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Glutes are the largest muscle in the human body and can often be the most difficult to grow. Adding in eccentrics, or slowing the lowering phase, of key glute-focused movements is a great way to bring up the glutes as a lagging muscle group.
The 5 best eccentric glute exercises are:
- Eccentric barbell hip thrusts
- Eccentric rear foot elevated split squat
- Eccentric sumo deadlift
- Eccentric Romanian deadlift
- Eccentric glute ham raise
In this guide, I will explain what these exercises are, how to do each of them, their benefits, and their drawbacks.
Without further ado, let's get into it!
What Are Eccentric Glute Exercises?
Glute exercises target the gluteus maximus (the largest glute muscle) and medius (which lies underneath the gluteus maximus) as the primary movers. Implementing eccentrics slows the movements' lowering phases, which increases time under tension and makes them more difficult.
Glute exercises also involve the hamstrings and quads as secondary movers. However, how we execute glute exercises can change the degree to which the glutes are targeted compared to the quads and hamstrings.
5 Benefits of Doing Eccentric Glute Exercises
1. Lower Risk of Injury
It is common that regular gym-goers will rush through the phases of any given movement, which can be problematic since it can lead to injury or decreased efficiency in the exercise.
Eccentrics increase the difficulty of lighter weights, which creates less impact on the joints during different movement phases.
Additionally, performing exercises in a slower and more controlled fashion is substantially safer than the alternative.
2. Improve Muscular Control
Implementing eccentrics will increase the number of muscle fibers that the brain signals to contract. Furthermore, this slowed lowering promotes your ability to control loads, while quicker or jerkier downward movements can lead to a loss of power and positioning.
Maximizing power output is a consequence of controlled movement. Without control, movement becomes rigorous, which leads to a loss of power and strength.
3. Build Mass and Strength
Implementing eccentrics promotes time under tension, which can enhance the rate of fatigue experienced with fewer repetitions and weight, promoting greater muscular hypertrophy.
Additionally, the greater resulting hypertrophy and control experienced by the implementation of eccentrics can increase strength in the long run.
4. Increase Effectiveness of Lower Loads
Typically, we need to implement heavier loads to increase strength. However, eccentrics have multiple benefits, such as increased control, time under tension, and greater muscular hypertrophy, resulting in significant strength gains even when lifting lighter weights.
This means you can lift at just 60% of your 1 rep max but still get a challenging workout by incorporating eccentrics.
This is especially helpful during phases where we are trying to offload the body and allow additional recovery. Also, this is beneficial if you’re working out at a gym with limited equipment or don’t have access to heavy weights.
5. Greater Flexibility
Spending more time in the eccentric phase of each exercise will increase bendiness in each position of a given exercise.
Increased flexibility from eccentric glute exercises will promote greater end range for the hip and knee joint, which can have tremendous carry over to daily tasks (picking objects up, jogging, jumping, etc.) and other lower extremity movements (squats, deadlifts, Olympic lifts, etc.)
5 Eccentric Glute Exercises
1. Eccentric Barbell Hip Thrusts
Eccentric barbell hip thrusts are a single joint glute exercise that places the complete load and stimulus directly over the glutes. As a result, they are considered the greatest eccentric glute exercise.
- Sit on the floor with your back facing the side of a bench and your legs under a loaded barbell with either a hip thrust pad or an Airex pad underneath it.
- Dig your traps into the side of a bench and maintain an upright chest to build tension.
- Have your feet out, so your ankles are stacked directly under your knees.
- Elevate the bar with your hips at 90 degrees to maintain the starting position.
- Drive your hips up into complete extension while squeezing your glutes and hamstrings.
- Count to 4 to slowly return to the starting position by bending the hips back to 90 degrees.
- Eccentric barbell hip thrusts are a single joint isolation exercise that targets the glutes. If your main focus is building your glutes, implementing eccentric barbell hip thrusts is the greatest option.
- Eccentric barbell hip thrusts can be loaded up heavier than the other options on this list. Positioning the bar directly over the hip joint allows you to place extremely heavy loads directly over the glute muscles. This is great for building and strengthening the glutes in isolation.
- Eccentric barbell hip thrusts have little practical carry-over. Barbell hip thrusts are completely an isolation exercise. When compared to exercises like the eccentric rear foot elevated split squat, they have much less of an effect on functional ability. That said, hip thrusts can improve your squat and deadlift and help you jump higher.
