Baby Got Back

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Well, summer is approaching, which makes me think of three very specific things.

Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, True Blood will be back in just a few weeks, which means we all get to bask in some awesome violence and steamy vampire sex.

(If you’re into that sort of thing. Which I am. Because it’s awesome.)

The second notion is sort of a result of the first. True Blood, like many shows on Premium Cable, is filled with people walking around mostly naked (or all naked); which is to say, if you watch premium cable, you can’t go one episode without seeing someone’s ass.


There are more naked people on this show than in most porn.


id=”attachment_1362″ This dude is about to get naked for the 9th time in 7 minutes.


Now, depending on your perspective on nudity—and, of course, the ass in question—this is either a very good thing or a very bad thing. Thankfully, most of the time the booties are in great shape, because, let’s face it, this is HBO and they don’t screw around.

The third, and most pertinent to you, came as a sort of afterthought when considering the previous two points: if there is anything that should inspire you to work your butt into tip-tip shape more than looking at werewolf tushie, it’s the mere fact that summer is around the corner and it’s going to be on display.

True, for guys the boo-tay-tay is not on display as much as for the ladies (unless you wear a Euro swimsuit. I’ve tried; didn’t work out); but, still, for a guy that follows the fashions (ahem, me) you’ll be wearing some tight shorts, so it behooves you to get to work.

To that end, in the spirit of summer and getting you into the kind of shape that justifies nudity for 40 minutes out of a 60 minute television show, I’ve complied a list of my top 6 exercises to get your butt in shape. Literally.

And, before you get all whiny on me, I should mention that all of these exercises will also improve athletic performance, as well as have carryover to stuff like squats and deadlifts.

So, ready to get your ass into gear*?  Awesome.

*NOTE: I fully exercise my right to make as many butt-related puns as I feel like it during this article.  Enjoy.*

Before we begin, here’s a fun picture of Jamie Eason

In addition to her butt, Jamie also has incredible hamstring and adductor development. This is a woman who takes her training seriously.


A Gaggle of Exercises for Glorious Glutes


We’ll start with the exercise that is the easiest to perform and requires the least equipment—the bodyweight glute bridge.

While you can do this bilaterally, I specify the single leg version simply because—although it’s a tad more advanced—it’s really the only version worth doing if your goal is posterior development.  In addition to allowing your body weight to serve as a greater load allowing for all the benefits of unilateral training, you’ll need to stabilize anti-rotationally, so you get some core work, too.

Here’s a video of both versions:

When performing this, it’s important to focus on two things: recruitment and position.

In order to make sure you activate and recruit the glutes to the fullest extent, don’t just think about lifting your hips; instead, think about driving your heel into the bench and focus on using your posterior chain to raise your body. Also, remember to flex and squeeze the working glute the entire rep. To increase activation, lightly rest your hand on the cheek…it’ll look silly, but help out a bit.

As for position: how you finish the exercise is important here. Don’t just drag your ass off the ground and stop when you’re in the air—a fully executed rep ends when your hips are completely “locked out.” To make it simple, raise your hips as high into the air as you can; in the finished position, you should be able to follow a straight line from your knee to your shoulder.

This exercise is great for development, but I find it works best as both an activation exercise during a warm up, and a teaching tool for helping people to understand and develop increased awareness and activation.



Staying with the same theme, let’s look at barbell glute bridges. Popularized by Bret Contreras, the barbell glute bridge (or BBGB, as I like to call it because it’s more fun to say) is the exercise contributed heavily to Bret becoming known as The Glute Guy. (NOTE: It probably also helped that he registered the domain and uses it as his blog; but let’s not split hairs.)

There are a number of variations of the BBGB, the main difference between them being the number of benches used, which varies from 0 to 2. Using multiple benches increases the range of motion the difficulty, and the name.  Once you add in a bench, the name generally changes from a glute bridge to a hip thrust.

Difference in names notwithstanding, the movements are similar in a few ways, not the least of which his that they both involve using your tuckus to drive your hips up while loaded with a barbell.

