.
  • A 5-7 minute, 7-glute exercise routine consisting of glute bridges, side lying clams, quadruped hip extensions, side lying hip abductions, prone single leg hip extensions, fire hydrants, and stability ball wall squats.
  • A control group.

The researchers found that during a countermovement jump, the whole body vibration group fared 2.4% group, while the glute activation group outperformed the control group in peak power by 4.2%, along with outperforming the whole body vibration group by 6.6% (Buttifant et al. 2011.).
glute exercises
My conclusion is that you’d be wise to include some low load glute activation work in your warm-ups. Remember, the purpose of glute activation isn’t to “rep-out” or “max-out,” but to groove proper motor patterns and focus on getting the glutes working efficiently. Ten high-quality repetitions of each exercise is all you need.

2. Cue the Glutes!

glute exercises

Speaking of glute activation, Cara Lewis and Shirley Sahrmann tested the gluteal activation of a prone hip extension exercise (Lewis and Sahrmann 2009). They showed that compared to no cueing, simply uttering the phrase, “Use your glutes to lift your leg while keeping your hamstrings relaxed,” resulted in over double the gluteus maximus activation and caused the gluteus maximus to fire quicker in hip extension.
Based on my experience as a trainer, most beginners suck at using their glutes.

3. Lifters vs. Weaklings – Lumbopelvic Rhythm

glute exercises

After a couple of months of training with me, my clients always tell me that their backs feel stronger and better than ever. Is it due to increased hip mobility, or is it core stability? Maybe it’s just increased glute strength? Perhaps it’s due to improved fundamental movement patterns? Or is it a case of all of the above?
In his book Low Back Disorders, Stu McGill discusses the mythical lumbopelvic rhythm pattern explained in textbooks – supposedly the first 60° of bending is accomplished by flexing the lumbar spine while the remaining flexion takes place at the hips (McGill page 74). While most individuals bend with a blend of spinal, pelvic, and hip motion, weightlifters possess unique movement patterns at the hip. Stu states that:

Of course, Olympic weightlifters are better at hip hinging than normal individuals, but the importance of this information is that the movement patterns developed in the weight room transfer over to everyday life.
Here’s my man Tony Gentilcore demonstrating proper hip hinge patterning with a dowel.

4. Powerlifters vs. Olympic Weightlifters – Hip and Knee Moments During Squatting Tasks

Swedish researchers measured the hip and knee moments of six powerlifters and eight Olympic weightlifters during parallel and deep squats (Wretenberg et al. 1996). The results were intriguing: during deep squats powerlifters exhibited 41% higher hip extension moments and 37% less knee extension moments compared to weighlifters, and during parallel squats the powerlifters exhibited 43% higher hip extension moments and 42% less knee extension moments than weightlifters.
This study shows that during squatting tasks, powerlifters use a low-bar position, sit back more, and use their powerful hips to a greater degree than weightlifters, whereas weightlifters use a high-bar position, stay more upright, and use their powerful knee joints to a greater degree than powerlifters.
Maximum sports performance requires strong hips and knees

5. Bench Press and Lateral Forces on the Bar

Wonder why the bench press elicits more triceps activity than a dumbbell bench press? A new study out of Penn State showed that the lateral forces exerted on the bar equaled roughly 25% of the vertical forces (Duffey and Challis 2011).
Ten men and eight women were tested in the bench press and the total vertical forces totaled on average 187 pounds of force whereas the lateral forces applied to the bar totaled on average 53 pounds of force. With these proportions, a 600-pound bench presser would be exerting around 150 pounds of outward pressure on the bar throughout the movement.
If you’ve listened to Dave Tate over the years and learned to use your triceps while benching, chances are your lateral forces are even higher than 25% of the vertical forces.
This extra work is simply a byproduct of the prime mover’s maximal contractions against the barbell – which isn’t possible with the dumbbell bench press as the dumbbells would split apart and result in a failed lift.

