15 Best Upper Glute Exercises (Free Workouts Included)

Are you looking for an upper glute workout to grow your bum?

You are in the right place!

After reading this post, you will learn:

  • What muscles make up the upper glute,
  • The best exercises you can do to build your upper glutes,
  • An upper glute workout you can do at home or the gym!

Let’s get started.

cover image for 15 upper glute exercises

Disclaimer

***READ FIRST***

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.

Ok, moving on.



What is the muscle at the top of your buttocks?

The muscle at the top of your buttocks is called the gluteus medius, commonly known as the upper glute or the glute shelf.

The gluteus medius is a stabilizer muscle, meaning it helps keep your pelvis level as you walk.

It also helps rotate your leg outward (external rotation).

The gluteus medius is one of the three main muscles in your butt. The other two are the gluteus maximus and the gluteus minimus.

How do I make my glute medius bigger?

There are a few key things to remember when trying to gain lean muscle mass, especially in your glutes.

1. Ensure you are eating enough calories

Calorie consumption is probably the most critical factor. If you are not consuming enough calories, you will not have the energy to build new muscle tissue.

You also need to get an adequate amount of the three macronutrients: protein, carbs, and fat.

Especially protein.

2. Consume more protein

Protein is the most important macronutrient for building and maintaining lean muscle tissue.

It is also the most thermogenic (fat-burning) nutrient, which means that your body will burn more calories digesting it than any other nutrient.

Plus, protein is the building block of muscle tissue. If you’re not consuming enough of it, your body will have difficulty growing new muscle mass.

So, how much protein do you need to consume to grow your glutes?

The general rule of thumb is to consume at least half of your body weight in protein daily.

For example, if you weigh 150 lbs, you should consume at least 75g of protein daily.

Protein can be found in several sources, but the best types are:

  • Lean chicken breast
  • Wild-caught salmon
  • Turkey
  • Tofu
  • Edamame
  • Legumes, and
  • Greek yogurt

Now we will discuss my favorite way to grow your upper shelf.

3. Perform resistance-based exercises to target the glutes

Resistance-based training is the last piece of the puzzle for developing your upper glutes.

You can train your glutes by using:

  • external weights
  • resistance bands
  • and your bodyweight.

It is also essential that you are challenging yourself and feeling your glute muscles working when doing each exercise.

So now, let’s discuss the best exercises you should perform.

What exercises work the top of your glutes?

The gluteus medius aids in hip abduction, meaning it moves your leg away from the midline of your body.

Any exercise that abducts your hip will train the top part of your glute.

brittany abducting her right leg

The cool thing is that you can do these exercises from a:

  • standing position,
  • side-lying position,
  • quadruped position,
  • supine position (on your back), or
  • prone position (on your belly).

Now, let’s get to the 15 best glute shelf exercises.

The Best Upper Glute Isolation Exercises

The following exercises are divided into weighted, bodyweight, and banded.

First are the weighted exercises.


1. Standing Weighted Hip Abductions

brittany performing a standing weighted hip abduction

Here’s how to do it:

  • Stand on an elevated platform with your feet together and hold onto a wall or chair with one hand.
  • With the other hand, hold a dumbbell or weighted plate against your leg.
  • Now, abduct the leg with the dumbbell against it while keeping the other leg straight with your foot planted on the ground.
  • Hold the top position for 1 second.
  • Bring your leg back to the center and repeat.
  • Be sure to train both sides equally.

2. Dumbbell Lateral Lunges

brittany performing dumbbell lateral lunges

Here’s how to do it:

  • Hold two dumbbells or free weights down at your side, and stand up straight with your feet together.
  • Now take a step out with one floor laterally, keeping your toes pointing forward.
  • Squat down towards the side that you stepped out to.
  • Keep your other leg straight with your foot planted on the ground. (This exercise will also target the inner thighs)
  • Stand back up with your feet together and repeat.
  • If balancing is an issue, hold onto a chair instead of the dumbbells, or try using a weighted vest.

3. Elevated Dumbbell Romanian Deadlifts

Romanian deadlifts are a great compound exercise that trains many muscle groups in the lower body.

brittany performing an elevated dumbbell romanian deadlift

Here’s how to do it:

  • Grab two dumbbells and hold them down at your sides.
  • Now, stand on a platform with your feet hip-width apart.
  • Begin bending at the hips while keeping a neutral spine, and try to push your butt back as if to touch an imaginary wall behind you.
  • You can have a slight knee bend, but your arms should be straight down at your sides.
  • Return to the starting position and repeat.

