12 Best Glute Exercises For a Stronger Backside, Bigger Lifts and Better Performance (2024)

Not too long ago, any talk of training the lower body seemed strictly confined to the quads, hamstrings and – for the die hard, at least – the calves. In recent years, however, there’s been an explosion in interest and awareness around the importance of training the gluteus muscles – aka your glutes – and glute exercises.

Your glutes are one of the powerhouses of the entire body— responsible for everything from running fast, to jumping high, to lifting explosively, while also helping to create stability around the pelvis and hips. In fact, with many of us spending an increasing amount of time desk bound— which can wreak havoc on our hips and posture if we’re not careful— research has shown that purposefully focussing on our glutes in the gym may be key in helping us to stay injury free and reducing the chances of chronic pain in our backs and knees.

If staying injury free and offsetting the downsides of a desk-bound existence still aren't enough to convince you to spend some time filling out the rear of those jeans, recent studies have also indicated that strong glutes will help you to run faster, and for longer. Other research has demonstrated that simply warming up the glutes, through a combination of glute exercises and stretches, before you train is enough to increase your lifting power.

With all of that in mind, it’s safe to say that we should reappraise how we think about training our backside. Luckily for you, we’ve got 12 glute exercises that you can throw into your workouts, right now, for instant glute gains.

But first, a quick anatomy lesson.

Where (and What) Are the Glutes?

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The Glute Trinity

The gluteal muscles are made up of three individual muscles, together, these three muscles work in coordination to provide strength and support to the hips and pelvis. They play a vital role in movements such as walking, running, squatting, jumping, and maintaining balance. Strong and well-developed gluteal muscles are crucial for optimal lower body function, athletic performance, and injury prevention in the lower back, hips, and knees.

The Gluteus Maximus

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The largest and most superficial muscle of the gluteal group, the gluteus maximus originates from the posterior ilium, sacrum, and coccyx and inserts into the femur. Its primary function is hip extension, which involves moving the thigh backward. Additionally, the gluteus maximus contributes to hip abduction (moving the leg away from the midline of the body) and external rotation.

The Gluteus Medius

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Laying beneath the gluteus maximus, located on the outer surface of the hip, the gluteus medius originates from the outer surface of the ilium and inserts into the femur. The gluteus medius plays a crucial role in hip abduction and stabilisation. It is particularly important in activities that involve single-leg support, such as walking, running, and balancing.

The Gluteus Minimus

The smallest of the gluteal muscles and lies beneath the gluteus medius. It has a similar origin and insertion as the gluteus medius. Like the gluteus medius, the gluteus minimus contributes to hip abduction and stabilization.

The Top 12 Glute Exercises for a Bigger, Stronger Backside

If your training plan includes big compound lower body lifts such as traditional barbell squats and deadlifts, you’re already on the right track with your glute training. But if you want to get a little bit more specific, then these are the moves you need to know. Whether you train with basic kit at home, in a fully-equipped gym, or even just your own bodyweight— there’s a glute move here for everybody.

Barbell Hip Thrusts

Why: Barbell hip thrusts are as close as you can get to directly loading the hips without using specific machinery. Loading directly atop the hips means you can target the glutes without worrying about your grip, lower back or spine becoming weak links in the chain. Your ability to use heavy loads here will also ensure you stimulate the glutes to max, perfect for the beginning of a workout.

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Form check: Sit upright with your back flat against a bench or box. Roll a barbell over your legs until it's sitting above your hips before bending your knees (A). Lean back and lift your hips towards the barbell. Push your back into the bench and feet into the ground as you extend your hips, lifting the bar from the ground. Squeeze your glutes hard at the top (B) before slowly lowering back to the ground. Repeat.

Banded Barbell Deadlifts

Why: Barbell deadlifts allow you to move some serious weight. For most trainees, the deadlift is the movement in which they can lift heaviest, and when performed correctly, heavy lifts equal more muscle. By adding a band around the hips the glutes are challenged slightly more, and 'cued' to pull harder, activate more, and generally get more involved in the lift.

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Form check: Anchor a band to a solid point close to the ground. Step into the band so that it wraps around your waist, and walk forward until you feel tension on the band. Hinge down with a flat back and grasp a barbell with an overhand grip (A). Drop your hips, brace your core, squeeze your lats and drive your feet into the ground, standing up explosively and pulling your hips through against the band tension (B), keeping the bar as close to your body as possible throughout. Pause at the top and reverse the movement back to the ground.