6. Elite Fitness Glute Ham Raise

glute exercises

I’ve traveled the world and performed glute ham raises with over twenty different glute ham developers. In a nutshell, 99% of glute ham developers suck. Instead of feeling smooth, the lift usually feels awkward and unproductive.
That is, . If you’ve never performed a glute ham raise off of an Elifefts model, then you can’t possibly imagine the exercise’s effectiveness, as chances are the one you’re using pales in comparison.
Sometimes I wonder if equipment manufacturers even work out or understand biomechanics. Big props to Elitefts for spending the necessary time getting the design right.

7. Crunch Like This

Research out of Stanford University from 1979 showed that a sit-up exhibited 38 degrees of lumbar flexion, but a crunch where only the scapulae are lifted off the ground exhibited only 3 degrees of lumbar flexion (Halpern and Bleck 1979).
Given that the lumbar spine has between 40-73 degrees of ROM in males and 40-68 degrees of ROM in females (Troke et al. 2005), I think it’s safe to say that this type of crunch remains in the neutral zone for the lumbar spine.
If you limit the lumbar ROM and use a controlled tempo, it makes the exercise much more challenging and you’ll no longer be able to bust out hundreds of repetitions.
Control the tempo and accentuate the negative portion of the exercise. I discuss this further in the video below:

To prevent hyperkyphotic postural adaptations in the thoracic spine, make sure you perform thoracic mobility drills and include plenty of exercises to strengthen the erectors.
For example, some mobility drills include thoracic extensions off a foam roller and quadruped thoracic extension and rotation, while some strength training exercises include squats, deadlifts, bent over rows, and farmer’s walks.

8. Four to Six Weeks to Harden Up

glute exercises

When I was 18 years old, I was in the gym quarter-squatting 275 pounds with a pad around the bar. A giant behemoth of a man walked up behind me and told me to back down to 135 and squat down deep to the floor like a real man and quit using the pussy pad. Thankfully I took his advice and never looked back.
I can remember using the bar pad because squatting freakin’ hurt my back. The pressure was overwhelming. After ditching the bar pad, it took around four weeks to stop hurting.
When I started front squatting, the same scenario occurred – it hurt. But I stuck with it and a month later I could no longer feel any pain. Zercher squats took a bit longer to quit hurting – around six weeks – as did hook grip deadlifts. Just recently I started hip thrusting without a bar pad and it hurt like hell. I’ve been doing this for a month and it no longer hurts.
Just remember, what seems like torture today in a month will feel like a hot oil massage from a pair of busty Asian masseuses. I kid you not.

9. Resistance Training vs. Stretching for Flexibility Gains

Many long-term lifters have noticed that they don’t have to stretch much to maintain their flexibility. Fact is, many of us have noted superior flexibility gains from weight training compared to stretching.
In the past few years, several studies have emerged showing that resistance training increases flexibility (Monteiro et al. 2008; Santos et al. 2010). This isn’t surprising, but some have shown (Aquino et al. 2010, Simao et al. 2010; Morton et al. 2011; Nelson and Bandy 2004).
I’m a fan of doing all sorts of things for improved mobility and soft tissue functioning such as foam rolling and static stretching. But know that full range of motion resistance training is one of the best things you can do to increase and maintain mobility.
Just make sure your programs are well-designed, as structural balance is critical for postural and functional adaptations. To add icing on the cake, make sure you foam roll, stretch, and perform mobility and activation drills.

10. Broz Mentality – The “Shoot Your Family” Scenario

glute exercises

I’m a big John Broz fan. When I met him at his Las Vegas facility he said something that really hit home. He told me to envision someone capturing my family and informing me that they were going to shoot all of them unless I put a hundred pounds on my squat in one month. Then he asked me how often I would squat if this actually happened, and followed up with this gem: “Something tells me you’d squat more than twice per week.”
I like to think of this scenario for a variety of purposes in strength and conditioning. What if you had to put an inch on your arms in one month without gaining any weight? Something tells me you’d perform some curls and triceps extensions. What if you needed your abs to be the strongest they ever were? Something tells me you’d perform dynamic spinal movements and not just core stability exercises.


