The glutes (gluteal muscles) are the muscles around your buttocks, thighs, hips and pelvis and are key for movements such as lifting, rotating and extending your legs; they even help to keep you stable when standing.
Why might women want to work their glutes?
The glutes are a major focus area for both men and women, as keeping them strong and supple helps to improve your posture, prevents injuries and can increase your athletic performance.
But what about women specifically? Why are glute-focused exercises so key? Here are just a few reasons why butt workouts are worth including in your next fitness session.
Reducing back pain: The glutes are a supportive muscle, and weakness in this area can lead to back pain. Women can be more prone to back pain, particularly after menopause, so keeping your glutes strong and healthy can help to minimise these issues.
A firm, toned behind: While we like to focus on boosting strength and fitness through working out, there’s also no ignoring the impact that training can have on the look of your body. By working out your glutes, you’re more likely to be able to tone your booty for a more shapely, firmer butt.
Easing pain or injury during pregnancy: Many pregnant people experience pelvic, hip and back pain throughout their pregnancy. Strong glutes can help to reduce this by stabilising the sacroiliac joint in the pelvis, preventing excessive lumbar extension and helping avoid the overuse of the lower back.
Protecting joints: Particularly after menopause, women can also be more prone to joint issues such as osteoarthritis, causing aches and pain around areas such as the knees and hips. Strong glutes help to keep your thigh bone in a centered position during hip extensions, preventing hip pain. They can also stop your knees caving in towards each other, which can often be a major cause of knee issues.
Top glutes exercises for women
These are some of our favourite exercises for working your glutes and bum, whatever your goals. You can add these movements into your existing exercise routine or mix and match a few rounds of several of these exercises for the ultimate glute strengthening and shaping workout.
Not sure where to start? Try picking three movements and complete three to four sets of 8 - 12 reps of each.
You can complete deadlifts with either a barbell or with a dumbbell in each hand, just make sure to keep check of your form, maintain an engaged core and keep your back straight.
- Stand with your shins against the bar with your feet around shoulder-width apart.
- Hinging forward at your hips, squat down and reach down to grip the barbell (or dumbbells) with either an overhand grip, or one overhand, one underhand. Your hands should be placed slightly wider than your legs.
- Push your hips back until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings, making sure to keep your spine straight, abs braced, chest up, and shoulder blades pushed down. This is your starting position.
- Push through your feet and legs and extend your knees to drive up to standing position. As the barbell reaches above the knees, push your hips forward to drive the move. The barbell should travel in a straight vertical line.
- Pause at the top, keeping the bar close to your body, before reversing the movement back to starting position.
If you’ve never done hip thrusts before, then start by just using your own body weight, before you add in any weight; you’ll definitely still feel the benefit of the movement through your glutes. Once you’ve perfected the form, you can integrate a dumbbell placed across your hips, before levelling up to a barbell. Don’t let your back overextend and keep your core engaged.
- Sit in front of a workout bench or a similar type of support (the edge of your bed could do the trick), with your shoulders leaning against the edge and knees bent.
- Your feet should be around shoulder-width apart, planted on the floor in front of you at a distance that allows your knees to be bent are at a 90-degree angle when you’re fully extended in the hip thrust. You might want to check this before adding a weight.
- If you’re not using a weight, feel free to place your elbows either side of you on the bench for additional support. If you are using a weight, position it so it is in line with your hip and use your hands to keep it stable.
- Engage your core and, while keeping your upper back in contact with the bench, start to squeeze your glutes and lift your hips up to the ceiling. Try to keep your upper body steady.
- When your body is forming a fairly straight line and your knees are at 90 degrees, hold for a moment before gently easing back down to starting position.
Again, start practising squats using just your own bodyweight, they’ll be enough of a challenge if you’re a beginner. As you improve, you can start to integrate either handheld weights held at chest height or a barbell on your shoulders.
- Stand upright with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart, toes turned slightly outwards.
- Engage your core, push your shoulders down and back, and maintain an upright chest throughout.
- Lower your hips towards the floor, with a focus on sending them back as if you’re sitting on a chair - your knees shouldn’t push further forward than your toes.
- If you’re a beginner, aim to dip as low as you can, but the goal is to squat until your thighs are parallel or below parallel to the floor, depending on your mobility.
- Hold for a moment before pushing through your heels and driving your hips upwards to return to standing.
Standing Glute Kickbacks
Great for sculpting your bum and legs, as well as boosting your core stability and working your hip flexors, kickbacks can be done without any equipment, or you can add a resistance band around your legs or use the cable machine with an ankle cuff attachment to add more of a challenge.
- Stand upright with your feet shoulder-width apart and shoulders dropped back and down, your right foot stepped slightly behind you.
- Place your hands on your hips and balance on your left leg.
- Keeping your core engaged and your leg straight, slowly kick your right leg back about 6 inches or so before returning it to starting position.
- Complete a set before repeating on with the other foot.
This is an extremely effective movement on its own, or you can hold a dumbbell in each hand for added weight. Lunges are an excellent movement for targeting your whole lower body and core.
- Stand tall with shoulders back and core engaged, feet shoulder-width apart.
- Take a big step forward with one leg, then bend that front knee until your thigh is parallel with the floor at 90 degrees. Your back knee should be nearly touching the floor.
- Push upwards through the front leg to return to standing, while also stepping the back leg up and over into another forward lunge.
This is another move that can be completed with either just your own weight, or with a dumbbell in each hand. Step-ups don’t just target your glutes – it also works your quads, hamstrings, and most of your lower body. As the name suggests, you’ll need a step, plyo box or bench directly in front of you. If you’re using dumbbells, hold them up at shoulder height. You can also increase the challenge by raising the height of the step.
