Over the past year or so, I’ve been experimenting with an innovative strategy with my clients, and the results have been outstanding. In fact, one of my clients believed that she saw better results in one month of adding in these circuits than she had in the previous six months of heavy resistance training. The glutes can handle a lot of volume, and most exercisers fail to achieve their full potential because they fail to work the glutes thoroughly during their typical training weeks. Before I describe the workouts, let me first delve into some muscle science.
According to muscle hypertrophy expert Dr. Brad Schoenfeld, muscle grows primarily from three mechanisms: mechanical tension, metabolic stress and muscle damage. Mechanical tension can be thought of as the amount of force the muscle produces while being worked. Metabolic stress is being produced in high amounts when you achieve a serious burn or pump in the muscles. And you know you’ve elicited muscle damage when you’re sore one to two days after your bout of training.
When training in the gym, I recommend utilizing a variety of rep ranges but always making sure to strive to do more over time. Progressive overload in the form of adding five more pounds to the bar or squeezing out another rep every week or two ensures that you continuously place increasing tension on the muscles over time. Let’s say you train your glutes two to three times per week at the gym with free weights— you want the focus of these sessions to be on setting personal records (PRs) and exposing the glutes to large amounts of tension. Tension is the most important driver of lean muscle growth, so be sure to hammer your barbell hip thrusts, squats and deadlifts.
However, mechanical stress is also very important and can add significantly to the overall growth stimulus. Therefore, performing separate sessions with light loads for high reps can enhance your training and lead to better results— this has been elucidated in the research. These light load sessions do not need to be carried out in the gym since bodyweight, light dumbbells and mini-bands can be used for resistance. Conducting mini-sessions from home increases compliance since they can quickly and conveniently be performed at any time during the day.
And now for the part you’ve been waiting for— the workouts. When I first started prescribing these 10-minute glute-blasting circuits, I’d include strict parameters (do this exercise for this many reps, then this exercise, etc.). After discussing the workouts with my clients and trying some of them myself, I realized that including repetition suggestions was often counterproductive. The goal of these workouts is to feel the burn and obtain a glute pump— not to achieve a specific number of repetitions. Anywhere from 10-50 reps per exercise is fine. You don’t need to take the sets to failure; you just need to use strict form and focus on feeling the exercise working the proper region of the muscle you’re intending to work.
For this reason, I now simply select five to 10 exercises to perform in circuit fashion, usually alternating between hip extension exercises and hip abduction exercises. The sessions always end up lasting approximately 10 minutes, so you don’t need to keep track of the time. Again, the goal is to induce a deep burn in the glutes and pump up the muscles a bit. Below are three sample circuits.
Squat with bands around knees
Single-leg glute bridge
Reverse hyper with bands around knees
Band seated hip abduction
Hip thrust with bands around knees
Explanations to many of these exercises can be found on my YouTube page. As you can see, I included a circuit that involves just bodyweight exercises, another that includes mostly mini-band exercises and another that involves mostly light dumbbell exercises. I encourage you to mix and match the exercises in these circuits to suit your preference and equipment availability.
If you’re feeling good, you can repeat the circuit and perform the exercises twice through, or simply tack on another exercise or two at the end. I recommend that you perform these supplemental workouts three to six times per week. Make sure that these circuits complement your gym training. If you push yourself too hard, you could interfere with your gym training sessions, which is not ideal. Stimulate, don’t annihilate, and get creative and experiment to figure out your own ideal circuits.
1. Schoenfeld, B.J. (2010). The mechanisms of muscle hypertrophy and their application to resistance training. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 24(10), 2857–287
2.Schoenfeld, B.J. (2013). Potential Mechanisms for a Role of Metabolic Stress in Hypertrophic Adaptations to Resistance Training. Sports Medicine, 43(3), 179-194