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Advanced Glute Training

drew

drew

Senior Member
Dec 3, 2010
178
11
#1
Most guys' glutes are terribly weak and underpotentialized. Due to the multidirectional action of the gluteus maximus and roles as hip extensors, abductors, and external rotators, increasing the strength of the gluteus maximus can increase and improve:

• acceleration and top speed in forward sprinting
• power in bilateral and unilateral, vertical and horizontal jumping
• agility and quickness in changing direction from side to side
• acceleration and top speed in lateral sprinting
• rotational power in swinging, striking, and throwing
• running, jumping, and throwing events in track and field
• squat and deadlift strength in powerlifting
• snatch and clean & jerk power in weightlifting
• strength and conditioning in strongman events
• thrusting power for mount escapes and submissions in MMA
• ground-based horizontal pushing force and opponent manipulation in football and martial arts
• inclined sprinting and climbing strength and endurance
• deceleration in backpedaling, lateral running, and rotational movements
• increased thrusting frequency and increased satisfaction from female partners*

Wolff's law states that if loading on a particular bone increases, the bone will remodel itself over time to become stronger to resist that sort of loading. The direction of the loading causes the collagen fibers within bone to conform to the lines of stress experienced by the bone.

Here's a good rule to keep in mind: squats and lunges are the kings of quad exercises; deadlifts and good mornings are the kings of erector spinae exercises; hip thrusts and pendulum quadruped hip extensions are the kings of glute exercises; and weighted back extensions and glute ham raises are the kings of hamstring exercises.

Feel Your Glutes!

I don't want to get arrested for inciting mass-molestation, but I seriously recommend that you find someone (preferably Jessica Alba, Vida Guerra, or Shakira) who will let you squeeze their entire butt cheek while they perform various glute exercises. I recommend that you have your volunteer perform a bodyweight squat, good morning, lunge, single leg hip thrust, quadruped hip extension, lying abduction, and clam.

If you have access to weights and bands, then throw in a barbell squat, deadlift, lunge, glute bridge, hip thrust, band standing abduction, band seated abduction, and band external rotation. I believe that you can learn a ton about the glutes from this ten minute activity (or six-hour activity if you're lucky enough to get Shakira).

Your Weekly Glute Fix

Here's a template that can be split apart depending upon the number of times per week you hit the lower body. The following categories should be trained on a weekly basis for optimal strength development:

1. Bilateral axial extension exercise (ex: squat, front squat)
2. Unilateral axial extension exercise (ex: Bulgarian squat, high step up)
3. Axial semi-straight leg exercise (ex: deadlift, good morning)
4. Anteroposteriorbent-leg exercise (ex: hip thrust, pendulum quadruped hip extension)
5. Anteroposteriorstraight leg exercise (ex: back extension, reverse hyper)

Hybrids, anteroposterior flexion, and anteroposterior extension exercises can be thrown in from time to time in substitution for other categories. Furthermore, more targeted work can be incorporated as well as hip abduction, hip external rotation, hip flexion, hip adduction, hip internal rotation, knee flexion, and knee extension exercises.

Just in Case You're Wondering What Exercises to Pick

Here's a chart that hones in on the levels of glute activation I received from various exercises in reference to MVC.

Let's get our asses in gear.

Hip to the Basics. What Exactly is Hip Extension?

Hip extension is involved in running, jumping, squatting, lunging, bending, climbing, and thrusting. (Insert your own sex joke here.)

The hip is the juncture between the head of the femur and the acetabulum of the pelvis and hip extension occurs in the sagittal plane and involves straightening the hip when it's bent forward (flexed). The key to understanding hip extension is to focus on the angle created by the linear approximations of the spine and femur, which create the hip angle.

In anatomical position, the hip angle is a straight line, or a 180 degree angle. Hip flexion decreases the hip angle and brings the knee closer to the shoulders while hip extension increases the hip angle and brings the knee back to 180 degrees. If the angle increases past 180 degrees, the action is referred to as hyperextension, since the hip joint extends past anatomical position. Got it? If not, here's a quick chart:

There are many types of hip extension exercises, including squatting movements, deadlifting movements, lunging movements, bent and straight leg bridging movements, quadruped movements, straight leg hyperextension movements, and movements that combine hip extension and knee flexion. This article will examine the differences between these exercises and the benefits of each.

All in the Family — the Hip Extensors

There are five primary hip extensors and possibly fifteen secondary hip extensors. The five main hip extensors are the gluteus maximus, the hamstring part of the adductor magnus, the long head of the biceps femoris, the semimembranosus, and the semitendinosus.


Especially during compound movements and movements that involve a lot of muscle, the same muscles are not dominant during the entire range of movement. For example, the glutes may be highly involved in the deep portion of a squat, yet the gluteal contribution dissipates as the movement rises.

The glutes may be minimally involved in the deep portion of a back extension yet the gluteal contribution increases as the movement rises especially into hip hyperextension. The adductors may contribute heavily to the initial portion of a back extension yet completely die off as the movement rises.

