Two-time Figure Olympia champion (2011-12) Erin Stern develops her glutes with four necessary lower body movements: Hip extension, abduction, adduction, and external rotation. On Nov. 15, 2023, Stern took to her YouTube channel to share the glute workout she uses for hypertrophy.
Erin Stern’s Glute Workout
Below is a breakdown of the two-time Figure Olympia champion’s glute programming:
- Sumo Front Squat — 3-4 x 8-10
- Banded B-Stance Romanian Deadlift (RDL) — 3-4 x 8-12
- Front Foot Elevated Split Squat — 3-4 x 10-12
- Single-Leg Hip Thrust — 2-3 x 10-15
- Machine Abduction — 1-2 x 15-20
- Banded External Rotation —2-3 x 20-30
Watch Stern demonstrate the above exercises in the video below:
Sumo Front Squat
Stern implored her audience to combine heavy-load, low-rep training with lighter-load, high-rep training each week. This trains both slow and fast twitch muscle fibers, so “no gains are left on the table.”
The first exercise Stern recommended is the sumo front squat, which trains hip extension and adduction. Stern positions the barbell “against [the] clavicles and sitting in the divots of [the] shoulders.” She keeps the elbows up to maintain the barbell with the wrists in a “racked” position.
Foot position is critical for positioning and balance in a sumo front squat. The feet should be 1.5 times shoulder width apart, with the toes facing out 45 degrees. Through each rep, the knees align over the toes, with the chest proud and the glutes staying underneath the torso (i.e., don’t hip hinge). Stern recommended pausing at the bottom of each rep before driving through the heels during the concentrics. Per Stern, generally, three to four working sets in the eight-to-10-rep range are recommended.
Banded B-Stance Romanian Deadlift (RDL)
Stern utilizes banded B-stance Romanian deadlifts for time under tension with lighter loads. The resistance band wrapped around her hips accentuates her hip extension at the top of each rep. She adjusts the bar to feel sufficient but controlled tension through the band.
In a B-stance, one leg stays rigid while the other bends slightly at the knee, loading the strict leg. Stern used the balls of her foot on the bent leg as a “kickstand” next to the arch of the working foot. She prefers starting with her non-dominant leg to guide the number of reps for each side.
Holding the bar with an overhand grip, Stern hip-hinged the barbell to the floor, maintaining a neutral spine. The band almost pulled her back during the eccentric before she drove her hips through the concentric. She recommends three to four working sets in the eight-to-12-rep range.
Front Foot-Elevated Split Squat
This hip extension exercise places the front foot beyond parallel via slight elevation. A greater range of motion leads to higher glute activation in the lengthened position. Stern drove through her front heel with a slight forward lean to maintain tension on the front working leg. Stern leads with her non-dominant leg, training three to four working sets in the 10-12 rep range.
Single-Leg Hip Thrust
Stern positioned her upper back on a weight bench and her heel on another (the benches were parallel to each other). If she feels her hamstrings working more than her glutes, she knows the weight benches are too far apart. By bringing them closer together, she activated her glutes by thrusting the dumbbell placed atop her hips.
Stern thrusts with only the working side’s glute, bridging at the top of each rep. This is a unilateral movement that can help correct strength imbalances in the glutes. Her positioning for single-leg hip thrusts biases the upper glute by externally rotating the working side’s foot. She recommends two to three working sets per leg in the 10-to-15-rep range.
Hip thrusts train the glutes in the shortened position, unlike squats, deadlifts, and RDLs which train the glutes in the lengthened position.
Stern uses the abductor machine in two ways: the first is with the upper body leaning backward, and the second is with the upper body leaning forward. With a backward lean, Stern recommends keeping the glutes shifted forward in the seat while the toes are pointed. This setup allows for higher reps in the 15-to-20-rep range.
With a forward lean, Stern scoots her glutes to the back of the seat while pulling her feet closer to her body. She refrains from using momentum, controlling the negatives.
Banded External Rotation
Erin Stern closed her glute session with banded external rotations. She positioned a resistance band around the base of her feet and rotated her heels outward. Her upper body lay prone on a weight bench. Her feet were spaced approximately one foot, with the shortened band maintaining tension throughout the rotations. She recommends two to three working sets of 20-30 reps with constant tension on the glutes.
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Featured image: @2x_ms_olympia on Instagram
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