Sumo Stance Squats/ Deadlifts

Why: Squats and deadlifts are undoubtedly great glute exercises, but depending on a number of factors – such as the length of your legs and torso – you may struggle to feel your glutes working, and your quadriceps may receive the lion's share of the stimulus. By stepping out into a much wider stance, the glutes receive a bigger stretch and are drafted in to a much greater degree in order to rotate the hips properly. You can apply this wide stance variation to any squat or deadlift, whether you're using a barbell, dumbbells or just your bodyweight.

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Form check: Set yourself up for either a squat, or deadlift as usual, but tweak by assuming an exaggerated wide stance (A). From here, execute your lift following the usual guidance around bracing and avoiding excessive rounding in the lower back (B). The wide stance will help you to keep your torso upright throughout, making it a great option for beginners.

Dumbbell Romanian Deadlifts

Why: A slightly tweaked version of the traditional deadlift. Keeping your knees at a fixed angle takes your quads out of the equation and allows you to get a full stretch in the glutes and hamstrings. If you struggle with flexibility and find yourself rounding your back in order to get the bar or dumbbells back to the ground, perform your first rep as a traditional deadlift, then only lower your weights as far as your mobility allows— pushing your hips back until you feel a deep stretch through the back of your legs, but stopping before your back rounds.

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Form check: Lift a pair of dumbbells or kettlebells to hip height, feet at shoulder-width and glutes tensed (A). With a slight bend in the knees, push your hips back and slowly lower the bar towards the ground (B), pinching your shoulders back and maintaining a flat back. When you feel a stretch in your hamstrings, pause and lift to the starting position. Keep each rep slow and controlled, if you begin to feel soreness in your lower back, end the set and rest.

Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat

Why: The split squat has a lot in common with the lunge, all except the lunging part. By working just one leg at a time, we're able to do more with less weight. Your glutes are also going to be working overtime to help stabilise your hips throughout the movement. Elevating the back leg massively adds to the range of motion, creating a deep stretch through the glutes.

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Form check: Stand tall with your back foot resting on a bench or box behind you, dumbbells hanging at your sides (A) bend at the front knee, slowly lowering until your front thigh is below parallel to the ground (B). Drive your weight through your front foot, standing back up explosively.

Walking Lunge

Why: A huge challenge of your balance and coordination. A long stride in each rep will stretch your glutes to the max, whilst the unstable nature of moving forward one rep at a time will also force them into overdrive stabilising your hips. Perform with either a barbell, dumbbells or your own bodyweight.

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Form check: Standing tall, grab a set of dumbbells, a barbell or just use your own bodyweight (A). Keeping your chest up at all times, take a long step forward with one leg, bending your front knee until the back knee touches the ground (B). Stand up explosively, pause and repeat with the other leg, moving forward.

Lateral Lunge

Why: By switching up our lunge and stepping to the side, we can specifically stretch and engage the gluteus medius and minimus. These muscles are responsible for hip abduction and stabilisation. You'll also enhance hip mobility and develop stability in the lateral movement patterns, which is massively beneficial for sports such as football, tennis and rugby.

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Form check: Grab a pair of dumbbells, load up a barbell or simply use your own bodyweight and stand tall (A). Take a large stride directly to one side, as your foot makes contact with the ground, bend at the knee and drop as far down as you can whilst keeping your torso upright (B), keep the opposite leg straight as you explosively push back up to a standing position and repeat.

Step-Up

Why: Box step-ups don’t only create a much larger range of motion, bringing the glutes and hamstrings into play to a much greater degree, they also mimic movements you're far more likely to encounter in real life, making them practical for more than just a peachier peach.

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Form check: Stand in front of a box, with your feet hip-width apart, dumbbells at your sides, or simply using your bodyweight (A). Step one foot up on top and drive your foot into the box. Lean forward slightly to keep your balance, but keep your torso upright (B). Once at the top, stand up fully by extending your knees and hips. Slowly step backward off the box and repeat with the opposite leg.

Bodyweight Glute Bridge

Why: Bodyweight movements are easy to overlook but shouldn’t be underestimated. Take your time on each rep and focus on really connecting with your glutes throughout, but squeezing them especially hard at the top.

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Form check: Lying flat on the ground with bent knees, raise your feet on a bench or plates if you can. Lift one leg from the ground, putting all of your weight into the other (A). Press your foot down, lifting your hips from the ground until they’re fully extended. Squeeze your glutes and hamstrings hard (B). Pause here before slowly lowering your hips back to the ground.

