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LtL 09-28-2011 08:35 AM

Weak glutes and how to fix them

She doesn't look like her glutes are weak but they might be. She should read this:

Roundtable Discussion: Weak Glutes
Edited by Jim Wendler
For EliteFTS


You think youíve got problems? You shouldíve been the waiter at the Iron Jackís steak house in Columbus, Ohio. Over the Arnold Classic Weekend, a bunch of us got together and had dinner and had some great conversations. Dave and I audio taped several different conversations and here is one of them; transcribed, somewhat edited but full of great information. I donít know what the bill ended up being, or even if it got paid. We were there for hours; drinking, eating and sharing information.

Dave and I came prepared with some topics but pretty much let things go wherever. The first topic was weak glutes and how to fix them. Here is the outcome.

Dave: What would you guys do if you had a lifter with weak glutes? You know this because they have a very hard time locking out a dead lift and you can see he can't bring his hips forward.

Coach X: Dave, As far as weak glutes I have some great rehab ideas and exercises. We must all remember the value of rehab exercises and their benefit in training especially if the athlete has a disrupted motor pattern and you need isolation for innervation to refresh the body's neuro-link (new term I just came up with). Before true strength training can begin, muscle function and firing patterns must be restored! See there is a value to my short-bodybuilding-rehab mentality. When looking at any athlete you should assess the following-mobility-stability-sequence of firing/recruitment!

Dave Tate: So what the hell would you do?

Jim Wendler: Just tell me what to do. I donít ask questions to people that I donít trust. Just give me the information, not the why. I wouldnít ask you if I didnít trust you.

Dave: Amen. By the way, rehab is not straight. It is something you do after getting injured up from training heavy. This is why I am so screwed up. I donít do the rehab.

#62: I may sound a bit like a functional trainer but 1 legged good mornings work well. Stand on one leg that's slightly bent and on a 25lbs plate, flex at the hip, and bring your back leg up to form the letter T. This is also a functional assessment. Make sure when extending back to the starting position it is with the hips and not the back. As if the balancing isn't hard enough, try it with a heavy band, dumbbell, or a low cable. Once you get the pattern, use a 3 way touch, inside foot, to toe (like it is originally intended), and outside of foot, if using a dumbbell or cable. Don't knock it until you try it.

Jim: You didnít sound like a functional trainer...I guess it takes one to know one.

Bob Youngs: Being of weak glute myself, there were two big exercises that helped me. The first was band deadlifts with a huge amount of tension at the top and none at the bottom. This taught me to work through my weak point and deal with the normal deceleration and work on having the bar in position when it happened. It also made my strong point stronger to try and use speed thru the sticking point.

The second exercise was snatch grip deadlift. It really made me work my glutes harder with the increased ROM. It also really enforced the importance of bar position in the lockout.

Jim: Hey X, is there anything that I can do that is an overhead exercise?

Coach X: Now that I am done laughing, here is an excellent exercise: A 1 leg cable squat and pull. Stand on 1 leg with cable pulled to your opposite side (right leg/left arm-that just makes sense) squat down and extend your arm at the same time, then return. The balancing requires the glutes to fire and stabilize. I do this and I get a great PUMP! Make sure that when you squat down try to keep a fairly upright torso.

Dave: So you like to pump your glutes?

Coach X: (Stares at Dave and shakes his head)

James Smith: X, 62, those lifts sounds great; why don't you get {a well known Yoda) to join you with his rubber balls and the three of you can choreograph a new single leg balancing act for Cirque du Soleil.

Jackass: Ok I'm glad this topic came up. I think when you have a weakness it's time to keep it simple and go hit what you forgot or something you have never done before.

How about trying
Stiff legged deadlift
Pull throughs
Kneeling squats
Dimel Deadlifts
Sumo deads off of high pins
Conventional deads off of high pins
Suspended chain good mornings set high and just flexing the glutes
Sled pulling
Ultra wide deads

If itís a beginner and you think he has weak glutes it's probably not that they are weak but the SOB has no idea how to use his ass. As soon as the bar comes off the floor drive the heels into the ground and fire those glutes.

