There are many myths about strength training, and one of the most common, in my opinion, is that squats are the best exercise for targeting your glute muscles. Squats are great for overall lower-body strength, but if you want to really work your glutes, squats aren't going to cut it. I'm sure some of you are prepared to argue, but bear with me. There are numerous butt exercises that are superior to squats for strengthening your glutes and lower body.
Squats aren't the best glute exercise because they primarily target your quadriceps. Your glutes will be worked, but only secondary to your hamstrings, calves, and core. Instead of squats, I recommend glute-specific movements such as glute bridges, hip thrusts, and deadlifts to achieve your butt goals. There are numerous variations of each move, and depending on your skill level, there is an option for everyone. If you're new to strength training, I recommend starting with a weighted vest and working your way up to using weights. As you get more comfortable with the exercises, consider adding resistance with bands and then moving on to weights.
The Glute Bridge. In my opinion, the glute bridge is an underrated, fantastic exercise. This move is suitable for all fitness levels and will teach you how to properly activate your glutes in order to get the most out of your workout while also avoiding injury.
Whatever variation of glute bridges you choose, make sure your glutes and core are engaged throughout the movement and that your ribs are not flared. Once you've mastered the bodyweight version, try single-leg bridges, glute bridges with a march, and, for an extra challenge, add some weight.
Hip Thrusts. Once you've mastered the glute bridge, you can progress to a hip thrust. This is by far my favourite butt-centric exercise, and you'll probably feel it working after a few reps. As with the glute bridge, I recommend starting with no weight and gradually increasing the weight as you get used to the movement pattern. To avoid unnecessary pressure on your neck and spine, keep your ribs down, engage your core and glutes, and keep your head level.
Kettlebell Deadlifts. An excellent all-around exercise, and if you aren't already doing them, I recommend incorporating them into your routine as soon as possible. Practice the movement without weight at first, then gradually add light weight as you gain confidence in your form. Make sure to drive your entire foot into the ground, engage your core and glutes, and maintain a neutral spine. If you haven’t exercised with a Kettlebell before, here is a great article that breaks down the benefits of this fat incinerating piece of gear.
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