Strength training is an important part of overall health. In particular, the gluteal muscles can weaken and droop as we age – negatively affecting pelvic alignment and causing lower back problems. What follows are the best glute isolation exercises to keep your buttocks strong, firm, lifted, and well-shaped.
Gravity-Defying Glutes! Try This Lower-Body Workout Using Resistance Bands
Your lower body – especially the glute muscles – responds positively to exercises done with resistance bands.
This workout is for women or men and can be modified to match any fitness level. See the videos lower within this article to see exactly how each exercise can be performed.
Why You Should Use Resistance Bands for Glute Isolation Exercises
Your body gets accustomed to the same old exercises.
Many people get into a rut with their workouts. Though they might make a few changes here and there, for the most part, people do the same workouts over and over again.
This creates complacency – and results lessen over time.
This is especially true with leg muscles, including glutes, because the lower body was designed to be used in a multitude of ways and so limiting movement patterns is going against what nature intended.
Resistance bands to the rescue!
Resistance bands are a convenient and inexpensive way to add instant variety to previously stale movement patterns:
- They allow for more organic range of motion (instead of strictly limiting the direction as many gym machines do).
- Unlike weights, resistance bands increase tension as your muscle approaches the point of peak contraction!
- The way the human body works is that smaller muscles facilitate fine-tuned movements – they stabilize joints, help to rotate joints, and help larger muscles to perform. The genius of resistance bands is they work you bone-deep from the inside-out, not only training the more obvious, major-muscle groups – but also improving the smaller, stabilizing muscles. This can make all the difference.
Keep in mind that leg muscles are the biggest muscle area in your body, and when you move them, you automatically burn more calories.
Your quadriceps and calves, in particular, are like hungry monsters that eat calories for energy. Better still, these lower-body muscles provide a metabolic after-burn – they keep on utilizing calories even after the workout has stopped.
The Warm-Up Circuit Using Resistance Bands for Your Lower Body
To make these glute isolation exercises even more effective – and more fun – they’re presented in a circuit-training format.
With standard bodybuilding at the gym, you do a few sets of each exercise, taking a few minutes rest in between each set – which can feel a bit dull, as your heart rate never really builds momentum.
A circuit, however, is a group of prescribed exercises done consecutively.
With this lower-body circuit-training workout, however, you use resistance bands for each exercise with no rest in between glute isolation exercises until you complete a full circuit.
Then, and only then, do you rest for 2 minutes, before repeating the same circuit.
Each circuit is repeated 3 times (before moving on to a brand new circuit).
You don’t have to use the exact brand of resistance bands used in the following photos and video.
Compared to other gym equipment, resistance bands are very cheap – and so you can order all types of bands online (from Amazon or Perform Better, for instance).
If your band looks different than the one in a photo, with a little patience and creativity you can still probably make the exercise work.
Reclining Straight-Leg Lift
Palms braced, face down, under your hips to create stability for your lower back. Draw your navel in tightly, and lift one straight leg up and down – foot flexed. To keep the leg muscles active, imagine a laser beam of energy shooting out of your heel.
I sometimes use a cuffed band (as pictured above), but a regular short loop without cuffs will work just as well.
20 repetitions on each leg.
Reverse Mountain Climbers with Resistance Bands
Same positioning as above, only this time you’re bicycling the legs.
40 reps total.
Use either a cuffed band or a regular short looped resistance band (without cuffs).
SECRET TIP: Your weekly workouts bring results, yes, but your workouts when combined with an anti-inflammatory diet will bring exponential results. For most people, this is the missing piece to the puzzle.
When you eat a mediocre diet, your workouts are just burning some of the calories you’ve already consumed that day. But when your nutrition is on-point, your workouts accomplish so much more. I can’t emphasize this point enough.
Best Glute Isolation Exercises: Prone Jump-Aparts
Facedown, hands braced on the ground, jump your feet apart and together.
Any looped band can work for this exercise (it doesn’t have to be the cuffed kind pictured above).
To keep your bodyweight off of your wrists, imagine directing the energy of your body up toward the sky. Stay light on your feet.
Up to now, you’ve been warming up your abdominals and quads, but in this exercise, you’re beginning to involve the glutes – this is important because there are more focused buttocks exercises in future circuits.
Keep your navel pulled up tightly!
Mountain Climbers (regular)
For mountain climbers, the trick is to be light on your feet. Use the power of your core to keep your body weight off the ground.
If you don’t have cuffed resistance bands, no problem. This exercise can be done without a band.
40 reps (20 each side).
Second Circuit Using Resistance Bands for Glute Isolation Exercises
Your intensity should build for the second circuit, so if you’re able, push yourself a bit further.
