Glutes Training the Mountain Dog Way

by on September 8, 2014

A plug-in training supplement

If you are a man who wants to move big weights, or wants the muscle that moving big weights can give you, you should train your glutes. If you are a woman who wants to move big weights, you should be training your glutes. If you want to have success and a competitive edge in any of the many physique or bikini divisions, you should be training glutes. Ladies and gentlemen, if you want to look good walking away, you need to be training your glutes. From a functional standpoint, if you work from a seated position, or spend more than your leisure time sitting down, you need to be training your glutes to keep them from shutting down.

I’m certain we can all grasp the common thread here… We need to be training our glutes.

The programming available at trains the glutes effectively by hitting them with multiple compound movements during the workout. For many people this is more than enough. Some of us could also benefit from a more direct focus, be it for sport, physique, or rehabilitative goals. With that purpose in mind, I’ll be showing you a simple structure for isolated glute training that can be done on an off training day, or in place of the secondary workouts that come along in the more advanced programs.

Phases of Glute Training

We have a few different phases, sockets if you will, that have a specific focus during the workout. We’ll take an individual look at these first, and then I will cover the movements you can plug into those phases. Not every phase is applicable for every application. For instance, if you are focusing on rehabilitation it may not be productive to flog your glutes unmercifully during the training phase. Likewise if you have spent weeks or months turning your glutes into well oiled machines, you may be able to activate fully without performing the activation work. Tailor the workouts to fit your purpose, and don’t run before you walk.


Contract your left glute as hard as you can. Now squeeze your right. Now both. If it was difficult or impossible to do that, or if it did not produce a contraction so similar to chiseled marble in feel that it straightened your spine, then this is your section. The purpose is to enhance the mind muscle-connection so that your body will stop recruiting other muscle groups to do the work that your lazy glutes should be doing in the first place. These movements always use negligible loading, are not remotely taxing, and can be done every day if desired. The activation work typically takes 5-10 minutes and also serves as a warm up for the festivities to come. This phase is appropriate for all purposes, but once you can activate solidly without preamble you can limit its frequency significantly.


Now the fun starts. Your glutes should be warmed up and firing nicely, so now you get to beat the metaphorical pants off of them. If you are starting out, or doing rehab/prehab, take a modest approach to the training. Keep it to light work for rehab/prehab and pumping work if you are just starting out.

If you’ve put in some time training your glutes and you’re ready for something a bit more, turn up the heat. Approach failure. High reps or low reps. Skin splitting, pants popping pumps are what we’re looking for here.


Taking a glute training day but feel like you deserve a little extra punishment? This phase is for you. It is not appropriate for rehabilitation. It is appropriate for the masochistic individual. You have killed your horse. Now get out your mallet and we’re going to further beat on it. This should only take place once a week and only at the end of a glute specific workout.

Structuring the training days

You can structure your glute work in light, pumping, or full training day format. Or grilled, original recipe, and extra cripsy if you prefer. Light days are appropriate for rehab or recovery. Pumping days are lower intensity extra workouts, you can add these in addition to your existing training on their own separate day, or as a secondary glute training day if you have worked up to and beyond the full training day. Full training days are full blown high intensity workouts focused exclusively on the glutes, to be done only if your recovery is up to it, and only on their own training day.


Activation – 5 minutes
Training – 6 to 9 total sets, no sets above 65% output


Activation – 5 to 10 minutes
Training – 12 to 16 working sets, no sets to failure, no sets above 90% output

Full Training Day

Activation – 5-10 minutes, skip it once you have surpassed the need
Training – up to 20 working sets, add intensity techniques where applicable
Finishing – 1 to 4 sets, can be taken to failure on one set, all sets done with high reps and low or no weight *finishers are not required*

Activation Movements

Band Hip Rotations – Attach a light band to an upright between shoulder and elbow height. Stand with the band on your right side a little further than arm’s length from the upright. Position your feet with shoulder width apart with your left foot pointed towards your left and your right foot pointed straight ahead. Grab the band with both hands, fingers interlocked, and arms extended straight out in front of you, between shoulder and elbow height. Now you’re going to contract your right glute as hard as possible. This will rotate your hips and your torso, with the band providing resistance. The stronger you get the more resistance you can use. Keep your torso upright, and your entire upper body rigid. The rotation comes from the glute, not from the arms and torso – this is not an abdominal movement. Reverse the above setup for the left side.

Bodyweight Glute Bridge w/ Hold – Lay on your back on the floor. Place your feet flat on the floor, knees bent. Keeping your midsection and back tight, squeeze your glutes and drive your hips upwards to full extension. Hold there for a solid time count and then lower. As you grow stronger, increase the hold. When your strength has increased dramatically, you can do these one leg at a time.

