This post may be Not Safe For Work – booty diagrams are embedded in this post! You have been warned.
What is the glute-ham tie-in?
The glute-ham tie-in is an area of your body. That’s it. It’s not an individual muscle you can target. No matter the division, if you are a female bodybuilding competitor, the judges are going to be looking for a glute-ham tie-in in your back poses.
On this diagram of surface anatomy, the glute-ham tie-in is right where the gluteal fold is. Some competition-ready women will have a gluteal fold while standing normally, but the fold goes away when they hit their back pose fully. What you’ll also notice is that you can see the clear outline of the gluteus maximus and the hamstring, creating a separation of the inner and middle thighs.
For the sake of comparison, I’ll use photos of Nationals level competitors rather than a seasoned Pro:
Their glutes are shaped differently, but in both competitors, you can still see a really crisp outline of their glutes and hamstrings. If they stood in their back pose with their legs together, you would see a diamond shape (top half would be the border of the gluteus maximus, bottom half would be the edge of the hamstrings/right on top of the adductors at the inner thigh).
In summary, the tie-in is where the glute meets the biceps femoris in what’s almost a teardrop shape. The semitendinosus is the muscle you see popping in the near middle back of the leg.
How do I get the glute-ham tie-in to pop?
The glute-ham tie-in is a result of two factors:
- Glute and hamstring development
Makes sense – you need to get lean enough to show muscle separation. There’s a surprising amount of fat on top of the adductors – so getting conditioned enough isn’t just about getting ripped abs, you need to make sure your legs are conditioned adequately as well. For most women, this area is the last to lean out. As I’ve noted in previous posts, getting competition lean means giving yourself enough time. In my first season, when I didn’t know better, I did a 12 week prep and didn’t come in conditioned enough. I also didn’t give myself enough time during my second season and had to pull out of a show. This season, I will have completed a 20 week prep for my first show of the year, and I’ll have even more time in prep for future shows.
You also need to grow that muscle, so that when you do get lean enough, you have something to show. If you focus only on glute development, you’ll get the top half of the diamond but not the bottom half. A lot of fitness models have this look, which is aesthetically pleasing too, but if you’re competing, you have to go by the judges’ criteria. Despite what most people think, bikini bodybuilding is not bootybuilding. If your glutes are more developed than other parts of your body, you will be dinged for it.
Not directly related to the glute-ham tie-in but important for the overall aesthetic of the leg is proportional quad size. Larger quads will make the glutes and hams look smaller in comparison, which you absolutely don’t want. This will guide what leg exercises you should/shouldn’t do. If you’re extremely quad dominant on some exercises, it might be time to focus on the mind-muscle connection and get your glutes to take over more of the movement in the squat.
Do you have any exercise recommendations?
Hip extension and abduction exercises are the best way to grow your glutes and hamstrings without growing your quads.
The frontal abductions, transverse abductions, and hip drivers columns are a good guide. Just remember that what works for one person might not work for another, so don’t be afraid to try out different things. You might get fantastic activation with one exercise and not feel anything in another, or you might have to change your foot positioning. I even use a thick fabric resistance band so that my hips are abducting against something during all leg exercises. Adding in the band has helped my glutes activate and grow very quickly.
I’ve found some free plans online that may work for you – click the links to see form tips!
Perform the following workout in a circuit style for best results and fat-burning benefits. Give yourself at least 30 to 45 seconds of rest before starting the next set. Remember to squeeze and hold your glutes and hamstrings at the top of the movement.
Barbell Good Morning – 4 sets, 12 to 15 reps
Kettlebell Single-Leg Deadlift – 4 sets, 10 reps on each leg
Swiss-Ball Hamstring Curl – 4 sets, 20 reps
Barbell Glute Bridge – 4 sets, 10 to 15 reps
Straight Set Workout
Single-leg Smith Machine Box Squats – 3 sets of 18,15,15 reps, per leg
Wide Stance Leg Press- 3 sets of 18,15,15 reps
Leg Press Kickbacks – 3 sets of 18,15,15 reps
Single-leg stability ball glute cable kickbacks – 3 sets of 18,15,15 reps, per leg
Unilateral stiff-leg deadlifts – 3 sets of 20 reps, per leg
Circuit: 3 times, resting 30 seconds between rounds
Lateral Step-ups with kickback – 25, 20, 18 reps, per leg
Stability Ball Split Squats – 25, 20, 18 reps, per leg
Lateral Band Walk – 30, 25, 20 reps, per leg
Medicine Ball Hip Thrust – 30 reps
Wall Squat – 25, 20, 18 reps, per leg
via Got Glutes?
And my favorite – the Tyler Protocol:
Rest 10 seconds between each set. You will not be able to lift heavy while doing this – make sure you use a weight where you’re challenged but your form isn’t breaking down. If you find yourself failing, drop down to a lower weight.
- Hip Thrusts – 10 sets of 20 reps
- Romanian Deadlifts – 10 sets of 20 reps
- Leg Press – 10 sets of 20 reps
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