Myomy Fitness

Healthy and Strong at Home with Kettlebells

Hip Thrust Progression Guide (Glute Bridge to Hip Thrust)

[Updated 2021]

You're looking for the best hip thrust regressions and progression or glute bridge progressions.

If you're struggling with the hip thrust, it can often be a stability or motor control issue and quite often it will be due to where your feet/foot is placed, how high the bench is (or what part of the back you're leaning on).

Or maybe you just don't like them. You feel them in your back or quads more than you'd like. While these issues can be "fixed" (and by all means book a form check with me), there are ways to get the same results by regressing the movement.

The best "regression" I use with my members - and something many people report feeling MORE benefits than the hip thrust - is the Foot-Elevated Glute Bridge (these can be loaded a little with a loop band, but not as much as other things).

Banded Foot-Elevated Glute Bridge by Marianne Kane - GIF

This is one of my favorites, and IMO one of the best glute exercises for at-home training. It's stable, user-friendly, and beginners can start doing them pretty much right a way. It also doesn't seem to create as many issues for people, like hamstring cramps, quad dominance, low back fatigue. This is such an under-rated glute exercise.

But it's not done in isolation. You need a program that includes other pieces of the "glute building" puzzle to make it even better. That's why I designed Get Glutes with home-stayers AND gym-goers in mind.  

Now, for heavier loading, the best barbell hip thrust regression is the barbell glute bridge. In fact I would argue, combined with some lighter/higher rep single leg work (like foot-elevated glute bridges or single leg hip thrusts) heavier BB Glutes Bridges yield equal results to the Barbell Hip Thrust. 

Barbell glute bridge with Marianne Kane GIF demonstration

As you can see you don't need to go all the way to the end of a "linear progression series" to get great results. It's not zero-sum. Barbell hip thrusts aren't necessarily the be-all-end all goal. I personally prefer the above combination, and use the barbell hip thrust sparingly.

Now, let's explore one path from the typical beginner level glute bridge exercises, ending with the most advanced hip thrust variation. But, with that caveat that you can make many of these a part of your workouts, even when you consider yourself "advanced".

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Why Should You Listen to Me?

I been coaching for over a decade, worked with "The Glute Guy" himself (In 2012, Kellie Davis, myself, and Bret Contreras Co-Founded the original Get Glutes  (which has served over 500 men and women), and I got my own amazing glute "after shot", which you can see below. 

Since my first Interview with Bret Contreras in 2010, I pretty much fell in love with the Hip Thrust exercise. Using body-weight only, I personally managed to enhance the curves and the strength of my beloved behind, just by including the Hip Thrust in my workouts and learning about effective activation of the glutes! See below my hip thrust before and after photo.

glute training, hip thrust, before and after

My One Mistake

One "mistake" I made, was thinking that because I already exercise regularly and do not consider myself a beginner, I did not need to start at the basic level with an exercise such as this one and I skipped to a level too high for me (the single-leg Hip Thrust).

So the first lesson here is understanding and accepting that regression is just as important as progression in building strength and developing good form.

Glute Bridge vs Hip Thrust (what's the difference)?

In some ways this is splitting hairs, since both exercises essentially work the same muscles in a similar way, but there is one main difference between the Glute Bridge and the Hip Thrust:

The Glute Bridge is performed with the shoulders and feet on the floor. It becomes the Hip Thrust when the shoulders are elevated off the floor in some way. In doing this, you increase the Range of Movement (ROM) significantly by having to recruit more force to perform the exercise, allowing you to build strength. I explain in the video below:

However, as you'll see later, there is a glute bridge progression that increases the range of movement while maintaining more stability since the back and shoulders remain on the floor, while the feet get elevated.

[For anyone wanting a more detailed explanation of the difference this elevation makes to the exercise's effectiveness, then check out Bret's post in response to Bianca's question relating to the "Single-Leg Glute Bridge vs Single-Leg Hip Thrust". The same reasoning can be applied to the double-leg variations.]

To save you the trip, basically the reason Single-Leg variations of both the Glute Bridge and the Hip Thrust are considered more advanced than even the weighted Glute Bridge, is down to increased demand to the stability of the pelvis and lumbar spine, calling for greater control and rotary stability of the "core".

When I originally wrote this post in 2011, I was of the mind to keep someone doing the bilateral (double leg) versions before transitioning to single leg. These days, I realize that's probably overly cautious, especially when it's body weight only. Therefore, I introduce a single leg variation pretty early on for my clients, even beginners. You can see my preferred progression series near the end of this article. Skip to it HERE.

