DEVELOPING THE “GLUTE-HAMSTRING TIE IN”
I posted recently that I was going to write an article for my blog about developing the glute-hamstring “tie-in”. You can always count on a hater to try & knock you down when you’re trying to share knowledge & encourage the success of others! Someone not-so-kindly pointed out that there is no such muscle as the glute-ham tie-in & they were absolutely right. Although they failed to really read what I had posted (instead reading what they wanted to interpret). This article is not about working a non-existent muscle but on developing a visible glute-hamstring tie-in which is very sought after for athletes competing in my sport of bikini in bodybuilding.
My hater was right, the glute-ham tie-in is not in itself a muscle, the glute-ham tie-in is what I like to describe as the visible relationship between your glutes & your hamstrings. As with any relationship, it requires that both parties contribute & it’s hard to make it work if one party overpowers or dominates the other, or if one party isnt ‘coming to the party’ at all. As a bikini athlete, I have worked very hard to develop my glutes & my hamstrings in order to develop a visible & aesthetically pleasing “glute ham tie-in”. The glute-ham tie-in is something that most bikini athletes aspire to build & in my knowledge & experience it is something that judges pay close attention to.
The general population may not appreciat the glute-ham tie-in quite the way we – as bodybuilding athletes – do. You can have well developed glutes by focusing on your glutes alone but that won’t necssarily create a visible tie-in if you lack development in your hamstrings. This is more “common” I would say for mainstream fitness models etc. It is a “popular” look to have a big booty which is not uncommonly made to appear larger due to a lack of shape through the legs. If your legs are slim & lack shape from quad & hamstring development then your glutes will look bigger. I’m not at all opposed to this look but for myself, I have very athletic legs – I started ballet training at the age of 3 so I have always had muscular legs. This makes my glutes less dominant. Of course it is all a matter of personal preference which look you prefer. Currently, over the past year, I have been working hard to shrink & condition my legs (in particular my quads) so that my smaller & more streamlined legs make my glutes appear proportionately larger.
The article is based on developing the glute-ham tie-in as aspired to in the sport of bikini & is of course based on my opinion. I am not a judge, but as a qualified trainer, professional athlete & coach of bikini athletes worldwide I have learnt a lot over the past 4 years about what the judges favor & the “look” that does well on stage.
As a bikini athlete looking to develop an aesthetically pleasing glute-ham tie-in you need to have development of both the glutes & the hamstrings. If your hamstrings are overpowering your glutes tend to look too small or too flat (or both), if your glutes are overpowering & you lack hamstring development you tend to look incomplete & not so athletic. It’s all very well to work hard at developing the shape of your glutes & hamstring’s to achieve that tie-in, but you also needs to be lean enough to show a visible “tie-in”. Simply, if you’re carrying excess body fat you won’t be able to see the definition & separation no matter how hard you work on it!
Your glutes & your hamstrings are separate muscles. You cannot “work” your glute-ham tie-in but there are some exercises which do work both the glutes & the hamstrings in such a way as to make you “feel” a deep recruitment in the glute-ham tie-in area. Developing both your glutes & your hamstrings optimally to improve the appearance of the tie-in which is the visual interaction of the two muscle is going to require a variety of exercises performed with good technique.
In terms of glute development I have spent a lot of years finding what really works well for me to increase the size of the glutes & to enhance their roundess & fullness for the best overall shape. That peach emoji… that’s booty goals!!!
I wasn’t genetically blessed with good glutes so my years of training myself to achieve a physique that got me on the Olympia stage twice has required a lot of studying & learning to find ways to build the glutes without building the quads (which I naturally have!). In my experience, it is exercises that extend & abduct the hip that are best at recruiting the glutes (& not the quads) – the hip thrust (sometimes referred to as a glute bridge) is a great example of a movement that extends this hips & the good old abductor machine is a staple abduction technique. It is also important to incorporate exercises which target specifically the glute medius such as unilateral (single leg) movements & band work. Badn work is a major key I have used to create maximal abduction in ALL exercises where abduction isn’t a focus in the absense of a resistence band.
To develop the hamstrings, you want to incorporate a variety of leg curl movements & other exercises such as stiff legged deadlifts which really allow you to hone in on & feel that intense stretch/extension & contraction of the hamstrings. You can also target the hamstrings from different angles to recruit more to the inner/outer part of the muscle.
When you are working hard to change or evolve your physique in can be really hard to know which exercises are best, & in what combination, & using what training structure. There is a place for lifting heavy with lower reps, but only with correct form. If your form is beng sacraficed in order to push a heavy weight it’s most likely you are not getting the most benefit you can from the exercise. Of course, if you were training for strength alone (rather than aesthetics) this may not be a concern to you, but if you are training to make your body LOOK a certain way, as in bikini, then it’s important you don’t jeophardise your results by concerning yourself too much with the weight.
I have found that the greatest results are achieved through a combination of different training styles – there is a place for heavy sets of 8-10. So too there is a place for volume training of 15-20 reps with an appropriately challenging weight. The essence is in using a variety of different overload techniques. When it comes to fine tuning & conditioning I have also found incorporating a variety of plyometric training to be super effective.
