What joy a pair of well sculpted glutes could bring to males, females, training, appearance, and the world. The glutes play an integral role in your overall functioning and wellness, but they very well can shut down if not used. When the glutes shut down, you recruit other muscles to do big jobs that they are not meant to do. All this sitting at a desk all day, watching TV, and driving from place to place causes your glutes to retire early.
Your low back picks up most of the slack, as do your hamstrings, quads, and other surrounding muscles. Over time, this causes injuries. Most low back injuries are preventable, but only if strong glutes are part of the picture. Even the slightest lower body injury will cause your glutes to shut down.
If you want healthy, sculpted and strong glutes you have to keep them activated and make them work properly. With all of this said, let’s take a further look at some reasons why your glutes may not be growing and what you can do for solutions.
#1: Too Much Sitting
The Problem: Too much sitting in one place can really shut down your glutes. In today’s society many people live a sedentary lifestyle with no exercise, and by sitting all day they will accumulate chronic back pain, tight hip flexors, and tight hamstring muscles. Excessive sitting could create more inhibitory consequences as compression slows down vascular function and interferes with nerve function. So pretty much you are stopping all blood flow to your Glutes.
The Solution: Try your best to get up as much as possible and move around. We understand people have to work desk jobs for 8 hours. But this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get up from time to time to stretch, walk, and keep your blood flowing in your body. Try getting up every 1-2 hours to walk for 5-10 minutes, do some dynamic stretches, do some body weight glute bridges, practice your hip hinge, and use the stairs when going places. Main point is to keep your glutes firing throughout the day.
#2: Glute Imbalances
The Problem: There are 3 main causes of Gluteal Imbalances according to Bret Contreras:
- Asymmetrical Human-Nature: By nature, we are asymmetrical beings; our anatomy itself can be asymmetrical. Therefore, it comes as no surprise then that one glute or region of the glute might be stronger and more coordinated than the other (1).
- Inactivity: When considering the human body, we know that some muscles are more prone to inhibition than others, and the glutes are one of these “easily-inhibited” muscles. Neural and mechanical inhibition involving opposing muscles can interfere with gluteal activation, and therefore could shut them down. Gluteal inhibition can negatively impact posture, and poor posture can further inhibit glutes, thereby creating a downward spiral in gluteal function. Probably the biggest reason why the glutes shut down is due to inactivity (1).
- Pain, Prior Injury, and Structural Issues: Pain is a huge inhibitor of the gluteus Maximus, which is a pretty big deal at the end of the day. Research shows that glutes can become inhibited with just about any lower body or spinal injury. The glutes are major propulsion muscles. They produce powerful locomotion. Inhibiting the glutes will cause an individual to slow down so they can heal. The problem is that the glutes don’t necessarily turn back on automatically. They must be reactivated, re-strengthened, and re-coordinated back into every day movement and activity. Following injury, most people continue to keep working out, and their movement patterns suffer and other muscles will then compensate for others (1).
The Solution: Here is an article that discusses more in depth solutions to Gluteal Imbalances.
#3: Improper Glute Activtion
The Problem: For those that are not familiar with the term “Glute Activation,” it’s just a fancy way of saying warming up your glute muscles properly. For more in depth information on how to properly activate your Glutes read Here.
The Solution: Incorporate various glute exercises in your dynamic warm-ups for 15-20 minutes prior to a lower body session. Mainly glute exercises that target the glute medius, minimus, Maximus, and even your TFL. These are all extremely critical muscles to activate and are often over looked. Some examples are Monster and Sumo Walks with resistance bands, X-band walks, Glute Bridges, and a ton more. For more glute activation solutions read here. Always remember your glutes are the steering wheel to your lower body, they deserve a proper warm-up.
#4: Not Working Your Glute Muscles Directly
The Problem: While squats and deadlifts are awesome and do help build a great pair of glutes, at the end of the day it’s not enough direct work to the gluteal muscles to increase hypertrophy. Direct glute work should be various exercises performed in different angles and an assortment of different rep ranges (high, moderate, and low).
The Solution: Do not take Squats, Deadlifts, Step-Ups, Good Mornings and, Lunges out of your routine. These are your vertical loading exercises. Simply add in other superior glute exercises such as the famous Hip Thrusts, American Hip Thrusts, American Deadlifts, Glute Bridges, Back Extensions, and Reverse Hypers. These are all considered horizontal loading exercises (2). Also, one must not overlook the importance of mechanical tension, metabolic stress, and muscle damage to promote hypertrophy in a muscle.
Brad Shoenfeld says “hypertrophic benefits associated with eccentric exercise may be due to a greater imposed mechanical stress compared with concentric or isometric actions. Indeed, muscles are capable of generating greater absolute force when contracting eccentrically vs. concentrically. Despite this fact, however, muscle activation during maximal eccentric actions is generally less compared with those performed concentrically (4). So try and use different methods of resistance training: eccentric, concentric, or isometric when training the glutes. You never know which method your glutes are going to respond to best.
#5: Disuse of Glutes in general
The Problem: Disuse and inactivity of the glute muscles in general.
The Solution: As the old saying goes “If you don’t use it, you will lose it.” Well our new version is “If you don’t use your glutes, you will lose your glutes.” So get out there and put those glutes to use or else you will never fill out those expensive jeans you buy and you will always envy another big booty Judy when they walk by.
Put These 5 Reasons To Rest
Hopefully our Top 5 Reasons Why Your Glutes Are Not Growing answered some questions. All we ask is that we hope you put all of the solutions to use from now on. These solutions are great tools and will only benefit your training and help you achieve the goals you are after. And remember, “If you don’t use your Glutes, you will lose them.”
Want to know the right Glute Program for you? See our 12 Weeks to Build Your Best Booty Program, HERE.
1. Bret Contreras (2013). How To Fix Glute Imbalances
2. Bret Contreras (2013). The Science of Glute Training. NCSA Conference 2013
3. Brad Schoenfeld. Potential Mechanisms for a Role of Metabolic Stress in Hypertrophic Adaptations to Resistance Training. Sports Medicine (2013) 43: 179-194.
4. Brad Schoenfeld. Does Exercise-Induced Muscle Damage Play A Role In Skeletal Muscle Hypertrophy? Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research (2012) Volume 26: number 5.