How to Build Your Glutes Without Building Your Legs

As a bikini competitor (and a female living in our booty loving society!), at a certain point you might want to continue growing your glutes without growing your legs. How does one do this?!?!

Bodybuilding is a fine art in which you want certain muscles to stand out versus others. In the bikini division, if your quads and hamstrings are more muscular and predominant than your glutes, it draws attention to the wrong areas of your physique (my issue, see pic below) and lets be honest, bikini is all about the booty!

GLUTES

Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t just wake up with muscular legs! I spent the last 4 years heavily squatting, leg pressing, lunging, hack squatting, deadlifting, quad extending, and hamstring curling 2-3 days a week. It has taken time for my legs (and my glutes!) to grow…

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But for the past 7 months I’ve been working solely on my glutes. Here is a photo comparison to when I decided to start competing to last week:

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WOAH! So, what have I been doing and not doing?

  1. For the past 7 months I completely took out squats, leg press, lunges, step ups, quad extensions, bulgarian split squats, and hack squat, isolated hamstring exercises.
  2. I started working my glutes 3-4 times a week
  3. I ate more (clearly, I also have put on some fat) 🙂

Here are the exercises that I have been doing 3-4 times a week:

1) Glute Bridges

2) Feet Elevated Glute Bridges

3) Hip Thrusts

4) Single leg foot elevated hip thrusts

5) Kickbacks

6) Kneeling Kickbacks

7) American Deadlifts

8) Kneeling Squats

9) Hyperextensions

10) Band or Machine Abduction (band abduction supersetted with Hip Thrusts in the video)

Here is a photo of the Evolution of my legs and glutes over the past 5 years!

evolution of the glutes

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How To Get Stronger At Pull Ups

Pull ups are one of the strongest upper body movements. Everyone feels like a total bad ass when they can perform them, so let’s make sure that you’re progressing and strengthening your back as much as you can.

STEP 1: Start performing scapular pull ups. These will help strengthen the musculature and create a strong mind/muscle connection that you will need in order to get better at pull ups. You can perform these on the lat pull down, assisted machines, or a pull up bar. Do a set of 5-10 of these before performing any sort of pull up. Here is how to perform them.

That being said, there are many different types and ways you can modify and intensify pull ups. Let’s break down a few ways, easiest to hardest.

1) LAT PULL DOWNS
If the assisted pull up machine can’t get light enough, if your form is struggling, or if you are having a hard time activating your back, lat pull downs are a great option. Focus on stabilizing and strengthening your entire back. You will be targeting the same muscles as you would during pull ups. Remember to work your muscles in the full range of motion, and to intensify it, hold the flex (when the bar is against your chest) for 1 solid second, and take 4 seconds (slow negative) while releasing the flex in your back and stretching your lats. Check out this awesome video for an example of slow negative lat pull downs-

2) ASSISTED PULL UP MACHINE
Here you can adjust the amount of weight you pull up. This is a great machine, but it is important to be very aware of your form. It’s easy to rock back and forth and to use a lot of momentum from your hips to pull yourself up. This is going to call for more body awareness and stability when compared to lat pull downs. Again, to intensify this movement, hold the flex (when your chin is up to the bar) for 1 solid second, and take 4 seconds (slow negative) while releasing the flex in your back and stretching your lats. Here is a great video on how to perform slow negatives on the assisted pull up machine (your machine might look a little different, thats ok)

3) NEGATIVE PULL UPS
These are a great way to really strengthen your back and stabilizing muscles. Here you will only be performing the negative using a pull up bar, so you wont actually be pulling yourself up. Emphasizing he eccentric phase causes a ton of muscular stress, adaptation, and strengthening. Remember to use a box or bench to help yourself up (chin over bar) and to go as slow as possible on the way down. Make sure you watch this really great video explaining and showing you for to perform negative pull ups:

4) USING A SPOTTER ON A PULL UP BAR
Now that you are getting stronger and your form is perfect, you can advance to the pull up bar! Ask your gym buddy or a stranger, “Can you please spot me for a few sets?” Ask him/her to spot you from your rib cage. Again, to intensify this movement, hold the flex (when your chin is up to the bar) for 1 solid second, and take 4 seconds (slow negative) while releasing the flex in your back and stretching your lats. Here is a great video on how your spotter should spot you.

