8 Best Glute Exercises for Building a Nicer Butt
Glute Muscles Worked
There are three gluteal muscles – the gluteus maximus, medius, and minimus. If you want a strong, juicy booty, then knowing the functions and movement of each of these muscles will help you better understand the most effective ways to work them and increase muscle mass. Combined, they allow the abduction and rotation of the hip, the extension of the leg, and stabilizes the pelvis.
The gluteus maximus is the largest and most visible of the gluteal muscles and is responsible for extending and laterally rotating the hip joint and can help abduct the hip.
The fan-shaped gluteus medius muscle sits just below the iliac crest. Its primary function in to abduct the hip joint and for internal and external rotation.
While the gluteus minimus is the smallest and deepest of the gluteal muscles, its main action is hip abduction and pelvic stabilization, especially when walking or running.
Best Glute Workout
The best glute workout will combine four different kinds of moves for the best and well-rounded development. The four styles of glute exercises are thrust/bridge, squat/lunge, hinge/pull, and abduction movement. Each of these ensures you take your muscles through their full range of motion from complete stretch to contraction, which is the most effective way of working your muscles. While there are various exercises in each of these categories, this particular combination is the recommendation of Jeremy Ethier and Bret Contreras, aka The Glute Guy. Bret has studied the glutes for 20 years and popularised the hip thrust. Use this as either a full lower body workout or add them into your weekly schedule however you see fit.
Best Glute Exercises
1a. Barbell Hip Thrust
A barbell hip thrust is an excellent move for working both the upper and lower butt muscles. During this glute exercise, you’ll get the most tension at lockout when you’re squeezing your glutes really hard, which is why a pause at the top of the move is beneficial, holding that maximum engagement for longer. There are two variations of this style, a posterior pelvic tilt method, and a hinge method. Whichever you choose comes down to personal preference and whatever feels best for your body.Execution
1b. Single Leg Hip Thrust
An equipment-free alternative for home is a single-leg hip thrust. Position your body against a bench or couch, with shoulder blades at the edge. To perform this move, you’ll want to use the hinge movement, keeping your head, neck, spine, and torso aligned. Raise one foot slightly off the ground, and as you lift your hips in the thrust straightening your body, raise that leg, so your thigh is 90-degrees to your torso, and the shin is parallel to the floor, with your knee bent 90 degrees. Pause at the top, then slowly lower yourself back down, but don’t return your raised foot to the ground until the set is complete.
2a. Dumbbell Lunge
A walking dumbbell lunge is an excellent complementary glute exercise to a hip thrust. You get a deep stretch at the bottom of the lunge, where it’s the hardest. This is the opposite of a thrust, where it’s most difficult at the top of the move. This also means that you get a great combination of mechanical tension, metabolic stress, and muscle damage, which are all essential for hypertrophy and musical mass growth. Don’t be surprised if you’re a bit sore after this one! There are a couple of things to note. The first is that your knee should align with your toes at the bottom of the lunge, so you’re not inadvertently engaging your hamstrings or quads instead. Secondly, you’ll also want to focus on pushing through the heel to rise from the move.
2b. Deficit Reverse Lunge
An alternative is a deficit reverse lunge. Stand on a platform or step, holding the dumbbell in each hand. Step one foot off and back, dropping into a lunge position, again keeping the front of your knee aligned to the front of your toes. Maintain the same form as the walking lunge, with a slight 20-degree torso tilt and back knee dropping almost to the ground. Return the back foot to the step, pushing through your heels. Repeat while alternating your feet.
3a. 45 Degree Hyperextension
Enjoy really high glute and hamstring activation with a 45-degree hyperextension. It’s a great move because the knees are straight, so the hamstrings create better force, and it has a lower chance of injury than other similar moves. There are two methods. The first method keeps neutral feet and a neutral spine, which works the hamstrings, glutes, and erector muscles. However, if you want to bias the glutes and really feel the engagement, you can perform the exercise with flared feet and a rounded spine, which disengages the erector muscles. It can look and feel counterintuitive, but it is safe to do for this kind of move.
3b. Reverse Hyperextension
Another excellent alternative glute exercise is reverse hyperextension. Position your body with your torso lying face-down on a flat exercise bench, with your hips just off the edge, so you have a full range of movement. Your knees will be bent. Hold on to the bench, hugging it securely, and focus on squeezing your glutes as you lift and extend your legs fully until your body is straight, from head to toe. You can either keep your legs straight or use a spreadeagle method, widening your legs as you raise them. Lower carefully back down, and repeat.
4a. Side Lying Hip Raise
The great thing about a side-lying hip raise is that it only uses bodyweight, so it’s a glute exercise that you can do anywhere. It’s also a great exercise for engaging all of the glutes but has a particular emphasis on the gluteus medius, which you’ll feel at lockout. You should aim for maximum hip separation throughout the move for the most significant muscle engagement and use a controlled tempo. This killer exercise only needs between 10 and 15 reps, and you’ll feel the burn.
4b. Seated Banded Hip Abduction
You’ll need a resistance band for this alternate glute exercise. Sit on the end of a bench or a chair that lets you keep your feet flat on the floor. Take a mini band and place it around your knees, just at the bottom of your thighs. Then push your knees out, using your upper glutes to do the work. Keep your back straight for ten to 15 reps, then lean forward slightly for another ten to 15, and finish by leaning back slightly, bracing with your hands, and doing a final ten to 15 reps. This will target and work different regions of your glutes for a well-rounded exercise.