Top 6 Glute Training Mistakes That Are Sabotaging Your Fitness Goals

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Glute training mistakes are more common than I originally would have thought. I saw this more and more when I began travelling and working out in different clubs. In fact, I’d say I see mistakes with glute exercises for women in about 60 to 80% of the people out there.

If you’ve been doing buttocks exercises as hard as you can but not getting the results you want, then this article is for you. Whether you’re a beginner or advanced, knowing the 6 biggest mistakes that I see is going to help you improve your workouts as soon as your next glute day arrives! We’ll cover every phase of glute training, from improving mobility to training intensity and frequency.

Glute training mistakes #1: Making squats and deadlifts your primary glute exercises

Squats and deadlifts are NOT primary gluteal muscle exercises. Let’s first get that out of the way! I did an interesting survey once and found that 60% of the people had squats and deadlifts in their top glute exercises. Now, do squats and deadlifts work the gluteal muscles? They can. Those exercises pretty much work a wide group of muscles. That’s why they’re called multi joint exercises. Some girls will even swear that their glutes burn after these exercises. I have to admit that I can sometimes feel a great buttock burn when I do my deadlifts.

But, they aren’t the primary glute exercises. Research over the last few years are showing that there are SPECIFIC strengthening exercises that you should be focusing on if you’re goal is to target the glutes. Here is a list of these exercises. Are you incorporating exercises like these into your glutes training programs?

  • Hip Thrust
  • Quadruped Exercises
  • Bridging
  • Back extensions
  • Single leg hip thrusts

Now that doesn’t mean you should quit doing squats and deadlifts. You can add several different variations to these exercises to target more glutes and less quads. You can find those variations, in addition to 24 more key points in my 25 point checklist to showstopping glutes in 4 weeks.

Glute training mistake #2: Starting glute training days with squats and deadlifts

Most people will combine their leg and glute workout on the same day. That’s okay. However, if you’re main focus is on buttocks training, try starting with your glute exercises first. Research also seems to back up this concept. It turns out that if you’re training a group of different muscles, the order of the exercises is important in what specific outcome you’re looking to achieve. If you’re doing chest and biceps exercises (just an example), the muscle that will see the best results will be based on which exercise is done first.

Wanting to get more out of your back on a back and biceps day? Work the back muscles first. Same goes for glutes. The glute strength exercises come first.

Glute training mistake #3: Not doing hip thrusts

Just as important as realizing that squats and deadlifts aren’t primary glute exercises, one should also realize just how effective hip thrust exercises are. I always say that the hip thrusts are the new squat. That means it should be the new ‘cool’ exercise that everybody should be doing. It LOOKS cool! You’ll have heads turning when you do the hip thrusts. But, I rarely see this being done in most of the gyms I go to. That’s a shame because it’s probably the BEST glute development exercise you can do.

hip thrust exercise

I know there are some obstacles that get in the way of doing a proper hip thrust. First of all, there are a lot of ladies that are uncomfortable having the barbell dig into their hips. That’s why you need to get a thick pad. If your club doesn’t have a thick pad, BUY one and bring it to the gym. It will be THAT effective if you get a thick pad.

Another obstacle is the mindset that one can’t lift a lot. Due to the positioning of the exercise, people are cautious about doing too much for fear of hurting themselves. However, the opposite is true. Girls who start hip thrusts are surprisingly shocked with the amount of weight they can increase to after doing it for several weeks. Just note that you’ll need to keep pushing yourself with this exercise. It’s probably the one ‘miracle’ exercise that I keep in my list.

Not doing hip thrusts? Start!

Not comfortable with doing them? Then start with glute bridges, 1 leg bridging exercises and progress to using a dumbell instead of a barbell. Use thick elastic bands instead of a barbell. There are many ways to start hip thrusts so you can progress safely and comfortably.

Progression Alternatives Leading to Barbell Hip Thrust:

  • Glute Bridges
  • One legged Bridging
  • Bridging with Dumbell
  • Bridging with Thick Elastic Bands
  • Finally, Barbell Glute Bridge (Hip Thrusts)

Glute training mistake #4: Performing Glute Exercises Only Once Per Week

The glute is a pretty large muscle. There are actually three different glute muscles but overall, it’s a fairly large muscle. And glutes respond well to the volume of exercise. For that reason, it’s important to pencil in your buttock workouts AT LEAST twice per week, if not three times! The more the better.

I usually like to give my gluteal muscles a day of rest, so I stagger my workout days. However, I’ve seen some utilize gluteal muscle training on consecutive days. Remember, if you’re TOP body parts to address are glutes, then do more glutes.

Glute training mistake #5: Not Understanding the Phases of Glute Development

By now, you’re realizing that there’s a large variety of different training exercises. Some require bodyweight training, while others require using heavier weights in strange positions! Since there’s such a variety, it’s very easy to get lost in exactly what to do. I find that a lot of girls tend to gravitate towards the exercises that are the most ‘comfortable’ for them.

ms olympia glute development

For example, are you the type that has always done a lot of bodyweight type of exercises, like Yoga and Pilates? If so, you’re going to be doing more of the bodyweight glute exercises and delay any progression to heavier weighted exercises.