5) RESISTANCE BAND PULL UPS

If you don’t have a spotter or want more or even less assistance, using resistance bands is a great way to be spotted. The assistance will be more at the bottom (stretched position) where you want it to be, and less at the top (flexed position) where you are naturally the strongest. There are many different resistance levels that you can advance to. The thinner the band, the less the assistance. I love banded pull ups! Here is an awesome video on how to hang the band and perform banded pull ups:

6) BODY WEIGHT PULL UPS
Awesome! You’re able to do body weight pull ups! Remember to work the full range of motion and to keep your body straight (no swinging!). Go from a full dead hang to a strong, hard, compete flex. Make your muscles as short and tight as possible at the top. To make it more challenging, hold the flex at the top for a few seconds, before slowing releasing down (4 seconds). Here is a great example of the perfect pull up:

6) WEIGHTED PULL UPS
By now you have perfected the pull up and are able to do 10+ easily, with impeccable form, and slow negatives. Grab a belt and slap on some weight you beast! Here is a great video to use as an example of how to perform weighted pull ups:

5 Glute Building Tips, Exercises, and Videos

It’s ALL about the glutes when it comes to bikini competitors.

Currently, I am training glutes 3x a week. The breakdown looks like this:

Day 1: High Rep (15+ reps)

Day 2: Supersets and Plyos

Day 3: Medium Rep (8-10 reps)

TIPS WHEN TRAINING GLUTES:

  1. Always drive through your heel(s)
  2. Slow negatives and hard, explosive glute flexes on each rep
  3. Squeeze those cheeks as HARD as you can!
  4. Go deep on the eccentric part of the movement
  5. Your glutes can handle a ton of weight, so lift heavy!

My training is consistently changing and I never do the same workout twice. Here is a video of my third set of every exercise from last nights high rep glute day.

High Rep Glute Workout:

HIP THRUSTS- 3 x 15 full range slow negatives +5 pulses +10 second hold

SINGLE LEG LEG PRESS- 3×15

STIFF LEGGED DEADLIFTS- 3×15 + 5 pulses

HYPEREXTENSIONS- 3 x drop set 10 + 10 + 10

ABDUCTION- 1×50 drop set

 

Try this workout, your glutes will thank you 🙂

It’s Not What You Do In The Gym, But How You Do It

Why is it that almost everyone in the gym is doing similar exercises to one another, yet only a few progress?

After working at the same gym for over 3 years, I can’t help but wonder. Why do the majority of the people in here look EXACTLY the same?

Why is it that one girl doing squats achieves an amazing set of legs yet another girl is left with a really sore lower back and knee pain?

Ah ha! It’s not WHAT exercise people are doing, it’s HOW they are executing it.

Proper form, focus, and intensity is everything.

1) Squeeze the working muscle to move weight

Ex: When doing bicep curls, it’s easy to initiate the movement with the hand/wrist then the shoulder and back help to throw the weight up in hopes that somewhere along the way the bicep contracts. Instead, stand up straight with arms by your side, palm up, and ONLY squeeze your bicep. Contract the bicep slow and hard until the muscle can’t get any shorter.

2) Slow down the tempo

Take out momentum. Momentum isn’t going to make you stronger or your muscles any bigger. Challenge muscles by slowing down the negative.

3) Hold the contraction

Squeeze the crap out of the working muscle when they it is at the shortest length. Ex: The top of a bicep curl. If the muscle is unable to hold the contraction, weight needs to be reduced.

4) Work the muscle in the full range

The muscle is the weakest at the most lengthened and shortened position. WORK THESE AREAS! Plus, this is 100% proven to build more muscle.

