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How To Grow Your Glutes, Not Your Thighs

6 min read

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Trying to only to grow your glutes, but not the rest of your legs? We've got you.

Everyone has their own opinions and preferences when it comes to training for aesthetics. As it should it be! Your body = your rules.

Some only have the goal of a flat stomach. To them nothing else matters.
Some people prefer to build large muscular thighs, others... not so much.

And some people, well, they just want to build a set of monster glutes.

The point is, whatever you believe to be the best look for YOU is 100% correct! I do want to be clear that everyone needs to work to build a healthy mindset about their bodies and that we would NEVER tell someone else how they should look. 

Usually, it's some combination of goals that lead you to your ideal physique. A mix of muscle development that creates a certain look that you strive for.

Clearly with a name like “Cheeky Glute Development,” our focus has been on building up the gluteal muscles. That can be for performance for aesthetic reasons, but it has always been as a part of a holistic and total body workout program.

With that being said, one of the most requested guides weʻve had from our clients and customers has been a program designed to grow the glutes, without adding muscle mass elsewhere on the body. 

Someone who is looking for this type of program would usually be very content with the current composition of the rest of their body. They are lean enough, and have enough musculature elsewhere so they simply want to increase the size, shape and prominence of their glutes. Meaning, they want their glutes stick out, “or pop” from their legs without adding any more leg mass.

This makes sense, larger quadriceps and hamstrings can detract from the visual size of your glutes in relation, even if you have a set of strong, well developed glutes.

Another situation is someone who feels that they have overdeveloped legs, either from a genetic predisposition to adding leg mass or from a history of athletics or injury that led to more focus on specific muscle groups.

Others fall into the category of being “hardgainers” for their glutes. No matter how much extra effort they put in, the glutes just can't seem to catch up to the rest of their muscle development.

If any of the above situations sound relatable to you, this program is probably exactly what you're looking for!

To add to this, most of the Cheeky clientele actually prefer home workouts. Because of that, they need a program that doesn't include thousands of dollars (and pounds!) of workout equipment. 

The Unique Strategy To Grow ONLY Your Glutes, Not Your Thighs

Though it may seem obvious, if you only want to grow your glutes, you need to train your glutes in a way that doesn't activate and engage the rest of the leg muscles.

Sounds easy but unfortunately a lot of the best glute-centric movements highly engage the quads, hams and adductors. 

For example, one of the best glute exercises EVER, the barbell hip thrust, works all of the leg muscles like crazy (though obviously not as much as something like the barbell back squat). Don't worry we'll explain the reasoning a little later.

If we want to only grow the glutes, we need to focus on three strategies:

  1. Skip exercises that highly engage the quads, hams and adductor muscle
  2. Do exercises that highly engage the glutes
  3. Track and measure each workout so that we can consistently set personal records (PR's)

#1. Skip These Exercises

This means we need to eliminate most squat variants: barbell squats, single leg squats like lunges, Bulgarian split squats, step ups, skater squats

We also need to remove quad-dominant movements like: leg presses, hack squats and leg extensions because, well, they clearly target and stimulate quad growth.

Leg curling movements and most deadlift variants are also axed.

#2. Do These Exercises Instead

Glute Activation Work

These are exercises that are done in the beginning of the workout session to help “wake” the glutes up and shift focus away from the legs. We'll start each workout with a glute activation routine. Bands are critical to create this muscle activation.

External Hip Rotation

These are one of the harder movements to do from home, but we show band based variants.

Hip Abduction

These movements work thegluteus medius,and are a major contributor to the round glute, wider hip look.We'll hit them hard with side-lying abduction, banded standing hip abduction, banded seated hip abduction, banded walk variations, and cable and seated hip abductor machine variations. 

Glute Bridges (not hip thrusts!)

Iʻll be the first to say Iʻm a fan of the hip thrust, but the fact remains that they still drive a significant amount of quad activation. Thankfully the glute bridge can fill the role of our primary glute movement, and you donʻt even need a bench. Weʻll be performing these banded, weighted (if available, barbell is preferred, but dumbbells work too), single legged, and elevated.

American Deadlifts

The American deadlift forces much more glute drive then conventional deadlifts, or even the staple Romainian Deadlift, which usually requires a lot of hamstring work. Use less range of motion (ROM) to ensure your glutes are the primary movers.

Pull Throughs, Back Extensions, Reverse Hypers & Kettlebell Swings

These will take some discipline, but if you can force your body to rely primarily on the glutes instead of the hammies, theyʻre gold.

Frog Pumps

Weʻve found that the majority of people seem to react well to the frog pump, and if youʻre one of them, youʻre in luck! If you donʻt feel it well in your glutes, skip them and replace with anything else you feel. No harm done.

3. Tracking Progress & Progressive Overload

Our final strategy is based around progressive overload is the concept based on Seyleʻs classic quote “Repeated sub-lethal exposure to a stressor leads to a subsequent tolerance of said stressor.”

Essentially, “whatever doesnʻt kill you makes you stronger.”

If you consistently stress your body through exercise, it will adapt through a combination of neurologic strength and muscle growth.

If you increase your max rep hip thrust from 135 for 10 reps to 225 pounds for 10 reps, your body will change. Youʻll be stronger and usually more muscular than you were in the beginning. 

But if you ONLY stay there, donʻt change the exercises, reps, weight or frequency, thatʻs the new normal for your body. Thus, no adaptation occurs. No new muscle is built. No strength increases, only maintenance.

Since this is a home based workout designed for minimal equipment, weʻll be focusing on forcing adaptations through higher reps, stronger bands and more advanced bodybuilding techniques like Rest/Pause sets and drop sets.

“But, donʻt you need to lift in the 8-12 rep range? How will we build muscle with all these reps and no weight?”

Youʻre correct. Most trainers will recommend that to build muscle, you train primarily in the 8-12 rep range. Though they fail to mention that you can build muscle with low reps (1-5 reps), medium reps (6-12), high reps (13-20) and even super high rep ranges (21-50), thought itʻs not AS optimum. You can build strength, muscle, and endurance to differing degrees in any rep range. Itʻs a spectrum, on one end, lower reps will mostly build strength but still build muscle, and higher reps will build muscle and to a lesser degree, more strength.

Theyʻll all build muscle if youʻre able to force an adaption.

BUT even better, the glutes specifically are an incredibly strong and versatile muscle group, and have been found to react well under nearly any rep range, as long as the sets are performed at or near to maximum effort.

Essentially, if you can work the glutes close to failure or beyond, theyʻll respond well.

This is unbelievably helpful when you are limited in your ability to load the movements with heavy weight, like someone with a small home gym.

Adding Time Under Tension, bands, more volume (reps, sets and frequency) will all work to build muscle for the home workout.

You must keep a journal in order to keep track of your progress. Each workout creates a new baseline that you will strive to pass the next time it comes up. 

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