The barbell is one of the best pieces of equipment available for growing and strengthening the glutes. It really cannot be compared to the kettlebell or the dumbbell purely for the fact that the barbell hip thrust is the key exercise that can be used to load the glutes with very heavy loads. On top of that there is the fact that it can be targeted with other exercises that do not specifically target the glutes. Here we have provided the 6 best exercises you can add to your training programme to both gain muscle in and strengthen the glute muscles.
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This is the main benefit of using the barbell to grow the glutes. The dumbbell hip thrust simply cannot be compared to the barbell version of the exercise, it cannot be loaded in the same manner. The barbell is the perfect piece of equipment to be loaded with heavy weights.
Training the glutes with a barbell can be done by using compound exercises which can have a huge effect on both strength and muscle mass gain. The exercises like the deadlift and the back squat can do wonders for glute development. These exercises will also dramatically improve strength of the quadriceps and hamstrings and full body in general.
Using dumbbells and kettlebells can require a large amount of weight variation to generate a training programme that allows for progressive overload. The barbell only needs weight plates and you can create a perfectly progressed plan over the period of years. Minimal training with one kettlebell can be great for a period of time, but eventually that kettlebell simply wont be heavy enough, a barbell allows for constant progression.
Growing the glutes requires a lot of work, but that being said, many traditional programmes that don’t even have specific glute work can be very effective at growing and strengthening the glutes because the squat and the deadlift have so much engagement from the glute muscles. Thats why glutes do not traditionally need specific work, as these exercises are so potent that the glutes can be grown without isolation work.
Growing the glutes will require around 8-15 sets per week in the deadlift, squat or isolated glute volume, this type of volume should be very achievable in a training regime of 2-4 days per week. A maintenance volume of 4 sets on the glutes should be performed during deload weeks while the minimal effective dose will be between 5-8.
The barbell hip thrust is the most effective glute isolation exercise available in the weight room, so if your goal is to increase the strength and muscle mass of the glutes then this should be a staple in you training programme. This exercise can be very uncomfortable if it isn’t performed with some protection around the barbell, so it doesn’t press into the hips. In order to engage the glutes in this exercises ensure your lower back is pressed into the ground at the start of every rep.
The barbell squat in lunge is an excellent squat variation that can be used to increase the strength capacity and muscle mass in the glutes. It is much more effective than say a reverse lunge which requires a lot more stability, the squat in lunge needs a stable base and some grit to grow very strong glutes and thats it. This is great exercise for people who have built a stable position with a kettlebell or dumbbell and are now ready to progress to the barbell lunge.
The Back Squat is one of the most effective exercises available to strengthen and grow the glutes. The bi-lateral squat requires a great deal of engagement from the glutes and the back squat is the most loadable squat variation. Performing this exercise for high repetitions will enable you to accumulate a lot of fatigue in the glutes with a barbell, enabling hypertrophy.
The b-stance squat is a novel but effective way to work the muscles in the glutes. It requires a lot of control from the muscles in the hips and needs to be performed with caution. Make sure you are using weights you feel comfortable with and progress slowly. This exercise also requires a lot of discipline, it needs to be done with putting the most weight onto one leg possible, this is easy for the first few repetitions but becomes very challenging later on in the set, you really have to fight to maintain good positions.
The rear foot elevated squat in lunge is one of best exercises for advanced individuals to grow and strengthen their glutes. It requires high levels of ability in the lunge position prior to performing this exercise as it puts the body in a very difficult position. The position is worth it as it allows single leg (uni-lateral) work to be performed in a way where you cannot use the supporting leg to help you lift the weight.
The landmine deadlift is a great exercises for beginners to strengthen and grow their glutes. It can be a great introduction to hinging with a barbell as the landmine deadlift is so much simpler than the conventional deadlift which requires the barbell to be pulled past the knees whilst keeping the barbell close to the body which can be very difficult for beginners to navigate. This exercise will be very effective at growing the glutes for beginners, but can also be used to accumulate a lot of volume for beginners. It can be performed with straps to ensure that grip isn’t a limiting factor.
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This resource was written by Sean Klein. Sean Richard Klein has thousands of hours of coaching experience and a BSc in Sports Science with Management from Loughborough University. He owns a gym in Bayonne France, CrossFit Essor, which runs group classes and a Personal training studio.