Moving on, the video below is my original tutorial on the "journey" from Glute Bridge to Hip Thrust and some issues we need to overcome along the way. Given the progress I made over the first 18 months, I wanted to keep this video here since it might still help you get more from the exercises.  Though the sound isn't great at times.

Hip Thrust Problem: Are They Bad for Your Back?

I'm adding this section because some people may have concerns that the Hip Thrust is not as effective as the Glute Bridge because the Hip Thrust "over-works" the muscles in the lower back.

[Side Note] While many people do seem to struggle more with Hip Thrusts than Glute Bridges, I personally think it has to do with the steep increase in range of movement, which messes with the mechanics a little and many people also end up being more stiff and "careful" which plays into the fatigue they feel as aching/pain in the low back. It's therefore my opinion that it's under-recovery of the low back that makes it feel like it's doing harm.

This question about whether hip thrusts are back for your back was brought to light by Bianca's trainer back in 2011, but more recently I have been approached by a concerned gym-goer that I would cause harm to my back by hinging my back so low down on a bench for the hip thrust.   

Even though it is clear from the video why this may occur, I ran this query by Bret and he had the following response, which helps in understanding what we can think about when preparing to do this lift (just like any other):

Bret Contreras

(quote from original post in 2011)

"They all work the glutes hard as hip extensors and pelvic stabilizers. If you feel it in your low back it's because you have shitty pelvic stability at the top of the movement near end-range hip extension and you end up hyperextending the lumbar spine and going into anterior pelvic tilt.

Just like you need to learn to control the lumbopelvic region when squatting and deadlifting, you need to do so for hip thrusting motions as well. Think "glutes" all the way through the movement and don't go too heavy to where you end up overarching the back and allowing the pelvis to rotate forward."

In other words, before even lifting the glutes off the floor, squeeze them to tilt the pelvis back (or the "tail bone" forward), like you're trying to flatten the lower back to the floor, then lift. I have found this to be very useful, as it breaks the exercise down more so you are not trying to do everything at once, which is hard to do especially if your glutes have been "asleep" for the last decade.  

IMPORTANT: The hip thrust is very unlikely to be "the" cause of a back injury, but that doesn't mean it can't irritate something that's already brewing, or something chronic, like SI Joint problems (especially during single leg variations). My advice would be to experiment with different foot positions, have the bench much lower down your back to shorten the lever arm, and keep your training volume low to avoid excessive fatigue.

How do you know if you're hyper-extending the lower back while hip thrusting?

As I briefly mentioned at the 01:04 point in the video above (click HERE to return to it) If your lower back is over-extending, you'll know by the position of your ribcage and abs. If your ribs aren't flush with your abs (or your pelvis isn't aligned with your ribcage) then there's a good chance you're over-arching and not effectively using your glutes. When you look down your front at the top of either the Glute Bridge or Hip Thrust, you want to see the hips up, but the abs and ribs flat, not flared or stuck outward. 

Sometimes this can be corrected simply by becoming more aware of your ab engagement, but other times working on some hip flexor stretches *may* help. While you may just need time to master your glute control, another reason may be that you're trying to bridge up too high. 

The next video runs through a basic, yet effective drill to "open" the hips (by stretching the hip flexors) and "activating" the glutes, in all directions.  It is funny actually that my last glute activation video contained the glute bridge as the main exercise. While the glute bridge still remains an excellent activation exercise, the glutes are responsible for more than just hip extension - hence the rotations and abductions:

 The Glute Bridge may look like an easy exercise, but there are a lot of things going on and it can be tricky to get the hang of. Think of the Body Weight Glute Bridge as a place to correct form and build a foundation for amazing glutes. Mine have never looked, or felt better! 😉

Are Hip Thrusts the Best Glute Exercise?

In the interest of being as accurate as I can with this information, I'd like to address an elephant in the room: The Hip Thrust might not be superior to the full squat for developing the Glutes >.< OUCH!

According to the paper “Back Squat vs. Hip Thrust Resistance-training Programs in Well-trained Women” by Barbalho et al. (2020) (albeit a single paper), the squat is king.  However, from what I understand, there are a few problems with this paper, so it's not clear-cut.

