Unlock Your Glute Potential: 15 Must-Try Glute Exercises

 Written by 

Jordyn Snyder

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Who doesn’t want a killer booty? A firm, round, and strong backside is the goal for many fitness enthusiasts. You’ve undoubtedly heard of the golden butt exercises, like the barbell hip thrust and glute bridge—but what are some other practical glute exercises?

In the article below, we cover glute anatomy, the benefits of strong glutes, and the 15 best glute exercises. Read on for more information. 

A man performing glute exercises at the gym using a machine
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Glute Anatomy

Let’s start with the butt muscles; what makes up your buns? The glutes are made up of three distinct muscles, including the following:

  • Gluteus Maximus
  • Gluteus Medius
  • Gluteus Minimus
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The gluteus maximus

The gluteus maximus is the largest muscle in the body, providing the backside with shape and stability while sitting or standing. The gluteus maximus is a powerful muscle allowing you to jump, run, squat, and extend or rotate the legs. 

The gluteus medius rests between the gluteus maximus and gluteus minimus. The glute medius stabilizes the pelvis, helping with hip abduction, external rotation, and internal rotation of the hips.

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The gluteus minimus is the smallest part of the muscle, right underneath the gluteus medius. The glute minimus helps with several hip and leg movements, like hip abduction, extension, and internal rotation. 

Benefits of Training the Glutes

Besides a killer booty, there are other benefits of developing strong glutes. Glute workouts can increase your other lifts, improve your posture, make daily activities more manageable, and help reduce the chance of injury. 

Improved Aesthetics

Whether you’re a man or woman, larger glute muscles can be attractive. Glute-specific training can help you develop glute strength while enhancing the shape and size of your backside. The right butt workouts will provide you with a more balanced and attractive physique. 

Increased Athletic Performance

The glutes are major muscles and critical for optimal performance in countless sports and physical activities. 

Glute workouts can help you develop stronger glutes over time if you use an effective training plan. Strong glutes provide power, stability, and explosiveness for movements like jumping, running, and changing direction.

A woman using a resistance band to do glute exercises
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Better Functional Strength

The glutes are the primary movements when you straighten your legs and torso. How often do you straighten your legs each day? You extend your legs when you stand up from your desk or when you pick something up off the ground. 

Stronger glutes will help you in these day activities and functional movements, like walking, climbing stairs, lifting boxes, and maintaining balance. The right exercises will enhance your ability to perform these tasks efficiently and with reduced risk of strain or injury.

Carries Over to Other Compound Lifts 

Besides everyday activities, the glutes are used in countless exercises. Movements like squat and deadlift variations will improve with more glute strength. Even upper body exercises, like the push press, can benefit from a stronger lower body. 

Using isolation exercises to engage the glutes will carry over to these exercises. This is beneficial for improving your lifts, but especially so if you compete in competitions like powerlifting, strongman, or CrossFit.

Improved Posture and Mobility

Strong glutes contribute to better posture by supporting the spine and pelvis. 

Weak glutes can result in a posterior pelvic tilt, which leads to a rounded lower back and an increased risk of back pain. By strengthening the glutes, you can promote a more neutral pelvic position and maintain better spinal alignment.

Besides that, the butt muscles are critical for hip extension or the backward movement of the thigh. Healthy glutes can improve hip mobility and flexibility, allowing for a greater range of motion in activities like squats, lunges, and running.

A man using a barbell to do glute exercises
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Glute Exercises With Barbells

1. Back Squat

The traditional Back Squat is one of the most popular butt exercises—and for good reason. The conventional squat is perfect for a glute workout routine, as it engages every muscle in the lower body. 

How to perform the Back Squat:

  1. To remove a bar from a squat rack, position it on your upper back while holding it with your hands close together. Then take a few steps back.
  2. Find a comfortable stance by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart. You can also turn your feet outward slightly to a natural angle.
  3. Next, take a deep breath, expand your belly, and ensure your weight is evenly spread across your feet.
  4. Lower your body into a squat position by bending your knees and hips at the same time, going down until you have thighs parallel to the floor. 
  5. Now, reverse the movement to the starting position and stand up by tightening your thigh muscles. That’s one repetition. 

The back squat requires core stability, so ensure you take a deep breath and brace your abs while performing the exercise. Perform the back squat for three sets of 8–12 reps with a challenging weight.

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2. Conventional Deadlift

The Traditional Deadlift is one of the most effective exercises, not just for the gluteal muscles but for the hamstrings, upper back, core, and hips. This deadlift variation challenges the posterior chain, helping you develop major muscle groups and activate more muscle fibers. 