4. Weighted Hip Thrust

brittany performing a weighted hip thrust

Here’s how to do it:

  • Sit in front of a bench with your upper back in contact with the bench.
  • Keep both knees bent and feet flat on the ground.
  • Put a dumbbell or weighted plate across your hips.
  • Now lift your hips by pressing down your heels and squeezing your glutes.
  • Your upper back will naturally lay flat on the bench at the top.
  • Hold this position for one second.
  • Return to the starting position and repeat.

Next are the bodyweight exercises.

5. Side-lying Hip Raise

brittany performing a side lying hip raise

Here’s how to do it:

  • Lie down on your side and rest on one elbow/forearm.
  • Bend both of your knees.
  • Raise your hips off the floor while simultaneously abducting the top leg.
  • Keep the bottom knee in contact with the floor and keep both knees bent.
  • Return your hips to the floor slowly.
  • Repeat the movement and make sure to train both sides equally.

6. Rear Foot Elevated Split Squats (AKA Bulgarian Split Squat)

brittany performing rear foot elevated split squats

Here’s how to do it:

  • Stand in front of a platform or a short chair and face away from it.
  • Place your back foot on the platform and balance yourself on the front foot.
  • Put your hands on your hips and stand up tall.
  • Squat down by bending the front knee and go as low as you comfortably can.
  • Stand up slowly and repeat.
  • Be sure to train both sides equally.

7. Prone Pulse Ups

brittany performing prone pulse ups

Here’s how to do it:

  • Lie face down on a bench with your hips right at the edge.
  • Make a diamond position with your legs so that the soles of your feet are touching each other.
  • Keeping your core and glutes engaged, pulse your feet up while keeping them in contact with each other.
  • Return to the starting position and repeat.

8. Fire Hydrant Kicks

brittany performing fire hydrant kicks

Here’s how to do it:

  • Get into a quadruped position on your hands and knees.
  • Externally rotate and abduct one of your hips while keeping your back flat.
  • Now, kick that leg out to the side while keeping your toes pointing forward.
  • Bend your knee and return back to the starting position.
  • Repeat and make sure to train the other side.
  • *You can also perform donkey kicks by driving your heel up toward the ceiling after the fire hydrant kick.

9. One-legged Glute Bridges 

brittany performing one legged glute bridges

Here’s how to do it:

  • Lie down on the floor with both knees bent and feet flat on the ground.
  • Lift one leg straight out in front of you.
  • Now lift your hips by pressing down into your heels and squeezing your glutes.
  • Hold this position for one second.
  • Slowly return to the starting position and repeat.
  • Make sure to train the other side.

10. Single-leg Box Squat

brittany performing single leg box squat

Here’s how to do it:

  • Grab a chair or box and stand about 12 inches in front of it with your feet shoulder-width apart and toes pointing out.
  • Lift one leg out in front of you and balance yourself on one leg.
  • Bend at the hips and knees with your working leg and squat down until your butt makes contact with the box or chair.
  • Now return to the starting position and repeat.
  • Be sure to train the opposite leg.

Now let’s discuss exercises you can do to grow your shelf using bands.

Upper glute exercises with bands

Using resistance bands is a great way to effectively work the upper glutes from home, especially if you have no other form of external resistance or weights.

11. Quadruped Banded Kickbacks

Banded-donkey-kickbacks

Here’s how to do it:

  • Get into a quadruped position, on your hands and knees, with your back as flat as possible.
  • Wrap one end of the closed-loop band on your right hand.
  • Place the sole of your left foot inside the other loop.
  • From the quadruped position, kick back the left leg so it is straight behind you.
  • You will need to play around with band placement to ensure that it provides enough resistance.
  • Slowly return to the starting position.
  • Repeat and make sure to train the opposite leg.

12. Banded Seated Hip Abductions

brittany performing a banded-seat-abductions in pregnancy

Here’s how to do it:

  • Sit on the edge of a chair or bench with a mini-band wrapped around your knees.
  • Place your feet flat on the floor, with your heels touching.
  • Place your hands on your hips for support and balance.
  • From here, abduct your legs while keeping your feet in contact with each other.
  • Go through the repetitions slowly.

13. Clam Shells

brittany doing clam shells with band

Here’s how to do it:

  • Get into a side-lying position, resting on your forearm with both knees bent.
  • From here, externally rotate your top leg as high as you comfortably can while keeping your feet in contact with each other.
  • Slowly return to the starting position.
  • Repeat and make sure to train the other leg.