- Eccentric barbell hip thrusts can be painful on the hip bone. The hip bone can be a sensitive part of the body, especially for men, which might require you to utilize a pad to cushion the steel exterior of the bar. However, implementing a pad might still not be enough to protect the hip bone, which in this case may require you to do a machine variation or put more pads under the barbell.
If you don’t feel your glutes when you do hip thrusts, check out Don’t Feel Your Glutes Hip Thrusting? Try These 9 Tips.
2. Eccentric Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat
Eccentric rear foot elevated split squats (or Bulgarian split squats) will primarily target the glutes and hamstrings when focused on hip movement. They are the go-to supplementary glute exercise that I program for my clients.
- Rest the back foot with the laces atop a bench.
- Initiate by slowly sitting back with the hips and letting the front knee travel over the second and third toes.
- Count to 4 as you squat down until the thigh is at or just above parallel with the floor.
- From the bottom, push through the midfoot until the hip and knee are at complete extension.
- Eccentric rear foot elevated split squats have direct carry over to regular squats. Implementing the rear foot elevated split squat as an accessory or supplementary movement can be beneficial for greater learning and exposure to squat-based movements.
- Eccentric rear foot elevated split squats increase single-sided glute strength. Imbalances naturally occur throughout training. Implementing unilateral or single-leg movements can help diminish the strength gap between both sides.
- Eccentric rear foot elevated split squats can be challenging to do. Rear foot elevated split squats are often neglected because they are challenging. Regressing the rear foot elevated split squat with the addition of a PVC pipe or stable surface for support can take the balance component out of this exercise and make it easier.
- Eccentric rear foot elevated split squats can place a lot of stress on the knees. When experiencing knee pain, starting with a regular squat or split squat before implementing the rear foot elevation can be beneficial to testing knee health.
If rear foot elevated split squats are too difficult for you, you can also try one of these Bulgarian split squat alternatives.
3. Eccentric Sumo Deadlift
Eccentric sumo deadlifts, especially during the lowering phase, will emphasize glute muscle activation more, making them a great eccentric glute exercise option for strength.
- Stand with the bar over the midfoot and the toes pointed out.
- Build tension in the upper torso by driving the traps down and squeezing the armpits to activate the lats.
- Get into position by sitting back with the hips while feeling tension in the glutes and hamstrings.
- Lightly grip the bar while driving through the midfoot to wedge yourself into the bar.
- Upon building complete tension onto the bar, forcefully stand up with the bar while maintaining positioning and stiffness in the upper torso.
- At lockout, slowly lower the bar while counting to 4 to return to the starting position.
- Eccentric sumo deadlifts have high loading potential. For sumo deadlifts, you can typically lift heavier weights, resulting in greater strength gains.
- Eccentric sumo deadlifts add an extra phase to a concentric-only phase movement. Regular sumo deadlifts consist of the concentric (upward) phase of the movement alone. Adding the eccentric phase results in further glute and posterior chain development.
- Eccentric sumo deadlifts can place pressure on the low back. If you have lower back pain, it can be quite uncomfortable or painful to implement an eccentric phase. Alternatively, I would recommend performing eccentric hip thrusts, or eccentric glute ham raises.
- Eccentric sumo deadlifts are difficult to learn. Eccentric sumo deadlifts may take 4-6 weeks to become proficient in. However, they are well worth the invested time, as they will carry over to your regular sumo deadlifts and promote additional glute development.
If you’re having trouble perfecting your sumo deadlift technique, check out 11 Sumo Deadlift Cues To Improve Strength & Technique.
4. Eccentric Romanian Deadlift
Romanian deadlifts are extremely effective at targeting the glutes, especially when focusing on the eccentric phase.
- Stand with your feet about hip-width apart.
- Grip the bar with your hands just outside of the thighs.
- Build tension in the upper back by closing the armpits and exaggerating the chest-up cue.
- Initiate the movement by sitting the hips back and counting to 4 until the barbell is just below the knees.
- Return to the starting position by driving the hips forward.
- Eccentric Romanian deadlifts are less stressful on the body. Romanian deadlifts involve less range of motion, resulting in a lower stress movement that can increase safety and be easier to recover from.
- Eccentric Romanian deadlifts are versatile movements. Romanian deadlifts can be done with a barbell, dumbbells, bands, or bodyweight, as well as allowing for single- and two-leg variations for a wide selection to choose from.
- Eccentric Romanian deadlifts can place stress on the lower back. Similar to the sumo deadlifts, Romanian deadlifts can be difficult to do if you have lower back pain or discomfort. Start with 40% of your 1 rep max and, as you slowly work your way up by 5-10 lb increments, ensure each set is pain-free and comfortable. Alternatively, eccentric hip thrusts are a much safer and risk-free eccentric glute exercise option.