Even if this paper was 100% accurate, that doesn't mean there's no benefit to performing hip thrusts (anecdotally, I saw a massive improvement in my ability to do squats and kettlebell swings better after really focusing on my hip thrusts), so not much will change in my training. Here's why this paper probably won't matter to most trainees:

Glute bridges and hip thrusts have never been, or ever will be, central to my programming. They are just one of 6 compound movement patterns I include for my own training, one-to-one clients, and members of Get Glutes (2.0)

The other thing to bear in mind when thinking about "squat vs hip thrust/glute bridge" is the user-friendliness of an exercise and risk. It is much less risky and less taxing to do heavy barbell bridging than heavy barbell squats. Many people struggle to optimize their squatting to even get up to the heavier loads, whereas bridges (including hip thrusts) are easier to optimize.

Therefore, once more, it's important to have a smart program that takes these things into consideration.

Now, as you digest the following progression series, remember: these work on their one, yes, but they work better within a strength and conditioning program.

Now let's have a look at how I integrate and progress the glute bridge to the hip thrust, and when I introduce single leg variations.

My 7-Stage Hip Thrust Progression Series

Rough Guide to Sets, Reps, and when to progress: Once you can complete 2-3 sets x 8-12 perfect reps of your chosen variation below - without any issues -  consider yourself ready to progress.  Note: If the progression becomes too difficult and your form is suffering, REGRESS until your form is more consistent, or perform fewer reps at the more advanced version.

An info graphic containing all the hip thrust progressions guide below

Glute Bridge and Hip Thrust Progression List (Easiest to Hardest):

Double Leg Glute Bridge (Progression 1)

Things to note: In this variation, notice the vertical shins when hip are up, and ribs are flush with abs. Most people can master this very quickly, and then it can become a warm-up exercise. At the beginning, aim for 2-3 Sets of 10-15 Reps.

Double Foot-Elevated Glute Bridge (Progression 2)

Things to note: While shins aren't vertical in this one, your thighs will start vertical before you lift your hips. And again, my ribs are flush, so not over-arching. I also push downward on the step so as not to tip it over, and I use the arch side of my heel. Use a low, medium, then high step to gradually increase the range of movement for the Glute Bridge. This will increase strength and control in preparation for the less stable variations. 2-3 Sets of 8-12 Reps.

Double Leg Hip Thrust (Progression 3)

Things to note: You guessed it... vertical shins again and flat torso because my hips are fully extended. When the shoulders lean against something, it's no longer a Glute Bridge. This position requires more lumbo-pelvic stabilization, but because it's still double-legged, it's very doable for beginners. 2-3 Sets of 8-12 Reps is realistic for most people.

Single Foot-Elevated Glute Bridge (Progression 4)

Things to note: Same as double foot variation, but with the added attention to keep my hips level right and left. I find this is a great place to begin training the single leg bridges. I normally skip the regular glute bridge variation and begin with the foot elevated on a low/medium step (even about an 8 inch step to start): 2 Sets of 8 Reps is a good start point.

Single Leg Hip Thrust (Progression 5)

Things to note: Shin vertical, hips and ribs level, hips even, and pushing down with my whole foot. After practicing the single leg foot-elevated bridge, it's a good time to increase the stability challenge again and do these. I often have people start with 2 Sets of 8 Reps as fatigue can interfere with the stability.

Double Leg Bottom-Up Hip Thrust (Progression 6)

Things to note: Okay, I'll admit, I needed to have the plyo box a little closer (and lower). I would prefer my feet closer to under my knee (see single leg position below). This imperfection is good for you to see because, while it still works, it's not optimal. With both shoulders and feet elevated the Bottom-Up Hip Thrust variations are very challenging. Whilst you don't need to progress this far with range of movement, if you lack the weights at home, this is good option (this fairly advanced): 2-3 Sets of 8-12 Reps

Marianne Kane performing a single leg hip thrust with shoulders on a bench, and working leg bent, shin vertical and foot on step, creating a bridge between bench and step. The photo shows the top position of the movement, which has hips in full extension.

Single Leg Bottom-Up Hip Thrust (Progression 7)

Things to note: This is as close to perfect form as you can get with this. Everything is even and level, and my working side shin is almost vertical and in a great leveraged position for lots of power. Ahh to be 10 years younger again LOL. In terms of movement skill, is the most advanced of all the hip thrust variations (loaded or not). You're not only far more unstable, but you start the movement in full (or almost) hip flexion: Start with 2 Sets of 8 Reps.

Over the last 9 years, since first penning this article, I have come to learn that most beginners can quickly master the Single Leg Glute Bridge and the Single Foot-Elevated Glute Bridge within the first 4-8 weeks of training. Most people I coach are intermediate trainees, and they get great results from the single leg variations with body weight, and double leg barbell hip thrusts and glute bridges (see section below on loading progressions). 

