In our previous blog, "Booteus Maximus (Part 1)," we discussed the latest controversy surrounding the glutes we know and affectionately refer to as the "squat booty." With claims being made that stated that squats don't actually build up the gluteal region, the term was being called into question. However, after delving into the anatomy of the three gluteal muscles and discussing their functions, it became evident that the squat can, in fact, lead to hypertrophy in the tushy region. With that said, we also discovered that, although the gluteus minimus and gluteus medius are not absent from the overall squat operation, their role in the exercise is minimal. The glute that benefits the most from the squat is gluteus maximus simply because its primary function is hip extension (4).
Today, we're going to show you exactly how to build up the two smaller gluteals, how to further develop the maximus, and then provide you with our very own Booteus Maximus workout routine.
Let's get started, shall we!
Abduction is the movement of a limb away from the midline of the body. As demonstrated by our anatomical animation in Part 1, all three of the gluteal muscles play a roll in abduction (4). These muscles, along with a few others, are responsible for moving the femur away from the midline of the body. Since this is the primary function of the gluteus minimus and a large part of the gluteus medius, exercises in which one actively engages the glutes to move the leg away from the body will directly influence hypertrophy in the two smaller gluteals while simultaneously benefitting the maximus.
When coming up with exercises for a muscle group, you're only as limited as your imagination. This happens to be the case with abduction exercises. There are several different accessories you can use, machines you can transform, and ways you can move to hit the gluteus minimus and gluteus medius. However, not all moves are created equal. Hypertrophy occurs when we can produce a maximal voluntary muscle contraction. The more muscle involvement, the greater the hypertrophy gain. In a study published in the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy, exercises such as clamshell variations and side plank abductions were the most potent abduction moves for muscle engagement. Not only did these exercises engage the glute maximus, they also generated a maximal voluntary muscle contraction between 75% and 103% in the glute minimus and medius, making them the most effective exercises for the smaller glutes (2).
Hip extension occurs when we increase the angle between the pelvis and the femur. This function is primarily generated by the gluteus maximus but also requires a subtle amount of help from the gluteus medius because of its insertion points. This is probably the way in which most people workout the gluteals. Through a variety of thrusts, squats, and kickbacks, extension and the activation of the glute max is easy to achieve.
One of the most effective ways to hit the gluteus maximus is to perform a hip extension in the plank position. In the study mentioned above, the maximal voluntary muscle contraction associated with this exercise was an outstanding 106%! That goes above and beyond a normal butt clench, which just so happened to sit a mear 80% in comparison (2). There are also several squat variations and a large number of other exercises that target the gluteus maximus (1, 2, 3, 5). When it comes to the max, it's important to develop a mind-muscle connection as to ensure that you are engaging in as much voluntary contraction as possible.
Booteus Maximus Workout
The following routine is a complete glute workout. It engages all three of the gluteals and takes into account the results from electromyographic studies.
*Use a weight heavy enough to complete said number of sets and reps. If you can do more than what is prescribed, you need to go up in weight. If you cannot complete the exercise with proper form and function, you need to go down in weight. Also, 1RM means 1 rep max and you can choose whichever deadlift stance you feel the most glute action in. Just be sure to squeeze and engage.
Anders, M. (2007). Glutes to the Max. Ace Fitness Matters. Retrieved May 21, 2018, from https://www.acefitness.org/getfit/glutesstudy2006.pdf.
Boren, K., Conrey, C., Le Coguic, J., Paprocki, L., Voight, M., & Robinson, T. K. (2011). ELECTROMYOGRAPHIC ANALYSIS OF GLUTEUS MEDIUS AND GLUTEUS MAXIMUS DURING REHABILITATION EXERCISES. International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy, 6(3), 206–223. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3201064/
Chiu, L. Z. (2009). Sitting back in the squat. Strength & Conditioning Journal, 31(6), 25-27.
Hamlin, D. (2018). Booteus Maximus (Part 1): Do Squats Really Build The Glutes? Retrieved from https://gympire.blog/2018/05/08/booteus-maximus-part-1-do-squats-really-build-the-glutes/
Paoli, A., Marcolin, G., & Petrone, N. (2009). The effect of stance width on the electromyographical activity of eight superficial thigh muscles during back squat with different bar loads. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 23(1), 246-250.