I hope you enjoyed my ramblings and perhaps picked up something useful you can use in your own training.
In summary:

  • Activate the glutes
  • Learn to sit back and hinge properly at the hips
  • Learn to use the triceps properly for maximum bench press performance
  • Buy an Elitefts glute ham developer if you want a real GHD
  • Limit your lumbar ROM when you crunch
  • Know that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel for dealing with pain from barbell pressure on new movements as they only take a month or so to get accustomed to
  • Perform full ROM resistance training for maximum flexibility
  • Pick a new goal each month and attack it with purpose.

See you next month!


Aquino CF, Fonseca ST, Goncalves GGP, Silva PLP, Ocarino JM, Mancini MC. Stretching versus strength training in lengthened position in subjects with tight hamstring muscles: A randomized controlled trial. Manual Therapy. 15(1) 26-31, 2010.
Buttifant, D, Crow, J, Kearney, S, and Hrysomallis, C. Whole-body vibration vs. gluteal muscle activation: What are the acute eff ects on explosive power? Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 25: S14–S15, 2011.
Duffey, MJ and Challis, JH. Vertical and lateral forces applied to the bar during the bench press in novice lifters. J Strength Cond Res. 2011. 25(9): 2442–2447.
Halpern, AA and Bleck EE. Sit up exercises: an electromyography study. Clin Orthop Relat Res. 1979. 145:172-8.
Lewis CL, Sahrmann SA. Muscle activation and movement patterns during prone hip extension exercise in women. J Athl Train. 2009. 44(3): 238–248.
McGill, S.M. Low back disorders: Evidence based prevention and rehabilitation, Human Kinetics Publishers, Champaign, IL, U.S.A., 2002.
Monteiro WD, Simão R, Polito MD, Santana CA, Chaves RB, Bezerra E, Fleck SJ. Influence of strength training on adult women’s flexibility. J Strength Cond Res. 2008;22(3):672-7.
Morton SK, Whitehead JR, Brinkert RH, Caine DJ. Resistance Training vs. Static Stretching: Effects on Flexibility and Strength. J Strength Cond Res. 2011 Sep 30. [Epub ahead of print]
Nelson RT, Bandy WD. Eccentric Training and Static Stretching Improve Hamstring Flexibility of High School Males. Journal of Athletic Training. 2004;39:254–258.
Santos E, Rhea MR, Simão R, Dias I, de Salles BF, Novaes J, Leite T, Blair JC, Bunker DJ. Influence of moderately intense strength training on flexibility in sedentary young women. J Strength Cond Res. 2010;24(11):3144-9.
Simão R, Lemos A, Salles B, Leite T, Oliveira É, Rhea M, Reis VM. The influence of strength, flexibility, and simultaneous training on flexibility and strength gains. J Strength Cond Res. 2011;25(5):1333-8.
Troke M, Moore AP, Maillardet FJ, Cheek E. A normative database of lumbar spine range of motion. Manual Therapy. 2005. 10:198-206.
Wretenberg P, Feng Y, Arborelius UP. High and low bar squatting techniques during weight-training. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1996. 28(2)218-24.


Glute Boy Speaks — An Interview With Bret Contreras

Bret Contreras wants you to know he’s read every single article TMUSCLE has ever published. (That’s online and print, buddy.)

Passionate about training? You bet your ass.

Speaking of asses, Bret also wants you to know that yours is weak and ugly, and he means that in the nicest way possible. But you should still do something about it. (He also wants you to know he regularly massages the ass of one of his clients who just happens to be a figure competitor.)

Bret wants you to know a lot of things, but that’s just because he wants to know a lot of things, too. That’s why he received his Masters degree from ASU, his CSCS from NSCA, took a full year off to conduct EMG research, wrote a book about glutes, and is planning to head back to school for his Ph.D.