If you have no way of adding additional resistance to the Double Leg Variations then, provided you can perform the Body Weight Shoulder and Feet Elevated Hip Thrust with decent form then there is no reason why you could not try advancing the exercise to the Single Leg options.

The Perfect Bench (or step) Height for Hip Thrusting

[Affiliate Disclosure: is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to]

Over the years I have realized that MANY benches suck for Hip Thrusts! Not only are there ones with uneven widths, but so often they are just too high for most women to get into an optimal position, especially with bar.

For the average-sized women (I'm 5'5'') a 14 inch step (like my Reebok Deck ->  affiliate link) works great (this is the best aerobic step for hip thrusts IMHO). However, up to 16.5 inches also works fine, like the height of the bench (another affiliate link)I had in the single leg bottom-up hip thrust photo above kind of bench (combined with the Reebok Deck, it's perfect. Average-sized men or taller women can use benches above this, but I personally believe most can use 16.5 as a good height. 

Weighted Hip Thrust Progressions

As I mentioned at the top of this epic article, I will be building this section out a little, but for now, here are my recommendations for adding external load to your Glute Bridges and Hip Thrusts (a barbell is best):

1. Kettlebell or Dumbbell Glute Bridge: this allows you to acclimate to the having load on your hips. The down side is for the double leg variation it's hard to get enough load to make it really effective, so that's the main limitation. I would do single leg loaded Glute Bridges in this case.

2. Barbell Hip Thrust: While not set in stone, I like to offer this variation to people who feel ready to progress their hip thrusts. I begin with just the bar (or a light pre-loaded barbell that many gyms have) and allow the person to get used to the feel of a bar across their hips. I always use a bar pad like THIS (affiliate link), but if you're a badass, you can go without.

3. Barbell Glute Bridge: The reason I have this after the BB Hip Thrust is simply because it's easier to get into position for the Hip Thrust than for the BB Glute Bridge. I wait until the person has the ability to Glute Bridge with the full sized plates on the bar so it can easily roll into place without lifting it into position. Then, typically, I program heavy glute bridges one time a week, and moderate but higher rep hip thrusts one time a week. 

4. Dumbbell or Band Single Leg Hip Thrust or Foot-Elevated Glute Bridge: Dumbbells are better than Kettlebells because the size and shape doesn't interfere as much with hip flexion. I have this variation after the Barbell options because of the instability coupled with the load. Typically I will program at least one workout with a double leg variation (if loaded is possible) and one workout with a single leg variation (loaded if possible). The reps and tempo will often vary to maximize the growth stressors for the glute muscles. 

That's about it for my loaded hip thrust progression series. Please feel free to reach out if you need help designing a program or know which option would be best for you. 

Wrapping Up

Finally, remember:

  • Hip extension GOOD, Lumbar extension NOT-SO-GOOD.
  • Master the body weight variations before adding weight (especially single leg and loaded).
  • At least master the double leg hip thrust before attempting single leg.
  • When you can perform 2-3 sets x 12 reps with consistently good form, you are ready to progress.
  • Ribcage and abs should stay flush.
  • Experiment with foot position: maybe try pushing more though your heels or through the whole foot, maybe try a staggered stance, or narrower stance... there are loads of ways to vary things.
  • Think Glutes, Glutes, Glutes - this actually really helps!
  • Don't be too proud to regress!!

I really hope I have provided you with adequate information to allow solid form and proper progression of this exercise.  I call it a "Glute Journey" because you will literally see the results within a few short weeks, so long as you include one of these exercises in your workouts 2-3 times per week.

Grow Your Glutes Program 

Get Glutes (2.0) is my 8-week Glute-Specialization Program that has every you need to build your glutes at home or the gym (I've provided 3 versions of each workout: one lower load option, a higher load option, and an interval training option with a follow-along video). Basically 3 programs in 1.

===> GET GLUTES 2.0 <===

Photo of Marianne Kane's butt from a side view (with URL for

For any further information, feedback or, if you think I have left anything out, then please feel free to comment below.  I hope this article and the videos are helpful.



One Mindset Shift that Changed Everything

​In January this year I weighed in at over 170lb. My pre-baby weight was 138.

​I never thought it was possible to gain this amount of weight in ​basically a single year. 

But that's what happened.

​I'd fallen into some pretty unhealthy habits, and one of them was not moving.

