So you feel that you’ve mastered the basic barbell squat, but you’re not seeing the results you want? Despite being perhaps the king of exercises, a compound movement which engages almost the entire body, squats are not the only way to a bigger behind as fitness accounts often suggest.
First to consider is squats themselves- are you really pushing yourself? And form, without your thighs being at least parallel to the floor, you are mainly targeting your legs. Still a great workout, but probably not what you are aiming for. If you struggle to get ‘ass to grass’ it may be time to admit defeat, lower the weight, and try sets of higher reps with improved form.
Also, do not limit yourself to the squat rack! Back squats will always be a favourite of mine, and they are popular for a reason, but to build glutes you’ve got to really attack the muscle from many different angles. After all, the lower body is the home of the largest muscles we have- make sure to challenge them. A few simple variations are
- Hack squats
- Pistol squats (make use of the TRX equipment in your gym to support your foot when first attempting these)
- Split squats (so simple if you have limited equipment at your gym, rest your foot on a bench or step while facing away from it, hold dumbells at your sides and lower the back leg)
- Front squats
- Overhead squats (you may want to go light on these, tough, but brilliant for engaging the core)
Now, moving away from squats. Not only will you see results faster by changing up your workouts, but it will allow you to use a variety of equipment at your gym to keep interest levels and motivation up. I am always looking for ways to keep workouts fresh.
For example, when I felt one of my wrists becoming strained and weakened from smith machine squats, I used the next couple of weeks to incorporate exercises which did not require my wrist to be in a flexed position. I enjoyed the challenge and did not let a small problem come between me and my training! Other glute exercises that I particularly love are;
- Side leg lifts, perform with resistance bands for an extra burn or leave them until the end of your workout when you can really feel them
- Stiff legged deadlifts, I can’t big these up enough, go heavy and really tense the muscle at the top- your glutes and hammies will thank you the next day!
- Leg press machine with feet at the top
- Glute bridges- either perform with your upper back on a bench and a barbell across your hips, or rest your feet on the bench while you lay on the floor with a kettlebell on your hips
- Lunges, slightly obvious but try walking lunges or lunging with your front leg on a step to get lower
I also do cardio which benefits the booty. Box jumps are a current favourite, I also use the stairmaster to do lunges or lean back and take it two steps at a time, and finally, you can’t go wrong with a very high incline speed walk on the treadmill.
Diet is also of course important. While no one food or supplement will make the muscle grow, it can help you to get the best from your workout. A high protein diet is vital for recovery, especially with the post leg day ache. Try a range of sources; lean meats, nuts, greek yoghurt, cottage cheese and eggs are easy to access examples.
GoNutrition Whey Protein 80 in addition to protein bars, porridge and shakes make up a huge part of my diet. I also sometimes take amino acids or creatine. Pre-workout can be great before a particularly tough training session but don’t underestimate the power of a black coffee and a good attitude.
Here is some of my own progress of only about six months.