Building a big butt can seem so elusive. Those of you reading this may feel like you have absolutely no problem growing any other part of your leg, or even upper body for that matter. Some of you may find that areas you don’t even care for grow TOO fast while the butt seems to lag behind. How is this possible? You are probably wondering if you aren’t training hard enough, or choosing the right exercises.
Today I’d like to go over why you may be struggling growing your butt and what you can do to fix it.
Why The Butt Isn’t Growing
Wrong Exercise - The first reason may be what you are thinking. What we want is high stimulus to fatigue ratio exercises. In short that means, you want an exercise that targets the butt effectively without having to exhaust yourself to do it. You may in fact already have exercises in mind. For example, you may find a regular lunge doesn’t do much for your butt, but a bulgarian lunge LIGHTS it up. Start keeping track of this. It’s worth noting, a muscle doesn’t necessarily have to be PUMPED to guarantee growth, but an exercise may not be worth keeping in if you are getting no pump AND no soreness the next day.
Wrong Rep Range - Similar to the exercise, you have to experiment with a rep range that works for you with any given exercise. Again, this will take experimentation. For example, you might find those bulgarian lunges DESTROY your glutes in the 10-15 rep range, but when you try 5-10 reps you just feel more exhausted overall than anything else. This would be a good sign that bulgarian lunge in particular would best be kept in that 10-15 rep range. That doesn’t mean you should never try other rep ranges out. Again, always be experimenting, but if you find a sweet spot, don’t be afraid to stay within that range until it is no longer serving you.
Full Range of Motion - Another issue many people don’t realize they have is shortening their range of motion. You may start a barbell squat going as low as you can, and the soreness and activation is there. Then you start adding weight week to week, and it just doesn’t feel quite the same. Whether you realize it or not, you may not be achieving the full range you started with, because you unknowingly got so focused on beating your previous week’s weight that you shortened the range even just a TAD for the sake of beating your numbers. Recording yourself every now and then can be a good check in to make sure you aren’t doing this.
Activation - As I briefly mentioned before, you have to feel the muscle working to some extent. Compound exercises like squats won’t allow you to isolate and solely feel the glutes moving, but you should still feel like they got worked. This is where priming comes into play. If you find your butt isn’t growing, not getting sore, and not getting pumped, consider doing priming exercises before your main movements to “wake” them up. An example of this would be doing glute bridges where you can really feel the muscle working so that when you get to the squats they’ve already got a burn going. That way, during the squat, you’ll have a way better idea if they’re being utilized.
A Workout That Will Grow Your Butt
So what then can we do to achieve all of the above and build an effective program? Ultimately it comes down to individual variance, and finding what exercises have the best connection for YOU. In general however, there tends to be certain exercises most people can feel their glutes on - barbell squats, deadlifts, lunges, and hip thrusts.
The key to these exercises is providing enough resistance and range of motion. In order for a muscle to grow you need to be able to provide progressive resistance over time through a FULL range of motion to optimize growth. Using shortened reps is only cheating yourself of gains. You also need a rep range that elicits growth. 6-20 reps is a range that will provide adequate stimulus for growth. Any higher, and your focus becomes more endurance and therefore, won’t build much muscle.
Any program that has higher than 20 reps listed, is trying to sell you on simply feeling a burn and passing it off as muscle growth. Think of it this way, you can hold your arms up all day and feel your shoulders burn, but that doesn’t mean they’ll grow. I cycle between 6-10,10-15, and 15-20 rep ranges for different exercises to make sure I’m giving my lagging muscle a chance to see what ranges work the best and a variety of stimulus.
Frequency is also key here. Doing 15 sets per week for your glutes spread over 3 days (so 5 sets a day) will provide better growth than doing all 15 sets on a “glute” day. It allows you to hit the same exercises more fresh, therefore allowing the potential for heavier weight and better progress. It will also keep the muscle building signal for your butt activated throughout the week.
So here is just a sample of what a butt focused workout would look like during the week. This includes a primer before each workout if you need one.
Monster Walks - 8 steps each direction with a somewhat resistant band
Deadlifts - 3x6-8 reps
Hip Thrusts - 3x10-15 reps
Glute Bridges - 10-15 reps with a 2 second squeeze at the top
Squats - 3x6-8
Lunges - 3x15-20
Fire Hydrants or Clamshells - 3x10-15reps
Sumo Deadlifts - 3x6-8 reps
Bulgarian Lunges - 3x10-15 reps
Be sure to check out our MAPS Butt Bundle if you want a more detailed layout on how to build a bigger butt.