Here’s a video of big Bret rocking out the BBGB with just under 500 pounds.

Moving on to the hip thrust, this is you have your shoulders elevated, increasing the range of motion and lines of force.  The hip thrust is more difficult, and because of that perhaps more effective in a number of ways.

Here’s a video of Bret’s client, the lovely Kellie Davis, banging out reps with 225.

I have no idea if she’s single, gents, so maybe give her a call…if you’re okay with her being stronger than you, that is.

For more videos, check out Bret’s YouTube channel, which is the biggest collection of ass-related videos not on a porn site.



I don’t think there’s a butt in the world that can’t benefit from squats; moreover, I don’t think that there are many great buts that have been built without them.

Today, we’re going to take that one step further with an exercise designed just

This highly specialized version of the squat is done for just half a rep—the bottom half.  You see, the glutes are recruited more heavily as squat depth increases (1,2); therefore, it is the bottom half of the squat that involves them the most. By limiting the movement, you focus on the goods.

Here’s how it’s done: In a power cage, set the pins at just above where your shoulders would be if you were in the “rock bottom” position of a squat. Load it up, climb under, and ignore the looks you get. As you come up, focus on flexing the glutes. Halt your ascent at roughly one-half of the way up, pause for half a second, and come back down. Allow the bar to come to a stop on the pins. No bouncing!

This is a killer exercise because you’re moving the bar from a dead stop for every rep, there’s no possibility of cheating, and you completely take away any effect inertia would have had. The movement becomes much harder and is very effective.

Now, this variation of the squat is very specific; while useful in the context of glute training, in general you should be doing regular squats as well.



I’ve often heard people say things like, “I do the stair climber for cardio because I also work my butt.”  While that’s not totally untrue, it’s also not the best option; if you want to get your ass in shape figuratively while getting your ass in shape literally, KB swings are the way to go.

Now, I’ll say right off the bat that I’m not really a kettlebell guy. I like kettlebells as a conditioning tool, and I see some value in terms of specific applications. This differentiates me from pure kettlebell gurus, a number of whom are so passionately dogmatic about kettlebells that I suspect KB swings are part of their masturbatory rituals.  A hyperbolic assumption, perhaps, but it made you laugh, so deal with it.

Anyway, that brings us to the topic at hand. Kettlebell swings, not masturbation.

Again, KBs are good for condition and specific application, one of those applications being glute training.

For a simple movement, it’s hard to beat the KB swing. Done with proper form, it works the majority of the posterior chain, and hits the glutes like little else. (It also teaches the hinge quite well, having carryover to other stuff.)

You can use the swing with mildly heavy weight as part of a more complete program, or you can do use lighter weight and higher reps for a cardio/conditioning effect; each effective for different goals, but both effective with regard to your butt.

No kettlebell? No problem. Here’s a video of me doing a version with a dumbbell:

FURTHER READING: Tim Ferriss wrote a detailed post on how to use the KB swing to sculpt the KB swing to sculpt the perfect posterior, which you can read here.



I don’t know why I even bother to include the GHR, other than the fact that if I don’t, other fitness pros will lambast me for leaving it out.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s an awesome exercise, if you’re in the small 2% of people who doesn’t mess it up.  Since I’ll assume that all of my readers fit that, we can discuss.

There are two ways to perform the glute-ham raise: on a machine, and without one, which is called a natural glute ham raise. The machine version is generally easier for set up—at least in the sense that you don’t need a partner for it—but executing is murderously difficult.

A few companies make decent GHRs, but the best one by far is produced by EliteFTS. If you’re considering picking one up, that’s the model I’d go with.

Most gyms don’t have a GHR machine; so, let’s talk about some modifications.  The first of these is to use a friend. I don’t do this version that often because I don’t have any friends. (Just kidding, everyone loves me.) It’s somewhat difficult to manage, though.