There were reasons for me not moving: I had had my first baby, and I was struggling a lot in the first few months with a lot of anxiety and insomnia.  So I was put on anti-anxiety and anti-depression medication. I gained some weight on those.

​Then I started to get this terrible hip pain​. Right before I went home to Ireland at Christmas, it was so bad I reluctantly decided to try corticosteriods (Predisone) for 6 weeks.​ It didn't help. But it did help me gain a few more pounds >.<

When you're dealing with any pain flare-up or an injury - and even depression - it can often feel like it's going to last forever and your life is just going to remain that way. This is called catastrophizing, and I am a specialist at it. The truth was it wasn't going to be forever, and thankfully it has passed, but it didn't happen overnight and it was a very difficult time.

​Truthfully, I was not thrilled at how much my life changed so much in such a short space of time. Pregnancy was full of anticipation and fantasy, and then BOOM! The birth and now a baby and NO SLEEP .... HALP!

Side note: ​My baby is now a toddler, and oh how I miss those baby days​ haha! 😉


They say that exercise helps depression. Yet, when you're depressed, you're often in a state of learned helplessness. This means you don't believe anything will work for you, and it's not even worth trying.

They also say that exercise helps pain. Yet, when moving causes pain, it's rather a deterrent. So you avoid movement in case it will make the pain worse (this behaviour is called fear avoidance, and I've dappled in that quite a bit over the years, too).

My mindset around these things was lose-lose. No matter what, I'd still be stuck. And I decided that if I couldn't do it well, why bother.

Then January came, and my mum was visiting us for two weeks. It was then that I decided to resume regular exercise.

​It was great while my mum was there, but once she left I didn't know how I'd continue. I ​had no time and no energy to do what I wanted, but I was starting to see the value in just doing what I could. My pain and depression were getting better!

​So, my husband and I ​sat down to ​plan an exercise schedule, ​to allow both of us time to do some training. We still have this same schedule today. 

Through all these trials, I realized something that honestly changed everything:

I've noticed that we, as a society, often believe that starting and stopping exercise is inconsistent, and that's failure. Some people also believe if you're not training 3 times a week you won't see results, so there's no point. ​Why expend limited time and energy on something that seems pointless. And if they do decide to do less, I bet they feel like it's not enough. ​

We don't even realise it, but th​ese beliefs are lose-lose mindsets.​

Success is defined narrowly and often purely on whether we get results. So much so, that we lose sight of the value our efforts bring, even the inconsistent ones. It ends up all depending on these "results" that somehow never satisfy anyway.

​The mindset shift that took place earlier this year was redefining success.

For me, it's not the results, but the process/journey that bring me contentment. I was tired of feeling like I needed to chase things, so I stopped.

And what this means is even when I fall short of my goal of, say 3 workouts, or 7 exercises in a workout, I can still value the efforts I made in doing less. It's not failure. It's life. ​ 

​Above all, I realised that just because I do less than I used to, or ​less than is "best", I'm still better off physically, mentally, and emotionally because I know that​ it doesn't have to be the "best". It just has to be enough. 

You see, encased within every goal I ever sought was a desire for contentment. I think I just wanted to be at peace wherever I was at. Part of that was aligning more with my values, but part of it was putting the importance of certain results in perspective.

Now I know that I don't have to wait for results to have that contentment, because ​it's the process that matters anyway. ​

​Despite my imperfect, and consistently inconsistent training regime, I've still lost 22lbs. 

I feel stronger, ​more focused on what matters to me, and above all, more content. All because I stopped setting myself up for failure with narrow definitions and started valuing ​journey over destination.

What mindset shifts have helped you feel more content on your fitness/life journey? Leave a comment below.

Do your body weight exercises suck compared to loaded ones?

You can lift heavy KB or BB loads, but push-ups, planks, and other body weight exercises seem to BURN YOU OUT!

If this sounds like you, keep reading.

The other week I came across a post in the Girls Gone Strong Facebook Group, by a woman who described this very problem. She could lift heavy with relative ease, but when it came to push-ups and other body weight movements, she felt so weak, and she's stopped seeing progress. 

She's not alone. 

So what's going on here? How can you be so strong at lifting external loads, yet feel so weak at lifting your own body? 

Here's one possibility: you're too tense.

You've become so good at "bracing" and tensing up for those heavy loads, that you're bracing for bodyweight exercises like they're your 1 REP MAX. 

Any wonder you're tired!

