It is the most popular muscle group of women and for this reason, this particular article is dedicated to the fitness mantras female fan club. If the typical male obsession in the gym is the chest and arms, then the glutes could be said to be the corresponding female obsession. Because apart from making you look sexy, the glutes play a very important role in the functionality of the musculoskeletal system.

Why it’s important to exercise our glutes

The glutes are connected to the legs, waist, and hips. For this reason, strengthening them with the right exercises can help stabilize and health our lower back, improve our posture and generally reduce the chances of injuries throughout the body.

Short anatomy lesson

The glutes are made up of three main muscles: the well-known gluteus maximus, medius, and gluteus minimus. The lesser-known gluteus medius and minimus are located on the side of your pelvis and their main function is to abduct the thighs.

Atrophic glutes – Basic causes

The bad thing about the gluteal muscles is that while they are by nature one of the strongest and most functional muscle groups, they are also a muscle group that goes into a state of inactivity much more easily than the rest.

Today’s sedentary life, bad habits such as taking the car for distances equivalent to 5 minutes of walking, and generally all this “modern inactivity” has led to the deactivation of this otherwise extremely useful muscle group. Continuous sitting, for example, compresses the gluteus maximus, resulting in a reduction in blood supply and the intake of nutrients. This leads to the increase of fat around the area and also reduces its neuro-muscular sensitivity (in simple words we could say it enters a state of hibernation).

In short, a lack of lower extremity exercise combined with too much sitting is the best recipe for atrophied glutes or as many experts in the field are now calling ‘butt amnesia’. When our glutes are under-functioning, this results in the activation of other muscle groups that take over their work and we thus suffer muscles that are not intended for this work. The result is lower back pain, tight biceps, and other musculoskeletal problems.

Read also: Plate Curls

Glutes types and shapes

Something you have to understand is that we cannot change the basic characteristics of the glutes which are due to genetic predisposition. Of course, this does not mean that you cannot change their shape, as with the right exercises you can lift and tone them.

It’s not enough just to lose weight

A typical mistake that most women make is that they think that losing weight is all that is enough for a pair of nice glutes. Of course, if you are overweight this will help, but it is only the first step and besides, losing too much weight can lead to further atrophy in this area making the problem worse! The second and most important step is to increase the muscle mass of the glutes with exercises that will aim at the multifaceted activation of the muscles of this area.

Awakening the “Sleeping Beauty”

In his book “Strong Curves”, Brett Contreras (perhaps the most qualified person on the planet on training glutes) separates glute exercises into two categories activation exercises and strengthening exercises emphasizing that the activation exercises in the initial stage Glutes training are just as important as strength training. This is because if we do not learn how to reawaken these muscles from the lethargy to which our lifestyle may have led them, the strengthening exercises we will use later will have an incomplete effect.

Lie on something soft like a rug or gym mat and perform the following exercises. During the exercises, it is extremely important not to be satisfied only with the mental feeling of the contraction of the muscles but to be sure to feel them often with the fingers to confirm that they are contracting as efficiently as possible.

1. Side-lying position with the leg extended
upper glute exercises side-lying position
upper glute exercises side-lying position

From a side-lying position perform abductions with extended legs. Keep the body balanced and do not lean too far back or forward.

2. Side-lying position with the leg bent
side-lying position leg bent
upper glute exercises side-lying position leg bent

From the same position, this time bend your thighs forward 45 degrees and bend your knees 90 degrees. Your gluteus maximus must contract in order for the upper thigh to turn out and lift.

3. Bridge (for glutes)
upper glute exercises – glute bridge

Lying on your back with your knees bent, press into your heels to lift your pelvis into the air. When you are at the maximum height the muscles that work are the biceps femoris, the lower back muscles, and the glutes. Be sure to train your body to recruit the glutes as much as possible compared to the rest of the muscles. When you get stronger do the exercise alternately using only one leg to lift the body. Be careful not to overextend your waist!

4. Bird Dog
bird-dog-glute exercises
bird dog upper glute exercises

Balance on the ground by resting on your knees and palms and simultaneously extend one arm forward and the opposite leg back, alternating repetitions. Make sure your spine doesn’t rotate left and right on each repetition but keep it as long as possible in a neutral position. Because in this exercise you can’t feel the glute contracting by touching it, have someone do it for you to make sure you’re maximally recruiting it.

Building the “Sleeping Beauties”

Although we have emphasized this so many times in previous articles, we probably need to repeat it, because many of you continue to be horrified when we recommend exercises with weights for the legs. You’re not going to get bodybuilder legs by doing weight training overnight (or even year after year).

Ok, let’s say you’re right…

Let’s say you’re right and that doing 2 months of leg weights will lead to monstrous legs with veins similar to a pro bodybuilder. Somewhere in between those two months, from the time you start this program – until the end of those two months, isn’t there going to be some point in between when your legs are at the ideal muscle mass for you? So fine, once you get to that point just reduce your training and just do maintenance. Problem solved!

Of course, we are sure that…

When you start to see the benefits of muscle strengthening in your body such as:

  • the sexy curves you will start to get
  • how much more attractive your body will start to look just because your pounds will be more properly structured
  • and how much easier it is to lose weight if you combine a good diet with this program

…then we don’t think there is any way you can stop…

3-day program with the main target of the glutes

If you are happy with your body image from the waist up and simply want to tone your lower body with the main target being the glutes this is an ideal program for you.

Exercise 1: Hip thrusts
glute bridge
upper glute exercises – hip thrusts

According to Brett Contreras, the best exercise for activating and developing the glutes. Make sure you can do at least 50 reps with excellent body weight before you start loading the bar with weight and have a qualified trainer make sure you are performing the exercise with good technique. Start with 3 sets, with your body weight, until you get to the point where you can perform at least one set of 50 reps. 

From this point on you can start working with the barbell and slowly add extra pounds by doing 3 sets of 15 reps. Don’t be afraid of this exercise as long as you perform it with the proper technique!

Exercise 2: Deep Seats
deep seat upper glute exercises
upper glute exercises – deep seats

Perform 3 sets again of 10 repetitions. By deep sitting, we mean going as deep as you can without breaking your technique. And in this exercise, it is very important to have a competent trainer guiding you. Because women’s pelvises are anatomically wider you can place your feet in a slightly wider sumo squat position if you feel more comfortable that way.

Exercise 3: Deadlifts

Perform 3 sets of 10 repetitions.

Exercise 4: Pulley abduction

Perform 3 sets of 8 repetitions. Concentrate as much as you can on contracting the gluteus medius. This muscle is located along the outside and middle of the hip joint (it’s the part responsible for the lateral curve of your glutes).

Targeted Muscle groupsExerciseSets & reps
GlutesHip thrusts3 sets X 15 reps
Quadriceps & GlutesDeep seats3 sets X 10 reps
Biceps & GlutesDeath lifts3 sets X 10 reps
Gluteus medius & AbductorsPulley abduction3 sets x 8 reps

Final notes: From set to set take a minute break and from exercise to exercise 2 minutes. The ideal frequency of this program is three times a week with a rest day in between. If the frequency of your program seems a little excessive don’t worry, women may not lift as much weight as men (usually) but you have the advantage of recovering faster!


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