To perform Kneel down on some padding and have your partner secure your feet behind you. Keep your trunk upright (your back straight and in line with your hamstrings) and lower yourself to the ground as slowly as possible. If you can pull your self back up, do so. If you cannot, simply use your hands to work back into the starting position and perform another negative.

It looks like this:

If you don’t have any friends a partner, there is another variation that makes use of the lat pulldown. Essentially, you’ll be using the knee-rollers to hold your ankles in place, and perform the GHR.  This is the first version that I ever tried, and in most gyms is the one I do when traveling.

Here’s a lil’ sippy-snippet.

Looks easy? Nope.

All variations of this exercise are murderously difficult. And pretty easy to screw up.

Now, here’s it’s awesome: while in many ways this is a hamstring exercise, it still works the glutes, oddviously. Specifically, this will work what we in the biz call, “the gluteal fold,” or the glute-ham tie-in; the often saggy flap where your butt meets your leg.  Meaning that the GHR is going help your ass look awesome when you’re naked more than almost any other exercise.  Making it exceptionally important.

You’re welcome.

Closing Thoughts

Despite my tongue in cheek (I am not even gonna touch that pun) approach in this article, glute training is important, because strong glutes are important. The exercises mentioned above make you stronger, faster, and hotter.

Give them a shot, and you’ll never look back…except to look at your butt.


  1. Caterisano A, et al. “The effect of back squat depth on the EMG activity of 4 superficial hip and thigh muscles.” J Strength Cond Res 2002 Aug;16(3):428-32.
  2. Vakos JP, et al. “Electromyographic activity of selected trunk and hip muscles during a squat lift. Effect of varying the lumbar posture.” Spine 1994 Mar 15;19(6):687-95.


Bonus Exercise – hill sprints!!!!1!1!1!1!

Yeah, hill sprints. That’s my bonus exercise for you.

Not only are these pretty much the most awesome form of cardio you can do. How do I know this?

Here’s a quick breakdown using my patented rating system:

Impact: 7
Efficacy: 9
Convenience: 10
Equipment Needed: Hill, legs
Difficulty: Varies (6-8)
Impressiveness: 9

So, basically, hill sprints are convenient, effective, and make you look awesome. They’re hard, but it’s worth it.

Also, because of the incline, the work the gluteal fold and make you bootylicious.

Walter Payton, the greatest running back of all time, did these religiously.  Whenever I’m home on Long Island for long stretches of time, I go to my old high school, and sprint the same hill my coach made us run when we were late for practice. We stopped being late partly because hill sprints make you faster. (See what I did there?)

Just for fun, here’s an awesome picture of a great ass.

I make no excuses for this gratuitous picture of Kim.


All right, folks—time to sound off.

What are YOUR favorite glute exercises? Let’s get a list going; if we get 50 comments, a new post this week!

About the Author

John Romaniello is a level 70 orc wizard who spends his days lifting heavy shit and his nights fighting crime. When not doing that, he serves as the Chief Bro King of the Roman Empire and Executive Editor here on RFS. You can read his articles here, and rants on Facebook.

Comments for This Entry

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  • Elizabeth McIntosh

    The GHR looks brutal! I'm going to have to give it a go!

    September 18, 2012 at 2:06 pm

  • Rachel Elizabeth Murray

    LOVE the hamstring falls (reverse on the lat pull set up - video). INSANELY difficult. Haven't done them for a while. Kinda forgot about them, so thanks for the reminder! Excited to get them back in (along with the other suggestions here) my training!

    July 18, 2012 at 6:12 am

  • Cookie

    I love everything you mentioned and include all but the half squat from the bottom (but will start - can I do it on the same day as squats?) and the single leg elevated glute bridge which I will start using as a warmup to the my 4x6@230 hip thrusts...Just wanted to mention that my gym does not have a GHR machine, and I do these in the smith machine (load bar heavier than me at ground level, hook ankles underneath, and go - would work with a loaded barbell set on the ground too with some weights bracing it from rolling) Any tips to make this harder if you don't have a weighted vest?

