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Glutes: Is The Squat The Best Exercise?

Looking to build stronger and larger glutes? If you’ve been focusing heavily on your quads for the last few months (or years!) with your training routine and have now developed a quad sweep anyone would be proud of, you may be looking at the back of your body and looking for ways to improve.

Glute training is an important element of any well-rounded workout program because your glutes are involved in so many different movements that you make on a day to day basis. You’ll work your glutes every time you get up out of a chair, every time you walk up a flight of stairs, as well as every time you squat down to pick something up.

Your glutes are also important for keeping your hips in proper position, which then keeps your spinal column properly aligned and can help reduce your risk of suffering back pain.

In short, glute training is a must. But, what exercise is best going to help you strengthen those glutes?

You might be quick to answer the squat, but this isn’t necessarily the case.

Let’s look at a few points to know when figuring out your glute-building routine.

Low Versus High Bar Squats

There’s no denying it – the squat is an exceptionally effective lower body exercise. Working every single muscle group in the lower body (as well as some in the upper body as well!), it’s a great addition to any program.

But, there is a big difference, especially when speaking in terms of glute activation, between a low bar squat and a high bar squat.

Low bar squatting targets the glute muscles and the posterior chain whilst high bar squatting is going to place far more emphasis on the quad muscles.

So ask yourself, which variety of squat are you doing? If you’re doing high bar squats, you may not actually be working your glutes all that much at all. If that’s the case, switching over to the low bar squat variation becomes a must.

The good thing about squats is that they will allow you to lift very heavy weights, which produce a strong growth and strength gain stimulus.

Glute Isolation Moves

Beyond that however, don’t discount the importance of bringing in some glute focused exercises. Namely, glute hip raises. Place a barbell across your hips and press it up, driving up through the glute muscles themselves.

While you will still get some hamstring activation in this exercise, you’re going to really help isolate those glute muscles, calling them into action. Doing this exercise after your low bar squats can help to finish off the glute muscles, prompting better strength and size development.

In addition to that, glute-hamstring raises are another great glute building exercise that can be done in a glute-ham machine towards the end of your workout routine. Using higher reps with this exercise to really burn out the glutes is a great way to finish the muscles off.

A Word On Deadlifts

Finally, also be sure you don’t overlook deadlifts. While traditional deadlifts are primarily done as a back building exercise, you’ll still get some good glute activation from this movement, especially if you focus on squeezing the glutes as you drive the weight upwards.

Or, consider incorporating stiff-legged deadlifts into your workout routine. This exercise is a good hamstring builder, this will certainly call the glutes into play as well.

For those who are unable to squat due to injury or for some other reason, deadlifts can be an excellent stand-in for glute development and still get you lifting those heavy loads that stimulate such an anabolic response.

So the moral of the story here is that while squats are an excellent choice when done in low bar fashion, sometimes you need a little more to really get the great glute development you’re going for. Don’t overlook glute isolation exercises as well as the role that deadlifts can play in your workout routine.


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