You don't need to be tense or braced for all things or for the entire rep or set. Strength works best when it is paired with cycles of relaxation. You become more tense for exertion, but then you turn it down for the rest... and you must also turn it off when you're done. 

Imagine you have a dial to create and disperse tension as the task demands. Finding the appropriate tension, within the appropriate time will give your muscles a chance to rest. 

Let's consider the push-up:  Have you hit a plateau? Do you feel heavy and sluggish?

Next time you try a set, see how "on" you are during your sets? Do you perform them slowly and carefully or can you let up on the bracing as you lower to the floor/bench, then exert some tension for pushing back up? Speed them up so you can express more power. Slow and careful will only fatigue you quicker.

If you find yourself requiring a lot of tension at the start of your sets, you may need to regress the movement (by elevating your hands) so you can work on your motor pattern. This is a common issue with pull-up progressions: they're too much too soon, and require an over-load of tension before the motor pattern is established.

I've seen people remain tense during their entire set. Everything is done so carefully and controlled that there is no fluidity to their movement. It's just rigid.

Don't be rigid.

What else can contribute to this pattern of being too tense during exercise?

Think about what you're like when you're not training. Are you being overly stiff and tense doing every-day activities? Do you worry about your posture and sit/stand super straight all.the.time? Are you vigilant about not twisting or bending your back when you reach for something? Are you worried you'll get injured if you don't perform things with "perfect technique"? 

All of these habits may be making you better at being tense. But you may not even know you're doing it until you look for it. 

If you do find yourself habitually tensed up, try to relax. Let go and allow your body to move more freely. Take note of what true relaxation feels like. 

During exercises, take some reassurance that injury is unlikely to be due to imperfect form. Form (especially at low loads) isn't as important in preventing injury as we've been led to believe. Sure, there is a greater need for better biomechanics as the load gets heavy, but not when it's just your bodyweight. You're not an injury waiting to happen! (blog/rant to come on this) 

Your body is movement waiting to be freed.

Trust your body. Find your fluidity, smoothness, and gracefulness when you move. And breathe! Consciously look to feel what comes between "being on" and "being off". Most exercises are performed best somewhere in between.  

The more you can find the appropriate tension / relaxation cycle for the task you're doing, and turn the dial down in day-to-day activities (and especially at rest), the better recovered you'll be.

Your body will thank you and your strength should soar.

Below a video I extract from this week's coaching call for the Pull-Up Academy where I talk a little more about this.

Want to improve your push-ups? Sign up for my Push-Up Master Plan:

The Plan You Need to Master Push-Ups

Sign up now and get started with the Push-up Master Plan

My Go-to Glute Workout

It’s no secret that I love glute training.

In fact, before I started training my glutes specifically, both my training and glutes were kind of “meh” (in my opinion, which is what mattered). When I started learning how to properly engage my glute muscles, I started to move better, build more strength and power in other exercises, and finally add some shape! It gave me so much more confidence in my body because I found that I no longer carried as much fear about lifting heavy. I knew my strong Glutes would help.

This has also been the case for many of my clients. Women love to see their body changing in their preferred way. And glutes are one of the easiest areas to add shape to. With consistent training, and good recovery, most women (and men) will see results within a few weeks. Of course there’s a genetic element that will dictate how much size you can add and what shape they’ll be, but it’s still worth doing simply because you can’t beat the functional benefits.

While aesthetics aren’t my number one priority right now (which I addressed in a recent blog HERE), it certainly was a few years ago, and I got GREAT results (as you’ll see below)! I also know a lot of you want to improve the jean-filling, deadlift-crushing, kettlebell-swinging capacity of your butt, so it would be a sin if I didn’t share that with you 😛

First, a little summary of my own glute journey

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll probably remember a post I did back in 2012 comparing my glutes from before and “after” training them specifically.  I’d like to add an updated “after” (though I’m now going to call all of these “during”, since our training journeys never really end).

While it hardly matters what I look like, I do want you to see that it’s still possible to maintain the gains you make even when, like me, training consistently becomes more difficult or you gain body fat. It shows that muscle sticks around quite a while if you continue to feed it and stress it from time to time. This fact was super reassuring to me, since I have been struggling to training as much. Turns out, I don’t have to train as much as I thought.

The photo on the left was me in 2010 my hips measured about 34 inches and I weighed about 121lbs (I’m 5’5″ in height). The photo on the right was about a year or more later and my hips measured 36 inches at a body weight of 130lbs (I believe I also gained a inch on my chest and 2 inches on my waist, but looked so much stronger). About another half year later, my hips were up to 37 inches and I was leaner at 126/127lbs.