How to perform the Conventional Deadlift:

  1. Prepare for the deadlift by standing with your feet hip-width apart, bending at the hips, moving your bottom backward, and reaching for the barbell.
  2. Hold the barbell with your hands shoulder-width apart. The barbell should be over the middle of your feet, just barely touching the shin. 
  3. Straighten your back, lift your chest, and take a deep breath.
  4. Use the strength of your legs to push against the floor and lift the barbell off the ground.
  5. When the barbell reaches your knees, push your hips forward and tighten your buttocks to stand up straight.
  6. Slowly lower the barbell to the starting position to finish one repetition. 

Be sure to keep your feet flat on the ground, core tight, and back straight while lifting the barbell from the floor. It’s best to perform three sets of 5–8 reps to target your gluteal muscles.

3. Barbell Hip Thrusts

The Barbell Hip Thrust is one of the best exercises for glute growth.

It’s a favorite glute move for its ability to engage the muscle without additional stress on the spine. The starting position also allows a wider range of motion for more glute development. 

Here’s how to execute the Barbell Hip Thrust: 

  1. Rest against an exercise bench with your upper back touching it. The barbell should be right in front of you. 
  2. Move the barbell backward until it gently touches your hips.
  3. Bend at the knees and firmly place your feet on the ground to secure the barbell in the crease of your hips. Hold the barbell with a wide overhand grip. 
  4. Begin the upward movement by pressing your hips upward, creating a straight line from your kneecaps to the shoulders.
  5. Slowly return to the starting position to finish one repetition.

This movement has incredible muscle activation for the glutes. You can use a protective pad or towel on the barbell if you find it uncomfortable. Complete three sets for 8–12 reps using moderate weights.

4. Romanian Deadlift

The Romanian Deadlift, or RDL, is a great tool for engaging the glutes, hamstrings, and lower back. This deadlift variation starts and stops in an upright torso position. It’s a great butt exercise, especially if you’re recovering from a knee injury. 

Here’s how to perform the Romanian Barbell Deadlift 

  1. To begin, position yourself by either lifting a barbell off the floor in a deadlift motion or by taking it from a barbell rack. Hold it in front of your thighs with a shoulder-width overhand grip.
  2. Take a deep breath, slightly engage your core, and lean forward by bending at your hips. Keep your knees almost fully straight.
  3. Lean forward as much as you can without rounding your back. It’s not necessary to touch the barbell to the floor, but it’s fine if you do.
  4. Reverse the exercise, lifting the barbell back to the starting position. Exhale as you go up. 
  5. That’s one repetition. Take another breath and repeat.

Remember to keep your back in a straight or neutral position, brace your core, and focus on control. RDLs are fantastic glute-building movements, and we recommend performing three sets for 8–12 reps with a challenging weight.

A man using dumbbells to do glute exercises
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Glute Exercises Using Dumbbells & Free-Weight

5. Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift

The Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift is a unilateral variation that challenges one leg at a time. Unilateral exercises can address muscle imbalances while improving the coordination and control of your lower body. 

Here’s the technique for the Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift:

  1. Hold a dumbbell in each hand. Slowly bend your right leg while keeping your hips in a straight position.
  2. As you lean forward, move your left leg backward. Keep your back tight and stable.
  3. Make sure your hips remain steady on the ground.
  4. Let the dumbbells hang in front of your body with your arms extended forward.
  5. When your back is parallel to the ground, contract your right glute muscles to stand back up.
  6. Repeat this sequence for each leg.

Like the traditional variation, it’s important to maintain a neutral or straight spine and a tight core. Repeat this exercise for three sets of 8–12 reps on each leg.

6. Walking Lunge

Walking Lunges are useful for engaging the glutes and improving balance and coordination. It’s an effective exercise for activating the posterior chain, using core stability, and creating a well-rounded routine. 

Here’s how to perform Walking Lunges: 

  1. Begin by standing with your feet close together, and then take a step forward, roughly 18–24 inches, and firmly place your foot on the floor.
  2. Once you’re in this position, let your front knee move forward, pointing between your first and second toes, while your back knee lowers straight down towards the ground.
  3. While pushing through the floor with the forward foot, shift your body forward to stand upright, aligning your back foot with the position of your front foot.
  4. That’s one step. Repeat the movement on the other side. 

Take your time, and don’t rush the exercise. You can use body weight or a pair of weights, like dumbbells, kettlebells, or a barbell. Aim to complete three sets of walking lunges for around ten paces per leg.