Or are you the type that likes to go as hard as you can with your exercise program? You may focus solely on doing the hardest exercises with the most weight. This is a minority of girls, but it’s still a group that tends to begin overlooking the bodyweight type of exercises. You may believe that ‘the more you lift, the better results you’re going to get.’ You may have been told this by a trainer or another lifter. In certain cases, this is true. Lift more, get better results.

With glute development for women, however, its’ a combination of all these exercises that are going to give the BEST results. Did you know that some of the bodyweight exercises lead to more glute muscle contraction than even heavy squats and deadlifts? They are THAT good!

Which leads me back to the phases of glute development training. There are different phases you should be aware of, regardless if you’re beginning or are more experienced.

PHASE 1: Assess proper hip mobility, flexibility and proper muscle activation

The first phase is to make sure you have proper glute activation, hip mobility and lower extremity flexibility. Every time you do a glute exercise, you need to focus on contracting these muscles. You also need to make sure you have proper flexibility in your hip flexors. With all these, including proper hip mobility, you’ll better be able to contract and focus on making sure your glutes are doing the work. In my 12 week bikini transformation program, I actually make sure that everyone starts with a 2 week Preparation stage even before beginning their weight training program. It’s THAT important.

PHASE 2: Proper movement patterns through bodyweight exercises

Here is where the bodyweight exercises are so important. Every rep you do, you’ll need to perform it the right way. For example, when I’m trying to perform a quadruped exercise, I sometimes have a tendency to tilt my pelvis. But over time, this gets easier. It’s something that I have to be conscious about. The tendency is to ignore the basics of the exercise movements when you’ve been doing them for awhile. Being able to solely focus on proper movement patterns is going to SIGNIFICANTLY increase your glute results. Don’t half ass (pun is intended LOL) the movement of these exercises!

PHASE 3: Progressing to heavy weight load exercises

This is the phase that everyone should be progressing to. You’re going to see a lot of gains by doing heavier weighted exercises. But don’t progress so quickly that you ignore your bodyweight exercises. The key here is to focus on the volume of exercises in addition to exercise intensity. I came up with the Training Trinity Principles in my 12 week bikini transformation program to explain the key concepts required to be successful.

Glute Training Mistake #6: Not increasing the VARIETY of exercises

Let me know if the following describes you.

You discover some great gluteal strengthening exercises to do.

You add them to your program.

Everyone compliments you on your great workout routine.

You feel great!

6 months later, you’re doing the SAME exercises.

The comfort has set in. That’s the hardest part of exercising. You become comfortable with your training routine. That’s exactly the wrong way to train! Adding a variety to your exercises is critical. Its not like you’re going to do completely new exercises every week or month. Change things up. Then add back the exercises you did months before. Adding a variety is critical to working your glutes to it’s fullest potential.

I’m sure most of you have heard about ‘changing up your exercise program’. I figure it’s common sense. However, there’s one critical mistake that everyone misses when they follow this rule. You may change the exercise, but you’re forgetting to change the angle.

For example, you may be doing hip thrusts (i hope so!). You decide to also add bridging exercises. You figure that adding ‘more exercises’ as in this case will make your workouts better. However, the ANGLE of exercise is the same. When I mention angle, I’m also talking about whether an exercise is done in a horizontal or vertical position, and prone or supine positions.

Hip thrusts and bridging exercises are all done in a horizontal direction while in a supine position. If you’re going to increase the variety of exercises, consider adding a prone exercise, such as the quadruped. Consider adding a vertical exercise, like an American deadlift.

Are you following the logic here?

That’s why I cringe when I see an entire workout done in a vertical position. Someone may start with squats (vertical position), progress to deadlifts (vertical position) and finish off with lunges (again, vertical position!). The key is to add a variety of different exercises.

Go through your own exercise program and see if you’re making one of these 6 glute training mistakes. You can easily modify your program to make sure you’re avoiding these mistakes during your next glute workout. It’s surprising how making small changes in your program can lead to significantly better results. That’s why I always keep my handy 25 point glute checklist with me to make sure I’m always reminded of the proper principles of training so I can continue to avoid these glute training mistakes.

Images: Oxygen Magazine, Muscular Development

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2 Comments

  1. Hi, thank you for what you do 🙂
    My question, I train glutes twice a week, I try to get them sore at least once a week, going hard with the thrusting, sometimes I get sore past 3 days, I want to go for 3 X a week, if I get very sore, or sore enough, how soon can I do another glute training, if I still feel ache on day 2/3??
    Thank you

    • hi Karimah!

      Typically 2 times should be enough, but if you want to do three times a week, focus on bodyweight type of glute exercises on the third day so you can continue learning how to contract those muscles. Typically you want to wait 48 hours in between training the same body part. I sometimes wait 36 hours (based on a research study i saw awhile ago) but 48 hours is the safe time frame. I fully understand that recovery is important. That’s why my 12 week bikini transformation program has a large recovery component in it. For those girls that get into their training too quickly, I also have a 2 week preparation stage. If you’re interested, you can check out the sales page here: http://goo.gl/b19wV8

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