The Four Primary Benefits of Gluteal Strengthening

• Postural improvements
• Injury and pain prevention
• Increased athleticism, strength, and power
• Physique improvements

Most guys' glutes are terribly weak and underpotentialized. Due to the multidirectional action of the gluteus maximus and roles as hip extensors, abductors, and external rotators, increasing the strength of the gluteus maximus can increase and improve:

• acceleration and top speed in forward sprinting
• power in bilateral and unilateral, vertical and horizontal jumping
• agility and quickness in changing direction from side to side
• acceleration and top speed in lateral sprinting
• rotational power in swinging, striking, and throwing
• running, jumping, and throwing events in track and field
• squat and deadlift strength in powerlifting
• snatch and clean & jerk power in weightlifting
• strength and conditioning in strongman events
• thrusting power for mount escapes and submissions in MMA
• ground-based horizontal pushing force and opponent manipulation in football and martial arts
• inclined sprinting and climbing strength and endurance
• deceleration in backpedaling, lateral running, and rotational movements
• increased thrusting frequency and increased satisfaction from female partners*

A strong, powerful gluteus maximus is often what separate the elite athlete from the average athlete.

As athletes advance, they learn to incorporate their hip and leg musculature into their movements to a much higher degree. For example, beginner shot-putters use predominantly their upper body muscles when throwing, whereas advanced shot putters use predominantly their leg muscles.

The correlation between athletic achievements in beginner athletes' arm strength is .83, whereas the correlation between athletic achievements in beginner athletes' leg strength is .37.

That means they're not using their legs enough!

For advanced athletes, the correlations flip flop to .73 and .87, respectively.

In other words, in order for athletes to advance, they must learn how to derive maximum power from the hips and legs. In order for this advancement to take place, a foundation of adequate core strength and hip mobility is an absolute prerequisite.

Length-Tension Relationships

Length-tension relationships dictate the amount of muscular force that can be produced at a given time. This phenomenon has to do with the number of cross-bridges that can form at a given joint angle. A muscle contracts best when it is at its optimal length, which is either at resting length or slightly stretched at 1.2 times its resting length, depending on the muscle. When a muscle is either shortened or overstretched, it cannot produce its maximum force.

During hip extension exercises, the knee action that occurs while the hips are extending or extended helps determine the muscular activation due to length-tension relationships and various muscle contraction types.

There are five types of knee actions that can occur during hip extension exercises: extension, semi-straight leg, straight leg, bent leg, and flexion. For example, at the bottom of a squat the hamstrings are shortened and can't contribute as much as they can during a deadlift.

Wolff's law states that if loading on a particular bone increases, the bone will remodel itself over time to become stronger to resist that sort of loading. The direction of the loading causes the collagen fibers within bone to conform to the lines of stress experienced by the bone.

Axial loading causes different bone adaptations than anteroposterior loading. Similarly, muscles become stronger over time to resist various loading patterns as well (not through collagen adaptations but through sarcomeric hypertrophy and increased HTMU stimulation).

Although most guys have significantly tapped into their axial hip extension strength capacity by performing years of squats and deadlifts, they haven't scratched the surface regarding their anteroposterior hip extension strength capacity.

For example, if you've performed military press (axial loaded) for years but had never performed a single set of bench press (anteroposterior loaded),your deltoids and triceps would be sufficiently developed, but your pecs and triceps would have much room for increased development.

If you've performed squats and deadlifts (axial loaded) for years but have never performed a single set of hip thrusts or weighted back extensions, your quadriceps and erector spinae would be sufficiently developed, but your glutes and hamstrings (anteroposterior loaded) would have much room for increased development.

Here's a good rule to keep in mind: squats and lunges are the kings of quad exercises; deadlifts and good mornings are the kings of erector spinae exercises; hip thrusts and pendulum quadruped hip extensions are the kings of glute exercises; and weighted back extensions and glute ham raises are the kings of hamstring exercises.

Peak Activation Positions and Glute Zones

While mean activation is the average level of activation throughout an entire repetition or set, peak activation is the highest level of activation reached during a repetition or set.

The greatest peak glute activity in a squat and lunge occurs down low in the bottom-range or "stretched-position." The greatest peak glute activity in a deadlift occurs at lockout or "mid-range position." The greatest peak glute activity in a hip thrust occurs into hyperextension, which is the end-range or "contracted position."

All glute zones need to be trained for maximum gluteal development, maximum glute strength, and maximum glute power. Glute strength is zone-specific; it's possible to be strong in one zone and not another. For example, you may have strong glutes down low with the squat but not-so-strong glutes at the top of a deadlift or into the hyperextension range in the hip thrust.

Ideally, you should strive for optimal strength in all three glute zones. In sports, rate of force development (RFD) is the most important factor in producing explosive force. Muscles need to be strong at all ranges of motion so their pulses can summate and produce maximum propulsion.