The next two images are of me within the last year. My hips measure 38-39 inches, and my body weight was anywhere from 136-140lbs. So I carry more body fat and less muscle, but my Glutes still retain their shape.

Of course, as you can see in this next photo from today, this is all changing again now that I’m pregnant (18 weeks):

Finally, I think it’s always worth remembering that regardless of how much body fat you carry at various points through your life, you can still build and maintain a strong, amazing butt 😀 It’s not the main marker of training “success”, and certainly not your point of value in the world, but it’s still a great area to focus some training on. When you enjoy strength training, performance goals, and feeling great in your skin, then glute training really helps tick those boxes.

[Edit from Jan 2018]

Now at 30 weeks pregnant, I still include plenty of my favourite Glute-friendly exercises in my workouts:

Which leads me to my gift for you

Since I’ve become a bit of a master of maintenance, here are five of my go-to glute exercises organised into a bonus workout download with access to tutorials on each exercise. This is a workout I frequently do, and love the simplicity. I think you’ll enjoy it too!

You can do this workout on its own, or as a finisher to another workout.

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Eight Inspiring Stories of Not Giving Up

One woman inspired me to pursue strength training. In fact, this woman inspired me to do pull-ups and push-ups without the burden of not believing that upper body strength was possible for me.  She showed me why strength was important.

As a teenager in the early 1990’s, she was the first female character I had ever seen preparing for her big purpose by training her strength, becoming fit for purpose. She was determined, focused, and on a mission.

Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2.


The people who inspire us offer a gift of possibility. Perhaps it even causes something within us to awaken that previously lay dormant. I believe that there is one thing that inspires more than any other: seeing someone not give up on something that holds meaning to them.

Here are 8 amazing people who did just that. Each one of them reached for the bar and tried pull-ups again and again until they succeeded. At some point in each story their inner critic had thrown some kind of objection at them about why they may fail. What stands out to me is the common thread of perseverance: “continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition” ~ Merriam Webster Dictionary

I’m hoping this post will inspire you do something that holds meaning but that you might currently believe too difficult. Whatever that thing is for you (pull-ups or not), the important question is not if it’s difficult, but if it’s worth it.


Molly Galbraith, 32, of Girls Gone Strong

Molly shows us what’s possible even when you think your body may work against you.


There’s nothing quite like the feeling of being able to pull yourself up over the pull-up bar. It makes me feel powerful, capable and independent. I love it’s carryover into real life (I had to hop an 8 foot fence the other day when I locked myself out of my house and I never could have done it without my pull-up ability!) and I love how unexpected it is that a super-tall, 165+ pound woman with super-long arms would be able to walk up to a pull-up bar and knock out a set. So of course that’s what I like to do.

Before, I don’t know if I thought they weren’t for me but I was very jealous of my friend who could do like, 12! I definitely went into it thinking about how much harder they be for me with my heavier body and long arms. They ARE VERY HARD, but also DOABLE!”


Chris Garcia, 52, Alpine, TX

Chris has been my online client for 4 years and he has shown me time and time again what perseverance can help you do.


Sometimes the reward is not the goal. I am 5’7″ and weighed 189 lbs. I got tired of being fat, so I took it off in a very aggressive manner (daily heavy bag work, sky high BOSU jump and sticks, and push ups) I went to 157 in 6 weeks. I used to be strong in both chin ups and pull ups, but I promised myself I would not try them until I lost 30lbs, so as not to embarrass myself. After the weight loss I went up to the bar and did a chin up; then I tried a pull up and did three. After I finished I thought, “Holy crap, that was easy!”


Chrysta Hiser, 34, and all-round-awesome woman!

I’ve never met anyone as positive and caring as Chrysta so of course I had to ask her for her pull-up story <3


Thinking back to my first pull up kind of makes me laugh (triumphantly though!) I got one of those over the door pull up bars on a whim from the sporting goods store. I sale shop like a boss, what can I say. Anyways I remember putting it up and thinking to myself that this was going to go one of three ways. Option one: I don’t have it mounted right and I’ll end up hilariously landing on the floor. Option two: nothing is going to happen and I’ll be left with flashbacks of the embarrassing flex bar hang in Jr. high. Option three: success! Well I just gripped that bar and to my surprise I hoisted myself up over the bar. After my little happy dance in the hallway I remember it being such an empowering feeling and I was so proud of myself. Not only did I get my first pull up but I also did something that I wasn’t sure I could do. That to me was such a defining moment as I wanted to see how much more I could do. Since then I kept practicing and still do every week. With practice pull ups have become something that I enjoy doing and look forward to progressing this skill.