Side Lunges with Resistance Bands
Use whichever type of band works best for you. Start with feet together, then step one leg up-and-out in an exaggerated manner – lunging to the side.
Maintain length in your torso and neck the entire time.
14 repetitions on each side.
Standing Leg Lift for Glute Isolation
Turn your pancakes into peaches! Few things look more aesthetically pleasing than powerful buttocks muscles.
Want your knees and lower back to stay healthy even as you get older? Then you’ll need to maintain a stable pelvis (something many modern humans lack). A sure-fire way to help maintain a stable pelvis is to keep your glute muscles strong. This exercise will help.
Lean forward slightly bracing your arms (on a wall or rail) for support. Soften your supporting knee as you lift the other leg up in back of you.
Keep the working leg very straight and turned in (toe pointing towards the floor) slightly.
16 reps each leg.
Best Glute Isolation Exercises: Standing Side Leg Lifts for Outer Thighs
Same as the previous exercise, only this time you’re pressing your leg up to the side (instead of directly back).
16 reps each leg.
Lower Body “Cheerleader Jumps” with Resistance Bands
Jump up like you’re making a star shape with your body.
Your legs move quickly because they start together on the ground, and they also end up together on the ground.
Your thighs have to move fast and sharp, like Ginsu knives.
Third Circuit Using Resistance Bands for Best Glute Isolation Exercises
Thigh Can Openers Using Resistance Bands
A short, looped band will work well for this exercise. Place it just above the knees. On your side, you stack bent knees upon one another, then peel back the top knee – hitting that upper outer thigh and glute.
20 reps each side.
With this exercise, you need to be mindful of your neck.
If you’re already trim, fit, and have a strong core, then your cervical spine should be fine – especially if you already enjoy a baseline of spinal mobility.
However, if you’re feeling stiff or weigh over 200 pounds (or currently are carrying a high percentage of body fat), then you want to move more slowly and perhaps not lift your hips quite so high during each repetition.
Use common sense. It’s a very effective exercise as long as you listen to the needs of your body. The point is to utilize your core and glute muscles to pull the weight of your body toward the direction of your feet (away from neck). Your neck should not have to support the entire weight of your body.
Plant your feet firmly on the ground as if you’re trying to drag your heels toward your hips.
16 reps. Then, finish off with 16 pulses pressing the knees outward – for an outer-thigh blast.
With the band around your lower leg, take slow steps forward-and-out with very bent knees.
Walk forward 12 steps, walk backward 12 steps. (Or, if you’re in a small space, simply walk forward and back as many times as it takes to make 24 reps.)
Anytime you’re jumping up on a bench, make absolutely certain that it’s secure. If you feel yourself getting tired or losing focus, then stop. It’s better to be safe. Concentrate during the jump up and also during the jump down. Land softly by engaging your core the entire time.
The band goes above your knees (that’s important).
Lower-Body Finishers Circuit with Resistance Bands
Best Glute Isolation Exercises: Donkey Kicks
As you press one leg back with a flexed heel, squeeze your buttock deeply once your leg is straightened.
Your supporting knee should remain slightly bent.
As an alternative to cuffed bands, you can use a regular looped band placed over the back of your heel.
14 reps each side.
Banded Toe Points for Sculpted Calves
Exaggerate the range of motion on this toe-point exercise. Really come back for a deep stretch, then super-point as you squeeze the calf muscle intensely.
16 reps each leg.
Knee Lifts for Hip Flexors
7 reps each side.
Refer to the video below for further instructions on doing each of these exercises.
Honoring Individual Differences
Each human body is different, and each of us currently enjoys a different level of fitness. You’re encouraged to listen to the unique needs of your own body. Beginners may need 4 minutes of rest between each circuit. Advanced athletes might need only 2 minutes.
Be mindful of your form.
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Try to have an objective awareness, as if you’re watching yourself exercise from a distance. Ask, “how is my posture at this moment?”
Each time you do a specific exercise ask, “where am I feeling this?”
Remember that the glute muscle groups are comprised of different areas – gluteus medius and gluteus maximus. The hip thrust, the glute bridge, hip abduction, hip extension, the fire hydrant – these are the best glute isolation exercises because they work among a variety of planes. For additional ways to train your glute muscle groups:
- click the link to see how to use ankle weights.
- click the links on how to do compound movements such as back squats, romanian deadlift, bulgarian split squat, kettlebell swing and walking lunges.
If a particular exercise causes sharp pain, stop doing it. If you feel dizzy, stop exercising. As always, consult with your own medical doctor before making significant changes to your exercise habits.
The above workout includes the best glute isolation exercises and uses resistance bands to sculpt the muscles of your lower body and helps them become stronger and firmer.
After completing this workout, you might consider using resistance bands for your upper body during your next workout.