The best training frequency for muscle growth is a controversial topic. Most elite bodybuilders swear by training a muscle only once a week (Hackett et al., 2013). A recent meta-analysis concluded that working a muscle group twice per week was superior for hypertrophy compared to once per week (Schoenfeld et al., 2016).
Still, modern progressive lifters argue that training a muscle multiple times per week gives better results. Bret’s client Erin is a perfect example of this. She’s seen amazing results training the Glutes a whopping 6 times per week! How often should you train the glutes for maximum results? The short answer is 2-6 times per week. The long answer requires you to read on, as there are variables you will need to adjust in order to optimize your recovery and ability to train effectively at a given frequency.
Read the full article on www.bretcontreras.com
(or see how to put it into practice by estimating your Glute recovery time)
Read the Dutch version of this article on www.eliteresults.nl
I read your article describing stretcher, activator, and pumper exercises for the glutes.
Can the upper body exercises also be broken down into these categories? And how could I find out about these?
Certainly, they can. As a rule of thumb; band exercises don’t damage the muscles as much, and are easier to recover from. Machine exercises are generally also easier to recover from. Exercises that put a lot of tension on the muscle when it’s stretched, like dumbbell flyes (chest), pull-ups (lats), incline bench biceps curls, overhead variations of triceps extension, ab wheel ‘roll-out’ (abs), wide-grip bent-over rows (middle traps/rear delts), and DB shrugs (upper traps) damage the muscles more and probably need longer recovery.
Hope that helps,
Hi, I have read articles from you and brett and I have a question. I’m a skinny woman slowly bulking. I currently weight 44kg and am 5″5, gaining weight is difficult because my metabolic rate is quite high. I don’t have access to a Gym as I am a med student and am always busy! I do however have barbells (with max weight 45 lbs) and resistance bands.
I was wonderding can I grow my gluteus still by
1. eating more
2. doing the stretcher, pumpers exercise
3. doing your recommended exercises and doing higher reps rather than heavier sets?
4. training glutes 4-5 times a week
I know I;m not doing progressive overload anymore since that would require me to purchase more and more weights which I don’t have space for. Can I not gain size in the glutes from higher reps?
Any advice will help
Thanks for your reply, Simran.
Indeed, eating more is important if you want to gain muscle. However, given your situation, training with progressive overload may be even more important. At a certain point, doing more reps is not going to stimulate any further growth.
I know you probably hate to hear this, but investing in barbells you can load with more weight (up to 250 lbs) is going to make a major difference for you. Otherwise, you should focus on movements you can do with only one leg, like one-leg hip thrusts, one-leg hamstring glides (on floor) and one-leg squats. This increases the resistance without much need for weight.
Other than that, you could work with increasingly stiffer bands. However, you should re-evaluate whether it’s possible to fit a gym membership into your busy med schedule. If only for 3 times per week 30 mins per workout.
Hi! I found your article on Bret’s page and I just wanted to say a million thank you’s!!! Trying to set up the right glute training program can be overwhelming with all the different information that’s out there so having an article like yours is super helpful. I just had a question in regards to the example workout. I’m currently following a 6 day workout split, in which Mondays (ham/glutes) and Thursdays (quads/glutes) are my full leg days. Then I have 2 other days, usually Wednesday and Saturday, which are just glute days accompanied by another upper body part. If I were to follow the example workout that is in the article:
3 x 8-12 Back Squats
3 x 8-12 Romanian Deadlifts
2 x 30 Frog pumps (pumper to finish off)
Could I add more exercises for hamstrings/quads?? (NOT for glutes) For example, 2 more exercises of different variations of leg curls or leg extensions/ leg press? I typically do anywhere from 7-8 exercises with 3-4 sets each on my FULL leg days. Or is this doing too much? Again, thank you so much. Hope to hear back!
Glad to help!
That depends on how advanced your hamstrings and quads are. The more advanced, the more volume and frequency these muscles can handle, and the more exercise variety they will need. To get an idea of how advanced you are in these exercises, look here: http://www.strengthstandards.co/#/
You can take the Squat as a proxy for how advanced your Quads are, and the Deadlift as a proxy for how advanced your Hamstrings are.
I’ll be releasing an article with much more info on this soon.
I think you’re probably overdoing it on the amount of exercises and sets. I advise focusing on the Hip thrust, Bulgarian split squat and Deadlift for the glutes. Those are the bread and butter. Aim for 10-25 sets of these per week (again, depends on how advanced your glutes are).