- Eccentric Romanian Deadlifts provide less of a stimulus than conventional deadlifts. Eccentric Romanian deadlifts place constant tension on the glutes and hamstrings. However, the range of motion is much less when compared to conventional deadlifts.
Learn more about the differences between regular deadlifts and Romanian deadlifts in Deadlift vs Romanian Deadlift: Form, Benefits, Differences.
5. Eccentric Glute Ham Raise
Eccentric glute ham raises target the glutes and hamstrings. In my opinion, they are fundamental to an effective glute program.
- Securely fasten your feet in the leg lock with your knees firmly planted into the pad.
- Start with your knees bent at 90 degrees and your torso perpendicular to the ground.
- While maintaining hip extension, lower your torso to a count of 4 until your legs are completely extended.
- Pull yourself back by pulling your heels through the leg locks and bending the knees back to return to the starting position.
- Eccentric glute ham raises are inherently difficult to master but can easily be regressed for beginners. Glute ham raises are difficult to do but can be regressed easily by adding band assistance or implementing a PVC pipe to assist in the lowering and upward phases of the exercise. This means wide ranges of experience levels can benefit greatly from implementing eccentric glute ham raises.
- Eccentric glute ham raises have an extremely high glute hamstring muscle activation. The glute ham raise isolates the knee joint while maintaining hip extension, which results in being an extremely effective exercise for isolating both the hamstrings and glutes.
- Eccentric glute ham cannot be loaded to a high degree. Even though there is glute isolation, you can’t utilize a lot of loading during this exercise because of the positioning and nature of the movement. However, implementing a hip thrust will allow you to strengthen your glutes to a higher degree.
- Eccentric glute ham raises require a glute ham developer. Most gyms don’t have a glute ham developer. However, Nordic curls are equally effective at targeting the hamstrings and glutes and can easily be done anywhere, which makes them a strong glute ham raise alternative.
Learn more about the differences between glute ham raises and Nordic curls in my article Glute Ham Raise vs Nordic Curl: Differences, Pros, Cons.
How To Program Glute Eccentrics
Glute eccentrics are more effective when programmed for lighter intensities @ 60-80% of your 1 rep max for lower rep ranges from 3-10 reps. This is due to the increased time under tension placed on each repetition, which can result in greater fatigue per rep.
To increase volume, I would recommend implementing multiple sets while staying in the 3-10 rep range.
Sample Eccentric Glute Workout
Sample Workout For Strength/Hypertrophy
- Eccentric sumo deadlift: 3 x 3 @ 70-80%
- Eccentric hip thrust: 3 x 8 @ 70%
- Eccentric glute ham raise: 3 x 8 @ body weight
Sample Workout For Strength
- Eccentric sumo deadlift: 5 x 3 @ 70-85%
- Eccentric rear foot elevated split squat: 3 x 5 each side @ 65-75%
- Eccentric Romanian deadlift: 3 x 5 @ 65-75%
Sample Workout For Hypertrophy
- Eccentric rear foot elevated split squat: 3 x 10 each side @ 65-75%
- Eccentric hip thrust: 3 x 10 @ 60-70%
- Eccentric glute ham raise: 3 x 8-12 @ body weight
Additional Glute Training Resources
- 8 Back-Friendly Glute Exercises (Build Glutes & Avoid Pain)
- 12 Best Compound Glute Exercises For Muscle Size & Strength
- 12 Best Glute Isolation Exercises (Cable, Bands, Machines)
- Can You Train Glutes 2 Days In A Row? (Pros & Cons)
- 3 Cable Glute Workouts For Mass (Complete Guide)
- Blood Flow Restriction Training for Glutes (Complete Guide)
Eccentric glute exercises reduce injury, promote controlled movement, build mass and strength, improve flexibility, and make lighter loads more effective.
From the list of provided exercises, eccentric hip thrusts are the absolute best for isolating and targeting the glutes. However, I recommend testing all of them out, as they are all great for their own reasons.
About The Author
Javad Bakhshinejad was born and raised in the Washington Area. Currently, he is a student at Seattle University where he’s been pursuing an MS in Kinesiology, and has been a Strength Coach in the athletic department. He was a competitive bodybuilder for 8 years where he later transitioned to competitive powerlifting for 4 years. Currently, He has his own personal coaching business, where he works with powerlifters and bodybuilders.