In fact, Bret’s so eager to share his knowledge about bodybuilding, speed, new exercises, and sports training, that he’ll start ranting immediately after answering the phone for your interview.

But I guess you really didn’t need to know that.

Hello? You there? Hold on. Shit. Let me turn this thing on.

Bret Contreras:

TM: Nah, it’s cool. We’re recording now. What were you getting all pissed about? Something about being “anti-bodybuilding?”

TM: Good point. I’ve also noticed a lot of guys shitting on the bodybuilding philosophy in the past couple of years, but I think it’s making a comeback.

TM: That’s going to piss some people off.

TM: Let’s forget about the trainers for a minute and talk about the guys who are in the gym busting their ass. You wrote me an email a few days ago and said they were married to the methods. What did you mean?

TM: But what if a particular method has been working great. Are you saying we should change it up even if we’re consistently making gains?

TM: Wait, what? That’s weirdest threat I’ve ever received.

TM: Good point.

TM: All right, man, I gotta ask. Why the glute fetish?

TM: You told me earlier you actually massage your clients’ glutes. What’s up with that?

TM: Fair enough. I also heard you don’t like to get sore from training. What are you, a wuss?

TM: But would that one set still give you a training effect?

TM: Something about the nine days…

TM: After seeing your glute bridge variations, I’m crowning you King of the crazy-ass exercises. You got any others for us?

TM: Okay, but where are you going with this?

TM: I’ll have to try that one. Let’s wrap up. Is there anything else pissing you off?

TM: However, how long does this take?

TM: Sounds good to us. Thanks, man.

Nate Green writes about muscle, girls, and lifestyle at his blog.

Glue Boy Speak

Bodybuilders know a thing or two about the mind/muscle connection.

Glue Boy Speak

Where’s explosive glute strength when you need it?

Glue Boy Speak

Figure competitor Katie Cole’s ass.

Glue Boy Speak

The only glute bridge picture we ever want to see again…

Glue Boy Speak

…except for this one.

Glue Boy Speak

Glue Boy Speak

Glue Boy Speak

Glue Boy Speak

You should always loofah yourself after a hard workout.

© 1998 — 2009 Testosterone, LLC. All Rights Reserved.


Dispelling the Glute Myth

In 1995, my cousin and training partner at the time bought me The Complete Book of Butt and Legs because, in his words, he’d “never met someone so obsessed with training his glutes.”

I pored over that book, and since then I’ve read almost every study, article, and book ever written on the glutes. My bookshelf is loaded with glute and hip extension exercise material, including four extra-large three-ring binders full of glute articles and studies that have been printed and highlighted over the years.

Whether the publication was geared toward bodybuilding, powerlifting, or sport-specific training, if it pertained to the glutes in any way, I read it.

In 2006, I opened up Lifts, a Scottsdale-based fitness studio that specialized in glute training. I developed several brand new glute exercises, which my clients and I believed were much more effective than what most people were doing for their glutes. Lifts quickly became known as the butt-perfecting gym in Scottsdale.

Glute Gauges

Early in 2009, I was trained by Noraxon to use their Myotrace 400 and Clinical Application Software, a system that measures and records the muscular activity of exercises via a process known as electromyography, or EMG.

I’d long suspected that the methods and exercises I developed in my training studio were far more effective than what the typical fitness publications were printing, but after performing thirty straight leg workouts and experiments in my skivvies with wires and electrodes attached to me so I could measure and record the glute, quad, hamstring, and adductor activity of over a hundred different hip extension exercises, it became clear to me that the glutes are the most wrongly-pegged muscle group in fitness.

I tested common and unique bodyweight, dumbbell, band, barbell, apparatus, and machine exercises, and then tested three other individuals with varying anthropometry or body segment lengths to make sure the results I saw weren’t atypical.

