Getting a firm booty is our absolute duty – that’s why we power through all those grueling glutes exercises, isn’t it? Your glutes are your body’s most powerful muscle group and they have a mightier purpose than just looking good in those skin-tight jeans!
Working your glutes can increase your metabolic rate, help reduce lower back pain and make everyday movements like climbing stairs that much easier. Parking your butt in front of your desktop or TV makes mastering those glute exercises that much harder! That dormant derrière will become weak, under trained and as flat as a pancake that’s been run over by a monster truck and stepped on by the Michelin Man.
Don’t let that fanny fall flat! Give your butt that sweet round look with these 15 killer glutes exercises. These easy workouts will help you to activate your posterior muscles, build muscle tissue, and firm that tush.
15 Killer Glutes Exercises You Need to Try Today
#1. The Jazzercise Step Up
Why do this: You must have seen Jane Fonda or Suzanne Somers rock this move in your teens but this is arguably one of the best glutes exercises there is! It’s the prima donna of butt moves and quite effective. I know it sounds like a beginner’s step but just do it! Your butt will thank you!
How to do it: Start by placing your foot on a step, with your weight leaning towards the center of your foot. Push back your hips as much as you can and then stand straight up, squeezing the glutes of the supporting leg. Keep holding this position with your hips and shoulders aligned straight and your body erect. Push at your hips again, while lowering your trailing foot to the floor. Take 3 seconds on the way back down to the starting pose. Once you think you’ve got this repeat with a pair of dumbbells in your hands.
#2. Hip Thrust Is a Must
Why do this: Your hips are like planks for your backside – so there are no better glutes exercises to activate them. Hip thrusts are super safe to practice, incredibly easy to learn, and the best part – you can do it anywhere! Ideally, you should be doing hip thrusts for at least 20 seconds for every 20 minutes that you spent sitting. While the name may seem a little, *ahem*, PG13 it’s actually not that bad!
How to do it: To do the hip thrusts, lie on your back with knees folded at a 90-degree angle. Now, place your feet flat onto the floor, just a little apart. Begin crunching your abs and tilting your pelvis back till your lower back is flat against the floor. Keep this position throughout the entire workout. Then push through your feet and lift your hips up as high as you can without moving your lower back. Keep this position for 3 to 5 seconds and then reverse the movement. You can make this workout even more challenging by lifting your shoulders, your feet, or reducing the base of support by putting your fingers on your forehead.
#3. All My Single (Ladies) Leg Hip Thrust
Why do this: To be able to lift your hips one leg at a time requires glute strength, not to mention a whole lot of coffee and some “Sh*t I should’ve paid attention in PE”. This glutes exercise will help you fix any strength imbalances between the sides of your glutes and hips. Think of this exercise like kneeing someone in the groin while lying down – it’s pretty bada$$.
How to do it: Similar to the hip thrust, lie flat on your back (or on a bench) with the foot of one leg placed flat on the floor and underneath your knee so that it’s bent at a 90-degree angle. Bend the knee of your non-working leg toward your chest. Crunch your abs and tilt your pelvis back so that your lower back is flattened against your hands or floor. Maintain this pelvic tilt throughout the exercise.Then push through the foot on the floor and raise your hips as high as you can without arching your lower back. Pause, and then slowly reverse the movement.
#4. “B” is for Barbell Hip Thrust
Why do this: According to Bret Contreras aka The Glute Guy, barbell hip thrusts may be the queen of all glute exercises. This glutes workout can help you to activate the upper and lower glutes more than any other exercise – developing a deep burn in the gluteal muscles. Who doesn’t like to feel the burn? Listen, once you get the barbell pad over your hips, half the battle is done! All hail the Barbell Queen!
How to do it: Place your upper back against a box or bench with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Put a barbell across your hips, preferably one with a thick barbell pad, and position your glutes near the floor. Then squeeze your glutes and raise your hips until they’re in line with your body. Keep your back in neutral the entire time, making sure not to arch your lower back during the movement. Return to the starting position and repeat.
Learn how to do it here:
#5. Drop it Like a Barbell Squat
Why do this: Though it’s more popular as a quad exercise, this glute exercise can help you build your butts just as well. When you do these squats – you stretch your glutes under pressure, and then produce a forceful contraction that pushes your body ‘out of the hole’ to standing. It’s like a rocketship for your bum – just hold on and let it fly! Barbell squats are also a compound exercise so along with your quads, your thighs and your gluteus maximus will all be fully engaged.