    June 27, 2012 at 9:01 pm

  • Atiquah

    This has got be one of my favourite blogs off you Roman! Probably coz I'm obsessed with the derrière. Not to head cabbage or anything but if one was to try and build the glute muscles (mainly the maximus, since apparantly from the side it seems I actually have a butt) what is the absolutely best exercises to do that won't just develop the hams and quads? My skinny jeans are all getting uncomfy with the muscle I've put on in those areas. Not to complain though, I love having muscly legs, just want the peach to go with them so I can fill out properly. Also, do I need to eat certain foods? Reading your article on how much protein has somewhat confused me as Im not just wanting lose fat or gain muscle, rather do both. My body fat is ranging between 17-19% , and at 5ft 5 tall (or short), I know I could drop more fat but need the muscle to help do that right? Weird thing is, getting a 6 pack fr me doesn't seem too difficult but the booty is a different story. As always, love your site, advice and help! Keep rockin!

    June 14, 2012 at 10:03 am

    • Cookie

      were like the same person... let me know when you find a solution lol! I might have a couple pounds of fat more than you, but same scenario - great body, defined abs and whole upper body, muscular legs, bum looks great from the side, but the rear view is different story (there's actually a nice bum under that cellulite - if anyone can help me get rid of it, that would be freakin AWESOME)

      June 28, 2012 at 4:59 pm

  • ShawnaLee99

    Split squats are awesome. Glute Ham Raise with a resistance band is another fav. Although im a trubie, spartacus has alot more nudity. You dont seem to favor GHR, even tho most arent doing it correctly, isnt it still worth trying? Or do you recommend to your clients to not do this excercise without your presence?

    May 12, 2012 at 6:21 pm

  • Hherbst86

    I like the idea of kettlebell swings, but will they overbuild my middle area? Not trying to get any wider there....

    May 12, 2012 at 3:37 pm

  • adamcord007

    Yeah,They have good body shapes and its great. Well gotta try this one right now...

    May 9, 2012 at 4:04 am

  • Kevin

    I've never really had issues with glute training--I am on the lighter/weaker side, but I've never had an issue recruiting glutes for the big lifts. That being said, I do really like the hip thrust... I remember the first time I did them I wasn't sure how heavy to go, so I just put a 45 on each end of the barbell. I then hip thrusted it up to the point of it losing contact with my hips. I then realized that I need to go heavy on those for my own good.

    May 5, 2012 at 10:19 pm

  • Valenzuelamarino

    first time im in your blog, im here cuz i enjoyed your articles in tnation specially the how to look fraking awesome, congrats man! will follow and recommend!

    May 3, 2012 at 7:21 pm

  • Rcarow7

    Barbell Forward walking lunges get my glutes firing hard every time!

    April 30, 2012 at 4:47 pm

  • Eric Cressey

    Great post, Roman.  A good tip on the GHR side of things is to elevate the front if you have a dedicated GHR unit.  It makes the exercise a little bit easier for beginners, but more specific to the topic of this post, makes it more glute intensive.  Decline GHR, on the other hand, would be more hamstrings dominant.

    April 29, 2012 at 5:30 pm

  • Bret Contreras

    Great article Roman!!!

    April 27, 2012 at 12:01 am

  • James Chalmers

    One of the more commonly underdeveloped muscles these days in my opinion. Phenomenal glutes are a great indicator of a strong squat, deadlift, and sprint; three of my favorite things. Great post Roman.

    April 26, 2012 at 9:15 pm

  • Leah

    I do reverse lunges, step ups onto a bench with 10kg weights in each hand - and love/hate BSS!

    April 26, 2012 at 2:42 pm

  • Arun

    Roman, Besides the great info on your blogs , I really appreciate your awesome sense of humour ! 

    April 26, 2012 at 12:33 am

  • Darren

    Favorite exercise would be the barbell glute bridge, because its a 'deep deep burn' which means its working (but you REALLY have to make sure spin does not cause the bar to de-jewel you).

