4 Myths About Female Glute Training – T Nation – Bret Contreras

<strong>Here’s what you need to know…</strong>
1. Judges of female figure and bodybuilding shows look for a glute-ham tie-in, but most women prefer glutes with a more prominent profile.
2. There is no glute-ham tie-in muscle. If you want to showcase the muscularity of the glutes and hamstrings, hammer them with a variety of hip extension and knee flexion exercises.
3. Attempting to carve the glutes with spot reduction exercises like the Stepmill doesn’t work.
4. Sprinting doesn’t spot reduce fat from the posterior chain nor does it activate the posterior chain muscles to a greater degree than hip thrusts or back extensions.

<strong>The Glute-Ham Tie-In</strong>
You’ve heard of the glute-ham tie-in, the area that separates the glutes and hamstrings. In bodybuilding and figure competitions, judges look for a smooth transition between these two muscles.
It’s therefore of great interest for physique athletes to optimize the appearance of this region. However, there are several misconceptions pertaining to the glute-ham tie-in.

<strong>Myth 1 – Do Cardio to Burn Fat in the Glute-Ham Area</strong>
I don’t get it. We see so many physique athletes slaving away for hours on the Stepmill, claiming that it sheds fat and etches in the details in the glute-ham region. According to the research, spot reduction is a myth – it doesn’t work.
The Stepmill can indeed hit the type I fibers and potentially aid in total muscle building efforts. However, this could also be accomplished via incline walking, cycling, the elliptical, or simply adding in some high-rep, low-load resistance training.
I’m not saying that cardio (or the Stepmill) should be avoided; just know that it doesn’t preferentially burn fat in the glutes or hamstrings.

<strong>Myth 2 – You Should Do Special Exercises</strong>
I’ve overheard many bodybuilders and figure competitors mention that a certain exercise “really works their glute-ham tie-in.” The trouble is, there’s no glute-ham tie-in muscle!
The gluteus maximus is one muscle. You also have the hamstrings, which consist of the biceps femoris long head, semitendinosus, and semimembranosus and finally, the adductor magnus, which can also contribute to the appearance of the glute-ham tie-in.
There are plenty of exercises that do a great job of activating the glutes and the hamstrings at the same time. Deadlifts and back extensions both hit the glutes and hammies very hard.
There are also plenty of exercises that might make you feel sore in your lower glute region, like walking lunges and Bulgarian split squats. However, if you want to maximize the muscularity of the glutes and hamstrings, you’ll need to perform a variety of exercises.
No single exercise will optimally build both muscles. Rather than looking for a special exercise to help you with your glute-ham tie-in, make sure you hammer your glutes and hamstrings with a variety of hip extension and knee flexion exercises, which we’ll review below.

<strong>Myth 3 – Sprinting Will Improve Your Glute-Ham Tie-In</strong>
Sprinters tend to have impressive posterior chain development, and sprinting works the backside very well. So wouldn’t sprinting be a good candidate for improving the glute-ham tie-in? The answer might surprise you. Sprinting is an ultra-high intensity activity.
Most physique athletes who decide to take up sprinting will fail to condition their bodies properly and will inevitably injure themselves. Several clients I’ve worked with have gone against my recommendations and implemented sprinting into their preparatory training and suffered negative consequences as a result.
Typical injuries include hamstring strains, hip flexor strains, and sacroiliac joint injuries. I can help you improve your glutes and hamstrings, but only if you’re healthy.
Sprinting doesn’t spot-reduce fat from the posterior chain and it doesn’t activate the posterior chain muscles to a greater degree than hip thrusts or back extensions. These exercises are much easier to control than sprinting, and they lend themselves to slightly greater levels of metabolic stress due to the constant tension they provide.

One last thing – sprinters also lift weights, and much of their muscular development can be attributed to this. If you think back to how sprinters looked before weight training for track &amp; field athletes was the norm, you’ll note that their posterior chains weren’t quite as developed.
My advice for physique athletes is to stick to weights and leave sprinting to the sprinters. If you insist on sprinting, then ease into things gradually and make sure you spend ample time warming up.

