There's a trend going on at gyms, and it's one that most people don't seem to mind. A very large percentage of gym-goers have been training with the goal of developing a very specific body part which, for the most part, was an afterthought in training for the past several decades. Sure, maybe we've all been behind the times. And perhaps it's rude to butt in during your training session. But the muscle group being trained more than ever is the booty!
The glute muscles, as they're actually known, connect the legs with the lower back and hamstrings. They are the largest muscle group of the body, and the gluteus maximus, or more commonly referred to simply as the glutes, have been receiving a great deal of training attention. The reasons are obvious - the muscle group is an attractive one to all genders, which makes it a desired group outside of the competitive arena. For those that do compete in fitness, physique, bodybuilding or figure, a flat and/or underdeveloped backside will cost you serious points as well. Whether you're looking to impress in the boardroom, on the beach, or on the stage, you need to build up that gluteus maximus!
Many gyms are recognizing this trend, and as it always does, the market is compensating to meet this newfound demand. Booty-building classes are popping up, and many standard cardio classes are making building the backside an emphasis. Equipment manufacturers have been focused upon developing new and better machines which allow the lifter to easily isolate and build up the glute muscles. The results have been obvious - booties are growing worldwide. No longer does being born with a small and unimpressive backside work as an excuse anymore. If you train right, take your supplements, and eat well, you can build a better booty. But you have to choose the right exercise!
The rack pull is an excellent movement for targeting and building your glute muscles. Essentially, this movement is a shortened deadlift, and isn't used much in gyms. Most strong bodybuilders use the complete deadlift to target the back, with the glutes and hamstrings enjoying some secondary training "ripple" effects from the lift, as they work in a supportive manner. The rack pull limits your range of motion, as the pins in the safety rack stop the bar at a halfway point, before you have to lower the weight down past the shins. This means your lower back and glutes complete the majority of the work, and then you return to the starting point before the leg muscles start doing the work!
This movement should be performed in a slow, controlled manner with moderately heavy weights. Stick with sets of 6 to 12 repetitions, pyramiding up from light reps to the heavy ones, once you are completely warmed up. Work to flex your glutes as you move the weight on each repetition. If you can make that mind-muscle connection, your muscle fibers will fire at a higher rate, helping you to see new muscular strength and size sooner rather than later.
The rack pull is highly effective in building the glutes, but it also hits some other muscle groups which are of stellar importance in your overall development. Your back, shoulders, and even traps are hit while using this movement. The hamstrings and calves are also pulled into play. This is a hugely useful core movement, compound in that it hits muscles all over your body in a balanced and effective manner!
In addition to rack pulls, many athletes have found great success through the addition of sumo squats to their training regimen. In the same style as the rack pulls, you will avoid the lower half of the range of motion of this exercise. Stand with a moderately light dumbbell in your hands. Hold it between your legs, and start the squat motion. Stop about halfway down, and then blast back off to the starting position in a slow and controlled manner. You're hitting the booty in the first half of the sumo squat, so you'll stop at the halfway point to avoid transferring the workload to the calves, quads and hamstrings. Isolate and dominate those glutes!
Remember that it is always important to train your complete physique. Yes, having an awesome set of glutes may look great to you, but if your legs are skinny, your back is flat, and the rest of your body looks untrained, they are going to look much less impressive. Plus you will be setting yourself up for injury. Hitting the glutes while leaving the lower back untrained and ignoring your leg muscles can create some core imbalances which could leave you with a strained back or worse.
Keep on training those glutes. The world applauds your efforts. Just be sure to do it safely and as part of a balanced training regimen. Good luck!