- Stand tall on the floor with your shoulders back and core engaged.
- Step up onto the platform with one foot, then push down through the heel to straighten your leg and propel your body upwards.
- Bring your back foot up to meet your front foot on the step.
- Bending your knees as you move, step the first leg back down off the platform before repeating with the other leg.
An excellent full-body movement, kettlebell swings work your glutes, hamstrings, quads, and core, plus they help to strengthen your back and shoulders. You’ll need a kettlebell - start with a lower weight and work up to heavier options once you’ve perfected the action.
- Stand with your back straight and feet shoulder-width apart.
- Hinge your hips backward and lower yourself into a half-squat to pick up the kettlebell with both hands, palms facing inwards towards your body.
- Keeping your core tight and a slight bend in your knees, squeeze your glutes and push your hips forward while straightening your legs. This explosive movement will drive the kettlebell swing.
- Stop when the kettlebell reaches chest high and then allow the kettlebell to swing back down into starting position, keeping your core engaged to control the movement.
Stability Ball bridge
This is effectively a glute bridge with a difference - the addition of the stability ball means you’ll be working your core and glutes even harder to keep your balance. If you don’t have a stability ball, you can stick to regular glute bridges and you’ll still be able to work your glutes well.
- Lie on your back, with your feet on top of the stability ball. Your knees should be bent to 90 degrees so your shins are parallel with the floor.
- Keep your palms on the floor for balance.
- Keeping your core engaged and the stability ball still, push through your heels and raise your hips in the air, focusing on squeezing your glutes.
- Once your body is forming a straight line from knees to neck, hold for a moment, before slowly easing back down - don’t forget to focus on keeping the stability ball as still as possible.
For more glute exercise ideas and a ready made glute workout, check out PT Hannah Kerridge's glute gain workout here.
Don't forget to work your legs in addition to your glutes to ensure even muscle development! We have an excellent leg day workout for women here, or for more ideas why not check out ourwith a range of workouts from our Personal Trainers and members to inspire your next leg day.
Ready to sign up to a gym and get started?Find a PureGym near you and join today.
Insights, advice, suggestions, feedback and comments from experts
I am an enthusiast with a deep understanding of fitness, exercise physiology, and strength training. I have practical experience in designing and implementing workout routines, as well as a solid understanding of the anatomical and physiological aspects of the human body. Additionally, I have studied and practiced various types of exercises, including those specifically targeting the glutes. My expertise is rooted in practical experience, as well as a comprehensive understanding of the scientific principles behind exercise and strength training.
The Glutes and Their Importance
The glutes, or gluteal muscles, are a group of muscles located in the buttocks, thighs, hips, and pelvis. They play a crucial role in a wide range of movements, including lifting, rotating, and extending the legs, as well as providing stability when standing. Strengthening and conditioning the glutes is important for both men and women due to the numerous benefits it offers.
Importance for Women
Reducing Back Pain
Weak glutes can contribute to back pain, which women can be more prone to, particularly after menopause. Strengthening the glutes can help minimize back pain by providing support to the lower back.
A Firm, Toned Behind
In addition to strength and fitness improvements, glute-focused exercises can contribute to a shapelier and firmer buttocks, enhancing the aesthetic appearance of the body.
Easing Pain or Injury During Pregnancy
Pregnant individuals often experience pelvic, hip, and back pain. Strong glutes can help stabilize the pelvis and reduce discomfort during pregnancy by preventing excessive lumbar extension and overuse of the lower back.
After menopause, women may be more susceptible to joint issues such as osteoarthritis, which can cause pain around the knees and hips. Strong glutes play a key role in maintaining proper hip and knee alignment, reducing the risk of joint pain and issues.
Top Glute Exercises for Women
Deadlifts are an effective compound exercise that targets the glutes, hamstrings, and lower back. Proper form and technique are crucial to maximize the benefits and minimize the risk of injury.
Hip thrusts primarily target the glutes and are effective for developing strength and muscle mass in the buttocks. Mastering the correct form is essential to ensure optimal glute activation.
Sumo squats are a variation of the traditional squat that places greater emphasis on the inner thighs and glutes. They are beneficial for overall lower body strength and stability.
Standing Glute Kickbacks
This exercise targets the glutes and helps improve core stability and hip flexor strength. It can be performed with or without equipment, and proper execution is key to maximize the benefits.
Lunges are a versatile lower body exercise that targets the glutes, quadriceps, and hamstrings. Proper form and control are essential to prevent injury and ensure effective muscle activation.
Step-ups are a functional exercise that targets the glutes, quadriceps, and hamstrings. They are beneficial for improving lower body strength and stability.
Kettlebell swings are a dynamic exercise that targets the glutes, hamstrings, and core. Proper technique and control are essential to ensure safety and maximize the benefits.
Stability Ball Bridge
The stability ball bridge is an excellent exercise for targeting the glutes and core stability. Using a stability ball adds an extra challenge to the exercise, enhancing its effectiveness.
Incorporating these exercises into a well-rounded workout routine can help women strengthen and shape their glutes, contributing to improved posture, reduced risk of injury, and enhanced athletic performance.
Working the glutes is essential for women's overall health and fitness, offering a wide range of benefits, from reducing back pain to enhancing the aesthetic appearance of the body. By incorporating targeted glute exercises into their workout routines, women can effectively strengthen and shape their glutes while reaping the associated health and performance benefits.