Baby Got Back: All You Need To Build Yourself a Proper Ass

41" glutes. Built with steak and squats.

My 41" glutes. Built with steak and squats.

Glutes.

There’s just something magical about them.

“How do I get a nicer butt?” is my most frequently received fitness-related question to date. It seems most women these days are having troubles with it. Too small, too wide, too flabby, too saggy, you name it.

First of all, let me set something straight: There are certain genetic advantages when it comes to having a nice derriere, but that does not mean that it’s impossible for you to fix yours. Even if it does look like it was run over by a freight train.

So what are the two components of a lifted, round, well-shaped behind?

  1. Body fat.
  2. Muscle.

Don’t make excuses for your lack of glutes, and don’t make excuses for other peoples’ glorious asses by saying “It’s just photoshop!” or, “She probably had plastic surgery!”

Believe it or not, some women work HARD to get a nice rump. So don’t be so quick to judge just because yours isn’t quite there yet. It only makes you appear insecure.

However, admiration is permitted.

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TRAINING YOUR GLUTES

The way I’ll do this, is I’ll go over my favorite exercises for glutes (in no particular order of importance), and give you videos and specifics on how they should be done.

Make sure to do ALL your hip flexor mobility work and glute activation as a warm-up before you begin your exercises.

Exercise #1: Barbell Back Squats

Yeah, everyone knows this one. But not everyone does it properly. If you’re one of the people who stops at parallel, or even just an inch below…you may want to consider switching it up.

With a back squat, stopping at parallel or just barely below puts most of the emphasis on your quads, and your glutes are not as engaged as they could be. Squatting until you are below parallel (the lower the better!) will put the emphasis on your glutes and hamstrings.

The more narrow your stance is, the more focus is put on your quads. Keep your legs shoulder width apart, with your toes pointed OUT (so you can get your hips through better).

Exercise #2: Straight-Leg Deadlifts

These need to be on EVERYONE’S agenda when they’re training legs. In my opinion, SLDL’s are the ultimate hamstring exercise.  These can be done unilaterally, or with both legs.

To do these properly and take the focus off your lower back, you NEED to push your hips back as far as you can until you get a very large stretch. I prefer a close stance, but you can make them sumo to switch things up. You need to keep the bar as close as you can to your legs, and keep your back straight.

Go down as low as you can while feeling a big stretch, and then come back up. Do not let your lower back round.

If you are short like me, you may need to use smaller plates to get a better stretch.

Exercise #3: Glute-Ham Raises

Don’t give me excuses for this one.

Yes, they hurt. And they are very difficult. But they’re also excellent.

I don’t believe in using bands or other assistance for GHR’s. I think that with enough practice, you will get them down. Keep the negative portion (descent) as SLOW as you can possibly manage. This is done by keeping your arms to your sides, and squeezing your glutes and hamstrings very hard on the way down.

Once you feel like you are losing tension, catch yourself with your hands and use a light push to get back up to the start.

When you’ve mastered these, you’ll be able to do them with no push-off. By then you know your hamstring strength has increased dramatically. My record of handless GHR’s was 3, and that was with a 5+ second descent.

Exercise #4: Bulgarian Split Squats

I’m not the biggest fan of these, only because they annoy me to no end. However, I know they work, so I do them.

The further you place your leg in front of you, the more emphasis is going to be on the glutes. The closer in, the more it targets your quads. Go down as FAR as you can go.

Exercise #5: Box Jumps

High box jumps. Start with lower boxes and build up. If you want to mix it up, try doing these while holding a 10-45 lb. plate.

Yes, occasionally you might miss the box and bruise your leg.

Actually I’m not even gonna lie, if you miss the box with these it’s one of the WORST training pains you’ll ever experience, aside from actually breaking/tearing something. But, it fades quickly and you just get a  bruise/bleeding leg. Sexy.

Anyway..