Before, I honestly didn’t think that I could do them. I thought I didn’t have a strong upper body. I had a million silly little reasons but I’d never even tried. That was the odd thing. I finally decided to try because I was tired of thinking that way and I wanted to be more than I thought I was!”


Jen Comas, of Girls Gone Strong &

Jen and I go way back to the beginning of Girls Gone Strong when she blew me away by making really difficult things look effortless. Of course I know they’re not, she just moves with grace 🙂


When I first started my fitness journey, I remember jumping up to grab the pull-up bar, pulling with all of my might, and to my dismay, not budging one single inch. From that point on, pull-ups seemed completely out of my reach, and they intimidated me. It wasn’t until years later, after focusing on a ton of strength work, that I re-visited them. I hopped up to the bar, and was able to do one! I remember feeling an immense sense of accomplishment, and even after developing impressive squat, bench, and deadlift numbers, a pull-up was what I became most proud of. It wasn’t long after I got my first one that I got my first set of three, then my first set of five, and I went on to build that number to an unbroken chain of 10.”


Nancy Sher, 47 going on 20, of Strong Girl Revolution, Marlton NJ

Moving countries has been tough on me mostly because I don’t have a network of friends. Nancy has become a great friend and source of strength for me and I’m grateful for her. How we met is a pretty funny story … for another day 😉


The day of my Presidential Physical Fitness test in high school I had to do an iso-hold pull-up. I got up on the bar but immediately let go. I remember the gym teacher telling me that I was so much stronger than that and to get back up on the bar to do it again. Again, I immediately let go saying that I wasn’t that strong. She was pretty pissed at me.

I really didn’t believe in myself. That’s held me back in most aspects of my life.

I don’t remember getting my first chin-up, but I remember getting 5! I was 28 when it happened.  My husband used to help me by giving me a push up to the bar. One day during our workout I did 5 and he told me he didn’t spot me at all. I didn’t believe him, so I tried it again. 5 more chin ups! I felt like such a strong badass! It was the beginning of me realizing I was strong and to believe in myself.

That’s the beauty of training: just when you think you can’t, you give it a try, and with practice and consistent work, voila! You’re doing what was once unthinkable.

It teaches you to never count yourself out. It teaches you that you can do it. It teaches you to believe in yourself.”


Clodagh McGlynn, 35, of @CATbikini Belfast, Northern Ireland

One of the many people I miss from home. Clodagh and I met at my old gym where many of my videos have been filmed. She was my spin buddy and soon became one of my closest friends. She’s also a Personal Trainer.


I always wanted to be able to do pull-ups because they are impressive and it’s empowering to be able to lift your own body weight. While I had some self-doubt I still tried because to me it was worth the effort. I just kept practicing until one day I did it!”


Yvonne Halpin, 32, of @yoyohalpin and from Clonmel, Ireland

For those of you who are signed up to my Museletter, you will have received an invitation to Myomytv’s Closed Facebook group. Yvonne is part of the group and I have been inspired by her amazing strength videos which pop up from time to time in my newsfeed. Plus I’m on a mission to showcase other strong Irish women 🙂


I remember watching others in the gym flying up and down and thinking gosh, that’ll never be me! But after a few months of just practicing hangs and the slow downwards progression and using resistance bands it happened! I remember putting the band to one side and thinking “I’ll just try it” . I gripped the bar and squeezed everything and before I knew it I was up at the bar!! I got two in a row that day and I was elated!! It had seemed impossible; especially for someone with no athletic or sports background and there I was doing chins 😃 it was such a great confidence boost and self earned which gave me a new sense of pride in this lil body!”


There’s no doubt that pull-ups are challenging. There’s no doubt that pull-ups take perseverance, consistency and frequency to make progress and maintain it (ask me how many times I’ve gone back to 2 reps). And there is absolutely no doubt that they are worth every effort. No matter how many times my reps regress, I still want to keep trying to get more pull-ups!

Now it’s your turn to share your pull-up story. Let me know how what this goal means to you, and whether you’ve succeeded yet.

~ Marianne


Don’t miss it ===> Enrollment for The Pull-Up Academy is opening for the second time from September 18th-22nd. There’s only room for 25 participants, so get your name on the pre-enrollment list today 😀

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