Optimizing Squats for Glute Development - The Muscle PhD

Optimizing Squats for Glute Development

Your glutes are an integral part of your bodybuilding physique, and just because they’re usually so darn hard to train doesn’t mean you should skip these very unique muscles! We get that you might be doing squats all the time, yet are not able to grow your glutes, and we have the solution for you.

The thing to understand about your glutes though, is that they have a number of different roles in your body’s movement.

How to Target Your Glutes

Bodybuilder training his glutes

Your glutes are one of the larger muscles in your body, and one of the main things they do is extend your hip. When you’re doing hyperextension movements such as a deadlift, you’re actually extending your hip, and the same is true when you do a hip thrust with a barbell.

A lot of people believe that squats are the ultimate glutes exercise. However, most of the time you don’t get as much glute activation with squats as you do with a barbell hip thrust!

We directly target the glutes when we extend our hip; however, we also target our glutes when we externally rotate our femur, or leg bone. When you move your leg to the side, that’s called an abduction. That’s why you see a lot of exercises where people put bands around their legs and do banded lateral walks.

How Do You Target Glutes More Effectively?

If you’re only doing quarter squats in your exercises and are wondering why you’re not growing your glutes, that’s because you might not be actually activating them! Research shows that squat depth is extremely important for activating your glutes, so the deeper you go on a squat exercise, the more effectively you’ll activate the glutes.

Another thing to keep in mind that when you have a wider stance when doing your squats and have your toes pointed out slightly, then you’re actually taking advantage of the fact that your legs are abductors. This effectively creates much greater motion at your hips. Since your glutes intersect with your hips, when you use a wider stance you’ll target your hips more.

When doing barbell squat exercises, keep in mind that when you have a lower bar placement, your body will automatically make you lean forward more to balance the bar. If done correctly, you can avoid injury and use more hip extension during that squat movement.

We recommend low bar squats, which target your glutes better than high bar squats in a closed stance.

Using Bands to Target Your Glutes

Studies show that when you’re doing squats to train your glutes, your glutes actually work best when you’re near full extension. However, that’s actually a problem, since nearing full extension, (when you’re near the top of the lift), is the easiest position. This is why people often prefer going quarter squats on a bar, which we have proved to be ineffective.

The way to remedy that issue is to add chains or bands to your bar. Once you do barbell squats with bands, it becomes harder near the top.

Powerlifter doing squats to work glutes

We hope this article helped you understand how to better target those glutes. It’s time to get squatting and we’ll see you in the next article!

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