Hip Hinge – Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Keeping your midsection tight, push your hips back, bending slightly at the waist and knees. You should feel a stretch in your glutes and hamstrings. Then contract your glutes and come back to a standing position, squeezing the glutes hard at the top. Maintain your lower back arch. The hips have to hinge at the front, we don’t want any rounded backs and bent over people here. Your torso should not go below 45 degrees relative to the floor.

Clams – Lay on your side on the floor, with your knees bent at 90 degrees and feet in line with your body. Now you are simply going to squeeze your glute and raise your top leg, keeping your feet in contact. Hold for a solid count at the top. Be sure to keep your torso static, don’t let it rotate backwards to assist the working glute. Squeeze hard at the top, and increase the hold count as you grow stronger.

Standing Single Leg Hip Extension – Stand on one foot with the opposite leg held straight. Keeping your torso tight and your back arched, squeeze the glute of the raise leg to extend that leg backwards to the end of the range of motion. Hold at the end range and squeeze for a split second. Then repeat. Increase the hold time as you grow stronger. Do not let the hips rotate on either axis during this movement, as this will pull the focus off the working glute.

Training Movements

BB Glute Bridge – Same setup as the glute bridge above, but you’ll place a barbell across your hips/tops of your thighs. As you bridge upwards, you will support the bar with your hands. Squeeze hard at the top. This movement is appropriate in all ranges, light to heavy. Modifiers – you can squeeze a stability ball or heavy medicine ball between your knees for additional activation, you can also put a band around your knees and flex them out into the band during the movement for another twist.

Cable Hip Hinge – Put a straight handle on a low pulley. Now you’re simply going to execute the hip hinge, but with the added weight of the cable stack. Maintain a strong arch, and be mindful of the weight. If the weight gets too heavy your back and hamstrings will begin to take over. Let the weight exhibit a counterbalancing effect, this will allow you to push your hips even further back and grab more glute activation.

Smith Machine Donkey Kick – Set the hooks in the smith machine so that they do not engage the pins if possible. Get on your knees and elbows facing away from the bar. You’re going to bring one foot up placing your heel under the bar and then extend your leg upwards as far as possible to raise the bar. This movement requires a good deal of positional tweaking, so experiment with it to get it just right.

DB Hip Hinge – Another hip hinge variation. This one is identical to the activation movement but with added weight of dumbbells.

Standing One Leg Cable Hip Extension – Stand in front of a low pulley. Attach a puller cuff to one ankle. Now lean forward a bit to create a little front to back sweep in your range of motion. Keeping your working leg straight, simply extend it backwards using your glute until you reach the end of your range of motion. Do not allow your hips to twist and keep your back arched throughout the movement.

BB Hip Thrust – Setup with your upper back and shoulders braced against a bench and a barbell across your hips/upper thighs. Bending your knees, place your heels on the floor. Now raise the bar by driving your heels into the floor and activating your glutes. Do not over extend at the top. Your body and hips should be in a straight line and parallel to the ground. Squeeze hard at the top of the movement and maintain control during the descent. You can increase the range of motion and the difficulty by setting up a second bench and putting your feet up on that instead of the floor.

Band Hip Thrust – Setup here is the same as the hip thrust above, but must be done in the power rack or smith. Simply stretch a band across the bottom supports of the rack and position that in place of the barbell.

Barbell Side Lunge – Set up in a wide stance with toes pointed straight forward and a bar on your back. You are going to shift your weight onto one leg, using the other leg only for balance. Push your hips back as far as you can and descend onto the working leg, then squeeze your glute and drive yourself back up. You can change up the loading by holding a dumbbell or kettlebell down between your legs, or up against your chest in the goblet squat position.

Dumbbell/Kettlebell Wide Stance Plie Squat – Grab a kettlebell or grab a dumbbell by one end and hold between your legs in front of your body. You will want to do this one when you have warm hips as you’ll be in a wide stance with your toes pointed way out to the side, as close to 180 degrees from each other as possible. The goal here is to sit down between your knees as deep as you can with your pelvis tucked under you, then squeeze your glutes and drive yourself back up, intensifying the squeeze and driving the pelvis even more forward at the top. Your lower back will not be in an arched position in this movement, so don’t go crazy with the weight or try and put a bar on your back. Keep the loading on the front of the body below the center of gravity.

Cable Wide Stance Plie Squat – The stance setup on this one is identical to the plie squat above. You’ll be using a low cable and your choice of handle. You want to setup a few feet back from the pulley, so that cable is at an angle when engaged. You will use the weight simultaneously as a loading variable and also as a stabilizer. During the movement, you will lean your upper body back into the weight while keeping your legs vertical. This will help you push your pelvis forward even more and open up the hips further. Squeeze at the bottom to initiate the ascent, and squeeze hard at the top maintain the slight backward lean.