7. Kettlebell Swing

Kettlebells are an amazing piece of equipment for targeting the entire body, including the glutes. The Kettlebell Swing is one of the best moves for glute hypertrophy as it challenges the fast pace, and the movement pattern continuously challenges the lower body, helping you develop explosive power. 

Here’s how the correct technique for the Kettlebell Swing:

  1. Begin by placing a kettlebell between your feet, ensuring a stance that is shoulder-width or slightly wider.
  2. Bend down to grab the kettlebell and swing it back between your legs. Then, swiftly thrust your hips forward.
  3. The momentum generated will naturally lift the kettlebell to approximately the height of your belly button. Allow the kettlebell to descend naturally, and swing your hips back to prepare for the next repetition.
  4. Flow through the repetitions seamlessly, maintaining a smooth rhythm. Now you’re ready to go!

This is an effective exercise for adding training volume, learning the hip hinge, and conditioning the body. Perform three sets of 12-15 reps with moderate weights as a warm-up or as a finisher for a well-rounded glute workout.

8. Goblet Squat

Another squat exercise that you can perform with a single dumbbell or a kettlebell is the Goblet Squat. This movement uses hip flexion and abduction, which engages the entire glute muscle. The additional weight challenges the glutes, causing more muscle hypertrophy and growth.

Here’s how to execute the Goblet Squat: 

  1. Begin by standing with your feet hip-width apart, and hold a weight in front of your chest with your elbows pointing towards the floor.
  2. Engage your core and push your hips back while bending your knees to lower yourself into a squat position.
  3. Push through your feet and return to the starting position. This counts as one repetition.

Remember to keep your core tight throughout the entire exercise. Perform three sets of 10–15 reps, depending on the weight you’re using.

A woman using a resistance band to perform glute exercises
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Glute Exercises Using Resistance Bands

9. Banded Glute Bridge

The Banded Glute Bridge is a favorite butt exercise by many, as it squeezes the muscles and strengthens the lower body. 

This glute workout exercise is fantastic for at-home sessions or as a warm-up at the gym.

Here’s how to perform the Banded Glute Bridge: 

  1. Place a resistance band around your thighs. Lie down on your back with a slight bend in the knees, feet firm on the ground, and arms by the side.
  2. Take a deep breath and tighten the core. Now, push into your heels and squeeze your glutes and raise your hips toward the sky. Ensure there’s a constant tension in the band throughout the entire range of motion.
  3. Take a pause at the top of the moment before returning to the starting position. That’s one repetition. 

Taking a pause at the top of the movement and maintaining control throughout the exercise can increase the time under tension. We recommend performing three sets of 15–20 reps.

10. Glute Kickback

The Banded Glute Kickback is the perfect exercise for developing a toned butt. As a single-leg exercise, it challenges each side independently with balanced muscle growth. The movement is best performed with a mini resistance band.

Here’s how to complete the Glute Kickback:

  1. Start by positioning yourself on all fours, with your hands and knees on the ground. Take one end of a mini band and loop it around your right foot. Place the other end of the band on your left thigh, just above your left knee.
  2. Engage your abdominal muscles by keeping them tight. Slowly contract your glutes and begin to kick your right leg back until it straightens.
  3. When your leg is fully extended, hold the position and squeeze your glutes for an additional second. Then, carefully bring your leg back down to the starting position. This completes one repetition.

Holding the position can increase muscular tension, helping you engage more booty fibers and challenge the muscle groups. Perform three sets of banded glute kickbacks for 15–20 repetitions.

11. Clam Shell

Clam Shells engage the gluteus medius and minimus, which can help you develop a well-rounded routine for the lower body. This glutes workout also activates the inner and outer thighs and pelvic floor. 

Here are the step-by-step instructions on how to perform the Clam Shell:

  1. Lie on your side with your legs stacked on top of each other. Bend your knees at a 45-degree angle and place a mini resistance band above your knees.
  2. To maintain stability, use your top arm and ensure your hip bones are aligned on top of each other.
  3. Engage your core muscles to stabilize your spine and pelvis. Keep your feet touching each other while raising your upper knee as high as possible without shifting your hips or pelvis. Keep your lower leg on the ground.
  4. Pause briefly at the top, and then lower your upper leg back to the starting position on the ground. This counts as one repetition.
  5. Complete all the repetitions on one side, then switch to the other side and repeat the exercise.

The longer you pause at the top of the movement, the longer the burn and muscular tension. Perform three sets of banded clam shells for 15–20 repetitions.

Glute Exercises Using Your Body Weight

12. Bulgarian Split Squat

One of the best squat variations is the Bulgarian Split Squat. This exercise engages the lower portion of the glutes and challenges each side independently. It requires a bit of stability, flexibility, and mobility, so you’ll definitely feel the challenge.

