High & Tight – Developing the Upper Glutes

It’s a common phrase tossed around among many bikini and figure competitors – “get the glutes high and tight”. But do people really know what this means and how it’s achieved or is it just something that sounds cool on social media.

Yes, achieving high and tight glutes has a lot to do with conditioning and you will never have high and tight glutes if you’re carrying too much body fat. Let’s get that clear, first. But once you strip away the body fat to expose the underlying muscle you’ve been training so hard for, the development of the glutes becomes apparent and this is typically where many figure and bikini shows are won from.

The glutes are comprised of three muscles:

Gluteus Maximus – the main, central powerhouse of the glutes

Gluteus Medius – located under the gluteus max and extends up to the hip.

Gluteus Minimus – located deeper and anterior to (in front) of the glut max.

When we are talking about the upper glutes, we are generally referring to the glute medius, and there are some exercises that tend to target this area however, let’s not forget that genetics do come into play when discussing the overall shape of the glutes. Whether your glutes are shaped like a square, circle, heart or inverted has a lot to do with the cards you were dealt from your parents. Everyone can improve their glutes and develop them to their max potential. You can’t however change the shape you were born with through training and diet.

When I write these little blog posts, the intent is not to try to impress you with big words and complex research studies. I did enough of that in university. We are all very busy and don’t have time to sit and read through pages or listen to people complicate simple theories. Get to the point and show me how to use what you’re saying. With that said, here are some exercises that can target the upper glutes. If this area is your weak point, you would want to emphasize exercises like this in your program and do a little less of the other common glute builders.

Gluteus Medius / Upper Glutes Focus Exercises

Hip Abduction – machine (w/ forward lean)

Banded hip abduction

Lateral band walk

Donkey Kick

Glute bridges / hip thrust- barbell, smith, banded, leg curl

Single leg glute bridge

Frog pump lying

Reverse frog pump – bodyweight or smith

Reverse hyper

Raised reverse curtsy lunge

Kneeling squat – banded

Single leg deadlift

Banded Pop squat

Reverse/Posterior adduction (squeezing in)

Coach Sean’s Sample upper glutes focus workout:

  1. Lateral band walk – 20 reps each direction x 3 sets
  2. Banded donkey kick -15-20 reps each leg x 3 sets
  3. Barbell glute bridge / hip thrust 4 x 15-20
  4. Single leg deadlifts 3 x 12-15 per leg
  5. Reverse hypers 4 x 15-20
  6. Forward lean hip abduction 3 x 20

*Your coach will determine whether or not these exercises would be beneficial for you or are needed. Not everyone has weak upper glutes and don’t assume this workout would be perfect for you.

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