The glutes are meant to be strong in human beings.
The gluteus group is built from three muscles – maximus, medius, and minimus. The maximus is intended to be among the most powerful of our body’s muscles.
The gluteal muscles that comprise a person’s buttocks are a vital part of a human’s functional movement – even more important than most athletes realize:
- People with weak glutes are more likely to round excessively at the lower back, potentially setting themselves up for lower back pain or even injury.
- Strong glutes exert a beneficial posterior pull on the pelvis – to help maintain proper alignment of the spine.
- When the glute muscles aren’t strong enough to do their share of the work, other areas of the body end up having to take up the slack, including the sensitive knee joints.
According to Bret Contreras – considered a top glute expert among exercise physiologists and athletes – a mistake many make when training the glutes is not varying the direction of exercise movements, or planes.
Frontal-plane exercises are suited for lateral-side movements, sagittal-plane exercises refer to forward and backward movements, and transverse-plane exercises indicate rotary movements that allow for engaging some part of the circular aspect of the rotating hip joint.
It’s also a smart idea to pepper some static-isometric exercises into a glute workout, along with the usual dynamic movements.
Hip extension exercises that target the glutes come in 7 types.
Examples of 13 results-effective buttocks exercises – that work along all of these planes and styles – are provided for you below, including images and videos (don’t worry – the videos are super short, only seconds long).
The Epidemic of Saggy Bottoms
Aside from the practical benefits of possessing strong glutes, there is also – let’s face it – a strong aesthetic benefit, too.
We have an epidemic of saggy bottoms in today’s sedentary culture:
- For women, there is a rise of “skinny fatness,” in which physiques – that might look fair in clothes – without clothes reveal areas that are textured, droopy or weak. (Even when there is body fat, fat cells just seem to present a better texture when they sit tautly over developed muscle tissue.)
- For men, there seems to be a constant temptation to work the upper-body twice as much as lower-body, which results in asymmetry. These are the fellows that will wear a t-shirt but who won’t wear shorts. There are a lot of these fellows.
A good glute workout promotes the symmetrical development of the legs while targeting all three of the gluteal muscles.
The idea is to create firm, lifted, and roundly shaped buttocks.
Additionally, you’ll be crafting legs that are even – quadriceps, hamstrings, and gluteals are developed proportionally with strong, defined calves to match.
I hope you enjoy the 13-exercise glute workout below. Some of these movements hit the glutes directly, while others engage the gluteals indirectly.
Shoot me a message and let me know how it went for you.
As always, consult your own medical doctor before beginning any significant changes to your movement patterns, nutrition, or lifestyle habits. For additional information on glute conditioning, see the sources listed below this article.
Tip: Remember to limit your rests between sets, so that you can keep your heart rate elevated and your sweat going. 1-minute rest (except for beginner-level athletes, who can rest 2-minutes) is suggested.
1. Warm Up: Bridge with Stability Ball
This exercise can be a good one to begin the workout as it warms up the spine and raises body heat.
Since it’s the first exercise, go slowly.
As you lift your hips, engage your lower abdominal plate, compressing the top ribs and pulling the navel in firmly.
As you near the top of your bridge, drive your feet down into the ball, contract your glute muscles intensely and exhale.
Inhale on the way down, articulating the vertebrae of your spine, relaxing your glutes completely at the bottom. 3 Sets, 8 reps each.
2. One-Legged Bridge with Ankle Weight
Wrap ankle-weights around your lower calves.
With one leg elevated, drive the supporting heel into the ground and focus on creating a deep squeeze in the working glute as you approach the top of the rep – with an exhalation.
Come slowly down on the inhalation.
3 Sets of 12 reps each per leg. You’re still warming up here, so emphasize quality of contraction over speed.
What if the best year of your life hasn’t happened yet?
I’m Dane Findley and my message is simple: it’s only in your thriving that you have anything to offer anyone – therefore, the best investment you can ever make is in your own health.
When you get my free updates you also get instant access to my bonus guide on how to better manage your time, energy, and nutrition.
- the newsletter is for free-thinking, creative types who’ve decided they want to be even healthier than they are now
- the evidence-based, actionable strategies for a better life – that I share freely – are for those intrigued by personal development
- if you are kind and curious, you will likely find this information motivating and helpful
- there’s nothing wrong with someone being rigid in their beliefs, but if that’s you, you’ll likely not enjoy my newsletter (no hard feelings – I wish you well on your journey)
- if you go more than 4 months without opening one of my email messages, you will automatically be unsubscribed
- don’t sign up for my newsletter if you are someone who is not fascinated by human optimization and stellar health
However, if you are someone for whom improved health is becoming a top priority, then I invite you to sign up for my free updates:
3. Kettlebell Kneel Down Lunges
To build more youthfully shaped buttocks, you need to try some exercises to which your body is mostly unaccustomed.
Kettlebell kneel-down lunges ought to do the trick. Hold a kettlebell (or any type of weight) in front of your chest. Kneel down, one knee at a time, then stand back up, one leg at a time.
Then switch, kneeling again but starting with the other leg.
Remember to keep your navel pulled in tightly and your spine tall. The idea is to drive your energy upward, like there’s a string pulling out of the top of your head. This will protect your knees.
Also, remember when standing back up to reach your foot out far enough in front of you so that the kneecap is directly over the ankle. 3 sets of 12 (6 reps each leg).
4. Reverse-Direction Walking Kettlebell Lunges
Lots of people do walking lunges, but not many think to go in the reverse direction. Because your body isn’t accustomed to this exercise, it’s likely to respond in positive ways.
This exercise will not only help strengthen your glute and leg muscles, but will develop your agility and balance as well.