Moving away from the gory aspects of it, this is an excellent conditioning exercise. It’s amazing for building explosiveness in your legs, and it DOES help with glute development as well, especially as your box gets higher. I would do these on a day separate from your leg training. If you fatigue your legs before by doing box jumps, your other exercises will suffer. If you fatigue your legs with weights and try to box jump…well…you’ll end up face-planting unless it’s a very low box.

So…do these on days off, or on conditioning days.

HONORABLE MENTION:

Wide-Stance Leg Presses, Wide-Stance Box Squats, and Good-Mornings.

Box squats: also great for the glutes and hammies.

Box squats: also great for the glutes and hammies.

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STRETCHING

Never neglect your stretching after training. Here are some good stretches for the glutes and hamstrings:

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CARDIO:

My favorite “glute cardio” is Tabata squats, uphill sprints (NOT on the treadmill), and kettlebell stuff. Keep cardio to 2x per week, and high intensity.

15-20 minutes of all-out, balls-to-the-walls, please-just-give-me-a-second-to-gasp-for-air work will be plenty.

———————

THAT’S IT.

Seriously.

Nothing fancy. It’s what my glutes were built off of, and what yours can be built with as well.

I’m sorry if you came here expecting me to prescribe you a pill, magical exercise, special food combination, or special rep/set scheme for your training. Building glutes has nothing to do with that. However, it has EVERYTHING to do with consistency and HEAVY weights.

I prefer to stick with the basics when it comes to training. People think they need ten different exercises in order to fashion a fine pair of cheeks, but that’s really not what it takes. What it takes is dedication, and REALLY pushing yourself. If you stop every time it gets hard or whenever it burns, you’re not going to get anywhere.

Your glutes are some of the most used muscles in your entire body. In order to get them to respond in the way you want,  you have to overload them, and train them very hard and dilligently.

REPS:

These exercises are best when done in the 5-8 rep range. One exception being GHR’s…you do those for as many as you can get without dying.

The other exception is the box jumps. Working in sets of 2-3 is my preference, sometimes going up to 5.

Now when I say “5-8 reps” that means your MAX for the given amount of reps. Not 5 reps with a weight that you could probably do for another 15. I mean…using a weight that you will ONLY be able to grind out a set of 5 with.

———————————————————

DIET AND YOUR GLUTES

Now that you have training covered, let’s go onto the diet aspect.

Depending on your genetics, you may or may not store fat pleasantly in that area. If you are someone who just has a very small butt, it will come down to eating more (yes) and training with the above exercises. If you are someone with a very large ass already but it’s not well-shaped, you need to focus on losing body fat while doing these exercises. Once down to a lower level, you can then start slowly putting on weight again to give your body raw material to build the muscle with.

Sorry vegans, but cows are the ultimate glute food.

Sorry vegans, but cows are the ultimate glute food.

Really all it comes down to is growing some muscle. Even when I was very lean, I had a well-shaped rear because even though the fat wasn’t all there, the muscle was. You need to build the glute muscles, otherwise they will continue to stay flat, or misshapen due to the excess body fat and lack of lean muscle tissue.

Yes, I have a fair amount of body fat on my glutes. But because I have a great muscle base underneath the fluff, when I gained weight it went on very evenly. Thus, despite me gaining a lot of weight, it is not misshapen.

So in short:

  • Lose excess body fat (if you need to), and then focus on very slowly raising your calories until they are about 200 above maintenance, and train HARD with the exercises suggested.
  • If you have no body fat to lose and you are small, do the same thing, but just skipping the dieting aspect.
  • If you have saggy glutes, the same thing applies. You NEED to build up the muscle so that the skin and fat evens out.

In your ass-gaining endeavors, I would prescribe you a diet of LOTS of lean protein (don’t be scared of red meat), plenty of veggies, some fruit, and healthy fats. Keep starchy carbs post-workout.

This is the glorious 1/2 lb. of steak that I had post-workout.

This is the glorious 1/2 lb. of steak that I had post-workout.