5) Keep constant tension during the entire set

The muscle is either being lengthened to the max or shortened to the max. Tension is never taken off the working muscle the entire set. Focus on creating tension and maintaining control. Muscles respond to tension.

6) Master basic lifts before adding in fancy variations
Go back to the basic lifts and keep your mind on the working muscle.

7) If you are fiddling with your phone, watching tv, having a conversation, or paying attention to the hot chick walking by you during your set, you aren’t working the muscle. Mind-muscle connection is everything. Focus on building that when in the gym.

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Glute and Leg Strength Training Videos!

Since I’ve been working out my legs so frequently for the past 4 weeks, I thought I’d post a video of some different leg and glute exercises I’ve been incorporating into my workouts. Yes, I usually always include heavy barbell squats, legs press, hamstring curls, quad extensions, deadlifts, and other typical bodybuilder leg exercises weekly, but adding in a variety of exercises spices up your workout and hits the legs and booty and different angles!

1) Smith Machine Alternating Deficit Lunge

2) Step up into Curtsy Lunge

3) Super Deep Kettlebell Sumo Deadlift

4) Glute Kickback on the Lying Hamstring Curl

5) Cable Glute Kickback with Knee on Bench

6) Abduction- 2 variations (leaning forward and leaning back)

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Things To Consider When Trying to Lose Fat and/or Gain Muscle

Fat loss and/or muscle gain requires quite a bit of organization and thought. Everything counts.

-What’re you eating and/or not eating?

-How often are you eating and what’re your portion sizes?

-How much alcohol are you in taking a week?

– Are you sticking to your diet Monday-Friday until 5pm then have no structure for the weekend?

-How many grams of protein, carbs, and fat are needed to get to your specific goal(s)?

– How much water are you drinking?

– How much are you sleeping?

– What’re you doing or not doing in the gym?

– How often are you lifting weights and how are your workouts organized? Are they even organized?

-Are you just throwing around weights or actually stretching, squeezing, and activating muscles?

– How much tension are you really creating within muscles?

– Are you doing cardio? What’s the frequency, intensity, and time?

– What’re your stress levels? And how do you manage stress?

-Are your fitness and health goals really a priority?

– Are you consistent, persistent, and patient?

Time To Get Back On Track!

I’m about 11 weeks into my offseason and had really been feeling lost. There were a few things contributing to this and since I was tired of not taking action, last week I made some help changes. I thought I’d openly discuss the issues and how I went about fixing them in hopes that this can help other competitors and/or individuals trying to make healthier life choices.

ISSUE 1: I am eating way too many cheat meals! Yes, I said it. No, I can’t stay lean if I’m eating bowls of granola and chocolate chips every single night. More than anything, I just feel gross afterwards and it isn’t worth it.

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HOW TO FIX: I am going to allow myself 2 weekly cheat meals. Wednesdays and Sundays.

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ISSUE 2: My workouts are so scattered and unplanned!

HOW TO FIX: I have set a brand new workout schedule based on what body parts need improvement. Here it is:

Monday: Shoulders/Triceps/Calves
Tuesday: Glutes (rep range 6-10)
Wednesday: Off
Thursday: Back/Biceps/Calves
Friday: Legs (rep range 15-20)
Saturday: Off
Sunday: Glutes and Hamstrings (rep range 10-15)

ISSUE 3: I basically only do cardio when I feel like it. I’m getting way too lazy.

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HOW TO FIX: I promised myself that I have to do 2 sessions of HIIT and 2 sessions of steady state cardio. I can decide which days to do them on, but 4 sessions need to happen each week until my coach tells me to reduce it.

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ISSUE 4: I’ve been eating the same foods over and over. I’m bored, and because of this I sometimes skip meals or eat off my diet.

HOW TO FIX: I have revamped my diet! I have switched up my protein, carb, and fat sources. I am eating a variety of vegetables and have also found new ways to cook my food. A little bit of imagination will go a long way.

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These few changes within the past week have helped me tremendously! I actually feel like I have a solid plan in place to stay on track during the offseason in order to make gains and stay in shape.

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