45 Degree Glute Hip Extension – This movement can be loaded however thy heart desires. ‘Bells, bars, bands, whatever is clever. Setup the 45 degree back hyperextension bench so that the apex of the pad is below the fold of your hips. This movement is similar to a 45 degree back extension with one key difference: you do not use your back. First take a few feeler reps. I want you to hang out at the bottom of the movement, totally folded in half. Then, keeping the work *out* of your back, squeeze your glutes and bring yourself up. Now we’ll do it with seriousness. Put your serious face on, then repeat the movement but this time, try and keep your back straight, but again, keep the work out of your lower back. We want all glutes here, working the hips like a hinge. Your torso is just the lever arm. Be sure and get a good squeeze at the top of the movement, both in your glutes and in your serious face.

Glute Ham Raise Hip Extension – This movement is almost identical to the 45 degree hip extension. In fact the only real difference is an additional 45 degrees and the level of difficulty that creates. This version puts your body parallel to the ground at the top of the movement as opposed to 45 degrees off parallel. This requires a good bit more force to generate the leverage to hold yourself there. Again, load this movement any which way you want. But I want you to be able to execute clean reps with a solid, controlled squeeze at the top before you start thinking about additional loading. Be sure and bring your serious face.


Prone Bench Butterflies – Lay face down on a bench, with the edge of the bench at your hip crease and your legs off the bench. Hug the bench tight with your torso for stability. Keeping your legs together, bend them at the knees to form a 90 degree angle and then extend your hips so that your feet extend upwards into the air, activating your glutes. Now, keeping your feet touching, begin to open your knees, bringing your legs into the butterfly position. As your knees open, your feet will come down until they are in line with your body and parallel to the floor. Your feet will end up with soles touching at the end of the movement. Now reverse the movement, coming back to hips extended and feet in the air, than bend at the waist to bring legs back down. That is one rep.

Stability Ball Glute Flies – Lay on your stomach on a stability ball. Grab a bench or stable structure to stabilize yourself. Keeping your legs straight, squeeze your glutes and extend your hips bringing your legs up into the air and outward into a “Y” shape. Squeeze hard and then lower with control. You want to oscillate from just above the floor to the end position by squeezing the glutes.

Banded Clams – Same as the clams from the activation section, but done with a band around the knees for added resistance. Again you’ll want to oscillate between the end of the range of motion and where you first start to feel the tension. Try and keep continuous tension on the muscle.

Clam Lifts – Another clam variation, but with a truly devious twist. Execute the normal clam movement. Now, holding that position, clam the support leg as well. This will raise your torso up into the air, parallel to the ground. You can stabilize your upper body with the support arm of course. Your feet will likely have to break contact for this and that is fine. Raise yourself all the way up to end range of motion and then lower with control. When on the ground again, lower the top leg. Then start again.

Descending Wall Sit with Band Abduction – I could shorten the name of this movement and just call it, “torture.” Put a band around your knees. Now, setup against a wall, Feet out in front, legs slightly bent at the knees, and back arched. Set your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart just until they begin to engage the band. No start abducting your hips. That means spread your knees. Do a prescribed number of reps. Now slide down the wall a few inches, and then do the same number of reps. Repeat this. All. The way. Down. Go as far down as you can go while maintaining your arch. Now crawl to your car and try to drive home.

Descending Wall Sit with Adduction Squeeze – This is torture’s cousin, “torment.” Setup is the same as above but, instead of a band, you’ll be holding a soft medicine ball or stability ball between your knees. Now instead of abducting the hips, you be adducting. That means squeeze your knees together. Follow the same style as above. Squeeze for a prescribed number of reps. Descend. Squeeze reps. Descend! Squeeze reps! DESCEND! SQUEEZE REPS! DESCEND!

Sample Workout

Here is a sample workout put together by my wife for one of her glute specific training days. She has been using this system long enough that she doesn’t do the activation work on her training days anymore.

BB Hip Thrust – 4 sets of 8 reps, 95lb barbell. 3 second controlled descent, 3 second flex hold at the top.
Cable Kickbacks – 3 sets of 8 reps, 25lbs each leg.
Cable Hip Hinge – 4 sets of 10 reps, 100lbs, straight bar handle.
Hip Thrust Between Benches – 3 total sets, 12 reps single leg on each side, then 20 reps normal with a 1 second flex hold at the top, bodyweight only.
Kettlebell Plie Squat – 4 sets of 12, 35lb kettlebell. 4th set included a drop set, 35lbs for 12 reps, 25lbs for 12 reps, 18lbs for 12 reps, lastly bodyweight only to failure.
Glute Ham Raise Hip Extension (Finisher) – 1 drop set to failure, 35lbs for 10 reps, 25lbs for 10 reps, 18lbs for 10 reps, bodyweight to failure.

Whether the goal is to have striated glutes on stage, stuff your bikini bottom, treat your low back pain, or simply draw waist level stares from members of the opposite sex, stick with this outline for training your glutes and you will not be disappointed.

Frank Mingst