Here’s how to do the Bulgarian Split Squat: 

  1. Start on your right foot, with the left knee slightly bent and the foot raised off the ground.
  2. Bend your right knee, straightening the left leg until your knee is just a few inches above the floor. Straighten your arms out in front of you for more balance and support.
  3. Slowly return to the starting position to finish one repetition. Complete all the reps for that side before swapping.

Remember, this movement requires lots of core stability and balance. It’s best to go slow and stretch beforehand so you don’t strain your muscles. We recommend performing three sets for 8–12 reps on each side.

13. Curtsy Lunge

Another lunge variation to try is the Curtsy Lunge. This type of lunge engages the gluteus medius and minimus, which can help with the size, shape, and strength of the muscle. It can be a bit challenging if you’ve never tried it before, and it requires core stability and balance. 

Here’s how to do the Curtsy Lunge:

  1. Begin by standing upright with your feet directly under your hips and your arms clasped in front of your chest.
  2. Activate your core muscles, lift your right foot off the ground, and take a large step back and to the outside of your left foot.
  3. Next, lower your body by bending your knees until your right knee gently touches the floor behind your left foot.
  4. Push through both feet to reverse the movement and return to the starting position. This completes one repetition.

This movement will help with hip flexion while engaging the glute muscles. Perform one or two sets of 10-12 reps depending on your balance and stability.

14. Step-Up

Another unilateral exercise for the glutes is the Step-Up. This exercise places tension on the glute max without any additional stress on the joints. The step-up is a great exercise for strength, as it will help you in daily activities like climbing stairs and getting out of chairs. It doesn’t require much equipment—all you need is a sturdy box or exercise bench. 

Here’s how to perform the Step-Up:

  1. Begin by positioning one foot near the edge of a step-up box or bench, making sure your entire foot is in contact with the surface. Let your other foot hang off the edge.
  2. Lower the foot that is hanging off the step while using the opposite leg to support and control your body weight.
  3. Tap your heel lightly on the ground, and then push through the step with the working leg to return to the initial starting position. 
  4. That’s one repetition. Repeat the movement on the opposite side.

The higher you step up, the more you’ll engage your glute muscles. You can use a pair of dumbbells if you want to add an additional challenge to the exercise. We recommend completing three sets of 12–15 reps.

15. Lateral Lunge 

The Lateral Lunge targets all three of the glute muscles, helping you develop a balanced, strong, and toned backside. It’s a straightforward movement that will challenge your cardio and get your muscle pumping.

Here’s how to do the Lateral Lunge: 

  1. Stand with your feet positioned wider than your shoulders and your hands resting at your sides.
  2. Using your right hand, reach downwards towards your foot while simultaneously bending your left knee to a 90-degree angle.
  3. Swiftly switch to the other side and repeat the same movement. This completes one repetition.

Remember to maintain control throughout the exercise and avoid any jerky movements. We recommend performing three sets of 15–20 reps.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What Is the Best Workout for Glutes?

Some of the best exercises for the glutes are squats, deadlifts, hip thrusts, lunges, bridges, and step-ups. These movements can be performed with heavy weights or no weight at all. It’s best to train your glutes 2–3 times per week with rest days in between.

Can I Train Glutes Everyday?

No one can stop you from training your glutes every day, but it may not yield the results your after. Training a single muscle group too often can lead to overuse and injury and slow your progress. Instead, it’s better to alternate muscle groups and give your body a break. Try training your glutes every other day or three days per week.

How Can I Grow My Glutes Fast?

It’s best to focus on heavy compound lifts, like squats, deadlifts, and hip thrusts, as the foundation of your glute training routine. Isolation exercises, like weighted lunge variations and glute kickbacks, can give you more volume.

What Is the Best Workout for Glutes?

Some of the best exercises for the glutes are squats, deadlifts, hip thrusts, lunges, bridges, and step-ups. These movements can be performed with heavy weights or no weight at all. It’s best to train your glutes 2–3 times per week with rest days in between. 

Can I Train Glutes Everyday?

No one can stop you from training your glutes every day, but it may not yield the results your after. Training a single muscle group too often can lead to overuse and injury and slow your progress. Instead, it’s better to alternate muscle groups and give your body a break. Try training your glutes every other day or three days per week. 

How Can I Grow My Glutes Fast?

It’s best to focus on heavy compound lifts, like squats, deadlifts, and hip thrusts, as the foundation of your glute training routine. Isolation exercises, like weighted lunge variations and glute kickbacks, can give you more volume.

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