How to do it: Hold a barbell across your back using an overhand grip. Keeping your head up and chest high, push your hips back, bend your knees, and lower your body until your thighs are at least parallel to the floor. Make sure your knees track over your feet and don’t collapse inward. Push back to the starting position.
Learn how to do it here:
#6. To Hip Hinge or Not to Hip Hinge
Why do this: This glutes exercise will help you become better at every lower-body exercise you can possibly think of! Any kind of exercise be it squats, lunges, deadlifts or jumps all start by hinging back at your hips that house your glutes and hamstrings. Think of this exercise as a really slow bow with a pop and lock at the end, just for presentation! You need to make sure and squeeze those glutes on your way up. This is a must do exercise simply because it is the foundation to everything that we’ve done so far!
How to do it: Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Set your head in a neutral position with your ears aligned with your shoulders, hips, and ankles, and maintain this position as you rest back on your heels and bend forward. Keep your knees soft with a slight bend, and push your hips and hamstrings back as far as you can until your torso is parallel to the floor. Pause and then push your hips forward and come to a full stand, squeezing your glutes at the top of the movement.
#7. Barbell Deadlift or Alive
Why do this: The most common of the glutes exercises, barbell deadlifts work your entire body and doing this glute exercise right can help you build stronger and more sculpted butt. It’s one of the few lifts that can target the hamstrings, your glutes, your lats and your core, not to mention improve your posture. If you’ve ever been to a box and someone is doing a beginner deadlift, you can very well bet you must have heard “back down, butt out” more than once! You also need to make sure your hands are protected and you have enough grip so that you can focus on your strength and not your hold.
Learn about 5 Ways to Protect Your Hands While Weightlifting.
How to do it: Load a barbell and roll it against your shins. Bend at your hips and knees and grab the bar with an overhand grip, your hands just beyond shoulder width. Keeping your lower back naturally arched, pull your torso up and thrust your hips forward as you stand up with the barbell. Lower the bar to the floor and repeat.
#8. The Walking (Dead) Dumbbell Lunge
Why do this: The walking dumbbell lunge is infamous for preventing people from sitting comfortably the next day – but hey no pain, no gain! As you sink into the lunge, the hips on your front leg bend deeply, which stretches your glutes.If you can find a little space, you can firm your legs, butt, and abs without even going to the gym. All you’re doing is taking a giant step forward, and if you’re a klutz like me, this exercise will help you learn proper form while also developing your balance.
How to do it: Stand straight holding a pair of dumbbells and take a long step with either leg, bending at the knee until the front thigh is parallel to the ground. Now push up into a standing position and bring your back foot forward to your starting position. Keep alternating the leg with which you step forward with so that you’re “walking” with each rep.
#9. Back (to life) Extension
Why do this: The back extension is truly underrated as it is incredibly effective at building the glutes and hamstrings. One can perform back extensions to help the lower back, but this movement can be changed to target the glutes region making it a great glutes exercise. By turning your feet outward and adding load the pressure is shifted to your glutes. Since the focus is on pure hip extension, this becomes arguably the best butt exercise you’ve never done – in addition to exercises 1-9!
How to do it: Performing back extensions for the lower back, can be altered to target the muscles on the buttocks. By turning your feet outwards at a 45-degree angle, you’ll be able to shift the “load” to your glutes. To begin this workout hook your heels into a back extension station. Turn your toes away from each other keeping your feet at 45-degree. Your back should be naturally arched and torso lowered till your body is bent at a 90-degrees. Lift your torso back up until it gets aligned with your lower body – squeezing your glutes along the way.
#10. Bulgarian Split Squat – Don’t Ask Questions
Why do this: This Bulgarian split squat workout helps to activate your quadriceps and promotes single-leg stability. The movements in this glutes exercises cause tiny tears in your glutes. These microtears get repaired over the next couple of days – making your muscles fibers stronger. Sounds scary, I know, but don’t worry, you’ll live! As well as testing your balance this exercise is an insane leg workout, with your quads, calves, and hamstrings set to benefit. The glutes are also heavily involved in the exercise, so it works for anyone trying to beef up their rump!
How to do it: Begin by standing a couple of feet from a bench with your back to the seat. Now bend your right leg and place it at the top of your right foot on the bench. While doing this, place your hands behind your head. Hold this as your starting position. Keeping your body upright, slowly bend your left leg and lower your torso till your left leg is at 90 degrees. Now push back to the starting position and repeat.
