Glutes have become one of the most desired body parts in young adults since the start of the 21st century.
According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, butt implant/augmentation was the fasting growing plastic surgery in 2014-2015.
Fortunately, there are better and safer methods of developing this powerful muscle group.
In today’s post, we will go over the best glute exercises of all time!
Welcome to the second installment of the WCT bodybuilding series, where we go over the best ways to build and define the body parts you find most attractive.
- In Part 1, The Best Arm Exercises [With A Killer Arm Workout] we go over the best strategies to develop the arm muscles.
Having a strong set of glutes is absolutely critical to long-term health. It also helps that they look great.
Today you will learn how to build bigger glutes the natural way.
Today’s post is going to cover:
- The Anatomy of the Glutes
- The Benefits of Big Glutes
- The Best Glute Exercises
- Glute Exercises for Women
- A Sample Glute Workout
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Okay, let’s get started.
The Anatomy of the Glutes
The Glute Muscles are composed of three separate muscles: They are
– Gluteus Maximus
– Gluteus Medius
– Gluteus Minimus
The gluteus maximus is the muscle that is readily visible when looking at a booty.
Origin/Insertion: The glute max originates on the back of your pelvic bone and attaches to the back of your thigh
Function: The glute max serves primarily in hip extension, or the ability to straighten out your hips. They also help to stabilize your pelvis.
The gluteus medius lies underneath the maximus.
Origin/Insertion: The glute medius originates on the top of pelvic bone and attaches to the lateral side of your thigh
Function: It serves in hip abduction, or the ability to move your leg away from your body, and in hip external rotation
The glute minimus is the smallest of the three and lies underneath the medius
Origin/Insertion: The glute minimus originates on the side of your pelvic bone and attaches to the lateral side of your thigh
Function: Hip abduction -the ability to move your leg away from your body, and Hip external rotation
Okay now that we have the boring stuff out of the way, let’s get to the actual exercises!
The Best Glute Exercises of All Time
There are several ways to train the glute muscles. I don’t care what you have seen, but the best glute exercises are the ones that require a great deal of hip extension.
First and foremost, donkey kickbacks and other pure glute isolation exercises are not going to drive any significant growth from your glutes, so please, do us all a favor and stop doing these exercises!
As we have mentioned multiple times on the White Coat Trainer, compound exercises should always be your primary focus.
Compound exercises will work for multiple muscle groups at once, thus eliciting a bigger hormonal response and ultimately more growth.
In addition, compound exercises are great time management exercises, allowing you to get more done in less time.
Enough talk. Here are the Best Glute Exercises for mass!
The squat is the king of all exercises. If you could only perform one exercise, it would be the squat. Not only does it strengthen all of your leg musculatures, it is also one of the best glute developers out there (for men and women!)
You can perform this exercise with your body weight, with dumbbells, or with a barbell. We recommend using a barbell if you can to increase the stimulus of the exercise.
In order to get the most effect out of this exercise, it is important to squeeze your glutes at the top of the exercise to finish the hip extension. Drive some neural activity to the muscles that you want to develop!
Also, use a slightly wider stance to activate the glute muscles more. Click here to see our full squat tutorial.
The next best glute strengthening exercise is lunges.
The lunge is by far the best single leg exercise that you can do. There are so many different variations that you can perform, each with slightly unique benefits.
The reverse lunge is one of our favorites. These can be done with your body weight, with dumbbells, or with a barbell.
There is no way that you can perform this exercise without getting a great deal of glute activation.
Lunges also give the added benefit of strengthening your quads, hamstrings, and core muscles, while improving balance.
If the squat is the king of all exercises, the deadlift is the queen. The deadlift allows the most amount of weight to be lifted in one exercise and it requires a lot of hip extension.
Because of the wider stance, the glutes tend to get more burn on the sumo deadlift over the conventional.
Just like the squat, it is very important that you focus on squeezing your glutes to finish the lift. The more you focus on it, the more activation they will receive throughout the exercise.
Step ups are another great single leg exercise to add to your arsenal. They provide a good variation to lunges and are fairly easy to perform.
In addition, exercises that require a great deal of hip and knee stabilization such as the step-up activates the gluteus medius and minimus.
Like we mentioned above, the glute medius and minimus can help in stabilizing any internal or external rotation of the hip.
Romanian deadlifts are another great glute strengthening exercise that also develops your hamstring and low back muscles.
Again, it is important that you focus on activating the glutes to lock the weight out at the top.
Can I Perform Glute Exercises at Home?
If you do not have access to a gym or have very little equipment, you can still develop a great set of glutes. Here are a few glute exercises that you can do at home.
The swing can be performed with a kettle bell or a dumbbell. In order to do it correctly, you need to maintain a neutral spine throughout the entire exercise, and you need to flex your glutes hard to propel the weight upwards.
There is no way to do it without getting your glutes on fire.
Check out our tutorial on the swing to learn more.
Are you ready for torture?
Single leg squats will provide a significant challenge to trainees of all levels.
Although single leg squats are one of the most difficult exercises, our tutorial demonstrates a series of progressions you can use to get up to speed.
In addition, you can do a split squat variation with your rear foot elevated, adding an extra level of misery. You can check it out at Bulgarian Split Squats.
Your glutes and your quadriceps will be on fire after performing either of these exercises.
These last two exercises are more glute isolation exercises than anything.