Knowing that the fitness population would seek scientific explanation to lend support to my data, I knew what my next step needed to be. Fourteen years after reading the book my cousin bought me on the glutes, I wrote my own glute-book entitled Advanced Techniques in Glutei Maximi Strengthening.

Within its 675 pages, you’ll find pictures and descriptions of over 200 glute exercises, many of which you’ve never seen or tried before, as well as over 700 references and links to other sources. The book dispels many myths surrounding the glutes, “functional training,” and “sport-specific training.” If you’re interested in glute training, this book is a must-read.

The Glute Guy

Recently, a colleague of mine nicknamed me “The Glute Guy,” and it stuck. I’m certain that I’ve done more research on the glutes than any other person on this planet. My research has made me realize two things.

First, the experts don’t know shit about the glutes. Yes, this means all of your favorite authors, professors, trainers, and coaches. Despite the fact that the gluteus maximus muscles are without a doubt the most important muscles in sports and the fact that strength coaches helped popularized “glute activation,” none of them have a good understanding of glute training. Neither do bodybuilders, powerlifters, or physical therapists. They all think they do, but they don’t.

In fact, the experts are so far off the mark that their best glute exercises can only activate half as many fibers as the glute exercises I’m about to show you.

And second, athletes’ glutes are pathetically weak and underpotentialized. Even people who think they have strong glutes almost always have very weak glutes in comparison to how strong they can get through proper training.

Follow the Logic

I expound upon these concepts much more in Advanced Techniques in Glutei Maximi Strengthening, but for this article I’ll be very brief. Some of this might contradict what you’ve read in the past but keep in mind this is coming from “The Glute Guy.”

Exercise Progressions

As mentioned earlier, most people think they have strong glutes, but they don’t. They believe this because they think that squats, deadlifts, and lunges are the best glute exercises, and they’ve spent years getting very strong at these. Even though they can make your glutes very sore, squatting, deadlifting, and lunging don’t strengthen the glutes much. They target the quads and erector spinae. Even box squatting, walking lunges, and sumo deadlifts don’t activate much glute in comparison to the exercises below.

If you studied glute activation like I have, you’d be blown away by the data. Most individual’s glutes contract harder during bodyweight glute activation exercises than from one-rep max squats and deadlifts.

This isn’t due to the fact that the individuals don’t know how to use their glutes or don’t adhere to proper exercise form. It’s due to the fact that biomechanically the glutes aren’t maximally involved in squatting, lunging, and deadlifting. They’re only maximally contracted from bent leg hip hyperextension exercises.

Furthermore, just because someone’s glutes are big, it doesn’t mean that they’re strong. In addition to training around three hundred “normal” clients over the past few years, I’ve trained various elite athletes, from NFL players and powerlifters to sprinters and figure models. I taught each of these individuals the exercises listed below, and I almost always had to start them off with their own bodyweight for resistance.

Although one of the powerlifters could do raw squats and deadlifts with over three times his bodyweight, when he first performed hip thrusts, he had to start out with two sets of twenty reps with his own bodyweight. We initially tried using 135 pounds on the hip thrust, which was roughly a third of what he squatted and deadlifted, but he could barely budge the bar.

The NFL players were both 350-pound offensive lineman who’d do hip thrusts for two sets of twenty reps as well. When you weigh 350 pounds, bodyweight exercises can be very productive! Both linemen mentioned that the hip thrust was the best posterior chain exercise they’d ever performed and remarked about how they loved the fact that they didn’t have to wrap their knees or wear a belt to perform the exercise.

The Olympic sprinter had the best relative glute strength of the bunch, easily being able to perform twenty single-leg hip thrusts on his very first workout.

Strength gains for the new exercises come very quickly. I started off using 185 pounds for ten reps on the hip thrust and within a year I could do 405 for five.

The following plan will get your glutes much sexier, stronger, and speedier. Since everyone possesses varying ranges of glute strength, I’m going to provide four phases, which become progressively more challenging and difficult.

