Women are obsessed with glute training. This fitness trend seems to be rooted in a cultural shift toward curvy physiques that started taking off in the early 2000s. The trend has only picked up steam over the years and translated to squat challenges on Pinterest and Instagram, fitspo’s sharing 101 booty workout variations (TBH, most are completely ineffective) and there’s even a name for the gym butt selfies women take after leg day– “belfies.”

The truth is, many of these #fitspos aren’t showing correct form in their posts and their programs make educated coaches cringe.

But, it turns out there are good, scientific reasons for women to put more emphasis on their glutes in their training program and round booty is just a bonus. #bringonthebootybands

Why do many women need to strengthen their glutes? 

Women generally have wider hips and their tibias (lower leg bone) are smaller in circumference than a man’s, creating structural differences that have both visual and functional impacts. As women, our anatomical structure can cause more instability in the leg joints, weaknesses in the gluteus minimus, gluteus medius, and tightness in the adductors. This all adds up to knees falling in while just standing around and an obvious knee cave during exercise.


If your knees are caving in, the outside of the glute, which is in charge of keeping your hip open and active,  is weak and the inner thigh muscles are tight so everything gets pulled in during daily movement and especially during exercise. This condition is called “Knee Valgus,”  “knock knees”  or simply a “knee cave” and can be identified by knees falling inward on movements like squats, deadlifts, and lunges.





Knee Valgus can cause a cascade of issues including general form concerns, ACL injury, limits to your strength/fitness potential, a dysfunctional relationship between your core and hips during exercise, and, for those of you addicted to the booty gains, it will make it more challenging to utilize and grow your glutes.

Side Note:

Your knee is a joint that is stuck between your ankle and hip joints.  Ultimately, if your knees are caving, the dysfunction likely originates above or below the knee, not at the knee itself.  While this blog addresses glute and hip strengthening, it’s important for us to point out that ankle pronation could be a factor for you as well.

How can you tell if your ankles need some work?

Next time you’re in front of a mirror, check your feet. If your ankles look like the photo below, you will need to add in some strengthening and coordination exercises for your ankles and feet in addition to working on your hip function.

If this is the case for you, learning the concept/cue of “screwing your foot in” to create an arch and external rotation of the ankle and upstream leg joints can make a major difference in your workouts as well as everyday movement (walking, standing, etc.). Watch this video starting at the 6:20 mark for a clear visual of exactly what I mean!


So, where should you start?

You need to get coordinated!

If you’ve spent your entire life walking around with Knee Valgus and have done 1,000,103 squats with your hips, ankles, and knees caving in,  strength alone will not fix the problem.

Everything we do with our body is communicated from our brains to our muscles through our Central Nervous System. Habitual movements like walking happen without much thought, but if we are trying to do something new or differently we have to focus to create the action with our body.

This can be especially difficult when it comes to breaking bad habits. So we need to practice the proper movement patterns through a concept called Reactive Neuromuscular Training.

By using an external cue, like a band, we can teach our bodies to stay in proper position by reacting to that stimulus. Then with enough repetition, we can change our body’s “muscle memory” and help it to engrain new movement patterns.

Outside of the strengthening exercises that we will outline in the next section, try adding 3-4 sets of 10 on each side of this Banded Lunge to practice the new movement pattern as part of your lower body warm-up.

Strengthening Exercises

Having a coach yell “knees out” (or thinking it)  over and over is not going to fix the problem. The bottom line is that your glutes need to be stronger and more functional.

The entire glute needs to be strengthened through heavy posterior chain exercises such as thrusts, bridges, squats, lunges, and deadlifts, BUT the gluteus medius (the muscle on the side of your butt that helps with opening and rotating your hip) needs to be tackled directly.

Some of the best exercises to help here are X-band Walks, Clams, Side Lateral Squat Walks, and Banded Squats.

Here is a full library of exercises you may consider adding to your leg day:

So don’t let anyone make you feel bad about your #glutegoals. 

Apply these exercises within a well thought out lower body training program that includes Reactive Neuromuscular warm-ups, compound exercises for strength, and accessories to address weak points. It’s going to take time and effort, but someday you WILL be able to squat with a strong and stable position!




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