Hope it helped,
hey can i ask a question please ,
i have been training for a year now and my glutes are slightly reshaped but they never got bigger although i do glute workouts 2 times per week and i carry heavy loads (my max is 45 kgs) but for me this is heavy ..i dunno what should i do should i train them 5 days per week or just two? and how many workout excersise should i do per day? and should i stick to specific pumper and stretcher and activator every workout? or when should i change and what to change exactly? plz i need ur help to make my glutes grow !! thanksss in advance
Depending on how advanced you are, you should be training your glutes 2-10(!) times per week. If you want to find out how many times is optimal, take a look at part 2 of this article: https://bayesianbodybuilding.com/optimal-training-frequency-glutes-part-ii/
Focus on doing 15-35 sets (the more advanced you are, the more you should do) of stretchers/activators per week.
I’m starting back to lifting weights and have read your article and several books including Bret’s Strong Curves. I am still a bit confused as to how man different exercises I should do each workout, if I should combine glutes and legs on the same day or separate days, and should I do progressive overload every week or every 4-6 weeks? For instance, I started doing hip thrusts, deadlifts, squats, cable kickback, lying band hip abduction (to activate glutes) and fire hydrants (activate glutes) with 3-6 sets of 10 twice a week. then I would work upper body the next day.
Good reads indeed!
It’s fine to combine glutes and legs on the same days, as they’re quite hard to isolate from each other.
Great exercises to do. Looks like you’re doing about 25-35 sets of activators/pumpers in total for your glutes.
Rather I would spread these exercises over the 2 days (one day do half and another day do half) and definitely include Bulgarian split squats as they’re among the best exercises you can do for the glutes. For example:
Day 1: Romanian deadlift, Bulgarian split squat + accesory
Day 2: Squats, hip thrust + accessory
Make sure you do about 10-15 sets for your glutes on every workout. Later if you get more advanced you can start training more frequently than 2x per week (hitting the glutes 3x for example).
I’m currently 57kg, and am trying to lean gain some muscle og strenght as I’ve lost alot of strenght the past year(s) due to not eating enough and being in a calorie deficit too much of the time, + my shoulders started having some trouble b/c of alot of benching and low bar squatting (and too little warmup and prehab. Not so clever!) I used to squat 97.5, bench 70kg and sumo dl 125kg, and am no where near now.
I’m a big fan of high frequency traning/fullbody training, and have done that or upper/lower body split for several years now, 4-6xper week. The calculator says that I should train glutes 8x per week, is that correct? Goal is weights 4-5x a week, and 1x some kind of interval running, because I enjoy it and want some conditioning as well.
What do you think about a split that goes:
Glutes/hams/shoulders + triceps (mon, wed, fri)
– Mainly deadlift variations, hip thrusts, NHC, military press/one arm shoulderpress, side raises, facepulls, tric. extensions/pushdown
Quads/back/benchpress + biceps (tues, thurs)
– Mainly squat variations, splitsquats, chins/pullups, benchpress, lat pulldown, cable/db rows, hammercurls/bayesian curls
and a total of 15-25 sets per musclegroup/week? I really want to build my glutes and X-frame, and bring up my chins (can do 4-6 reps now in the rings) and SBD gains!
Thanks for your questions.
Shoulder problems due to bench pressing is almost always a technique problem: keeping the shoulders back and using a powerlifting technique can often help.
Sure 8x per week could be correct. So training every day (7x) is a practical way for you to train optimally.
4-5x per week is also fine and no problem at all.
The split sounds good. Most important thing is that you keep objectively progressing in strength in bigger compound movements. If that’s not happening, something’s wrong with the program or with your nutrition/lifestyle. You could have a look at my optimized training templates (for women) if you want to be sure your training is optimal: https://stijnvanwilligen.com/en/optimized-glute-training-templates/
Hi again Stijn, have not seen your reply until now! Thank you so much.
Yes – I do use a powerlifting technique, but I might have had some (maybe still do) technical errors in the past. But I’m very much focusing on technique to stay healthy and get strong again!
I have changed up my program a bit, using DUP principles and currently doing 4×10/4×8/5×6+.
Squat, chins, hip thrust x3 per week.
Sumo deadlift, bench x2 per week.