Kettlebell Swing

Why: Kettlebell swings may not allow you to use as much weight as deadlifts and squats, but what you lose in weight you can make up for in speed. A kettlebell swing is a seriously explosive movement that trains your glutes to generate some serious power. Perfect for building the type of athleticism that carries over to just about every sport, not to mention a pert backside.

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Form check: Hinge down with a flat back and take a kettlebell from the floor in front of your body. Hike the bell back between your legs, high between your thighs (A). Drive your hips forward, bringing your torso up to standing and use the momentum to explosively blast the bell up to eye level (B). Squeeze your glutes and abs, hard, in the top position before letting the momentum return you back into the hinge position and straight into the next rep. Keep your torso flat and knees soft throughout.

Good Morning

Why: Somewhat of a variation of the Romanian deadlift, this move takes your grip strength out of the equation while adding emphasis to the spinal erector muscles, another critical muscle group in the ‘posterior chain’.

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Form check: With a barbell sitting across your upper back as if you’re about to perform a squat and a slight bend in the knees, (A) push your hips back and slowly lower your torso towards the ground until it’s parallel (B), pinching your shoulders back and maintaining a flat back throughout. When you feel a stretch in your hamstrings, pause and reverse the movement to the starting position. Keep each rep slow and controlled, if you begin to feel soreness in your lower back, stop and reassess your form.

Glute Ham Raise

The glute-ham raise may require a specialist contraption (or some MacGyver level DIY) but it’s an unparalleled movement for targeting your glutes, as well as your back and hamstrings. You can add load by simply holding a dumbbell or looping a resistance band around your neck.

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Form check: Secure your feet in a glute ham machine with your knees on the pad and torso upright (A), lower your upper body while keeping your hips extended, maintaining a rigid, straight line from your shoulders to your knees. Once your torso is parallel to the ground (B) contract your glutes and hamstrings to raise your body back up.

The Best Workouts For Bigger, Stronger Glutes

Now you know the best glute exercises, it's time to string them together and form a workout. Here's 5 for you to get you started.

Insights, advice, suggestions, feedback and comments from experts

Based on the information provided, it seems that the article discusses the importance of training the gluteus muscles and provides 12 glute exercises for a bigger and stronger backside. The article also includes a quick anatomy lesson on the gluteal muscles and their functions. Here are the key concepts covered in the article:

  1. Importance of training the gluteus muscles:

    • The gluteus muscles, also known as the glutes, are responsible for various movements such as running, jumping, and lifting explosively.
    • Training the glutes can help create stability around the pelvis and hips, reduce the chances of chronic pain in the back and knees, and improve athletic performance.
    • Research has shown that focusing on the glutes in the gym may be key in staying injury-free and offsetting the negative effects of a desk-bound lifestyle.
  2. Anatomy of the gluteal muscles:

    • The gluteal muscles are made up of three individual muscles: the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus.
    • The gluteus maximus is the largest and most superficial muscle, responsible for hip extension, abduction, and external rotation.
    • The gluteus medius and gluteus minimus are located beneath the gluteus maximus and play a crucial role in hip abduction and stabilization.
  3. Glute exercises for a bigger and stronger backside:

    • Barbell Hip Thrusts: Targets the glutes by directly loading the hips.
    • Banded Barbell Deadlifts: Challenges the glutes more by adding a band around the hips.
    • Sumo Stance Squats/Deadlifts: Engages the glutes to a greater degree by using a wider stance.
    • Dumbbell Romanian Deadlifts: Focuses on the glutes and hamstrings by keeping the knees at a fixed angle.
    • Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat: Works the glutes and helps stabilize the hips by working one leg at a time.
    • Walking Lunge: Challenges balance and coordination while stretching the glutes.
    • Lateral Lunge: Targets the gluteus medius and minimus by stepping to the side.
    • Step-Up: Increases range of motion and engages the glutes and hamstrings.
    • Bodyweight Glute Bridge: Activates the glutes by lifting the hips off the ground.
    • Kettlebell Swing: Trains the glutes to generate power and athleticism.
    • Good Morning: Emphasizes the spinal erector muscles and engages the glutes and hamstrings.
    • Glute Ham Raise: Targets the glutes, back, and hamstrings.
  4. Form check instructions are provided for each exercise to ensure proper execution.

  5. The article also mentions that incorporating these glute exercises into a workout routine can help achieve bigger and stronger glutes.

Please note that the information provided is a summary of the article's content and does not include any personal opinions or experiences.

12 Best Glute Exercises For a Stronger Backside, Bigger Lifts and Better Performance (2024)
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