    April 25, 2012 at 10:56 pm

  • Mark (MNMAC)

    I was going to say sitting too long in my office chair ... but seriously, I love KB or DB Swings.  DOne with heavy enough weights and great form, it has you sitting delicately for days!

    April 25, 2012 at 10:06 pm

  • eugene zuger

    I did some hill sprints on vacation and could hardly walk the next day my butt was so sore.

    April 26, 2012 at 1:17 am

  • eugene zuger

    I did some hill sprints on vacation and could hardly walk the next day my butt was so sore.

    April 25, 2012 at 9:17 pm

  • Glenn May

      Do you know if Jamie Eason is available for home ironing services? Because I have a big load waiting for her right here! (Sorry, I couldn’t resist)   But seriously when I do Dead lifts it seems to work my gluteus and lower back more than my hamstrings must be my weird morphology. Lunges seem to have a similar affect on my arse.   The very first photo of the lady at the track has the most beautiful shaped bottom of all of them shown. Even more than yours Roman! (Disclaimer, No homosexual intention intended)    

    April 25, 2012 at 4:31 pm

    • Glenn May

        Sorry Moderator! Thank you for editing my crude innuendo over Jamie Eason, I must not let excitement get the better of me! Glenn ;-)

      April 25, 2012 at 7:10 pm

  • Sky Gal

    I've been all over the  barbell hip thrusts for a good month now. I love it!

    April 25, 2012 at 3:32 pm

  • Llisakayw

    One leg dead lifts

    April 25, 2012 at 3:26 pm

  • Drbarney1

    With the obesity epidemic, this should exempt moon flashers from arrest after benefiting from this exercise; while otherwise, these days, they should arrest some people for flashing the moon even if they keep their pants up. Seriously, though, I will be adding some of these exercises to my workout.

    April 25, 2012 at 2:09 pm

  • DaveH

    Asstastic article John, loved it!  The video of using the lat machine for GHRs seems to be a bad embed or link though- at least for me it shows an error message.  Let me know where to find the real video as I'd rather not spend 800 bucks on a machine if I can approximate it for free! 

    April 25, 2012 at 1:44 pm

  • Qapro67

    bulgarian split squats at 1 1/2 rep - brutal

    April 25, 2012 at 12:16 pm

  • Sarettagd

    No hills where I live :-( 

    April 25, 2012 at 12:11 pm

  • Ryan Canty

    Great post, Roman. I will definitely be bookmarking this for future reference. Kim Kardashian: folk still *believe* she has a great ass? She doesn't. I'd put Sofia Vergara, Beyonce, Halle Berry, Rosario Dawson, Jennifer Lopez, Naomie Harris, Serena Williams, and even Nikki Minaj *WELL* above Kim K. in the ass department...really. And I'm outstandingly fantastic and gay...but I'd *STILL* put these women above Kim K in regard to the "great ass" department. and True Blood: um, yea...vampires are cool but that show has been asstacular for SEASONS. So is Tara a vampire or a zombie? or is she just off the show (SPOILER)? Do tell... and i'm with Daniel Aipa: EVERYONE could use a great ass...really they can. :)

    April 25, 2012 at 11:59 am

  • Peggie

    I think I'm going to start watching True Blood!! Seriously - great stuff, as always!

    April 25, 2012 at 11:40 am

  • Jodizign

    Seriously Kim? Not saying it isnt a nice ass but look what is attached to it...

    April 25, 2012 at 11:40 am

  • Alexandra

    Great article! Heavy barbell glute bridges have done wonders for my glutes. Made them stronger, rounder and perkier! I'm curious about the the half squat from the bottom. Would love to see how this is done. Is there a video somewhere that shows this?  I Googled and came up with nothing. 

    April 24, 2012 at 11:55 pm

  • BostonBarrister

    Umm, that GHR illustration is either a graphics fail or an excellent ad for gay porn. Notthatthere'sanythingwrongwiththat...

