The Best Glute Exercises You Should Be Doing Now
Get Your Butt In Shape with These Glute Activation Exercises
Thanks in no small part to social media, the great and onerous quest for the perfect butt is at the forefront of many routines. Men and women alike are working their butts off to achieve just that. After all, who doesn’t want to look fantastic in a pair of yoga pants?
But glutes aren’t just for aesthetics. Your glutes are among the most powerful muscles in your body, and together with the rest of your posterior chain, they generate more force than all other movements. This makes having strong glutes essential: They’re the primary muscle used in sitting, standing, climbing steps and even jumping. Having strong glutes is absolutely essential for your overall fitness.
Despite what you might think, getting great glutes isn’t all that difficult. And it can certainly be more interesting than adding an endless array of boring squats to your workout. By instilling proper glute activation through a variety of the best glute exercises, you can strengthen your glutes and sculpt a great butt while doing so.
Glutes: A Breakdown
The glutes consist of three major muscles. The gluteus maximus, the gluteus medius and the gluteus minimus. Together, these muscles are responsible for hip extension, thigh rotation, walking, getting out of bed and just about every other leg movement. Without strong glutes, your ability to move can be affected and it can even cause low back and knee pain. So they’re pretty important.
These days, because of our work environments, we’re spending too much time sitting and it’s likely that we aren’t getting enough glute activation that they need and deserve. This means it’s even more important we take the time to focus on these muscles.
The Best Glute Exercises
To set you on the path of strengthening and sculpting your glutes, we’ve put together a robust list of some of the best glute activation exercises along with detailed instructions on how to perform them.
Walking lunges are versatile exercises that can be done just about anywhere. Grab some dumbbells for added resistance.
Stand with your feet together. If you’re using dumbbells, hold them up with your elbows bent in front of your body. Step forward with one leg and lower yourself down into a lunge, stopping when both legs are at 90-degree angles.
Pressing up through your heel of the forward leg, bring yourself back into the standing position and then walk forward with your other leg, performing the same routine. Repeat.
Single Leg Step Ups
This robust workout requires a bench and dumbells, though you can also use a chair if you’re working out from home. It targets your gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, hamsrings, abs and lower back.
Holding two dumbells at chest level, stand next to a bench with your back straight. Keeping one leg straight, raise the other and place it on the bench.
Simultaneously push your weight through the benched leg while pushing off with the foot you’re standing on. Slowly bring your foot down and repeat with your other leg.
This glute activation exercise targets your gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, gluteus minimus as well as your abdominal muscles. It’s a versatile exercise that can be done just about anywhere.
Get on your hands and knees. Place your hands shoulder-width apart like you’re doing a pushup. Place your knees together so that they’re touching. Look directly at the floor with your back completely straight.
Lift one of your legs up and away from your body while keeping your knee at a 90-degree angle. Lift until it’s aligned perpendicularly with your hips. Lower your leg back down slowly and then repeat on the other side.
If you want to up your resistance, you can strap on some ankle weights or use a resistance band around your knees.
Bulgarian Split Squats
Bulgarian split squats are intense little exercises you can do just about anywhere. They’re also great for developing balance. They target your gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, quadriceps and hamstrings.
Stand a couple of feet in front of a bench or chair facing the opposite direction. Bring one foot forward and squat so that it’s at a 90-degree angle and place the other one behind you on the bench or chair.
Engaging your core, lower yourself into a squat while balancing your other leg behind you. Hold the squat for one second and then bring yourself back to the original position. Repeat with both legs.
This is another versatile glute activation exercise that can be performed at home. It targets all of your gluteus muscles as well as your calves, hamstrings, quadriceps and lower back.
Tie a resistance band below your knees and stand with your feet together. Move to a slightly squatted position and then move your feet a little further than shoulder-width apart.
Lower yourself to below 90 degrees while making sure you keep your core engaged and back straight. Push through with the heel of one foot and bring yourself back to the starting position. Repeat with your other leg.
Reverse Crossover Lunge
This exercise is a variation on the typical lunge that targets all of your glute muscles. It can be performed with just your bodyweight or with dumbells for added resistance.
Standing straight up, step one leg behind and then across the other leg. Your back knee should be a foot or so behind your front leg. Move into the reverse lunge position, making sure not to bend your front knee. Use your glute muscles to keep your knee out over your front foot. Repeat.
The hip thrust is a versatile exercise that can be performed with bands, barbells or other types of resistance. This one primarily targets your biggest glute—the gluteus maximus.
Lie down on a bench. If you’re using resistance bands, adjust them around your thighs. If you’re using a barbell, place it in the crease of your hips.
Keeping your back flat, pull your abdominal muscles tight. Move your hips up and while engaging your core and hold for one second. Slowly bring your hips back down and repeat the process.
Weighted Good Morning
This simple but effective glute activation exercise, performed with dumbbells, is a great one for your glute repertoire.
Standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, hold two weights behind your shoulders on your back. Keeping your torso straight and your knees slightly bent, lean forward until your upper body is parallel with the floor. Be sure to keep your core engaged. Hold for a second and then slowly return to the starting position.
Glute bridges are yet another versatile exercise that you can incorporate dumbells with to increase resistance. They target your gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, as well as hamstrings, quadriceps and abs.
Lay flat on your back with your feet propped up on a bench or chair at a 45-degree angle. Place your hands palms down next to you or hold a dumbbell on your hips for added resistance.
Lift yourself up into a straightened position by tightly squeezing your glutes and pushing your weight through to your heels. Hold this position for one second and then slowly return to the starting position. Rinse and repeat.
Other Considerations When Using The Best Glute Exercises
Even by performing some of the best glute exercises around, building and strengthening your glutes requires more than a few simple exercises. Here are a few more tips to maximize your results.
Be consistent. As you know, the best way to grow a muscle group is through consistency. For the best results when using the best glute exercises, incorporate them into your routine and target this muscle group two or three times per week.
Give your glutes a rest. Overtraining can impede your results and result in injuries. As with any other muscle group, it’s important to give your glutes at least 48 hours in between training to allow them to rest and repair themselves. This will ensure your muscles have adequate time to heal and grow.
Don’t forget about your diet. There’s an old saying: Lose weight in the kitchen and get healthy in the gym. While focusing on your workout routines is critical, you also need to think about your diet. If you’re looking to lose fat and gain muscle, be sure to pay attention to your macro intake. A good 40/30/30 split between protein, fat and carbs, respectively, is a good starting point.
The Bottom Line
Your glutes aren’t just for aesthetics—they’re essential for nearly everything you do, including sitting, standing and walking, so it’s important to focus on them for practical reasons too. For optimal results when doing the best glute exercises listed above, incorporate a variety of these exercises into your fitness routine along with plenty of rest. With a little hard work and dedication, your bottom will be tops in no time at all.