Would you recommend doing full body accessory on each day OR split it up by doing glute/ham/shoulders, and back/arms the other days? I know Menno is a fan of doing fullbody each day, and you’ve posted a lot about high frequency training as well!! 🙂
Example on a full body split:
A1. Squat 4×10
A2. Chins (band) 4×6-8
B1. Hip thrust 3×12
B2. Overhead press 3×6-8
C1. Nordic hamstrings (band) 3×10
C2. Pushups 3×10
D1. Triceps extension 3×10-12
D2. Leg raise 3×15
A1. Sumo deadlift 4×10
A2. Benchpress 4×10
B1. Front foot elevated split squat 3×10-12
B2. Dumbbell rows 4×12
C1. Lean away lateral raise 4×10-12
C2. Hammercurl 3×10-12
(D. External rotation 3×15)
A. Squat 4×8
B1. Chins (cluster sets) 4×2+2+2
B2. Hip thrust 4×8
C1. Unilateral dumbbellpress 3×8-10
C2. Leg curl 3×8-10
D1. Facepull 3×12-15
D2. Triceps pushdown 3×12-15
E. Rollouts 3×10
A1. Sumo deadlift 5×6+
A2. Benchpress 5×6+
B1. Bulgarian split squats 4×8
B2. Lat prayer 4×12-15
C1. Lateral raise, cable 4×12-15
C2. Bayesian curl 3×12-15
(D. External rotation 3×15)
A. Squat 5×6+
B1. Chins 4×4
B2. Hip thrust 4×6
C1. Push ups 4×6-8
C2. Nordic hamstrings (eccentric) 4×5
D1. High cable rows 4×12-15
D2. Elevated ab. crunches 4×12-15
This would be around 20 sets on quads, hamstrings, glutes, back and shoulders, and 16 for chest.
As males generally recovery more slowly, I would not often let them train a muscle group every day, so a split would be more suitable. For women: they often better tolerate training every day.
Do note that glutes are involved in a lot of movements: squats, deadlifts, all isolations; often people easily overtrain them.
Other than that, looks good: good luck!
I would like to train my glutes 6x a week by following Bret’s analysis but how much maximum volume can I do per workout in order to not overtrain?
How many stretchor, pumper, activator per workout can I do ?
And can I mix stretchor and activators in the same session ?
Thanks for the article !
Best to switch up exercises every day.
I would say go to my training status calculator to determine that first: https://stijnvanwilligen.com/en/training-status-calculator/
For beginners, 8-12 sets are great. Intermediates 14-18 sets, advanced 20-26 sets.
You can do the math: if you’re an intermediate with 18 sets per week then 3 sets per day (seriously) is probably optimal.
Focus on both stretchers and activators.
Monday: 3 sets of split squats
Tuesday: 3 sets of hip thrust
How many reps should we be doing a day for glutes if we are following the 6x a week program? So if I’m doing 3 sets of split squats on Monday, how many reps per set should I do?
Hit Erica, with my clients I will undergo a
‘rep testing protocol’ to determine their optimal reps for the respective muscle group/exercise. In most cases it comes down to 8-13 reps. So that’s something to be aiming for.
I’m glad to have find your website!!
Let’s say I wanted to start from scrach and plan a new workout routine, whrre should I start?
I used to go online and find difrrent routine but I want to really make create a plan for myself.
Do have have any article that would help me for that?
My goals would be to train 3-4 times per week and focus on my lower body.
Also, did you write a book on do you ever intend to write one?
Have a great day!
Hey Cassandra, glad that you did.
I suggest starting out by using my calculator to determine how many sets per week for example for the glutes are right for you: https://stijnvanwilligen.com/en/estimating-glute-recovery-time-culculator/
Next, divide this total number of sets by 4, and pick 1 or 2 exercises per day to reach this amount of sets.
For example, you find out 16 sets per week for your glutes is ideal. Divide by 4 makes 4 sets per training session. Then you could do 2 sets of hip thrust and 2 sets of glute kickback, or just 4 sets of hip thrust. Up to you!
For other bodyparts find your training status here: https://stijnvanwilligen.com/en/training-status-calculator/
Then generally I recommend 8-12 sets per week if you’re a beginner, 14-18 if you’re intermediate, 20+ if you’re advanced.
Are fire hydrants considered glute pumpers or activators?
I’d categorize them as pumpers, because they usually aren’t performed with additional (progressively increasing) weight.
I am unable to go to a gym but I do have some stuff to workout with like ankle weights (5lb per leg), 5, 15 lb dumbbells, and also some loop resistance bands. I know that I should probably work with something heavier. What type of exercises can I do with this equipment to notice results and how often should I do them?
I really like single leg squats and single leg hip thrusts or Bulgarian split squats on the side of your bed. Sometimes you can even make them heavier with elastic bands. Good luck!
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