If you belong at phase one and start off at phase three, you’ll just end up improving your existing dysfunctional patterns, which will lead to a pulled low back, hamstring, or groin muscle. You’ll have to be the judge as to which phase you start at, but I suggest playing it safe and starting on phase one, spending two to three weeks in each phase.

I also included an array of exercises, some of which can be performed at your local gym or garage gym, and some of which require specialized equipment. I believe that the equipment below should become staples in glute training and sport-specific training, as they effectively train the sprint-vector and maximize glute activation.

Don’t stop performing your squat, lunge, deadlift, and back extensions movements. Do these on your regular leg day and perform two weekly glute workouts on separate days. The workouts will be brief and won’t get you very sore. Always begin each glute workout with a simple warm-up consisting of hip flexor stretches and a couple of bodyweight glute activation exercises.

Phase One: Hip Flexor Flexibility and Glute Activation

You must possess adequate hip flexor flexibility in order to open up the hips and maximally activate the glutes. Furthermore, you must be able to control your own bodyweight and learn how to contract the glutes properly before you begin adding weight. Mark Verstegen, Mike Boyle, Eric Cressey, and Mike Robertson have done an excellent job of discussing the importance of glute activation.

Perform two sets of hip flexor stretches for sixty-second static holds, progressing deeper into the stretch as time ensues.

Pick two exercises and perform two sets of ten reps with a five-second isometric hold up top:

Pick one exercise and perform two sets of ten reps with a five-second isometric hold up top:

Phase Two: Glute Hypertrophy

Now it’s time to progress into more challenging exercises and start packing on some functional glute mass.

Pick two exercises and perform two sets of ten to twenty reps:

Pick one exercise and perform two sets of ten to twenty reps:

Phase Three: Glute Strength

At last, we’ve reached the maximum strength phase. By this time, you’ll have developed a superior mind-muscle connection and will be able to maximize your glute activation through heavy strength training.

Pick one exercise and perform four sets of five reps:

Phase Four: Glute Power and Speed

Finally, it’s time to test out your new-found glute strength and increased locomotive capacity.

During these sprint sessions, you’ll notice increased gluteal recruitment while running, and you’ll be able to hold the “sprint position” throughout the entire 100-meter race. Make sure to spend about twenty minutes warming up and progressively increase speed as the sets progress.

Perform these workouts five days apart. On your first sprint session, work your way up to four 100-meter sprints at 80% max-speed. On your second sprint session, work your way up to two 100-meter sprints at 90% max-speed. On your third sprinting session, work your way up to one 100-meter sprint at 100% max-speed. Have a buddy bring a stop-watch and see if you can set a personal record.

When you finish with these phases, you can simply mix together your own glute program based on equipment availability and individual exercise preference. After building up strength on these exercises, your workout will never feel right without having at least one maximum glute-strengthener in your routine. The days of just squatting and deadlifting are long gone.

Tips for Special Populations


Ronnie Coleman upped the ante for bodybuilders’ glutes when he showed up at the 2003 Mr. Olympia at 293 pounds with huge, shredded glutes. If you’ve seen Ronnie’s videos, you’ll know he loves his heavy squats and deadlifts, as well as his grueling parking lot lunges. I can’t imagine what his glutes would’ve looked like had he done hip thrusts or pendulum quadruped hip extensions.

Bodybuilders are right on the mark with quad training and way off the mark with glute and hamstring training. Their arsenal of exercises is too narrow. Bodybuilders should stay away from sprints, plyos, and one-rep maxes, as the risk-to-reward ratio just isn’t great enough.

A better strategy is to just integrate some of the exercises listed below into your routine for higher reps. If you’re a 300-pound bodybuilder, performing 20 controlled reps with a slight pause up top on the hip thrust with just bodyweight will really tax the glutes. Since the glutes are on average a 68% slow-twitch muscle, they may respond very well to higher reps.