    April 24, 2012 at 11:53 pm

  • Mark

    Are such glute/ham exercises effective in counteracting the effects of hip flexor shortening and the subsequent tilting forward of the hips that comes from doing lots of crunches/other bad ab exercises and sitting in chairs for long periods of time (as almost everyone does)?

    April 24, 2012 at 1:44 pm

  • Hands_36

    SLRD with long bar!

    April 24, 2012 at 11:12 am

    • Hands_36

      ps:  SLRD with long bar from the rack. Keep up leg bent and rest each rep down on the rack - I cue clients to pack shoulders and initiate with glutes. Takes a bit to balance the bar but I find it activates glute med/min in addition to max to have to offset the long bar

      April 24, 2012 at 11:16 am

  • RikiStev

    Looking forward to the new Season of True Blood! Sookie gonna git her some more vampire loving. ;-) Great article Roman.

    April 24, 2012 at 9:09 am

  • Debbies3360

    Great post. I use valslides for back and side lunges with weight on working side. I do a back 1 1/2 lunge (go down part way up) then do a kick. Single leg RDLs and finally a forward lung with a touch in front of working leg. I do have a question on the BBGB/hip thrust can you do this with your head on a Swiss ball rather than a bench?

    April 24, 2012 at 8:53 am

    • John Romaniello

       Yup, totally fine to do the hip thrust on a swiss ball.

      April 24, 2012 at 9:50 am

    • Per

      Can't say about the surface, but I'd bet you should keep your shoulders on the bench/ball as well, not just your head, it would be a lot of stress on your neck trying to keep your upper body in place. @Roman: About the GHR, is the correct way to keeping the movement to the knee joint, not really any movement in the hip? I usually do negatives in the lat pull down machine holding on to the lightest barbell I can find as vertical support, allowing me to press back up (kind of like how a gondolier would hold his oar)

      April 25, 2012 at 5:24 pm

  • Carolynswaney

    First, love the post. Second, I love me some walking lunges and The GHR. I believe I'm in that minimal percentage who does it right. Could be wrong, but I like my butt, so who cares;)

    April 24, 2012 at 2:00 am

  • Abraham

    Hi Roman. A very timely post for me. Thanks. I noticed Romanian Deadlifts could also activate the glutes and even more so on the sumo Squats. What do you think about that?

    April 23, 2012 at 10:11 pm

  • Jessi Kneeland

    Mini-band lateral walks feel sad that they got left out. They feel so sad in fact that they made me extra sore, just to prove a point. So... thanks Roman.

    April 23, 2012 at 9:27 pm

  • Tyler Carter

    The only thing that matches the soreness of high rep (moderately loaded) squats are (again moderately loaded) Bulgarian split squats. Granted, soreness is a product of hard work yet does not necessarily indicate growth, but I have a feeling that having a sore butt makes you notice when it's used in subsequent workouts and daily activities, reminding you to use it. You can't go wrong with deadlifts and sprints, though.

    April 23, 2012 at 9:10 pm

  • Briannelson89

    Ah Kim I love your pooper so much. Great article roman

    April 23, 2012 at 8:57 pm

  • Andrew K.

    "Anyway, that brings us to the topic AT HAND. Kettlebell swings, not masturbation." Not sure if pun, or product of my mind...

    April 23, 2012 at 8:27 pm

  • Jsisy88

    How many reps of hills sprints would you recommend? Or does it depend on the incline of the hill?

    April 23, 2012 at 8:20 pm

  • Trojanathlete316

    Bulgarian split squats are thee worst exercise ever invented. Yet they will make your legs strong as heck. I believe GHRs are the best for the butt, however, no one ever does them correctly!! All in all a great post Romanian..

    April 23, 2012 at 8:06 pm

  • Daniel Aipa

    Solid write up Roman..everyone could use a great ass

    April 23, 2012 at 8:04 pm

  • Matty

    Nothing has left my ass as sore as 100 yard sprints

    April 23, 2012 at 7:58 pm

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