14. Lateral Banded Walks

walking-with-bands

Here’s how to do it:

  • Place a medium-strength hip resistance band around your legs at the level of your knees.
  • Next, assume a comfortable stance with your knees bent, feet shoulder-width apart, and toes pointing forward.
  • Keep your core engaged and your chest up.
  • From here, step out to the right with your right foot.
  • Then step out to the right with your left foot.
  • Continue walking laterally for the desired number of repetitions.
  • Finish all the reps on one side before moving on to the next side.

15. Prone Banded Hip Abductions

brittany doing prone banded hip abductions

Here’s how to do it:

  • Grab a band and wrap it around your ankles.
  • Lie face down on a bench with your legs hanging off the edge.
  • Using a quick pace, separate your heels and bring them back together.
  • Squeeze your glute muscles with each repetition.

What machines work the upper glutes?

If you have access to a gym and prefer to use machines, check out these exercises to help build the muscles in your upper glutes.

Hip Abduction Machine

Cable Kicks

Now let’s go over some quick glute workouts you can do at home or the gym!

A Quick and Effective Lower Back / Upper Glute Workout

Workout A

ExerciseSetsReps
Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift312
Rear Foot Elevated Split Squats312/each side
Weighted Hip Abduction312/ each side

Workout B

ExerciseSetsReps
Weighted Hip Thrust . 312
Fire Hydrant Kicks312/ each side
Prone Pulse Ups315

Upper Glute Workout At Home

Workout A

ExerciseSetsReps
Side-Lying Hip Raise 312/ each side
Prone Banded Hip Abductions315
Fire Hydrant Kicks312/ each side

Workout B

ExerciseSetsReps
Single-Leg Box Squat 38/ each side
Lateral Band Walk312/ each side
Prone Pulse Ups315

Other Related Questions

How do you target all three glutes?

To target all three glute muscles, you need to perform exercises that target the specific action of each of the gluteal muscles.

In total, there are three gluteal muscles:

Gluteus maximus

The gluteus maximus is the largest of the three glute muscles, and it’s responsible for hip extension (straightening your hips from a bent position).

In addition, the gluteus maximus helps maintain your erect posture and laterally rotates and abducts your thigh.

Gluteus medius

The gluteus medius aids in hip abduction and helps to stabilize your pelvis when you walk or run.

This muscle also helps flex and extend the hip and medially and laterally rotate the hip.

Gluteus minimus

The gluteus minimus is the smallest of the three, and its function is similar to the gluteus medius.

Photo showing muscles of the buttocks

I go over specific exercises for targeting all three muscles in my post on building strong glutes.

Now, when it comes to exercises that work all three muscles, squats are definitely one of the best and my personal favorite.

It is the king of the lower body movements!

There are many different types of squats that you can do, so you should definitely find a squat variation that works best for you.

How long does it take to grow glutes?

If you are dedicated to following a good training and nutrition program, you can expect to see glute growth in 8-12 weeks.

However, it is hard to know exactly how long it will take you to grow your glutes as it depends on several factors, such as your:

  • Genetics
  • Body weight
  • Lean muscle mass
  • Consistency, and
  • Diet

Of course, if you have exceptional genetics or are already lean, then you may see results sooner.

Just remember to be patient and consistent with your training and nutrition. Growing any muscle is not a quick fix!

Why is my bum flat at the top?

Your bum may be flat at the top due to one of the following:

  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Decreased muscle mass
  • Genetics
  • Hormones
  • Not eating enough calories or the right foods
  • Stress
  • Age
  • Pregnancy or postpartum
  • Weak glutes

Are my glutes weak?

Your glutes are weak if:

  • Your lower back arches when you extend your hips
  • You have low back pain, hip, or knee pain when using heavy weights
  • You notice that one hip is higher than the other

Also, you likely have weak glutes if you are unable to complete a full range of motion glute bridge.

weak-glutes

*There should be a straight line from your shoulders to your knees.*

But all hope is not lost!

If your glutes are weak, then you can do exercises that target them directly, as weak glutes can lead to injury and postural misalignments.

Final words on Upper Glute Training

So those are the best glute exercises to develop a strong and rounded upper butt.

Now I want to hear from you.

What is your favorite upper glute exercise?

Any other butt exercises you’d like to add to the list?

Comment below and let me know.

What’s Next?


Get Four Free Workouts To Help Strengthen Your Pelvic Floor & Heal Your Mommy Tummy!


brittany-robles

Brittany N Robles, MD, MPH, CPT

Brittany Robles is a full-time OBGYN, a NASM certified personal trainer, and health & fitness, expert. She holds a Masters 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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