#11. Single leg – Straight-leg Deadlift – Yes, it’s a Mouthful
Why do this: This glutes exercise can help to improve your single-leg balance. It targets the muscles of your glutes and hamstrings – making them stronger. This workout can be tricky since there’s a balancing component involved. So, it’s sometimes simpler to start with no weights and then progress to dumbbells. In addition to working the hamstrings, if you squeeze your glutes during the exercise, you’re engaging both muscle groups.
How to do it: With an overhand grip, hold a barbell just beyond your shoulder width in front of your hips. Move into a tripod position with the front foot. Try to keep your knee soft with a slight bend.Pump the foot of your training leg into the floor and squeeze hard on the glute of the other leg. Push your hips back as far as you can – while raising the back leg in the air. The body should be parallel to the floor with your lower back arching naturally. Take a moment to pause and then move your hips forward coming to a full stand.
#12. Polly Put the Kettlebell Swing On
Why do this: This kettlebell glutes workout works your backside and glutes targeting your muscle fibers that are crucial in almost every sports activity. Keep your back in a neutral position and squeeze your buttocks at the top of the movement as this will activate your glutes. Contrary to popular belief, the kettlebell swing is a hinge (thing of #6 the hip hinge) and a squat movement. A hip hinge forces you to use those posterior chain muscles to move the kettlebell, loosening your hips and strengthening your glutes.
How to do it: Hold a kettlebell with both hands bend at your hips. Rocking back into a hip hinge position “swing” the kettlebell between your legs. Now squeeze your glutes while thrusting your hips forward and swinging the kettlebell until it reaches your shoulder. Repeat by reversing the movement, bringing the kettlebell through and between your legs.
#13. Cable Kickback – No, this is not a Karate Move
Why do this: For all my ladies that have been following along, prepared to have your mind blown! The cable kickback workout has a series of movements that zeroes in on the most important part of your rear end – the gluteus maximus. If you’ve ever walked by a cable machine and some girl with a nice behind almost kicks you in the face, she’s getting her kickbacks on. To do this exercise, you definitely need some space, a pair of ankle straps, and a whole lotta courage! If you really want a round and hard butt that you can bounce a quarter on, don’t skip this glutes exercise.
How to do it: Bring the arm of a cable machine to your ankle level. Now stand facing the machine with your feet apart. Place one foot through the ankle strap, while keeping your chest lifted. Use your glute to pull the foot with the cable behind you, but be sure not to let your back arch. Pause, and then return to starting position.
#14. Cable Standing Hip Abduction – It’s Not as Scary as it Sounds
Why do this: These glutes exercises help to work those glutes muscles which are often neglected by most. This exercise is often used as a hip or leg exercise, but in reality, it works the upper glutes and the sides of your butt. Additionally, the term abduction means a lateral or sideways movement away from the body, hence the sideways position of this workout. Ideally, the muscles responsible for this movement in your hip area are the Gluteus Medius and Gluteus Minimus. You’ll definitely need an ankle strap for this one!
How to do it: Bring the arm of a cable machine to level with your ankle. Stand so that your side is close to the cable machine and foot is behind the cable. Place you other foot into the ankle strap and then hook it onto the machine. Using your glutes pull that leg out to your side. Pause for 3 to 5 seconds and return to the starting position.
#15. Lateral Hip Circle Walk – You’ll Love this One
Why do this: In this glutes exercise when you place a hip circle around the tops of your shins and move side to side the hip circle hits your gluteus medius. This muscle helps rotate your thigh and working it builds your glute strength for when you perform a heavy-loaded squat or lunge. Moreover, correct gluteal activation has been shown to reduce the rate of knee injuries, improve muscular endurance and reduce “hip drop” in long-distance runners. Improved butt strength also allows you to better support explosive movements such as jumping, sprinting and Olympic lifting.
How to do it: Place both of your feet inside a hip circle. With your feet just beyond shoulder-width, place the band at the top of your shins or right above your ankles. You can also place it around the balls of your feet. Keeping the distance between your feet constant, create a square by taking small, steps. Take 10 side steps to your left, 10 steps forward, 10 side steps to your right, and 10 steps backward. Repeat.
Which one of these glute exercises is your go-to when you hit the gym? Which glutes workout do you want to try next? Have you tried using a hip circle for building your glutes? Share below!