Ladies, what's the first thing you look at when a guy walks away from you? Men, what's the first thing you notice about a woman's body,
regardless of where she's walking or standing? The invariable answer to this query is, of course, the buttocks. No matter what you call
them - because Lord knows there are plenty of names - if they're in good shape, a pair of buttocks by any other name are a dynamite set
Much of what each of our individual muscle groups looks like has a great deal to do with genetic predisposition. Though there are exceptions to the rule, for the most part, if your glutes are naturally round and protrude with little or no training, that is the shape your genetic code deemed correct. Unfortunately some people were born with flat-as-a-board buttocks that seem to have little chance of becoming much rounder. Through diligent and correct training, however, one can achieve a certain amount of improvement in that, or any, area.
Understanding how to effect change in the glutes (buttocks) is the key to building the muscularity so crucial to shape. Simply doing squatting exercises won't necessarily be enough to add the additional girth or shape needed to improve them. Quite often, depending upon how you approach a squatting stance, this exercise won't effect any change in the glutes because basically the squat is a quadriceps-oriented movement.
To make changes in the glutes, one must first understand their primary function. Function is everything when it comes to resistance training, for function determines the exercises that benefit the extension and flexion of the bodypart being worked. Whereas some joints have adjoining muscles that work in tandem to flex and extend, the glutes are responsible for both the flexion and extension of the hip joint. Unlike a biceps, which is responsible for flexing the arm, and triceps muscles, which are responsible for extending the arm, the glutes must create both flexion and extension.
You have to understand flexion and extension of the hip joint by the glutes to learn which angles best affect the glute muscles in your quest to build a shapely backside. Flexion decreases the angle of the joint, and extension increases the angle of the joint. Therefore, when you are doing a stiff-leg deadlift, for example, as you bend forward, you decrease the angle of the hip joint to perform a hip flexion. When you return to the standing position, you increase the angle of the hip joint to perform a hip extension. While these tandem mechanics are important to learn, the most important factor in effective glute-training is the movement which utilizes the hip extension. This is the key to building great-shaped glutes.
Many exercises effectively isolate the glute muscles so that the focus is strictly on their ability to flex and extend. Such movements include glute kickbacks (Butt Blaster machine) and glute isolation exercises (flexing). Some combination movements also effectively work the glutes while placing a slight emphasis on other areas of the lower body, such as the quadriceps. These exercises include stiff-leg deadlifts, barbell/dumbbell lunges, barbell/dumbbell squats and hack squats. Each of these exercises will influence the glute muscles and can build shape and size, Maximizing the potential of each of these exercises depends on how you do them, not only intensity and volume but also mental emphasis. With this picture of your glutes in mind, you can literally direct physical impulses to follow your mental plan. This concept is often referred to as a mind/muscle connection.
The reason mind/muscle connection is such an important factor is that often what we picture can translate into physical commands that then become physical progress. We may not think of visualizing our muscles working during an exercise, but by doing so we can attain a much greater physical connection. Our muscles move in response to the neurological commands that our brain sends them. We may be aware that we have commanded our brain to send an electrical impulse to that muscle, but that fact alone won't necessarily work the muscle on anything but a very rudimentary level. The real key to creating mind/muscle connection is the ability to serve up an order that is as accurate as possible. So while the mind is sending that impulse to the muscle, your vision is constantly reconfiguring and directing it to hit an exact spot with the aid of the muscle fiber itself.
Initially you must still move against resistance - either your own bodyweight or an external weight - to create the environment for growth and shape. The best exercises for glute-training in both men and women are those previously listed. Although most people may be accustomed to working their biceps or quads in a regular weekly routine, they often forget to create a plan of action for their glutes. Making a plan and sticking to it is crucial to seeing any sort of change in your glutes. Where can you fit that plan into an already crowded schedule? I suggest working glutes on either a hamstring or back day because many of the exercises for back or hamstrings use the glutes indirectly, and therefore are good warm-ups for specific glute exercises.
Lying leg curls, straight-leg deadlifts, standard deadlifts, and hyperextensions all indirectly affect the glutes. Using these exercises as part of a regular hamstring or back workout, and then moving immediately to glute exercises is a great way to start getting into the habit of working the glutes regularly while gaining the benefits that glute exercises provide. In this way you can incorporate work for a bodypart that is often neglected by most bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts. I'll bet if you worked as an exotic dancer, a bikini model, or in some capacity that required you to have an exceptional backside, you'd have already been working hard on this part of your body. Unfortunately most people don't see a need for integrating glute work into their regular fitness routines. Why not make yourself the exception to the rule?
A good way to get into the habit of doing glute-specific work is to think about how each hamstring or back exercise you do is warming up the glutes before moving into a glute-specific exercise. To ease into doing regular glute workouts, you might want to try doing just one glute exercise after your last hamstring movement or after your last set of hyperextensions. Once you have become accustomed to doing just one glute exercise for a couple of weeks, add another to the program. Two extra glute exercises per week can make a huge difference in the shape of your glutes. Once you have seen the results, you may even decide to add glutes into your workout schedule as a wholly separate and distinct bodypart.
Here are the best glute exercises I recommend for building enough muscle to add shape to your backside: