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Growing the glutes is important for many people to get the physique they want. But how many reps and sets of glute exercises do you have to do every week to get good results? Here’s what you want to know.
To grow glutes, 4-6 sets of 10-15 repetitions for 3 workouts a week is optimal. For most people squats, deadlifts and lunges are sufficient but to really focus on glute growth, adding some exercises like; Barbell hip thrusts, cable pull-throughs, glute bridges and glute kickback is great.
Let’s take a look at the details of those sets, which exercises you should count and how many repetitions per set works well as well as if exercise alone is enough to grow the glutes.
For beginners and people who are looking to maintain glute muscle mass, doing lower body exercises like squats, deadlifts and lunges as part of a full body routine is enough. To really focus on glute growth, 6 heavy sets of direct glute exercises 3 times a week is a good target which is an amount many people can handle.
What do you have to do to get that big round bum? How much exercise is enough? Of course it depends on where you’re starting from what the potential end result is but, everyone can get bigger glutes. There is obviously a correlation between how much people train a body part and the size but is there an optimum amount?
For growth aim for at least 4 sets of direct glute work per week but up to 18 sets per week, spread out over 3 workouts (6 sets per workout) is best to grow your glutes. If you do 2 workouts, 12 sets per workout is the limit.
You want to pick 2-3 exercises per workout and spread the sets out over those. 12 sets in one workout is a lot and for beginners that amount of volume is not necessary. Most beginners can just train the lower body with compound exercises like squats and deadlifts and still grow their glutes. If you really want to focus on growing the glutes in comparison to the rest of the lower body About 8-10 heavy sets per week is great for beginners to grow their glutes. That means warm-ups don’t count. A set should be challenging to count.
To maintain muscle mass in the glutes, direct isolation exercises aren’t necessary. Just doing squats, deadlifts and lunges will be enough. Almost every exercise that targets the quads or hamstrings will also stimulate the glutes enough to at least maintain size and for most beginners it’s plenty to grow them as well.
12 sets in one workout is the limit for advanced lifters. However, more than 6-8 sets per workout is going to plenty many people especially if you work out 3 times a week. Start out a bit slower and ramp up the amount of sets over time.
Workouts break down the muscle and this has to be repaired for the muscle to grow. If the muscle isn’t fully recovered before the next workout, you’re taking one step forward but two steps back. The glutes are quite large muscles and take a lot of damage during heavy exercise so you have to keep an eye on if you recover quickly enough. If you don’t recover before the next workout, reduce the amount of sets a little while keeping the weight and repetitions the same.
Also, because the glutes are so important for almost all lower body work, heavily hitting them many times a week is likely going to be detrimental to other lower body work when you start hitting the upper limits of recovery. You’ll have to make a choice what’s more important to you.
The amount of sets in workout has a big impact as you can see above but also the amount of repetitions in a set. What is a good amount of repetitions to shoot for per set to grow your glutes?
In general, the lower the amount of repetitions is per set, the more you focus on building strength, the more repetitions, the more focus on growth. You do have to change the weight depending on how many repetitions you want to do. The weight has to be challenging otherwise you don’t provide much of a training impulse to your body. At the end of a set, you want to keep about 1-4 repetitions in reserve.
For glute growth, doing sets from 8-15 repetitions is the best. Most people do sets in the +-12 rep range and this is a good balance between building strength and size. However, if you exclusively want to focus on size, high rep sets might work a little better.
Alternatively, you can do a high repetition (15-20 reps per set) workout once a week and a low repetition (8-12 reps per set) the second workout (or alternate if you do 3 workouts a week). The higher rep sets would be done with lower weight and vice versa. That way you focus on both strength and size but in different workouts.
Isolation exercises are those where one muscle is mainly used to do the exercise so you really focus on that muscle. Compound exercises use multiple muscles at the same time.
The basis of your glute exercises should be compound exercises. That means; squats, lunges, deadlifts. These exercises build a good strength base and physique base you can then work off of. However, if you want to really grow your glutes, doing glute isolation exercises on top of that is a good idea and will absolutely help.
Good examples of glute isolation exercises are; Barbell hip thrusts, cable pull-throughs, glute bridges, glute kickbacks and bird-dog. Those are exercises where most of the stress is on the glutes and you can really focus on using them without other muscles getting in the way of the mind-muscle connection.
Compound exercises are great but they do require a lot of extra recovery capacity since they use more muscle mass. So if you have recovery problems but still want to grow your glutes doing more isolation exercises and less compound exercises is a good change to make.
If you do the amount of sets and repetitions described above with the right resistance, is that enough to grow your glutes? Most people will get good glutes growth if you follow the prescriptions above.
Working out breaks down the muscles which gives signals to the body to repair and grow/strengthen the muscles. However, after that you actually have to recover for that to happen. Proper recovery is the key to muscle growth.
While genetic and hormonal factors play a role, recovery is also largely dependent on diet and sleep. The diet gives your body the fuel to grow muscle. Sleep is where most of the muscle repair actually happens.
Eat enough clean food that gives you a good amount of vitamins and other micronutrients. Eat about 200-300 more calories than you need on a given day. It’s difficult to build muscle in a calorie deficit. You can calculate your daily calorie needs although those calculators aren’t too accurate usually so it might take some precise tracking of calories, weight and muscle mass to figure out if you’re in the right ballpark. This is the most difficult part of growing muscle.
Besides enough calories, it’s a good idea to get enough protein. You don’t need to drink protein shakes the whole day although shakes can be good to supplement your diet sometimes. Most research papers seem to suggest that there is no benefit in consuming more than 0.8 gram of protein per lbs. of body weight and a bit less than that is perfectly fine for the majority of people. So if you weigh 100 lbs., consuming 70-80 grams of protein per day is plenty.
Sleep is very important to recovery and you should aim to get about 8 hours a night. Some high level athletes sleep a few hours more than that just because their body needs more recovery time. And if you don’t have time to sleep more, improving sleep quality will make a massive difference as well. Not only for muscle building but for your quality of life in general.