Over the years I have really worked hard on training myself to prioritise FEELING the work in the right place & creating a challenge for my body that forces it to evolve. You can’t always do the same thing & expect a different result. Your body is extremely adaptive & always challenging it with a different combination of exercises, styles & techniques is where, in my experience, you will find the greatest results.
It’s much less about WHAT you lift but HOW you lift it.
Earlier this year I released my 6 week glute program ‘SJF Glute Evolution Training System’ which is the result of years of my own education & experience to put together in one program all of the very best exercises to develop the glutes & to develop the hamstrings. The program includes glute activation exercises along with extensive notes on how to perform every single exercise & a video of every single exercise to ensure that you’re not just going through the motions of an exercise but actually FEELING what you should feel & achieving the results you deserve from your hard work!
With both glute & hamstring exercises I have researched & applied different theories & principals to create multi-dimensional recruitment of the muscles. I have learnt to ensure that I’m hitting the muscle from different angles which allows you to really work on the SHAPE of the mucle rather than just creating mass.
Bikini certainly is not about creating mass but about shape – it’s about sculpting your physique to create beautiful lines that flow.
Your physique is your artwork. To create curve & shape you do need to work to build muscle, but it’s not about having the most muscle – it’s about having the best muscle. This is precisely why I developed a comprehensive glute program that would teach those who invested in it how to use a variety of techniques to achieve amazing SHAPE not just SIZE & to teach techniques that would carry over into other training & other exercises beyond the program.
Of course, you can have well developed glutes & well developed hamstrings with no ability to actually see the visible glute-ham tie-in if you are not lean enough to actually reveal it. Getting lean enough to see the tie-in comes down to proper nutrition & cardio in order to decrease body fat. There is no magic body fat percentage at which point you will see the tie-in, it is different for everyone.
Females often need to work extra hard at this as naturally, our sex hormone oestrogen tells us to store fat (& fluid) in that area (& other areas) to give us our our “womanly curves”. If you have higher oestrogen levels in can be harder to achieve this leanness, if you have lower oestrogen levels it is often easier to get to this leanness. But that is not a rule. Generally speaking, young females likely have higher levels of oestrogen – in their “child bearing age” – and can find it harder. As women age, oestrogen levels tend to be lower which can make it easier for a female athlete to have a leaner & drier looking physique at an older age. That is a VERY general discussion however as every woman’s oestrogen levels fluctuate throughout their monthly cycle & some women may have other health issues etc that can cause a varitation or imbalance in hormone levels.
What is crucial is that in preparing for the stage you are working with a coach who knows enough about the human body, & nutrition, & how hormones interact/respond & is also willing to learn YOUR body. YOUR body is not the same as anybody elses & it’s so important to learn & interpret & decipher what works best for YOU.
There is no short cut to creating a visibly appealing glute-ham tie-in. You must invest time in developing the muscles of the glutes & hamstrings individually. It is not about just adding bulk or mass but in working toward creating a better shape. A more complete, rounder, & fuller shape – a shape that flows & fits together.
Some exercises are great for the glutes – you must look to work them from all angles. Some exercises are great for the hamstrings – you can work the hamstrings from different angles too to create the shape & lines that you want to create. There are some exercises which are great for working the glutes & hamstrings together & those exercises are the likely ones where you will FEEL like you’re intensely targeting that “tie-in” area, right up deep into the glutes.
Focus less on lifting overly heavy & more on making every single rep count – on developing the strength of your mind to muscle connection as much as your physical strength so that you can FEEL the fibers of your muscles working to contract & release throughout every rep you perform. Challenge your body in different ways – lift heavier for less, lift lighter for more, do explosive plyometric work, incorporate a variety of training systems like failure sets & drop sets & supersets.
Ensure you are fuelling your body with the right nutrients to grow – you need to be eating enough, you need to be eating the right things at the right times. If you need guidance, find a coach or nutritionist who can help you. You deserve it so that you can achieve the best results from your hard work.
You can incorporate some simple but effectve supplements like a protein powder, BCAA’s & even Creatine to ensure that you are giving your muscle the optimal goods to repair & develop. Stay tuned for a longer post on some of my favourite supplements here soon & remember that you can use my discount code with BPI Sports ‘SJFTRIBE’ to try some of these high quality additions for yourself whilst saving 20% (click the link below to visit the online store!).
If you have any questions regarding your training you can always send me an email or reach out through social media. If you want to take the guess work out of doing the right exercises with the right training split & the right technique, etc etc, check out my Glute Evolution Training System Program & spend 6 weeks working through this progressive program that will teach you a lot about how to train your glutes & hamstrings to optimise that glute-ham tie-in.
I hope you have found this article valuable & it will set you up to make improvements mentally & physically on your journey.
Remember there is no substitute for hard work. Learn, work hard, work smart & be patient. Rome wasn’t built in a day.
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