<strong>Myth 4 – A Smooth Transition Between Glutes and Hams Always Looks Best</strong>
An aesthetically pleasing glute-ham tie-in is in the eye of the beholder. I like a great deal of separation between the glutes and hamstrings and I like the glutes to pop out visually from the hamstrings. And I’m not alone.
Think about which ladies possess the most popular booties worldwide. Jennifer Lopez or Kim Kardashian probably come to mind. These ladies have big ol’ booties and their hamstring development is lackluster, but it doesn’t seem to be hurting their popularity.
Look at Bikini Olympia winners and note the emphasis on glute development over hamstring development.
In bikini, competitions are won from the rear, but glute shape seems to trump hamstring shape, which isn’t necessarily the case with men’s bodybuilding. For females that compete in bikini, glute training should probably be prioritized over hamstring training.
Glute-Ham for Female Bodybuilders and Figure Competitors

<strong>There are three things that are vital for aesthetically-pleasing glute-ham tie-ins:</strong>
1. Low body fat levels
2. Muscular glute development
3. Muscular hamstring development
Attaining Low Body Fat Levels
This one is obvious, but it can’t be stressed enough. If your body fat isn’t low, your glutes aren’t going to look good, at least from a figure or bodybuilding standard. Attaining low body fat levels is best achieved through a periodized combination of dieting, strength training, and cardiovascular training.
You won’t be able to optimize your body fat levels if you fail to incorporate all three strategies.
<img alt=”Hip Thrust” src=”https://www.t-nation.com/system/publishing/article_assets/1805/original/Hip-Thrust.jpg?ts=1425073424&#8243; /></strong>

Building Muscular Glutes
The weapon of choice for glute development is the hip thrust exercise. Hip thrusts can be performed with a barbell, with bands, or one leg at a time. However, no exercise on its own will optimally develop any muscle.
Variety always trumps single exercise performance when it comes to hypertrophic gains. Competitors also need to perform squats, walking lunges, Bulgarian split squats, barbell glute bridges, back extensions (done in a glute-dominant fashion), and the American deadlift.

In case you’re not familiar with the American deadlift, it’s very similar to the Romanian deadlift, only you incorporate some pelvic motion. At the top of the motion, the bar moves straight forward as your glutes push the hips forward. Think of it simply as a glute-centric Romanian deadlift.
For rep ranges, hit the full spectrum – do some heavier sets in the 3-8 rep range, some medium sets in the 8-12 rep range, and some lighter sets in the 12-20 rep range. I’ll even have my female clients perform sets of 30 when using bands for hip thrusts, monster walks, sumo walks, or seated hip abduction.

<strong>Building Muscular Hamstrings</strong>
For optimal hamstring development, you want to utilize variety. You’ll already be hitting the hamstrings hard with American deadlifts and back extensions, but make sure to add in good mornings, Nordic ham curls, glute ham raises, and various leg curls (lying, seated, and standing are all good choices).
Stick with low reps and an eccentric emphasis with Nordic ham curls and glute ham raises, but go for high reps and constant tension with the leg curl variations.

<strong>Non-Competitive Female Lifters: Focus on Glutes</strong>
With most of my female clients, I focus primarily on glutes. It’s not easy to create the coveted “pop” that gives the glutes such a 3D appeal. This is why we hip thrust multiple times per week. I’m trying to create a visual discrepancy between the glutes and the thighs.
When focusing on glutes, the quads and hams will become strong and shapely. This is due to the performance of squats, lunges, deadlifts, and back extensions. However, if I added in too many leg extensions, leg presses, leg curls, and glute ham raises, or if I prioritized these movements, then over time some of my female clients would develop legs that were too big for their liking and not enough glute prominence.
This doesn’t happen with everyone, but it does with some, especially after a few years of progressive training. If you grow the legs without growing the glutes, it makes the glutes look relatively small.
Think of your body as a sculpture. Determine where you want to add clay, and then hammer that region with exercises that activate it. If you don’t want more clay on a particular region, then avoid highly activating that area to the best of your abilities.
If you want to lose fat, engage in progressive overload, adhere to a sound nutritional plan, and judiciously do cardio.


Choosing the right personal trainer

In our last blog post, we told you how to study to become a personal trainer and what your options are once getting certified. However, what makes a good personal trainer? What should clients look for when hiring a trainer, and how should prospective trainers go about marketing themselves?

