Good glutes -- butt muscles in so many words -- are vital in bodybuilding. The judges in bodybuilding contests rate muscularity, definition and aesthetics, so it's critical that your glutes appear lean and toned. Getting great glutes isn't imply a matter of performing the odd set of glute bridges or jumping on the hip extension machine every few workouts. You need a variety of exercises designed to hit the glutes from all angles.
Compound exercises involve the movement of multiple joints and hit more muscle fibers than isolation movements. Compound exercises such as squats, lunges and step-ups all hit the main butt muscle -- the gluteus maximus -- and thus should be staples in your training. Don’t overlook the deadlift, either. In a series of interviews conducted for his website, Bret Contreras, strength coach and author of "Advanced Techniques in Glutei Maximi Strengthening," asked a selection of female bodybuilders, trainers, fitness writers and coaches what their favorite glute exercise was. Eight out of 14 replied with a deadlift variation.
While your glutes tend to work in tandem with other muscle groups, you can isolate them to increase muscle growth. The gluteus medius runs along the outside of your butt, from your hipbone down to the top of the thigh, and can greatly improve the shape of your glutes when developed. Tony Gentilcore, strength coach at Cressey Performance in Massachusetts, recommends hitting your gluteus medius with X-band walks, where you walk sideways against band tension, and side-lying clams. Lie on your right side with a resistance band wrapped around both knees and lift your left knee as high as possible. Perform your reps on one side then switch to the other.
Sets and Reps
Don't get sucked into the notion that you need high-repetition sets using a light weight to sculpt and tone muscles. This is a myth. Muscles can only get bigger and smaller -- definition and tone have far more to do with your diet than how you train. Instead, aim to work your glutes with a variety of set and rep ranges. Switch between five sets of five reps with a heavy weight, three sets of eight to 10 with a moderate weight and two sets of 15 with a lighter weight each workout.
You can either devote one session each week to your glutes, where you pick three or four exercises and perform them back to back, or do a full-body workout three times per week, including one glute exercise per session. IFBB Bikini Pro Nathalia Melo favors the second approach, giving glutes their own day separate to your quads and hamstrings. If fat loss and definition is your goal, then full-body workouts are the way to go, observes Rachel Cosgrove, author of "The Female Body Breakthrough." Full-body sessions are more demanding, boost your metabolism and burn more fat than split workouts.
Mike Samuels started writing for his own fitness website and local publications in 2008. He graduated from Peter Symonds College in the UK with A Levels in law, business and sports science, and is a fully qualified personal trainer, sports massage therapist and corrective exercise specialist with accreditations from Premier Global International.