Booty Building Basics

Apr 18, 2023 | by Kate Kraschnefski

It seems like everyone is chasing glute gains these days. The firm, round, perky booty is certainly #goals for many people, but before you help your clients embark on a quest for a particular shape, it’s important to set realistic expectations. 

Everyone has a unique constitution that predisposes them to build muscle and store fat in particular areas. We need to guide our clients towards body acceptance and remind them they shouldn’t feel the need to change their bodies just because they don’t look like a popular aesthetic. 

While focussed, specific training can definitely influence body shape, it is important to set realistic goals and to set off on a booty-building quest with our clients from a place of healthy body image and respect. 

The other key element is nutrition! If our clients want to enhance their glutes, they will need to ensure they are fuelling with enough energy. To change shape, they will need to foster an environment where the body has the fuel it needs to repair and restore muscle – this means eating enough calories. You’ll need to use the Australian Guidelines for Healthy Eating to support your client here, or refer them to a nutritionist or dietician. 

Glute Programming Basics

Once the mindset and nutrition are on point, it’s time to train! By incorporating these key exercises 2-3 times a week glute growth should occur. With beginner clients, progress to more workouts per week over time. Booty-building exercises don’t have to be complex, but they do need to be effective. The hip joint can move through a range of movement patterns, and programs need to reflect this in order to maximise muscle activation.

As a rule of thumb, lower body programs should include:

  • A thrust / bridge variation (Like a glute bridge or barbell hip thrust)
  • A squat / lunge variation
  • A hinge / pull variation (Like a deadlift) 
  • An abduction variation (Like the hip adduction machine) 

Make sure your clients are lifting heavy enough and progressive overload is occurring as they gain strength. To see changes in size and shape, 3-5 sets of 8-12 reps per exercise is a good range. There is also some evidence to suggest that having a range of rep ranges within your regular programming can support great results. Reps up to 15 have proven to be effective.

The glutes are powerful muscles, capable of generating great force, so pushing hard is where the best gains can be made. If our clients still have gas in the tank by rep 12-15, you need to add more weight. Quality in form trumps everything though, so only add when your technique is looking good through the full set. 

Let’s unpack some examples of the key movements now!

Barbell Hip Thrust

With booty building, there is a saying, “to thrust is a must” so never skip this movement pattern in your program. 

Get your client to sit on the ground with a bench or step behind them. They bend at the knees with their feet on the ground. The barbell should rest below the hips. You may want to use padding or a rolled-up towel for the bar to sit more comfortably. 

Lean back so their shoulders are on the bench and drive the hips up to lift the bar. In the top position, the knees should be bent at 90° and the shoulders should be near the top of the bench, with the body forming a straight line between them. Avoid allowing the ribs to flare out. Pause at the top of the lift, squeezing the glutes to lock out the hips and then lowering the hips slowly.

1a. Option with a dumbbell or kettlebell

If you have a client with less experience with weight training who may find it difficult to master the barbell hip thrust, another option is to do the same movement but with a dumbbell or kettlebell. You can lower the height of the bench behind them as well, or do the movement from a Bosu ball. Focus on slow, controlled reps, and even pause a little longer at the top. Over time, they will gain strength and confidence in the movement, so then progress to the barbell option as it has the capacity for bigger weights.

Deficit Squat

The squat is a staple move for lower body training, and this exercise allows movement through a bigger range of motion to increase the muscle’s time under tension. 

Set up two steps or boxes, one for each foot. Get your client to step onto them, with a wide stance and feet both slightly pointed outwards. Holding one dumbbell with straight arms, they slowly squat down, achieving a deeper range of motion through the elevated position. Pause at the bottom and straighten the legs. 

Dumbbell Lunge

Get your client to stand with a dumbbell in each hand. They take one step backwards with the back heel off the ground. Their weight is supported through the ball of the back foot and through the front foot, slightly emphasising the front foot if they feel stable enough. 

They bend the hips and knees simultaneously to lower the body. The front knee will be over the front foot and they should feel a concentration of load. The back knee will bend towards the ground. Keep the feet in line with knees and hips, and get them to imagine the front heel as they push through both feet and lift their body to return to the starting position.

Romanian Deadlift

A hip hinge movement is excellent for glute development. 

Your client should stand with a barbell or weight in their hands. Get them to slowly lower the weight with a slight bend in their knees, bending at the hips and keeping the back straight. Lower until they feel a slight stretch in their hamstrings, which should be just deeper than the knee line. They should drive the hips forward and use the hamstrings to power back up to standing.

Banded Crab Walks

Hip abduction is another key and commonly forgotten movement in booty building. Banded crab walks are a great option if a hip abduction machine is not available. 

Place a booty band around your client’s thighs just above your knees. Cue them to slightly rotate their feet outwards and stand wide enough that the band stays in place. 

Get them to lower the hips into a half squat and step sideways leading with the right foot for 8-12 reps, then do the same leading with the left foot. As they master the movement, you can encourage progressive overload by getting them to hold a weight in front of their chest.

The Takeaways

These days, it doesn’t take much convincing to get our clients committed to a booty training regime! With consistency, good programming and nutrition, you will be able to help them see great results over time. Start with an awesome foundation of great form, and progress with load. 

The best part – on top of the aesthetics, strong glutes positively impact our overall strength, stability and functional movement ability. 

Happy training! 

REFERENCES

Contreras, B., Cordoza, G. (2019). Glute Lab: The Art and Science of Strength and Physique Training. United States: Victory Belt Publishing.

Contreras, B., & van Willigen, S. (2016, November 27). Your Optimal Training Frequency for the Glutes Part I: Exercise Type. Bret Contreras. Retrieved February 9, 2023, from https://bretcontreras.com/your-optimal-training-frequency-for-the-glutes-part-i-exercise-type/

Kate Kraschnefski

Kate Kraschnefski

Kate began her fitness journey in 2004. After graduating at the Australian Institute of Fitness, she immediately secured a role as Gym Manager on a luxury cruise liner sailing the Mediterranean and the Caribbean for eight months. This was an incredible opportunity for Kate to hone her fitness skills, and on her return, she secured the role of PT Manager at Fernwood Brisbane City. In addition to a busy PT schedule, during this time Kate also taught yoga, pilates, freestyle aerobics and group cycling. Keen to develop her business skills, Kate then went on to work as a Sales and Marketing Manager for Creative Fitness Marketing for almost three years. After that stint she started her own personal training business and soon became a Coach at the Australian Institute of Fitness. Kate is grateful to have had such a varied and exciting career in fitness, and loves managing the passionate team that helps our graduates begin their own amazing journey! She is passionate about Russian Kettlebell Training and represented Australia in Girevoy Sport at the World Championships in Dublin in 2015.

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