Do you want to develop strong glutes?
You’re in the right place.
In this post, you’re going to learn:
- What you need to do to get a strong set of glutes
- My favorite glute exercises for strength, and
- A glute-specific workout that could be performed right from home.
Let’s get started.
Although I am a doctor, I am not your doctor. This information is for informational purposes only and should not substitute the advice from your healthcare professional. All kinds of exercise and dietary changes are potentially dangerous, and those who do not seek counsel from the appropriate health care authority assume the liability of any injury which may occur. Please read my full Disclaimer for more information. Also, this post may contain affiliate links: meaning I may receive a commission if you use them.
How do you get strong glutes?
To develop strong glutes, you need to do exercises that train hip extension, hip external rotation, and hip abduction.
In doing so, you will target the three different gluteal muscles.
Those muscles are the:
- Gluteus maximus
- Gluteus medius, and
- Gluteus minimus
Let’s discuss each one individually.
The gluteus maximus is the biggest of the three and the one you probably think of the most when you hear glutes.
It is the most visible of the three.
This muscle acts to extend your hip and stabilize your pelvis.
The gluteus medius lies right under the gluteus maximus and functions to abduct (or more away from your body) and externally rotate your hip. (It is often called the upper glute or glute shelf)
Lastly, is the gluteus minimus.
It is the smallest of the three and lies underneath the gluteus medius.
Like the medius, this muscle also functions to abduct and externally rotate your hip.
So now that you know how the three different gluteal muscles function, let’s discuss the best exercises you could do to grow your glutes.
The best glute exercises for strength & mass
An important part of glute training is to develop a mind muscle connection with your butt muscles.
This means that you should actively focus on squeezing your glutes, and feel them activating with every repetition.
Now that we have that out of the way-
The number one exercise for glute strength is…
The Hip Thrust
The hip thrust is a simple exercise that maximally trains hip extension.
The best part of this movement is that it isolates the glutes without involving your legs.
Here’s what it looks like.
You can do this exercise with just your body weight – but to get strong glutes, you will need to add external resistance.
You can do it with a weighted plate, a dumbbell, or even a barbell on your lap.
The squat is the king of the lower body exercises and is a great way to build a strong booty.
This exercise trains hip extension and hip flexion strengthening the glutes, quads, hamstrings and even core.
To minimize quadricep involvement, push your butt back more and allow your torso to lean forward a bit.
Here is how the squat should look.
If you want to get strong glutes, you will eventually need to add weight.
The goblet squat is a simple way to do just that.
Romanian deadlifts are another great exercise to build strength in the posterior chain aka the glute & hamstring muscles.
It also works via hip extension.
To get the most out of this exercise, you’ll need some external weight like a set of dumbbells or kettlebells.
The idea is to push your hips back while keeping your spine neutral throughout the movement.
A slight bend in the knees is okay.
Here is what the romanian deadlift looks like:
Weighted Frog Bridge
The next exercise is the frog bridge.
This is just like the standard glute bridge movement with one main difference. You will keep your hips abducted and externally rotated.
In addition, you should place a weight on your hip to make this exercise more challenging.
Here’s what it looks like.
The next three movements are single leg exericses.
What makes single leg exercises great is that they force the glutes to keep your hips stable.
First is the step up.
According to a recent systematic review of glute activation, the step up demonstrated the highest glute activation of all other exercises!
Try to lean your torso forward a bit to engage the posterior aspect of the leg more than the anterior aspect aka quads.
Here is what the step up looks like.
Feel free to add some dumbbells if this becomes too easy.
Next is the reverse lunge, another great glute activation exercise.
To minimize quadricep engagement, increase the stride of your lunge and don’t let your front knee go over your toes too much.
As always make sure you keep a neutral spine with your core and pelvic floor engaged.
Here’s what the reverse lunge looks like:
Single Leg Deadlift
This is another great single-leg exercise to train hip extension.
Feel free to try this exercise without weight as it does require balance.
Once you have mastered the body weight version, try using a dumbbell in one hand while holding onto a chair or table with the other.
Banded Clam Shell
The banded clam shell is the first exercise to work hip external rotation.
To get the most out of this movement, you will need a resistance band around your knees – which you can get here.
Be sure to keep your heels together the entire time.
Banded Lateral Walks
The lateral walk is the best exercise to train hip abduction from a functional point of view.
These will really activate the glute medius and glute minimus.
Again, you will need a resistance band to do this exercise.