I guess it all really depends on the level of the lifter. Some of the high school kids I train are on a fourth grade level. Hell, it's only fair I was told by every teacher I had that I was on a 5th grade reading level.

Anyway my point is if you are truly weak then something like hip pop ups would work great. However are they going to help you lock out an 800# deadlift.....I say no way. In contrast to that if you're strong at rack lockouts, how much more are they going to help you? It would probably benefit you more to do something that suck at.

I could go on and on because I'm meat head through and through.

James Smith: Some thoughts for raising special strength preparedness...

We must first try and isolate where the specific deficiency exists. More specifically, what is the cause of muscular weakness in the athleteís glutes? Is it a disturbance rooted in the communication between nerve cell and muscle fiber (firing frequency, synchronicity, etc), or perhaps a technical deficiency in the glutes role in facilitating the execution of sport skill (deadlift), etc...

Verkhoshanski states that ďthe criteria of correspondence" [of special exercises and their implication on improving sport skill] "with respect to the amplitude and direction originates from the spatial characteristics of the movement relative to the adjacent body part. It determines which muscles are involved in the work and allows for anatomical peculiarities and the external conditions of work; especially the direction of the muscles pull, the movement of the system's links."

I perceive this to indicate the selected special strength means must not only serve to strengthen the muscle/muscles in question (in a general sense), but serve to also facilitate the improvement of the sport movement. Accordingly, there are many isolated exercises that will serve to strengthen the gluteals, however, the particular 'amplitude and direction' (a vector quantity) of movement will most highly correlate with improvements in sport form (DL).

Depending on where the weakness lies will in a large way determine what type of loading will most greatly improve sport skill. Meaning, a certain isolation exercise performed with repeated effort may in one case serve to facilitate improvement in the DL (as Tom and Buddy have cited), whereas, in another instance one may require that a certain bilateral lift which more closely approximates the specific function of the glutes near full hip extension, during the DL lockout (eg, a high pin pull), be performed with greater load in order to improve the lockout itself.

This is something that I am particularly interested in. In regards to improving specific muscle function in the effort to heighten sport skill potential; when must we isolate the muscle function with reduced loading and when must we closely imitate sport form with greater loading in a method which preserves and targets the specific muscle's function in relation to sport skill execution.

The answer to this will ultimately reveal itself when we are able to more accurately determine the physical preparedness of the lifter in question.

So as you can see I have come full circle and now the question must be asked; Dave, I must know more about the lifter with weak glutes in order to make an informed suggestion which will have a high probability in yielding an improvement to the DL lockout.

When I talk training, I inevitably speak in an English dialect which has been translated (how accurately I have no idea) from Russian.

How solid are the words 'motor apparatus'? In the immortal words of Nick Nolte in 48hrs..."No one asked you to like it, but that's the way it is."

Jim: Holy sh*t, I need a beer.

Dave: Anyone want to take 5? I need a break after that one.

Jackass: Iíve done Reverse Hyperextensions with bent knees and actually thought I invented them, since I never read about them more. That and glute bridges. Making a concerted effort to engage them has helped; staying tight at the right times.

Dave: Do you hear that X? BENT KNEE REVERSE HYPEREXTENSIONS! What do you think of that?

Coach X: Ha! I forgot all about that. {This is an inside joke between Dave, X and Lou}

Jim Wendler: I'm going to say this - a weak muscle group, at least in an experienced lifter is probably not a result of being weak, but because something else is not correct or is too tight or something like that. Louie will always say that I have weak glutes but you can't squat big with weak glutes. You can't do years of squatting, running, jumping, GHR, RH, lunges, hills, etc. and NOT develop strength. There is a deficiency somewhere. I think this is what James was saying, but Iím not sure. He may also have given me the recipe for Cheddar/Brocolli soup for all I know.

