Glute hypertrophy is a highly prized, but often misunderstood concept.
Before we begin, we need to get a better sense of how hypertrophy works.
Since hypertrophy is caused primarily by mechanical tension, it follows a volume in a dose-dependent relationship given a minimum level of intensity.
We see hypertrophy across a wide variety of loads (30-90%) 1RM, and frequency doesn't seem to matter much as long as the volume is equated.
As long as exercise is challenging to a group of muscle fibers, just about any exercise can produce hypertrophy.
What does this mean for the glutes?
Our friend Brett Contreras has done a lot of research at the glute lab, and he has come up with a “rule of threes”.
He manipulates 3 variables; load, effort, and vector.
Load is the percentage of 1RM involved in the exercise.
While even 30RM (~30-40% of 1RM) weights can yield hypertrophy, its probably more efficient to stick to the 6-15 RM range.
Aim for at least 5 sets a week but probably closer to the 10-20 range depending on your experience and level of development.
Remember there is a point of diminishing returns that’s specific to you. Let progressive overload be your guide
Effort describes the intensity of the set. We can also describe effort in terms of proximity to failure.
A set can be to failure, close to failure (within 5 reps), or nowhere close to failure.
With experience, it becomes easier to get a sense of set intensity.
For the purposes of hypertrophy, overall effort should exceed a minimum threshold of intensity, but not all sets have to be to failure.
Different levels of effort help dose mechanical tension appropriately, manage fatigue, potentially build workload tolerance and optimize volume for hypertrophy.
The load vector informs exercise selection. Brett describes three main vectors for the glutes, vertical, horizontal, and lateral/rotational.
Challenging the glutes in different planes of motions distributes the loads differently across different fibers.
This variety balances out the training program and makes sure as much of the glutes as possible experience enough tension to stimulate growth.
It also just makes the program more fun!
The following are examples of movements for each vector.
Make sure you hit all of them each week in your glute training program.
If you’re sitting on a Gulte plateau, get off your butt and incorporate the rule of threes into your training program.