Here is what the movement should look like:
What are the symptoms of weak glutes?
You likely have weak glutes if:
- you have anterior pelvic tilt,
- you have low back pain, and/or
- you are unable to fully extend your hips
Anterior pelvic tilt is when your hip bone gets pulled forward from tight hip flexors and weak glutes.
You can look in the mirror right now and see if you have it.
This is what it looks like:
Notice the big curve in the low back.
Unfortunately, this places a lot of strain on your low back muscles and is one of the leading causes of back pain.
The good news is: this is a common postural issue that can be fixed.
The other sign of weak glutes is an inability to extend/ straighten your hips.
Try this test right now:
Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
Now, squeeze your buttocks hard to elevate them off the floor.
If you can’t draw a straight line from your knees down to your shoulders- you are missing range of motion in hip extension.
How do you activate weak glutes?
The best way to activate weak glutes is by doing low-impact bodyweight exercises that target hip abduction and hip extension.
Here are two basic exercises to help you:
The Side-Lying Hip Abduction:
The side lying hip abduction is a simple movement that allows you to develop a mind-muscle connection with the gluteus medius muscle.
Here’s what it looks like:
You can make this exercise more challenging by going into a full side plank like in the picture above.
The key is to keep your butt muscles engaged the entire time.
The Glute Bridge March:
The next exercise will activate your gluteus maximus muscle via hip extension.
After you get into a glute bridge, you are going to alternate lifting one leg up at a time to isolate each buttock muscle individually.
Do your best not to arch your low back when doing this exercise.
A 20 Minute Glute workout You Can Do At Home
Here’s how to take all this information and build a simple 20-minute workout for strong glutes.
If you don’t have access to traditional weights – just pick up whatever you have at home to add some external resistance.
A heavy backpack also works!
|Warm-Up (Glute Bridge March)||1||12|
|Warm-up (Side Lying Hip Abduction)||1||12|
|Warm-Up (Glute Bridge March)||1||12|
|Warm-up (Side Ling Hip Abduction)||1||12|
|Weighted Frog Bridge||3||15|
On the other days of the week, feel free to train your core or your arms!
If you are interested- I have created The Postpartum Trainer’s 6-week Leg and Booty workout program that you can perform from the comfort of your own home!
It goes over the 35 best lower body exercises to tone and strengthen the muscles of your legs and booty.
Other Related Questions
What are the benefits of having strong glutes?
Having a strong set of glutes is important for:
- Pelvic alignment/Posture
- Injury prevention
- Power production, and of course
Not only do they look good, but your glutes are the foundation of your physical health!
Strengthening them will help fix anterior pelvic tilt, which in turn decreases your risk of low back pain and other spinal issues.
Plus, strong glutes will help keep your knees in a healthy and stable position during movements like squats and lunges.
It’s a win-win!
Does walking help train glutes?
Walking is an underrated exercise that can definitely help strengthen your glutes.
The key is to walk with purpose and take a good stride with each step!
The best part is, you can do this anytime, anywhere!
Can I do glutes everyday?
You should not train your glutes (or any other muscle group) every day. To see the best results, you should train glutes using resistance exercises no more than 3-4 times per week.
With that said, you can do other activities that engage the glutes daily, such as walking!
Final Words On Strong Glutes
So that’s everything you need to know to build a strong set of butt muscles!
Focus on the mind-muscle connection, train all three hip movement patterns, and use external resistance as needed.
Now I want to hear from you.
Which of these exercises are you most excited to try?
Comment below and let me know!
- How to get your bum back postpartum (10 exercises to target the mom butt)
- The best underbutt isolation exercises
- The postpartum trainer’s squat challenge (what level can you reach?)
- Rana M, Yani MS, Asavasopon S, Fisher BE, Kutch JJ. Brain Connectivity Associated with Muscle Synergies in Humans. J Neurosci. 2015;35(44):14708-14716. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1971-15.2015
- Neto WK, Soares EG, Vieira TL, et al. Gluteus Maximus Activation during Common Strength and Hypertrophy Exercises: A Systematic Review. J Sports Sci Med. 2020;19(1):195-203. Published 2020 Feb 24.
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Brittany Robles, MD, MPH, CPT
Brittany Robles is a full-time OBGYN physician, a NASM certified trainer, and a prenatal and postnatal fitness specialist. She holds a Master of Public Health degree in maternal health with a special interest in exercise and nutrition. She is also the co-author of The White Coat Trainer. Learn more about her here.
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