A firm and juicy booty looks excellent on both gents and ladies but can take some work to achieve. If you’re looking to build and maintain a great-looking butt, you’ll need a combination of moves that works all the gluteal muscles through their full range of motion, from complete stretch to full contraction. There are four categories of glute exercises, and the perfect workout includes at least one of each kind. These are thrust/bridge, squat/lunge, hinge/pull, and abduction movement. Incorporate these into your weekly routine, performing them consistently, and you’ll be showing off your dump truck in no time!
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.
- Set yourself up with your back resting against a bench, with the edge positioned across your shoulder blades. Rest the barbell across your hips, at the hinge point. You want your feet far enough out so that at lockout, when your torso and hips are straight, your knees are bent at 90 degrees, with straight shins.
- Using the posterior pelvic tilt method, keep your head facing forward, moving mostly from the chest down. Use a scooping motion to thrust the bar up until your chest, hips, and knees are level.
- If you prefer the hinge method, you’ll keep your head, neck, and torso aligned, looking forward at the bottom of the move but at the ceiling at lockout. Thrust the bar up, again, until your head, chest, hips, and knees are level.
- Regardless of which method you use, for the best form, you’ll want to ensure your torso is horizontal at lockout, hips are neutral, knees are stacked over your heels, and to really squeeze your glutes at the top.
- Pause at the top for three seconds, holding that glute squeeze.
- Slowly release and let your butt return to the ground, keeping your back straight.
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.
- Stand with your feet about hip-width apart, with a dumbbell of your choice in each hand.
- Take one step forward with your right foot. You want to step far enough out that at the bottom of the lunge, the front of your knee aligns with the front of your toes.
- Lower your body into the lunge position, leaning your torso forward from the hips about 20 degrees. Your left knee should almost touch the ground.
- Push up through your heels until you’re upright again, and bring your left foot into line with the right. Make sure you don’t lead back up with your hips and keep your torso aligned.
- Repeat the move with your left foot forward, traveling as you switch between each leg.
Reps: 20 (10 steps each leg)
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.
- Position your body on the hyperextension machine so that the pads sit on the front of your thighs, just below the hips, and you have free hinging movement.
- Hold your chosen weight dumbbell in both hands, in front of your chest, keeping your elbows tucked in.
- If you’re using the neutral-neutral method, keep your feet straight and your torso and neck straight, with shoulders pulled back. Lower your body down, hinging at the hips.
- Keeping your back engaged and straight, pull up, squeezing the glutes until your body is straight, pausing for a moment. Repeat.
- Alternatively, for the glute bias method, point your toes out slightly to 45 degrees, and lower your torso down, hinging at the hips.
- Keeping a rounded spine, pull up, squeezing the glutes until your torso is horizontal to the floor. It might look and feel a bit odd, so switching to hugging a weight plate rather than a dumbbell can help. Repeat.
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.
- Start in a side plank position, with your weight on one elbow, hips on the ground, slightly bent, and a bit behind your elbow position. Your knees should also be on the ground, the upper stacked on the lower. They should be positioned level with your elbow and bent to almost 90 degrees. Keep your upper arm resting gently on your hip so it’s not flapping about and feeling awkward.
- Push up through your grounded knee and ankle, driving the hips slightly forward, squeezing the glutes, and raising the upper leg to open up the hips as much as possible. You want as much abduction on both legs as you can get. Your lower leg will rotate with this move, and your torso and hips should mostly straighten. At lockout, you’ll feel it the most in the gluteus medius.
- Sink your hips down and back to the original starting position. Repeat.
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.
Glute Excercises FAQs
What exercises strengthen the glutes?
There are four types of exercises that can strengthen glutes. These are thrust/bridge, squat/lunge, hinge/pull, and abduction movement. Ideally, you want at least one each of these in your glute workout to maximise the results and work every part of this muscle group. Try a combination of Barbell Hip Thrust, Dumbbell Lunge, 45 Degree Hyperextension, and Side-Lying Hip Raise.
How can I get a bigger bum fast?
Building muscle takes time, and unfortunately, there’s no fast-track solution. Instead, the key is consistency and sufficient intensity to achieve hypertrophy and therefore increase muscle mass.
Do glute exercises make your bum bigger?
Yes, just like gaining mass in other areas of your body, you can get a bigger bum if you do the right combination of glute exercises with enough intensity and consistency.
Does squeezing buttocks make it bigger?
If you’re just sitting on the couch, clenching your butt, then no, it won’t make it bigger. However, some exercises, such as hip thrusts and hyperextension, do require a firm squeeze of the glutes for maximum activation.
Alexandra Linde is an experienced writer holding a bachelor's degree in Journalism. She is the owner of Alexandra McKiterick Creative and has expertise in travel, fashion, fitness and lifestyle. Alex has previously written for Flightcenter, Travello, and Backpacker Deals.
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