It’s the same-side hand as your forward knee that passes the kettlebell under to your other hand.
The trick is to doing this exercise effectively is to reach your leg far enough behind you so that your front knee is positioned over your front ankle. 3 sets of 12 lunges (6 reps each leg). A hybrid exercise.Glutes! 13 exercises to firm, lift, and strengthen the buttocks.Click To Tweet
5. Single-Leg Booty Press Back with Resistance Band
Using a resistance band to strengthen the glute muscles means that the further into the rep you move, the harder the exercise becomes. Excellent for shaping, firming and lifting the booty area – and especially important after the age of 50 when, without strength, the glues can deactivate and lose the war with gravity.
Tip: Remember to slightly soften that supporting knee. 3 sets of 10 reps (each leg).
6. Reverse Duck Walk
Sylvester Stallone made this exercise famous as Rocky Balboa training for an upcoming fight.
This time, it’s to be done backwards.
Stay low, keep the glutes active and the abdominal wall pulled in. Long spine, chest open, scaps set, and hold a weight in front of you to make it more challenging.
3 sets of 12 reps.
7. Kettlebell Windmills
Kettlebell windmills involve the shoulders, triceps, and glutes.
The reason this exercise can be so effective is because it’s so compromising.
You really have to concentrate on good breathing, stabilizing your shoulder, stretching your hip, and initiating the come-up from your legs and glutes.
If you don’t concentrate, you might be tempted to let your lower back to do most of the work, which is not the purpose of this movement.
Please proceed cautiously on this one. Keep your core tight, and if you feel any pain in your lower back, stop.
3 sets of 8 reps (each side). I think of this movement as a sort of deadlift variation, so for me, this is an axial semi-straight leg exercise.
Dane earned a masters degree in Counseling Depth Psychology from Pacific Graduate Institute. His past professional adventures include being a Therapist and Discharge Planner at a Dual-Diagnosis Hospital Inpatient Treatment Program, Digital Marketing Director for a real estate brokerage and decades spent as a professional fitness and Pilates trainer. Today, Dane is a Healthy-Lifestyle Advocate curating the Quality of Life Newsletter – a weekly update for creative types who want to increase their daily joy.
8. Overhead Dumbbell Squat
Most people don’t do overhead squats, and that’s a shame – because the genius of overhead squats in that your glutes and posterior deltoids (two often-neglected muscle groups) are forced to jump-in and help out, in order to complete the exercise successfully.
Keep your back tall, and be especially mindful of how the soles of your feet are fully connecting to the ground.
3 sets, 8 reps each. An axial-exension exercise.
Athletes must learn how to derive maximum power from the hips and legs. For this advancement to take place, a foundation of adequate core strength and hip mobility is an absolute prerequisite. Strong glutes are critical for a properly functioning body. They are the keystone muscles that keep everything else in line. – Bret Contreras
9. Dumbbell (or Plate) Frog Pumps
Bret Contreras believes that most people have glutes that are weak and “underpotentialized” – and that strong, powerful buttocks are what separate a healthy, athletic physique from an average one.
To solve this dilemma, Contreras has made hip thrusts popular.
The brilliance of hip thrusts is that they put the maximum effort from the glutes toward the top end of the rep (unlike squats and deadlifts, which mostly engage the glutes only at the bottom and middle ranges, respectively).
This frog pump variation works your glutes in a way that will likely feel unfamiliar to you. Press your heels into one another throughout the rep, and keep your top rips compressed a bit (no over-arching of the back).
3 sets, 10 reps each.
10. Straight-Legged Bridge Pulses and Kicks on Exercise Ball
This is one of those exercises that looks easy when someone else does them. But when you do them yourself, you find out what an *sskicker they really are.
Feet on the ball, legs straight – but knees are not locked.
Press your top ribs in for a super-tight core, then raise your hips and hold.
Pulse at the top.
Then finish off with kicks.
3 sets, 12 reps each. An anteroposterior straight-leg exercise.
11. Hip Thrusters
There is a reason that nearly everyone loves hip thrusters. You can actually feel your glutes working. For once, your quads aren’t trying to steal the show.
3 sets of 8, finish with 8 pulses at the top. Go for the peak contraction! An anteroposterior bent-leg exercise.
12. Kettlebell Swings
I often see people at the gym doing kettlebell swings without the swing. Instead, they’re doing a sort of messy front-arm raise. But a good kettlebell swing isn’t all shoulder work.
A good swing has thrust, with the momentum driving energy not just forward, but up as well. Where does this energy originate? From the glutes.
Imagine that your arm is swinging as a result of your powerful pelvis, not because you’re pulling the kettlebell up only with your deltoids.
This exercise is a great way to end your glute workout with a final push and lots of sweat.
3 sets, 20 reps each. An anteroposterior extension exercise.
13. Hamstring Curls on Stability Ball
You might think that you wouldn’t be able to get good glute engagement or a nice hamstring pump going with just a simple stability ball, but you’d be mistaken. With focused isolation and breathing, you can really get some solid work done in this exercise.
Your hips stay elevated – and your glutes activated – during the entire set, with your legs lengthening then pulling bent for each repetition.
The whole time, imagine your core is a corset of firm muscles that encases and protects your vital organs and spine around your entire midsection. Keep it active!
3 sets, 12 reps each (with a nice, intense pause and full exhalation at the point of hamstring contraction). An anteroposterior flexion exercise.
Thanks to Ákos Farkas for his help with this article.
Additional Sources (Recommended):
- Bodyweight Strength Training Anatomy by Bret Contreras
- The Glute Lab: Strength & Physique Training – http://glutelab.com/faqs/