How to stop working your butt off for no results and start working your butt
In today’s butt-centric themed world of fitness, the pursuit for better glutes is seemingly endless. Unfortunately, many who put in work toward building a better backside don’t actually end up with results in line with the time and effort they put in.
There are many common mistakes performed when attempting to build and shape the glutes that will yield sub-optimal results at best. Below is a brief explanation of some of the most common mistakes and how to correct them to yield a fuller, rounder and larger set of glutes.
1. No progressive overload
So many people go into the gym just to spin their wheels without seeing any real changes over time. The best way to ensure that your muscles are changing and adapting to the demands being placed upon them is to make sure that you are progressively getting better over time.
Don’t just aim to go in the gym and get through a workout or complete the prescribed reps and sets. Have a specific goal and make sure that you are trying to get better (adding weight, adding reps, etc.) in the gym over time. You might not get stronger every workout, but if you look back to where you were 3 months, 6 months and 1 year ago, you should be stronger than you used to be.
2. Not sticking to a plan
It’s very common to see people come into the gym and switch up their workout every single time. Don’t be one of these people. Even if you’re targeting the same muscle group every time, if you don’t stick with the same routine or at least a few of the same exercises for at least a few weeks before changing your routine, you won’t allow yourself any time to get better.
How can you get stronger at a given exercise if you never perform the same exercise twice in one month? Sticking with a routine for an extended period of time will also allow you to familiarize yourself with your routine enough to feel comfortable coming into the gym and putting your focus on pushing yourself to get better (once you know you have mastered the technique) as opposed to just trying to learn a new routine every workout.
3. Focusing on the wrong cues
If you want to add size or shape to your backside, it’s great to choose exercises that will maximally target the glutes. However, many people take this too far and think that they need to feel a good pump or ‘burn’ during every single set of every single exercise. Or build up a good sweat in order to get a good workout. Some exercises will elicit more metabolic stress (and provide a better ‘pump’) than other exercises by nature. That doesn’t mean you should only perform exercises that give you a very isolated glute pump.
Metabolic stress is just one (of three) of the major mechanisms that contribute to muscle growth and doesn’t always tell the whole story. How much you sweat or how hard you ‘feel’ like you’re working are also of little importance when it comes to gaining muscle. Choose exercises that work well to target your glutes, but don’t get so focused on creating a certain feeling that you forget to continue getting stronger, incorporate appropriate variety and make progress in your workouts.
4. Not enough recovery
Recovery is by far one of the most underutilized tools for muscle growth. While muscles need stimulation and progression to continue growing, they also need sufficient rest and recovery to continue growing and getting stronger. This is why many bodybuilders only work each muscle group 1-2 days per week. If more were always better, they would be hammering every muscle group every day, but it’s not.
While research in more recent years has sufficiently proven that working a muscle group more than once a week will elicit greater muscle gain, that doesn’t mean that working the same muscle every day will yield maximum results. In fact, there is little research proving any benefit beyond working a muscle group more than 2-3 times per week, of course in the case you’re utilizing adequate volume.
In order to continue getting stronger and allowing muscle growth, you need to take days for recovery where you don’t work the glutes. You will also want to make sure you are sleeping enough and getting enough mental rest between sessions so that you have the energy to give each session an adequate effort. Remember, you will only benefit from the sessions that you can efficiently recover from.
5. Doing the same thing and expecting different results
There is a fine line between sticking to a program for long enough to see results, and sticking to something that’s not working for too long. Continuing with the same workouts day in and day out can get stale, cause injuries, and prevent progression in some cases. If a given program is not providing results after you have been sticking with it for an extended period of time, it may be time to adjust the program accordingly.
It’s important to note that you will only be able to make so much progress with one cycle of a given routine. There will come a point where you will plateau not only with results but also in performance. This might be a good time to switch up some of your exercises, or training protocols without straying too far from effective, evidence-based overarching principles.
If you are unsure of whether or not your lack of results requires a change in programming, this may be an appropriate time to consult with a coach or someone more experienced than yourself to see what else you could be doing to maximize your results and start seeing more progress.
6. You aren’t allowing your weight to increase
While it is certainly possible to gain muscle without gaining weight (and even while losing weight in some cases), if you are someone who is of a normal or relatively lean body-fat percentage, it may benefit your muscle building endeavors if you allow yourself to gain some weight. If you’re trying to create more mass in the glutes, that mass isn’t going to come from thin air.
You have to give your body sufficient nutrients to put on quality muscle mass and sometimes this translates to gaining some weight. This isn’t a free pass to eat as many calories as you want, but it might be beneficial to monitor your weight and allow yourself to gain anywhere between 1/4 lb – 1 lb per week when your primary goal is to gain muscle and fill out a flat backside.
7. You’re doing too much
This is by far and above one of the more common mistakes, people make when trying to build glutes. From doing too many exercises, too many sets, too much cardio or just exercising too much in general, it’s important to understand that with any goal (but especially muscle gain) there is a point of diminishing returns.
This means that more is better only up to a certain point. Beyond that, more exercise won’t create better results and often times will actually yield worse results. This is true for both your weight training and cardio exercise and this goes along the same lines with ensuring you are recovering adequately. Excessive amounts of cardio exercise will make it very hard to gain muscle. Some cardio is okay, but make sure to keep overall exercise volume in check – not too little or too much – for maximum gains.
8. You’re only loading the glutes in one range of motion
Along with performing a variety of exercises and switching your workouts up periodically, it’s important to ensure that not all of the exercises you perform are loading the glutes in the same range of motion. Squat, lunge, deadlift and leg press variations are all great at loading the glutes and building strength in the eccentric (or fully stretched) range of motion.
However, unlike many other muscle groups, the glutes elicit maximum force in a full concentric contraction such as that which is achieved at the top of the hip thrust, kickback, etc. Incorporate exercises that work the glutes in multiple planes, from multiple angles and at varying degrees of hip flexion and extension for superior glute development.