Although it's important to perform movements explosively, it's also important to use heavy enough weight to where you feel the resistance all the way through the movement. During hip-hyperextension movements, some guys with strong hamstrings and weak glutes will fling the weight up at the bottom and fail to use the glutes up top.

Often they'll fail to achieve full range of motion (ROM) because of their weak glutes and tight hip flexors. This is akin to someone who has strong pecs, front delts, and lats but weak triceps flinging the weight up on a bench press and failing to control the weight up top to incorporate the triceps.

This strategy is suboptimal as the guy would also benefit from having strong triceps. It's imperative that you learn to open up your hips and use for glutes. For some this is automatic, for others it just takes time.

Axial extension exercises

Axial extension exercises include squats, lunges, Bulgarian squats, step ups, and single leg squats. They are loaded from top-to-bottom, involve simultaneous hip and knee extension, and are stretched-position exercises.

Stretched-position hip extension exercises produce more glute soreness than contracted-position hip extension exercises due to the level of micro-trauma they deliver to the muscle fibers. This is because the muscle is producing its strongest contraction while the muscle is being forcefully stretched. The eccentric deceleration and subsequent reversal into concentric acceleration can lead to extreme levels of delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS).

This explains why squats and lunges produce the most glute soreness out of all hip extension exercises, especially in the lower glute/ham tie-in area which is hit hardest. In addition, at the bottom of a squat or lunge, the hamstrings are shortened, which decreases their contribution and forces the glutes to take on the brunt of the hip extension requirements.

And if you employ the "sit back, chest up, knees out, spread the floor, go deep" technique then you'll maximize the stretch in the glutes and their force contribution in the squat.

However, stretched-position hip extension exercises don't produce much muscular tension at the top of the movement (at the exercise's lockout). Due to the decreased muscular tension up top, blood is left free to dissipate and escape the area, which explains why squats and lunges don't provide a pump or burning sensation in the glutes. Stretched-position hip extension exercises also work the quads the best and produce the greatest adductor magnus soreness.

Axial Semi-Straight Leg Exercises

Axial semi-straight leg exercises include deadlfits, good mornings, and single leg RDL's. They are loaded from top-to-bottom, involve hip extension with semi-straight legs (as well as slight knee extension at the lockout),and are actually mid-range position exercises.

Mid-range position hip extension exercises lie in between stretched position hip extension exercises and contracted-position hip extension exercises. They can produce glute soreness but not to the same degree as stretched-position hip extension exercises. They can also produce a mild-pump but not to the same degree as contracted-position hip extension exercises.

For example, at the bottom of a deadlift, the hamstrings are in an excellent position for maximal contraction. As the movement rises, the glutes become more important and are mandatory for providing the forward hip translation necessary for lockout. Mid-range position hip extension exercises target the erector spinae better than any other exercises.

Feel Your Glutes!

I don't want to get arrested for inciting mass-molestation, but I seriously recommend that you find someone (preferably Jessica Alba, Vida Guerra, or Shakira) who will let you squeeze their entire butt cheek while they perform various glute exercises. I recommend that you have your volunteer perform a bodyweight squat, good morning, lunge, single leg hip thrust, quadruped hip extension, lying abduction, and clam.

If you have access to weights and bands, then throw in a barbell squat, deadlift, lunge, glute bridge, hip thrust, band standing abduction, band seated abduction, and band external rotation. I believe that you can learn a ton about the glutes from this ten minute activity (or six-hour activity if you're lucky enough to get Shakira).

Variety prevents habituation. This is why templates work well. As long as one works hard on at least one movement each week from the various categories, then strength for that pattern should remain elevated.

Some of the many variables to consider with hip extension exercise include resistance type, center of gravity, limb number, kinetic chain type, contraction position, knee action, load vectors, level of stability, ROM, stance width, contraction type, tempo, and strength type (effort method).

Your Weekly Glute Fix

Here's a template that can be split apart depending upon the number of times per week you hit the lower body. The following categories should be trained on a weekly basis for optimal strength development:

1. Bilateral axial extension exercise (ex: squat, front squat)
2. Unilateral axial extension exercise (ex: Bulgarian squat, high step up)
3. Axial semi-straight leg exercise (ex: deadlift, good morning)
4. Anteroposteriorbent-leg exercise (ex: hip thrust, pendulum quadruped hip extension)
5. Anteroposteriorstraight leg exercise (ex: back extension, reverse hyper)

Hybrids, anteroposterior flexion, and anteroposterior extension exercises can be thrown in from time to time in substitution for other categories. Furthermore, more targeted work can be incorporated as well as hip abduction, hip external rotation, hip flexion, hip adduction, hip internal rotation, knee flexion, and knee extension exercises.

Just in Case You're Wondering What Exercises to Pick

Here's a chart that hones in on the levels of glute activation I received from various glute exercises in reference to MVC.






by Bret Contreras
 
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