Tom Deebel: Exactly Jim. If you are stuck in an area, as in a myofascial restriction, you won't be able to fire the nuscle correctly. Kind on like your accounts being frozen by the IRS.

Dave Tate: You need to look at a weak point three different ways; mental, physical and technical.

I feel many sticking points (or should I say mini max to sound smart) are caused from the lifters thinking they have a sticking point. You will hear someone say "I always miss 3 inches from lockout". Always! What about warm up sets and all those reps you do make? Regardless, they have to get this shit out of there head otherwise when they go to pull a big weight they will pass their knees and be thinking "okay this is just about where it happens" There is no advice or cure for this other than to get your head out of your ass.

With technical, this refers to form, is another huge reason. By the way, I feel mental and technical make up 80% of all sticking points. It just happens that every one wants to look at the physical aspect first. The deadlift is a very technical lift. If you fall out of the groove by even one inch while coming into the lockout you will be looking at a hard finish. While there are two methods to pulling (sumo and conventional) the key issues are very close to the same. You have to keep your hips as close to the bar as you can when you pull (not so close that you are doing a stiff leg). The further your hips are from the bar the longer the lever. Second the mid point of your shoulder must stay in line or behind the bar. If the shoulders are too far forward the bar will pull away from the body.

You also need to pull the bar and your body backwards. Think of this much like a teeter-totter. If you weigh 280, and you can get that 280 to fall backwards, then you are using your own body weight to help lift the weight. Finally, you should round your upper back and arch your lower back. This just helps with body position. I could go into more detail but I am getting bored plus my dead lift sucks so I still have more to learn.

With the physical aspect there are a zillion things to say but here are a couple of the most popular.

1. Tight hip flexors. If your hips are tight you will never get them to come through. So stretch them out. With what stretch? Who cares, just find what you feel is stretching you out. 2. Weak Glutes. You have to make sure you are coming in with your glutes at the right time. It is not so much that the glutes are weak they are just not working when they should. Example, you have a lockout problem that kicks in 3 Ė 4 inches from lockout with 600 pounds, yet you can pull 800 off a high pin while keeping your body in the correct pulling position. This can be one of two things. First you are not pushing your hips in soon enough (this is different for many people but should happen as the bar passes the knee). Second, you are pushing in at the right time but do not have the strength endurance to push that hard for the time needed. Case in point, the pin pull make take .5 to 1 second for the hips to push in and finish the lift while a full pull may take 1 Ė 1.5 seconds. If your hips can only push for maximal strength for .5 seconds then you are screwed. This is where Bobís suggestion of a shit load of band tension with light weight comes in. The only thing is the weight needs to be heavy enough that you are not using too much momentum to blast through the bands. Another movement would be pin pulls on a lower pin. Go down as far as you can while still being able to pull more than you max dead lift so you can overload the muscles. 3. One other glute movement that can help is kettlebell or dumbbell swings make sure to pop your hips through as you come up. Being that this problem is cause most of the time by the above factor I would suggest very high reps (20-30) with a moderate weight. 4. Reverse Hypes Ė This has been the key for many lifters but you have to make sure you keep an arch in your back and flex your ass as hard as you can. Louie has a new leverage until that is unreal for this. 5. Just get stronger. This one aspect is very over looked. Letís say you have a lockout problem with 600 pounds. If you just make your entire body strong then yes you may still have the same sticking point but it will be with 700 not 600. Sometimes you just have to go heavy to get stronger.

Like I said there are many more things. The key is to do them and see what works and what does not work. Strength training is not the linear process many make it out to be. While a beginner can add 5-10 pounds on their bench every eight week cycle, this is not the case the more advanced you get. You may have a 600 pull and begin trying to fix your weaknesses and two years later you are still pulling 600, then you stumble upon the one thing that makes a difference and add 50 pounds to your pull in 4 weeks. While this one thing was very important all the other things you tried help lay the ground work to get there. Never stop trying to get better; it will come sooner or later.

