Glutes: Are squats always the answer?

This is a summary of a talk I attended at the NSCA Trainer's Conference in Las Vegas given by Bret Contreras. THE Glute Guy.

Bret Contreras - The Glute Guy

He's the guy that people go to when they want their booties to have more punch. Now, I've always been a big fan of ass to grass squatting along withe explosive movements (Olympic lifting, duh) to get the sort of shelf like rear end you can rest a drink on. But Bret made a good point, he works with models and fitness competitors, to make their glutes big with squatting would also make their thighs grow and this is NOT what their jobs want to see.

I never thought about that, really.

So he is all about the glute bridge/ hip thrust, or as I call them, star fuckers. His experience, sense, and research has shown that getting max tension and load at full hip extension creates more of the stimulus needed for strength and hypertrophy of all gluteal muscles. Try this: sit or squat and try to squeeze your butt as hard as you can. Okay, you can get some tension in there. Now stand up, feet slightly wider than shoulder width, toes out a touch, and squeeeeeze! A lot more activation, right?

So the hip thrust it is.

Some tips on doing the hip thrust, straight from the mouth of Mr. Bootie himself:
 - Putting your back on a bench gives you greater range of motion, rather than lying flat on the floor or a mat.
 - Always open to full hip extention.
 - People tend to do this with an arched back/ forward hip tilt. Make sure you keep the abs super tight and create backward hip tild (posterior tilt) to fully engage the glute.
 - If you have access to an EZ curl bar, this tends to be a little easier on the hips. Also add a towel or some sort of pad between your hips and the bar.
 - Reps in 5-8 range, hold for 6-10 seconds at the top on the last rep.

Some interesting things that Bret has noticed in working with lots of women in gluteal growth. First, he finds that both in pound for pound strength and as a ratio to their back squats, women are able to glute bridge a lot more weight than men. This flies in the face of conventional wisdom about gender and strength.

Also interestingly illogical is the experience that women are able to hip thrust more weight as a ratio of muscle cross sectional area than men. Muscle cross sectional area is sort of the gold standerd for measuring strength gains in trained individuals, so again, this flies in the face of conventional wisdom.

This is NOT going to stop me from squatting, that's for damn sure. Since I am, and probably any one who reads this is, more about strength than vanity, the squat is still king. But with these tidbits in my back pocket, I'll certainly be throwing in more glute bridges in after squatting to get that ba-donk-a-donk that I so deeply desire.