GLUTE WEEK: Want to Build Glutes? Focus on Pelvic Alignment!
Throw a protein bar in any gym and odds are you will hit someone with drool-worthy glutes…but they will usually be on a guy.
Because most guys lift heavy in the main strength building movements: squats, deadlifts, and lunges. Naturally, their bodies grow to adapt.
There is no secret to growing a muscle. Resistance + Duration = Muscular Hypertrophy (Booty Gains).
Before you start heading to the gym, let's make sure you know how to align yourself in the best way to build glute strength, starting with the pelvis.
Understanding Pelvic Tilts
Watch a Shakira music video or a Hula Dancer, and you'll see just how mobile the pelvis and hips can be. So we can't just load up the weight and hope to get results. You need to put the key in the ignition before you can put the pedal to the metal.
Learning awareness of your pelvic position is possibly one of the best things you can do for yourself in terms of postural health. By establishing your neutral and learning how to hold and strengthen this position, you can drastically reduce your risks of developing a muscle imbalance or injury. Although a neutral pelvis has a slight anterior tilt, all you should focus on is being able to feel a slight engagement in your glutes and lower abs when you have found it.
Anterior Pelvic Tilt
Your pelvis is in anterior when it dips forward and down to an excessive degree. APT is the most commonly occurring pelvic tilt with a study showing 85% of males and 75% of females presented with an anterior pelvic tilt, 6% of males and 7% of females with a posterior pelvic tilt, and 9% of males and 18% of females presented as neutral.
Typical issues that can arise from an anterior tilt are weak hamstrings, glutes, lower abdominals, and hip flexors. Most people with any excessive APT usually have trouble engaging their glutes in the first place. You may also need to stretch the hip flexors and lower abs, but most of the time these will be weak, not tight and require strengthening as well.
Posterior Pelvic Tilt
PPT is when the pelvis tilts up and back, this is usually more painful than an APT especially in regards to back pain and sciatica.
Typical issues stemming from a PPT include tight abdominals, weak lumbar extensors (Multifidus, Erector Spinae, Quadratus Lumborum), and a weak Psoas.
Usually, people with PPT will complain of tight hamstrings and aggressively stretch them for relief to no avail. Possible stretching of the abdominals may provide relief and increase the range of motion before exercise.
Before you begin a resistance training program, you should be able to squat, hinge, lunge, bridge, and plank while holding a neutral pelvic position. If you find yourself starting in neutral but ending at the bottom of the squat in posterior (butt wink), or hip hinging with a massive arch in your back then you know you have some stretching and strengthening to do before adding load!
Correct Pelvic Position for Optimal Glute Gains
You can't grow a muscle you can't activate, and unfortunately, there is no one size fits all answer. Some people’s neutral will be slightly more anterior than others. This will help them in the squat or the lunge where the quads can pick up the slack, but these people may struggle with the glute bridge, or their backs may hurt while hinging.
Squeeze your butt as hard as you can. What happened? Did you shift at all? If so then you weren't in a neutral position. If you couldn't squeeze them at all you were probably in a more anteriorly tilted position, common while seated.
There isn't one exercise that is going to build your glutes. However, there is one thing you can take into each exercise, and that is a new awareness of your glute activation and pelvic position. Keeping tension in the glutes and low abs while mastering the above exercises with your bodyweight will ensure you develop a strong foundation before attempting any loaded movements.
Best Exercises for Building Glute Strength
Once you have learned to activate the glutes and maintain neutral through an appropriate range of motion, you can begin adding a load or attempting some exercises that challenge new ranges of motion.
- Glute Pops
- Quadruped Leg Extension
- 4-Way Leg Extension
- Glute Bridge
- Hip Thrust
- Traditional Squats
- Single Leg Squats (Bulgarian)
Remember you can't grow a muscle you cant activate, and you can't activate the glutes properly until controlling your pelvis. Targeting your glutes is an effective way to bring more awareness to your body, but remember that you want that awareness to your ENTIRE body.
The MoveU Program can help you learn better body awareness. If you want to know more about how the program helps you not only build glutes but a better overall body foundation, click here! Ready to get started fixin' yo sh!t? Click here!