Jim Wendler: Physically, I think itís pretty easy. My deadlift lockout sucks donkey. Rather than try to take out a damn compass and a ruler and try to figure out what to do/ what exercises to do I did the following:

Went really heavy on just about every exercise I could.

Cut out all BS exercises and concentrated on ones that I knew worked.

That's about it. While I still had "weak" glutes, they were much stronger than they were before.

Basically, just get stronger.

Here's my analogy. When some obese person can't lose weight there will be a dozen people (psychologists, trainers, psychics, motivational speakers, etc.) telling him why. These reasons can be things such as a bad childhood, mood disorder, lack of support from family...the list goes on and on. When the real answer is:

Don't eat a lot Don't eat crap Exercise everyday

Simple but not flashy.

(Source: Roundtable Discussion)


Fazc 09-28-2011 09:53 AM

It's a good article,


Originally Posted by LtL (Post 175425)
How about trying
Stiff legged deadlift
Pull throughs
Kneeling squats
Dimel Deadlifts
Sumo deads off of high pins
Conventional deads off of high pins
Suspended chain good mornings set high and just flexing the glutes
Sled pulling
Ultra wide deads

These are all (mostly) exercises which I used to be very good at a few years ago, not so much any more but I never had issues with lockout back then. So yeah I definitely think there is merit to stuff like this, If I were to narrow that list down to get the most bang for your buck i'd say:
  1. Stiff legged deadlift
  2. Dimel Deadlifts (I would do just an extremely strict RDL, with shoulders pulled right back throughout the set)
  3. Conventional deads off of high pins
  4. Suspended chain good mornings set high and just flexing the glutes - Any kind of Good Morning really. The Arched Back power stance one being my favourite

BendtheBar 09-28-2011 10:01 AM


Jim Wendler: Physically, I think it’s pretty easy. My deadlift lockout sucks donkey. Rather than try to take out a damn compass and a ruler and try to figure out what to do/ what exercises to do I did the following:

Went really heavy on just about every exercise I could.
Enjoyed this quote.

That's my preferred method of training weaknesses.

Carl1174 09-28-2011 10:06 AM

nice. Use a scantily clad lady to grab our attention first... smooth Al, smooth.

Good article too :)


LtL 09-28-2011 11:01 AM

I'm gonna try to use all of my bands to mimic the chains for suspended GM's. Watch this space.

Also gonna do RDL's HEAVY. Not a fan of light weight so the above posts sit well with me :)


Abaddon 09-28-2011 11:02 AM

Do I dare give 5 stars to a thread just for one picture?

Off Road 09-28-2011 11:03 AM


Originally Posted by Fazc (Post 175465)
  1. Stiff legged deadlift
  2. Extremely strict RDL, with shoulders pulled right back throughout the set
  3. Conventional deads off of high pins
  4. Any kind of Good Morning really. The Arched Back power stance one being my favourite

Good list and some of my favorites. I would just add Pull-Throughs to that list.

austin.j.taylor 09-28-2011 03:09 PM


Originally Posted by LtL (Post 175501)
I'm gonna try to use all of my bands to mimic the chains for suspended GM's. Watch this space.

Also gonna do RDL's HEAVY. Not a fan of light weight so the above posts sit well with me :)


Do them with a snatch grip for even more epicness. snatch grip rdl's are a favorite of mine that need to get back into my program.

Mr.Silverback 09-28-2011 03:28 PM

will begin to add Dimels and Kneeling squats...gonna be a fun day tomorrow!!!

Oh yeah..Those guys rule...

5kgLifter 09-28-2011 04:34 PM

A heavy KB 2-arm swing is very much like a pull-through, for those that have access to one.

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