Everyone loves a rivalry, especially in the physique world, and the names Erin Stern and Nicole Wilkins bring about excitement when paired together on a marquee. But as of late, Stern has been noticeably absent from the stage. She passed on doing the Arnold in 2014 and now she is passing on the 2014 Olympia.
“I have been competing since 2008 and thought it was time to give my body — and my brain — a break from competition,” she says. Other projects demand more attention from the 34-year-old figure champ.
Topping her to-do list is her latest book (she already has four other e-books available on her website). “I discuss my story and how I went from hitting rock bottom to becoming the best on the figure stage,” she says. “People see me as this fabulous girl onstage and glammed up on magazine covers, but they don’t see that I went through a lot of struggles before I got here, including bad relationships and eating issues. But I managed to get to a good place by believing in myself and being positive.”
Stern is also focusing on expanding her brand, E3 (Empowering, Educating and Enriching), through motivational speaking, fitness camps and seminars. “Right now I speak about once a month, and my clients range from figure and fitness competitions to high school sports teams,” she says.
If you can’t attend one of Stern’s camps, not to worry: She created a glutes program exclusively for Oxygen readers that is guaranteed to kick your ass (literally).
“As a society, we have developed lazy glutes,” she says. “A lot of sitting, not enough exercise — our butts are asleep! You have to wake them up and start them firing again to get them to shape up.”
How To Do It
This twice-weekly program is unique. One day is dedicated to weighted movements and should be done with as heavy a weight as you can handle for reps. The other day is all about volume: unilateral bodyweight moves done for extended repetitions to burn out and fry those glutes.
If you do your bodyweight workout first during the week, feel free to attack your rearview again the very next day like Stern does. But if you start off with the weighted workout, leave at least two days before doing the bodyweight one to allow for full recovery. Also, you can pair your glutes with another bodypart to save time during your week, but if they are a priority for you and you want to bring them up, put them first in the workout lineup to make sure they get a lot of attention.
Barbell Sumo Squat
Setup: Load a barbell in a rack, then step underneath it so it rests across your upper back and traps. Lift it off the rack, take several steps back and stand with your feet double hip-width apart, toes turned out.
Move: Bend your knees and track them over your toes as you squat down, keeping your torso erect and shoulders relaxed. When you’ve come below parallel, pause a moment, then drive up powerfully until your legs come to a full extension without locking out.
Stern says: “I like to vary my foot position with these to hit the glutes at different angles — sometimes I do them with my toes out, sometimes with them straight ahead.”
Setup: Load a barbell, then lie down on the floor and roll it up until it comes over your hips. Grasp the bar with your hands on either side to hold it steady, then bend your knees and place your feet about shoulder-width apart. Scoot your heels back toward your glutes as far as is comfortable.
Move: Holding the bar steady, press your hips up quickly until they are in line with your knees. Lower slowly to the start and repeat right away.
Stern says: “I like to use a pad on the bar so it doesn’t dig into my hips.”
Romanian Barbell Deadlift
Setup: Hold a loaded barbell with an overhand grip and stand with your feet hip-width apart. Bend your knees slightly so they are soft, not locked.
Move: Keeping your back flat, hinge from the waist to fold forward, lowering the barbell along the front of your body until it comes to mid-shin — lower if flexibility allows. Reverse the move and rise up halfway, stopping when your torso comes to about 45 degrees, then lower into the next rep.
Stern says: “I like to do this half-range of motion to keep a constant tension on my glutes. If you come all the way up, you begin to rely on your hamstrings instead.”
Single-Legged Hip Thrust
Setup: Position your shoulders on a flat bench so they are supported and plant your feet about shoulder-width apart on the floor, knees bent. Lower your glutes as far as you can to begin, then extend one leg straight out in front of you or, alternately, straight up in the air. Extend your upper arms to the sides along the bench for stability.
Move: Press through the heel of the working leg and lift your hips explosively up toward the sky. Pause a moment at the top, then slowly lower to the start. Do all reps on one side before switching.
Stern says: “Keep your non-working leg still. If you use it for momentum, it will detract from the work of the glutes.”
Setup: Get on all fours with your hands underneath your shoulders and your knees underneath your hips. Shift your weight to your left side to de-weight your right leg while keeping your hips square.
Move: Keeping your right leg bent, lift it behind you and straight up toward the ceiling, pressing the sole of your shoe skyward. Pause a moment and squeeze before lowering to the start. Do all reps on one side before switching.
Stern says: “Make sure your hips stay square and parallel to the ground. If you start to twist, it takes the emphasis off the glutes.”
Setup: Get on all fours with your hands underneath your shoulders and your knees underneath your hips. Shift your weight to the right side without tilting your hips so your left leg is de-weighted.
Move: Keeping your knee bent, open your leg out to the side and upward, like a dog visiting a fire hydrant. Pause a moment at the top, then slowly lower to the start.
Stern says: “You’re going to be tired at this point, so go slowly and really focus on the glutes. Resist the urge to use momentum, and squeeze hard at the top.”