Bulk (noun): the mass or magnitude of something large.
For whatever reason, the word “bulk” sends women running for the hills. Maybe it’s because it’s similar to the word “hulk”, as in the massive, steroid-induced green monstrocity we all know from comic books.
While I love having muscle and being as athletic as possible, I certainly don’t want to look like the Hulk. But, I do work on building my glutes from time to time because not only do I like having a nice bum, but because powerful glutes translates into every other athletic endeavor. Whether you’re male or female, you’d be wise to mix in some glute-specific work into your training just to stay healthy and strong.
With that said, I understand women want to work on shaping their booties but fear bulking up their thighs or arms in the process. Technically speaking, we are striving for the definition of bulk when we’re talking about shaping or building up the glutes so let’s just make peace with that word and move on, okay?
One of the biggest misconceptions around building strong, sexy and powerful glutes is that we must squat 100% of the time to get there. Growing up I used to follow every workout plan in magazines in an effort to build my booty, but all I got was thicker legs (my thighs are naturally very thick as it is), and minimal glute perkiness.
I love squats, but there are more effective exercises out there that are less quad-dominant and more glute worthy. This is why I created the 6 Weeks to Strong, Sexy Glutes Guide.
I wanted women to be able to jump in and start focusing on building a sexy bum without getting super hung up on the fears associated with lifting heavy, squatting too much, or getting bulky thighs. The squat and many lunge variations can help shape the glutes but they’re not the focal point of the 6 Weeks to Strong, Sexy Glutes Guide.
The #6weekstoglutes program is a total-body experience with a big (no pun intended) glute emphasis that focuses on:
- Good quality movement
- Heavy weights
- High frequency
- High volume
- Targets multiple muscles from various angles
This is a turnkey program that provides a little bit of everything so you can really target your booty without doing a million and one squats per day and bulking up your quads like Hulk-zilla.
With that said, here are a few key exercises I like to include in my clients’ programs for the very purpose of building strong, sexy glutes (also featured in the #6weekstoglutes program).
Bodyweight Glute March
- Appropriate for all levels. Once you’ve mastered this one, throw it into a part of warm-up for glute activation and/or progress it with weights or mini-bands
- Start with both feet rooted to the floor
- No arch in the low back. Drive up with the hips and squeeze your cheeks at the top
The next progression is this one-leg glute bridge with band (in the video, I use a Slingshot hip circle which is hard AF).
Single leg glute bridge with band
- Same as the glute march except one leg stays lifted at 90 degrees
- Be careful not to move super fast or you end up pushing more with your low back
- Take your time and let that booty burn up a bunch with every rep
Unilateral glute bridge with feet on the bench
- Intermediate level glute bridge because the suck comes at you pretty strong here
- Start with both heels on a high bench, then left one leg up into a table top
- Really press into the floor with those arms. They’re not there for your health so use ‘em!
Bodyweight hip thrust, shoulders elevated
- This exercise is perfect for someone with good bridging mechanics but not quite ready for barbell loaded hip thrusts
- Set yourself up so your shoulder blades are on a bench
- Allow your head to travel with your spine as you move
- You get better ROM with this variation so be sure to use your booty (not your back) to thrust
Progress this exercise to: One-leg hip thrust (with or without a band) or loaded (with a dumbbell on the hip)
Barbell hip thrust
- The Queen of booty-building exercises is the barbell hip thrust. Here, my client Genoffier demonstrates how to do it
- Add a pad around the hips to protect yourself. Trust me, it won’t feel good without it
- Start with small weights and work on good form. There’s no need to start setting PRs here (unless you’re advanced)
- You can also take this to the floor in a glute bridge with the barbell. Just as great but a little less ROM.
Clearly, the key to a nice bum involves a lot of variety that focus predominately on the glute musculature without bulking up the thighs. That doesn’t mean squats and lunges aren’t important. We still want to work on those exercises, but if your goal is purely glute-focused then these exercises will do more for your backside than just squats. Check out the free #6WeekstoGlutes Guide to get started on your bootylicious journey! Sign up HERE.