The Best Glute Exercise You’ve Never Heard of

July 22, 2015

About the Author: Eric Bach

Well, Summer is full fledged which makes me think of a few things.

First, it’s almost Football season. I can’t wait.
Well, unless my team blows a 17 point lead in the Conference Championship game, turning my celebratory beer into hops and barley watered down by tears.

Anyways, I’m over it.

Not really, but to my second point:

All your hard-work in the gym is on display during the summer.
Bikini’s shrink every year, and more women are asking for exercises to build a booty they can be proud of all summer long.

Guys too.
No, you’re not on “display” as much as women (unless you’re repping the Borat man thong), but you’re wearing tighter clothing to show off your body too.

Photo Credit:, best glute exercise

Photo Credit:

In the spirit of barbecues, pool parties, and all the fun that comes with summer I have the best glute exercise you’ve never used sculpt your backside.

Your glutes will grow dense muscle and you’ll build athleticism by maximizing hip extension power, for explosive activities like jumping and sprinting (beach volleyball anyone). Plus, you’ll have more “pop” during your lockouts and big lower body lifts, meaning you’re cleans, squats, and deadlifts will get a healthy boost.

Athletic gains, a better booty, and boosting your big lifts?

Duh, count me in.

The Hackey Pull
Before getting into the “deets” of this exercise proper I have to give credit to Loren Landow for teaching me this exercise. (P.S. If you don’t follow Loren, do it now.)

Okay, the hackey pull.
99% of the time the hackey pull is programmed to improve hip extension during Olympic lifting variations.
Without going into full detail, hip extension is the most important driver of sports specific transfer of the clean. Hip extension is the explosive pattern in sprints, and jumps which we try to maximize with Olympic lifts.

Beyond performance benefits the hackey pull can be altered to build better glutes. By tweaking the loading, set duration, and training volume, the hackey pull becomes a fantastic exercise to build bigger glutes.

How to Hackey Pull:

Begin with an RDL position and the bar below knee-level.

Accelerate the bar as it passes the knees, extending the hips forward and “popping” the bar off the thighs.
During each rep, squeeze your glutes (read: butt cheeks) as hard as possible when popping the bar off the hips to maximize glute recruitment.

Sound simple? It is.

Here’s a video:

There are two huge benefits to the hackey pull:
1) The isometric contraction teaches you to engage the glutes during explosive movements and “feel” them working. This mind-muscle connection is vital for muscle growth. Instead of g0ing through the motions, feel your glutes doin’ work!

2) The hackey pull reinforces the big driver of performance from the clean: hip extension.
Basically, the hips must extend during your lifts or you minimize the or the athletic carryover (i.e. increased speed and power) of triple extension exercises like cleans. Therefore, the hackey pull will improve your performance on other big, multi-joint lifts. 

Why you Should Do It:

Strong, fully recruited glutes are important. More specifically, using the hackey pull has a few major benefits most glorious glute exercises don’t offer:

1) You’ll blend the gap between speed and strength, truly improving your on-field and gym performance. The hackey pull uses heavy weights with maximum explosive intent from a standing position. Unless you have a seriously heavy kettlebell, you won’t use anywhere near the loading of the hackey pull.

2) Powerful hip extension from the standing position. Seriously, I love hip thrusts and bridges, but any time I can get my clients standing tall instead of laying or sitting or I’ll do it.

3) You’ll improve the your lockout and finishing strength in deadlifts. Don’t believe me?
What drives the lockout at the top of your pull or finishes the squat?
Explosive hip extension.
While the loading will differ, the hackey pull teaches you to rapidly recruit the glutes into action as the bar passes your knees.

4) You get to hump the bar. Seriously, that’s a great cue to maximize hip extension in the hackey pull, while showing your appreciation to your hard working barbell.


How to Program the Hackey Pull:

Your success with the hackey pull depends on whether the programming and execution matches your training goals. Basically, that means if you train a muscle to be explosive and powerful, that’s what you’ll get.

Conversely, if you force muscles to work in a fatigued state they’ll break-down, and force changes in the tissue to adapt.
By manipulating the weight and volume of the hackey pull you will focus on athletic performance, muscle growth, or a little bit of both.

Hackey Pull for Athletic Performance:

To maximize the hackey pull for athletic performance program as you would any major movement.
I’ve found the best training max for the hackey pull to be on par with the clean. If you don’t use the clean in training, 50% of deadlift max is a great place to start.

A sample work-load could replace a clean or Olympic lifting variation in your training:

Deadlift Max: 400lbs
Hackey Pull Training Max: 200lbs

Hackey Pull:
135lbs x5
165lbs x4
175 x3
185 x2
195 x2

[Related] How to Hang Clean for Total Body Power

Build Muscle:
To maximize the hackey pull for glute hypertrophy I decrease the weight and increase training volume. Also, the explosive nature of the hackey pull improves muscle recruitment in the glutes because you’re attacking each rep with maximum intent. That means attack each rep like it’s a max, and you’ll build your glutes faster.

A sample workload could be:

Deadlift Max: 400lbs
Hackey Pull Training Max: 200lbs

Hackey Pull:
135lbs x10
155lbs x8
165 x8
165 x6
165 x6

Note: There is one big draw-back to the Hackey pull as a muscle builder. While the explosive action and increased muscle recruitment is a bonus that most people are missing, there isn’t much eccentric stress.

To optimize glute development start workouts with the hackey pull, then finish them off with a hip thrust for higher reps and slower tempo, as demonstrated by Bret Contreras.

With this combo, you’ll have the 1-2 punch of increased motor unit and muscular recruitment, which prompts greater growth and a show and go booty.

Closing Thoughts:

Strong glutes are important.

Explosive hip extension is important.

By adding the hackey pull above you’ll get a blend of both worlds: Glutes that are stronger, more explosive, and overall, hotter. There’s no excuse to have a small, weak, useless keister. Get your butt in gear!

Tweet: Give this exercise a shot to optimally build your glutes @Eric_Bach #glutes #fitness #bodybuildingTweet: Give this exercise a shot to optimally build your glutes @Eric_Bach #glutes #fitness #bodybuilding

1.Henneman, E, Somjen G, Carpenter DO. J Neurophysiol. 28:560-580, 1965.


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