However, there’s also much evidence that shows that since the gluteus maximus is often the largest muscle in the body, it remains dormant during low-intensity activities in an attempt to spare energy for more intense purposes. In this way they are like “sleeping giants”; they only want to be bothered when absolutely necessary.

If you’re a bodybuilder and you need bigger glutes, then you must perform the exercises below. Squats, deadlifts, and lunges aren’t doing it for you. I like Haney Rambod’s FST-7 method where he suggests performing a couple of heavy exercises in the eight to twelve rep range, followed by seven sets of a lighter isolation exercise for eight to twelve reps with shorter rest-times.

I’d suggest performing four sets of heavy hip thrusts followed by seven sets of either an abduction movement like a band abduction or a more targeted movement like a single-leg glute bridge or even a quadruped hip extension with a five-second isometric hold up top.

Many gyms have good glute machines too. These machines can activate the glutes to a much higher degree than typical standing free-weight exercises. Just pin extra weight to the stack if need-be.

Figure Models

TC has alluded to the importance of the “A-shape” for sexy female glutes. While the shape of the glutes are largely genetic, women still need to attempt to preserve the sexy A-shape as much as possible and watch their upper glute to lower glute ratio.

The girls in the “good” category have a sexy A-shape and can perform all types of glute exercises. The girls in the “bad” category have well-developed glutes, but are losing their A-shape due to overdeveloped upper glutes. Their upper glutes are getting too big. These girls should avoid hip hyperextension, abduction, and external rotation exercise and stick to solely hip extension exercises. Although hip extension exercises don’t work the glutes like hip hyperextension exercises do, they focus on the lower glutes and limit upper glute involvement.


The glutes can’t get too strong in sports. The stronger they get, the more powerfully they contract in sprinting and the better they protect against low back, knee, hamstring, and groin injuries. Charlie Francis talked about how there were only a few athletes in the world who could maintain “sprint form” in the 100-meter sprint and how sprinters knew they had a bad day if they felt their sprints in their quads.

Over twenty years ago, he was prescribing reverse leg presses as his main glute and hamstring exercise in order to prepare his athletes for the big race. The reverse leg press was like a donkey kick performed while standing backwards facing away from a leg press on a Universal gym. Talk about being years ahead of your time! The reverse leg press is a great exercise, but the hip thrust and pendulum quadruped hip extension are even better.


Q: Your research sounds pretty crazy. Is there any existing research to substantiate your claims?

Q: You’ve been having your clients hip thrust for over two years? It looks pretty dangerous. Is it safe? Have any of your clients injured themselves?

Q: Ronnie Coleman had the best glutes of all time, and he never did hip thrusts. Neither did Andy Bolton, and he deadlifted more than any man in history. Usain Bolt is the world’s fastest man, and he never did any hip thrusts. What gives?

Q: Activation exercises were meant to just activate muscles with bodyweight resistance. I don’t think you’re supposed to load them up.

Q: Those exercises look funny. I don’t want to do them at my gym.

Q: Are you sure that lunges aren’t the best glute exercise? Every time I do them I can barely sit down for a week.

Dispelling the Glute Myth

Hip Flexor Stretch

Glute Bridge

Single-leg Glute Bridge

Bird Dog

Hip Thrust

Lying Abduction


Fire Hydrant

Barbell Glute Bridge

Pendulum Quadruped Hip Extension

Single-leg Hip Thrust

Weighted Bird Dog

Band Standing Abduction

Band Seated Abduction

Band External Rotation

Barbell Hip Thrust

Bent-leg Reverse Hyper

Bent-leg Back Extension

About Bret Contreras

Dispelling the Glute Myth

Bret Contreras received his master’s degree from Arizona State University and has been a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist and fitness studio owner for the past several years. If you have comments or questions for Bret, or if you’d like to purchase Advanced Techniques in Glutei Maximi Strengthening, please visit his website at or email him at

© 1998 — 2009 Testosterone, LLC. All Rights Reserved.


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