iulia at the gym preparing for barbell hip thrusts

Why Are My Glutes Not Growing?

by Evelyn Valdez

If you're on a journey to growing a bigger butt, but aren't getting the results you've hoped for – you've come to the right place!

Growing bigger glutes requires a lot of time, dedication, and strategy. So, it's not going to happen overnight! But don't get discouraged, we'll get you on the right track to achieving your goals. In this article, we'll dive into the most common reasons your glutes might not be growing and provide actionable tips to fix these issues.

Your Glutes Aren't Activating

Many people struggle with properly activating their glute muscles during workouts. If other muscles, such as the lower back or hamstrings, are taking over, your glutes aren't receiving the stimulus they need to grow.

How To Fix

There are two main reasons you're glutes aren't activating: you're not activating your glutes during your warm-up or your form is off.

To fix this, start incorporating glute activation exercises into your warm-up routine. Movements like glute bridges, clamshells, and banded lateral walks can help establish a strong mind-muscle connection, ensuring your glutes are fully engaged during your main lifts.

If you still don't feel your glutes activating during your workout, take a look at your form. For example, when doing hip thrusts, the wrong foot placement could lead to the quads activating more than your glutes. Your shins need to be perpendicular to the floor when you're at the top of the movement. So, your feet need to be placed a little further out to activate the glutes. However, this is just one example. If there's a certain exercise you're not feeling your glutes working, take a step back and do some research on how to fix your form.

Poor Exercise Selection

Relying solely on exercises that don’t effectively target the glutes can limit your progress. Movements like squats and deadlifts are great but may not provide enough direct glute activation for some individuals.

How To Fix

Have a variety of exercises, but be strategic on your glute-focused days. Focus on compound movements that heavily involve the glutes, such as hip thrusts, Bulgarian split squats, and sumo deadlifts. Additionally, incorporate isolation exercises like cable kickbacks and glute bridges to specifically target and fatigue the glute muscles.

Lack of Progressive Overload

This one may be obvious to some, but oftentimes lifters don't increase the intensity of their workouts as much as they think. Without progressively increasing the weight, volume, or intensity of your workouts, your muscles won’t have the necessary stimulus to grow.

How To Fix

Keep a training log to track your progress and ensure you're continually challenging your glutes. Every week aim to either gradually increase the resistance or volume of your workouts. You can also increase the intensity of your workouts in other ways, like increasing the time under tension!

Not Using Lifting Gear On Heaviest Sets

Some lifters may not think they need lifting gear to lift heavy. However, not using appropriate lifting gear such as barbell pads or knee sleeves can limit your ability to maximize your lifts safely and effectively. This can lead to suboptimal glute activation and growth.

How To Fix

Incorporate lifting gear, like a weightlifting belt, knee sleeves, lifting straps, and barbell pads during your heaviest sets.

A weightlifting belt can help stabilize your core, allowing you to lift heavier weights safely. Knee sleeves can provide additional support and stability, enhancing your performance in exercises like squats and deadlifts. Lifting straps can help reduce grip fatigue during glute exercises like Romanian deadlifts and lunges, so you can push through more reps. And barbell pads help protect your hips from being crushed by the barbell, so you can push through heavier weights without worrying about the pain.

Using this gear appropriately can help you push your limits and provide the necessary stimulus for your glutes to grow.

Insufficient Training Frequency

Training your glutes too infrequently can prevent adequate muscle growth. Unlike some other muscle groups, the glutes can often handle more frequent training.

How To Fix

Aim to train your glutes at least two to three times per week, but if you really want to drive progress aim for three times a week! Ensure you have sufficient recovery time between sessions, and vary your exercises to target the glutes from different angles and intensities.

Neglecting Eccentric Contractions

Focusing only on the lifting phase (concentric contraction) and neglecting the lowering phase (eccentric contraction) can limit muscle growth.

How To Fix

Slow down the eccentric phase of your lifts to increase time under tension. For example, when performing hip thrusts, take 3-4 seconds to lower the weight back down. This will enhance muscle fiber recruitment and promote hypertrophy.

Inadequate Rest and Recovery

Overtraining and not allowing your muscles sufficient time to recover can lead to stagnation and even injury.

How To Fix

You can train your glutes up to 3x a week but don't neglect rest and recovery. Remember to get enough sleep, incorporate rest days, and listen to your body. Ensure you’re not training the same muscle group on consecutive days without proper recovery.

Imbalanced Training

Focusing too much on one area of the glutes (e.g., upper or lower) while neglecting the others can lead to imbalanced growth and suboptimal results.

How To Fix

Include a variety of exercises that target all parts of the glutes—the gluteus maximus, medius, and minimus. For example, hip thrusts primarily target the gluteus maximus, while side-lying leg raises and lateral band walks are excellent for the gluteus medius and minimus.

A good way to ensure you're targeting all the muscles in your glutes is by following the rule of thirds. This means one-third of your exercises should follow a horizontal path (like cable kickbacks and hip thrusts), one-third should follow a vertical path (such as squats and lunges), and one-third should follow a lateral or rotary path (like fire hydrants and lateral band walks).

Not Utilizing Full Range of Motion

Performing exercises with a limited range of motion can reduce muscle activation and growth potential.

How To Fix

Ensure you’re using a full range of motion in your exercises. For example, in a squat, descend until your thighs are at least parallel to the ground. In hip thrusts, fully extend your hips at the top of the movement to maximize glute activation.

Building strong, well-developed glutes requires a combination of effective training techniques, proper nutrition, and adequate recovery. By addressing these common issues and implementing the suggested fixes, you can enhance your glute growth and achieve the results you desire. Remember, consistency and dedication are crucial—stay committed to your routine, and your hard work will pay off!

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