Above all, have fun with it. Building a great set of glutes is a process, just like anything else. But when you’ve found your groove and done the work, the results will speak for themselves.

Now go out there and build yourself an ass. :D

Property of my boyfriend.

Property of my boyfriend.

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Glute-related questions? Leave me a comment!

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38 thoughts on “Baby Got Back: All You Need To Build Yourself a Proper Ass

  1. Below parallel low bar back squats has worked well for my glutes. So well that most of my jeans, shorts and underwear don’t fit properly anymore :/

  2. Love it. Great post! Note that in that first pic, the 41″ glutes are not even measured at their max girth!! Yoga pants rock your bootie, no problems there!

    • 5-8 reps because it’s a good range for hypertrophy and strength. Anything above 8 reps is basically cardio, and IMO, you don’t overload the muscle as well as you could. Lower reps are generally better for the larger muscle groups anyway.

      Starchy carbs PWO because I find that many people tend to go overboard with them unless they have some set rules. So I recommend that MOST if not all starch should be post-workout, when your body needs them the most.

      Fruit/veggies pre-training is usually better anyway, and easier on your stomach than something heavier.

  3. Ha, my bf has a very nice ass. Squats 365×5 and does dem GHRs every week, yeah buddy.

    Any ass niceness I have is partly genetic (at least for now), blessed with a pretty good waist/hip ratio (if I do say so myself : P ) It has improved though since weight training. Back squats are a beautiful thing.

  4. Hi and THANK YOU.
    I have been following your blog for quite a while. I love your intelligence, straight forwardness and honesty that you share out here. I’ve started training only a half a year ago and your blog has served me as a huge help as well as fun and interesting place to come for inspiration and info.

    As for the glutes. God, I need to have more of that steak and grab some heavier stuff at the gym.
    Do I have to have a separate day for training glutes or just incorporate those exercises into my routine?

    • Hey Greta!

      I’m happy you can find some benefit through all this foolishness. :D You don’t have to have a separate day. However, I train my legs quite often (2x per week with leg-emphasized conditioning). So what I would do, is either have an upper/lower split, OR if you’re on a bodypart split, train legs 2x per week. One day quad emphasis with *some* glute work, and another day with just glute/hamstring emphasis.

  5. God bless you for trying to teach women the best way to build a great ass. You are doing the Lord’s work, fighting against pancake butt, which is the worst thing to hit mankind since the plague. On a related note, yoga pants were made by Jesus, so keep rocking the hell out of them.

    Give that booty a good game spank from me. You earned it.

  6. Any suggestions for this form issue – On back squats my upper body comes more forward than it should, so in a sense I end up “folding” especially to get a deep squat. My knee-hip length is probably a bit longer in proportion to my lower leg than others. I’m moderately wide in my stance, and narrow with my hands. I have a tendency to let the bar roll down a little as I descend hoping with it more rearward it will help but that’s not the answer. I’ve been squatting off and on for years and have always had this problem and would like to see if it’s fixable.

    I don’t think it’s core/lower back issues. I can DL 245 sumo.

    • There are numerous reasons why this is done. And depending on your build, some people will genetically have more of a forward lean. For example, I have a very short torso, and longer legs in comparison. When squatting, regardless of Olympic style or Powerlifting, I will always lean forward moreso than someone with a better build. HOWEVER, folding over is a form issue that can be remedied.

      A rolling bar means your back is not tight. It means that rather than trying to pull the bar into your body, or bend the sides (which is what should be visualised) you allow your back to get loose which means the bar can roll wherever it likes depending on where the center of gravity is. (i.e. when you lean forward like that, if your back is loose the bar will roll so that it becomes balanced again)

      In order to move the barbell down your back, you would have to loosen your back. Shifting the barbell purposely on your back WHILE you’re moving it is a bad idea, and a good way to get injured.

      Because the case is different with everyone, I will have to see what you’re doing to get a better idea of why you’re folding at the bottom. However, I can tell you that the lower you have your bar placed, the more forward you’re going to lean by default.

