The biggest muscles in your body are the Gluteus Maximus and the Quadriceps Femoris. Most people have no problems using and developing their quads but struggle to increase maximal strength in both the squat and deadlift. A common reason for this plateau is both weakness and inability to engage the Gluteal muscles. For this reason, I recommend practicing neuromuscular exercises to learn how to engage your gluteals on demand.
Many people will use machines and bridges to target the butt and increase muscle cell size. While this is helpful in gaining muscle tissue in the butt, practices such as barre and Pilates are highly effective at learning control of the gluteal muscles.
The muscles of your butt don’t only perform extension of the thigh, which is the main function during a hip drive, or bridge. Your gluteals will also perform external rotation and abduction of the thigh. Learning to isolate these movements, which are commonly practiced in Pilates and Barre will help you to engage the muscles of your butt during many exercises.
Whether you are performing lunges, split squats, deadlifts or squats, your gluteal muscles should be pulling in your femur into extension, this driving your hips forward. To truly increase strength you mustn’t only build cell size, but also the ability to engage your butt muscles on command.