Unfortunately, the ease of gaining a personal training certification means that there are a lot of terrible trainers in operation. However, there are a few characteristics one can look for when it comes to determining whether or not a trainer is skilled and competent:

  1. Education: Ideally, choose a trainer that has an Exercise Science Degree. Not all of the best trainers have degrees, but the ones that do generally have a better understanding of what they are doing. Furthermore, due to the greater time investment required, trainers with degrees are not in the industry to only make a quick buck like some others may be.
  2. Assessments: During your initial consultation and at regular intervals going forward, your trainer should assess your strength levels, cardiorespiratory capabilities, posture and flexibility. They should also take your girth measurements to track physical progress. How can a trainer promise results if they are not doing anything to measure them? During the initial assessment, you should feel as though the trainer is really taking the time to listen to your reasons for being there.
  3. Periodisation: Successful trainers will create training programs for you targeted towards achieving specific goals. These programs can vary in length from weeks to months and typically involve peaking of either strength or physique. Each exercise, repetition range and tempo should be chosen with a specific purpose – which your trainer should be able to explain if asked.
  4. Outside Accountability: Effective trainers should be there for you all the time, and not just during the one or two sessions you see them per week. They should be checking up on you to make sure you are eating healthy throughout the week and completing your solo workouts, and they should respond to any queries you have within a reasonable timeframe. It is their job to keep you on track and motivated.
  5. Personal Development: A good trainer should always be trying to improve their knowledge by reading industry textbooks, attending workshops or completing additional certifications. They should also use discretion when it comes to applying their new-found knowledge and not throw every new workout technique into your next session.
  6. Results: A successful trainer should have something to show for it. Any good trainer should be able to produce a number of client success stories, including photographs of body transformations. A trainer can promise to deliver results, but unless they already have a number of satisfied customers, their word means nothing.

If you need help finding a good personal trainer, please get in touch with the Kensington Studio. We will match you with an appropriate trainer to achieve your goals.

Starting out in personal training

To many, personal training can seem like the dream career. The freedom of flexible hours and a non-office environment, as well as the opportunity to change people’s lives can make it seem like an easy career choice. But with the plethora of information available out there, it can be overwhelming trying to figure out where to get certified and where to find a suitable place of employment. The following post will provide some information for people looking to get started in the UK personal training industry.

Firstly, it is important to choose a reputable company in which to become certified. To work as a personal trainer, you will need to obtain a Level 3 Personal Trainer certification; however, you must first also become certified as a Level 2 Fitness Instructor.

The Level 2 coursework will provide a basic understanding of physiology and anatomy and will allow you to teach group fitness classes. The Level Three certification is more specific to individual training sessions and how to structure training programmes, among other things.

The most respected personal training companies in the UK are The Training Room, Premier Training, YMCAfit, and Discovery Learning.

Personal training certifications can be obtained in as little as four weeks via an intensive in-person course, which can be completed on a full-time or part-time basis depending on your existing work schedule. Many companies also offer online distance-learning options, which can take anywhere from two months to a year to complete, depending on the pace of study.

Once you have acquired a certification, it is usually important to become insured through an organisation such as FitPro or the Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs). All personal trainers must also register with REPs to prove their status as professional body-registered.

From there, you must find a place to work! There are generally three options available to trainers in the UK:

  1. Work out of a commercial gym, earning an hourly wage: This applies to gyms such as Virgin Active and Equinox, where the gym supplies you with clients and you earn a fixed amount per session. This amount can vary between 20 and 60 per cent of the cost of the actual session. Splitting the profit allows you to use the gym rent-free, so you do not have to worry about any upfront fees.
  2. Work out of a commercial gym, retaining all income but paying a monthly rent: This is the more common approach used by gyms such as LA Fitness and Fitness First. You pay a fixed amount to the gym each month which allows you to train as many clients as you wish in the space, taking home all profits. The more sessions you complete, the more money you end up with. The amount charged for rent varies widely depending on the gym ‘s location and how many other  trainers work out of it, but generally starts at around £600 and increases to £1300 and beyond per month.
  3. Work as a freelance personal trainer out of a park or private studio: Many trainers consider this the ideal option, as it provides the best opportunity for maximal profit. Working as a freelance trainer, you decide what your hourly rate will be. You can train people outdoors or in their own homes or offices (you will need a licence to do this) with minimal equipment. Alternatively, you could find a private personal training studio such as The Kensington Studio to work from. The Kensington Studio charges an hourly rate for those trainers which wish to use the studio on a part-time basis, and a monthly rental fee for those who have a larger existing client base.