Why Are My Glutes Not Growing? (8 Reasons)

May 7, 2023

Pancake butt is a fixable problem. A problem that curses men and women. You may think you’re destined for a flat butt that no bikini or pants will perk up. But this isn’t the case. And it’s not purely genetics whether you can have a perky butt.

Here are 8 reasons why your glutes aren’t growing and how to fix it!

8 Reasons Why Your Glutes Aren’t Growing

Lack Of Mind-Muscle Connection

If you can’t feel your glutes working and burning during an exercise, you’re not maximizing their contribution to the exercise. It’s a skill you’ll develop to activate your glutes by squeezing them during an exercise.

Without it, you’ll have sub-par glute growth. A great example is a study that had subjects focus on the triceps during the bench press [1]. They showed greater triceps activation than the group who focused on the chest.

We can extrapolate this concept when training to get bigger glutes by focusing on them during our lifts.

Following Booty Influencers Workouts

Free Shipping Booty

Social media is full of so-called “booty specialists,” typically a skinny model with butt implants showing horrible workouts and technique. Don’t follow the advice from these “trainers.” Endless booty band walks and jumping isn’t going to get you the butt you’ve been working so hard towards.

Instead, you need to mix compound and isolation exercises within your workout. No amount of jumping will grow your glutes significantly.

Not Lifting Heavy Loads

This is where our big compound exercises come into play. Think of the hip thrust, Romanian deadlift, lunge, and squat as popular glute exercises. You must push yourself on these exercises as the largest glute muscle, the gluteus maximus, only kicks in when force requirements are high enough.

So the contributions from the glutes increase as the load increases when squatting, lunging, and deadlifting [2]. Squatting 90% 1RM vs. 50% 1RM elicits 33% greater glute contribution to the exercise without an increase in quadriceps contribution [3].

Using 50% additional body weight when lunging vs. 12.5% increases glute contribution by 22.8% [4]. And finally, using 80% 1RM on the deadlift leads to a 33% increase in glute contribution compared to 10% 1RM [5].

What do we take from this? You gotta lift heavy weights to involve the glutes, especially during large compound exercises.

Your Form Sucks

Why Your Glutes Aren't Growing

This is a harsh reason, but sometimes the lifting technique isn’t advantageous to build the glutes. For example, you may not be squatting deep enough to get the full range of motion from the glutes. Or you are deadlifting, mainly pulling with your back instead of using your legs and hips.

These small technical changes make a world of difference to how your glutes contribute to the exercise.

Poor Exercise Selection

Are you picking the right exercises to grow the upper glute shelf? The squat makes an excellent lower glute exercise but may also not build the top of the booty. The leg press makes it very hard to adequately stimulate the glutes, and instead, you’re likely to feel your quads work harder.

Some lifters find certain exercises challenging to feel their glutes working. They may not be suitable for you and your leverages. So, you must play trial and error in the gym to figure out which exercises make your glutes burn when performing the exercises.

You’re Not Eating Enough Calories

This is one of the biggest non-training mistakes most people make. Are you doing everything above correctly, and your glutes still aren’t growing? This is probably why. To build significant muscle, you’ll likely have to put on some weight (unless you’re in the newbie gains phase).

Eating at a caloric surplus and seeing the scale weight increase can be daunting. But do it correctly, and your glutes will finally grow! This means slow and steady. Depending on your training age and previous history, you should aim to put on as little as 10 lbs for the entire year.

You’re Not Eating Enough Protein

While calories are important, the breakdown of these calories will dictate the quality of weight you put on. Most people need to eat more protein and severely underestimate how much is required to maximize muscle growth.

1.6 g of protein per kilogram of body weight per day, or 0.8 g per pound of body weight, is the upper limit for maximizing muscle growth. You can go as high as 2.2g per kilogram or 1 g per pound for you meat lovers out there.

You’re Doing Too Much Cardio

Cardio is what most people turn to when getting in shape. They think it’ll “shape” and “tone” their glutes so they are beach ready. Unfortunately, you’re doing the opposite. You don’t build muscle by doing cardio.

You must apply adequate resistance through lifting weights to stimulate the muscle-building response. Doing too much cardio eats away at your recovery from lifting weights or takes time away when you could be lifting weights.

Minimize your cardio to once or twice a week, so prioritize glute development.


If you identify with any of these mistakes causing your glutes not to grow, you know exactly how to fix them. In short, lift heavy, focus on the glutes, choose the right exercises, eat more, and do less cardio! These will ensure your booty is popping through your jeans.


1. Paoli, A., Mancin, L., Saoncella, M., Grigoletto, D., Pacelli, F. Q., Zamparo, P., … & Marcolin, G. (2019). Mind-muscle connection: effects of verbal instructions on muscle activity during bench press exercise. European Journal of Translational Myology29(2).

2. Beardsley, C., & Contreras, B. (2014). The increasing role of the hip extensor musculature with heavier compound lower-body movements and more explosive sport actions. Strength & Conditioning Journal36(2), 49-55.

3. Bryanton, M. A., Kennedy, M. D., Carey, J. P., & Chiu, L. Z. (2012). Effect of squat depth and barbell load on relative muscular effort in squatting. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research26(10), 2820-2828.

4. Riemann, B. L., Lapinski, S., Smith, L., & Davies, G. (2012). Biomechanical analysis of the anterior lunge during 4 external-load conditions. Journal of athletic training47(4), 372-378.

5. Swinton, P. A., Stewart, A., Agouris, I., Keogh, J. W., & Lloyd, R. (2011). A biomechanical analysis of straight and hexagonal barbell deadlifts using submaximal loads. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research25(7), 2000-2009.

About the Author

I am a professional strength & conditioning coach that works with professional and international teams and athletes. I am a published scientific researcher and have completed my Masters in Sport & Exercise Science. I've combined my knowledge of research and experience to bring you the most practical bites to be applied to your training.

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