Craft a powerful set of glutes the OS way
May 17, 2021
And now, a guest article from OS Instructor and friend, Aleks, the "Hebrew Hammer," Salkin...
Flapjack booty cheeks: Nobody likes ‘em, a lot of folks have got ‘em.
Apart from just looking unaesthetic, a weak, flabby, saggy behind does you no favors in the athletic and strength department either.
Now, some might be inclined to make a frenzied cry to the heavens, insisting “it’s my genetics! I just wasn’t blessed with a bodacious booty!”
Well, you’re in luck, friend-o. We’re living in the age of plenty, and as such you have plenty of options to reverse that misfortune and claim what is rightfully yours: a strong, capable, and downright handsome-looking hiney. I’ll show you how.
But first, you might be asking yourself, “what’s the deal with glute training anyway? Why does it matter so much for me to train them?”
The answers are many, but here are a chosen few that might capture your interest:
Despite all of the benefits of having cushy office jobs where the worst job-site accident you’re likely to encounter is a nasty papercut, the major downside is that you have to sit all day.
Excessive sitting causes a number of slow-but-sure physical maladies, ranging from low-back stress, weakened muscles, and poor posture, among other things.
Properly training your glutes, however, helps you regain your ability to fully extend your hips, protecting your low back, and also increases the stability of your pelvis, so that work done by the lower body can be more evenly distributed – meaning your low back and knees no longer have to pull “double duty” for a lazy booty.
One of the strongest men who ever lived, Tennessee hillbilly and Olympic gold medalist Paul Anderson, once quipped “the guy with the biggest butt lifts the biggest weights”. Now, your butt doesn’t actually have to be “big” per se, but it DOES have to be strong.
Your glutes are the largest muscles in your body, and they are responsible not only for extending, abducting, and rotating the hips, but also generate a lot of tension – tension that can be used to radiate throughout the body, encouraging surrounding muscles to get tighter as well. And if safe strength training is on your list of must-dos, then having a set of glutes that not only protect your back and knees, but ALSO help you lift heavier is a no-brainer.
“Can they even help the upper body?”
Absolutely. Try pressing a heavy kettlebell overhead with rubber legs and sleepy glutes. Ain’t gonna happen.
And now that you’re a bona fide glute training devotee, the next question may be, “Where do I even start?”
Well, why not start from the beginning?
As Tim Anderson likes to point out, traditional core drills can only make your core strongER; it must first be strong, to begin with. And how do we get strong, to begin with?
Why, with Original Strength, of course!
One of the great features of Original Strength is that it comprises of moves your body is literally designed to do – and as such, your body naturally responds very well to these movements in the form of effortless movement, a reawakening of your muscles, and getting reacquainted with the body and abilities you were made to have.
And just like you can use OS to fire up the core, the shoulders, the back, and anything else you can possibly think of, you can also use it to not just revive your sleepy cheeks, but imbue them with new-found strength and function you may never have had before.
(oh, and maybe make a dent on looking better in a swimsuit. What’s not to love about that?)
Partial prone lower body segmental rolls
If saying the entire name in one breath doesn’t leave you gasping for air, a set of 10 on each side almost certainly will.
Because one of the most important jobs of the glutes is to help extend the hips, you can’t do much better than this move. Not only does the ground act as a self-limiting shield against accidentally flexing the hip and using the low back (as people you might unconsciously do if you tried to do this standing), but the fact that you’re prone on the ground means that your glutes can’t rest for the entirety of the movement; they HAVE to kick on.
Try ‘em out:
I really like these before things like lunges, squats, and sprints (which we’ll be covering momentarily) as they prime the behind to fire up hard, making the other moves easy.
The elevated roll is not just a more advanced option for the lower body segmental roll. It’s an excellent movement in its own right for helping power up pulling movements like rows, pullups, deadlifts, swings, and more.
Because of the position you have to hold yourself in (seen in the above picture on the right), you’ll notice a serious boost in power in your gluteus medius (on the side of your hips) and even the hamstring. Don’t be surprised if your kettlebell swings and snatches float sky high after a brief bout with these babies!
Here's how to do ‘em:
Bird dogs are another classic move, often categorized as more of a core movement than anything. And while you can indeed build a fair bit of core coordination (core-dination?) with these, one of the other benefits is that they require that you suspend one of your legs straight behind you using – you guessed it –glute strength!
To do these:
I find that these are great for a lot of different movements, but they’re especially good for single leg and split stance movements, like single-leg deadlifts, lunges, and more (great glute-building moves in their own right, by the way!)
You may want to sit down for what you’re about to read (who am I kidding, you’re probably sitting down to read this anyway): believe it or not, your glutes are meant to be used while you stand on two legs.
Insanity, I know, but you’ll survive.
As you now know, the glutes help you to extend your hips. And what do your hips have to do with every step you take?
So it stands to reason that your glutes should ideally be helping you with every step you take.
Now, if you’ve gotten a little too complacent with sitting all the time, you may be walking hunched over like Igor in Frankenstein, using very little of your glutes. Re-learning how to encourage your butt to get in on the action when you on all twos will go a long way toward not just your strength and low-back/knee health, but also your athleticism. And there’s no better way to walk deliberately upright than to march.
It really is that simple. Stay relaxed and be sure to firmly bring your foot back into contact with the ground with each step. Do this for as little as a minute and you’ll no doubt start noticing your glutes starting to “heat up”!
Do these in between squats, swings, and other lower body movements, and watch as your toughest weights somehow start to feel lighter.
In my humble (but correct) opinion, there’s no better glute builder than sprinting.
I’m a big fan of the standard-issue glute building moves: hip thrusts, deadlifts, lunges, squats – you name it. But never have I had better results in building glute strength, power, and size than by doing hill sprints 3 days a week. It should go without saying that my athleticism shot through the roof as well.
The caveat here is that not everybody will be ready for sprinting. Sprinting doesn’t help you move better unless you already move well to begin with. So put in a lot of time with the previous stuff, start slowly, and for goodness sakes, use a hill! Your joints will thank you.
And that’s it! Start implementing the above movements in your training and before long you may start to notice that your glutes are getting stronger, your knees and low back are happier, and your youthful athleticism will begin returning to your body bit by bit.
Who knows, you might even catch someone rubber-necking to catch a glimpse at your superior posterior. Stranger things have happened.
Have fun and happy training!
Aleks “The Hebrew Hammer” Salkin
Aleks “The Hebrew Hammer” Salkin is a level 2 StrongFirst certified kettlebell instructor (SFG II) and was hand-picked to be among the first-ever group of Original Strength Instructors.
He grew up scrawny, unathletic, weak, and goofy until he was exposed to kettlebells and the teaching and methodology of Pavel in his early 20s, and took his training and movement skills to the next level upon discovering Original Strength in his mid-20s.
He is the author of The 9-Minute Kettlebell and Bodyweight Challenge – a free ebook consisting of 4 Original Strength-approved movements that forge full-body strength, resilience, and real-world fitness in just 9 minutes a day. Check him out online at www.alekssalkin.com