      I used to have a problem where I would fold over like a pancake as well. It takes a bit of practice, but you can get it down.

      So long story short, send me a video of you squatting and I can properly answer the question to help you. :D

  7. Very nice article and good list of exercises. I have to say that my glutes are one of my greatest assets (pun intended – I kill me). Clearly yours are pretty killer as well, as they should be as I’m sure you’ve been practicing what you are preaching here! I got mine from lots of deep, heavy, pause squats, a heavy dose of RDL’s, and tons of Glute Ham Raises. Those should be the go-to’s for developing big and strong glutes and hammies. Everything else I find is good just to mix it up every so often.

    if only more women realized the beauty of the barbell for developing a nice, touchable ass, instead of complaining about their lack of one while spending another 2 hours on the treadmill, then this world would be a much better place.

    • Agreed!! Good on you for doing your GHR’s ;) I’m a fan of RDL’s, but most people don’t know how to do them correctly, so IMO they are better off with straight-leg deadlifts.

      And women know nothing about barbells. They always thought it was the “manly stuff”, so they need to be re-taught.

  8. Great post!!! I am SO SICK of people saying “You have such great GENETICS, you have a great butt!” Beeeeeelieve me it is not due to genetics. I had a pancake ass until I started squatting and doing SLDLs.

    With ya on hating the split squats. I hate any and all leg exercises I have to do one side at a time…they take me FOREVER.

  9. Two videos highlighting my favorite body part (my ass, duh). I might test out the bulgarian split squat in here since you mentioned them. Good post, (beau)champ.

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  11. 41″ – damn. I’m 6’1” 215, and have a hard time fitting into today’s low rise, skinny jeans without buying them too big around the waist – and only measure 3 inches larger than you around the hips

  12. What a great post I’m so in agreement with this being said. A lot of ladies could benefit from that informaiton. What I don’t get is as glorifed as the gultes have gotten people forget, ummm its a muscle group it can be defined and shaped. I always hear the ladies say I wish my booty looked like hers and etc. I always say how do you think she got hers, I’m sure it’s not all genetics. Now that’s not to say some people aren’t natrually blessed, but adult movie stars to video vixens all put in some kind of work to maintain there bodies. Just like any other part fo the body YOU GOTTA DO THE WORK.

  13. I am officially in the throes of glute-envy. (See how that sounds so much less creepy than “OMG I want your ass”? LOL!) I have been working on ridding myself of frog-standing-on-his-hind-legs-wearing-jeans-look (officially one month in stronglifts 5×5) and this post is going on my Wall of Motivation.

    I’m curious though-you say Tabata squats…are you talking body weight or barbells? I am dense this morning, so feel free to use red crayon and small words.

    Thanks!

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  16. Damn good article and spot on with the recommendations. I don’t see many women espousing the virtues of eating well and lifting heavy so I plan on sharing this with every woman I hear say “I want my ass to be more toned!” (I hear this more than one would think; many female friends)

  17. Okay I just saw this on the bodybuilding forum and THANK YOU for posting it!! I’m petite and want a bigger booty. My booty is a bit saggy and I want BIGGER!! I was a 33 and am now 35 but I still want BIGGER lol! I just need to work on a diet with more lean protein and get to the gym!

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  19. OMG, thank you for your wisdom!! I’m so glad my keyword search for ‘create a nice ass’ found your blog!

    In terms of cardio – this is a huge pain for me. I do have quite a bit of weight to lose and really can’t commit to cardio for the life of me. I love doing a high intensity kick ass cardio sesh of 20-30 mins, sweating buckets but my ex trainer always said I really needed to commit to an hour. I find that to get through an hour I would subconsciously pace myself through my workout as opposed to focus on the 20 minutes and giving it my all.

    Any thoughts on what would really be more beneficial to drive weight loss?

    Also, the video of the girl doing the barbell back squat is awesome. I would never dare go that deep in my squat, I would probably lose my knee in the process LOL.

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