The first is the tried and true glute bridge.
This exercise has become popularized by physical therapists because 1) it build strong glutes, and 2) it restores your body’s ability to extend at the hips, which helps to re-align your spine.
Don’t underestimate its simplicity. It has stood the test of time for a reason.
Simply lay on the ground with your knees bent and your feet shoulder-width apart. Begin the exercise by squeezing your glutes as hard as you possibly can and holding this for a 3 count.
At the end range of the exercise, your body should form a straight line from your knees to your shoulders.
Once you get good at this exercise, then you can move on to the Hip Thrust, popularized by Bret Contreras.
Banded Lateral Walks:
If you want to get a glute burn really quickly, incorporate this exercise into your program and your warm-up routine. This glute strengthening exercise really activates the gluteus medius and minimus!
Here we are using Mark Bell’s Hip Circle, but any closed loop resistance bands should work fine.
Why You Need To Strengthen Your Glutes No Matter What
The glute muscles are the primary hip extensors of your body. Hip extension is a critical human movement that is necessary for longevity and health. Here’s why
- Every time you rise from a squatting position, you need hip extension.
- Every time you get up from your seat, you need hip extension.
- Every time you walk, your glutes have to unilaterally extend at the hip.
You perform hip extensions multiple times throughout the day.
Unfortunately, many people in the general population cannot achieve appropriate hip extension due to tightness in the anterior hip flexors.
This is usually caused by excessive sitting.
Did you know that the average American sits for 6+ hours a day? Check out The Detrimental Effects Of Prolonged Sitting [And 8 Ways To Combat It] to learn why this is so detrimental to your body.
Prolonged sitting can also lead to an anterior pelvic tilt posture, which increases your risk of low back pain and weak glutes. See You Probably Have Bad Posture- Here’s How to Tell, to determine if you fall in this category.
The more you sit, and the less you exercise, the weaker your glutes become.
As your glutes weaken, their ability to extend your hips adequately diminishes, increasing the risk of low back pain and of frailty.
If you want to develop a nice booty, you must train hip extension!
Guidelines For Your Glute Workout Routine
Now that you understand why a strong butt is important for health and longevity, let’s go over the general guidelines for your glute workout.
How Often Should I Train My Glutes?
The glute muscles are powerful and they can lift a lot of weight. As such, it is important to provide them with a heavy enough stimulus in order to drive growth.
You should train your glute muscles around 2-3 times a week using a wide range of the exercises listed below, with a moderately heavy stimulus.
How Many Reps Should I Perform For Glute Development?
Because the glutes are a strong muscle group, it is not necessary to perform a very high number of repetitions.
In general, it is always a good idea to stick to the Hypertrophy Range we discuss in How To Create A Fitness Plan in 3 Simple Steps.
This means you can work in the 8-12 rep range, but you can also perform as little as 5 to 6 repetitions per set if the weight is heavier.
At the minimum, 3 sets per glute exercise, but no more than 5 sets.
How Long Should I Rest In Between Sets?
Aim To Rest Approximately 2-3 Minutes In Between Sets. It Is Important To Let These Powerful Muscles Recover Before Performing Another Set.
So without further ado…
A Simple Glute Workout Routine
If you have access to a gym, here is a sample routine that you can use for 8-12 weeks to help develop and build the booty that you want. The goal is to hit these muscle groups at least 2 times a week.
You should be able to perform this workout in 30-35 minutes.
A) Wide Stance Squats: 3 sets 8 reps
B1) Kettle Bell Swings: 3 sets of 12 reps
B2) Reverse Lunges: 3 sets of 10 reps
A) Sumo Deadlifts: 3 sets of 8 reps
B1) Single Leg Squats: 3 sets of 5 reps
B2) Lateral Band Walks: 3 sets of 12 reps
Always start with a weight that is moderately challenging. It should not be so light that you can easily get more reps beyond 8 or 12, and it should not be so heavy that you can’t lift it with good form. We discuss this in depth in How Much Weight Should I Lift.
You can slowly progressively overload this routine, and then swap the exercises every 8 weeks to continue to drive new adaptations. We discuss all of these concepts in our muscle building series.
What About Glute Exercises for Women?
It is a common misconception to think that women need very special considerations when exercising. Everything that was just said about glute muscle development holds true for both men and women.
Women do not need any special programming or special exercises. These are the key exercises for glute development that works for everyone!
The only difference is that women can generally handle higher volume and higher frequency than men.
What this means is that women can perform more sets and more reps than men without as much fatigue.
If you are a woman and you are not seeing results, try bumping up the volume and/or the frequency of your glute training.
Now Go Get A Big Bum
So there you have it.
The best glute exercises are the ones that train hip extension in conjunction with other muscle groups.
Glute isolation exercises should only comprise the minority of your training.
So now that you are armed with this information, go do yourself a favor and develop a nice set of glutes. You will be protecting your spinal health while also turning a few heads.
Now we turn it over to you.
Do you prefer bigger glutes or stronger glutes?
Have you used any of these exercises with success?
Any other exercise you would add to this list?
What other body parts would you like us to discuss?
Comment below and let us know!
Alex Robles, MD, CPT / Brittany Robles, MD, MPH, CPT
Alex & Brittany Robles are physicians, NASM CPTs, health & fitness experts, and founders of The White Coat Trainer: a site dedicated to improving the health and fitness of busy professionals. Their advice has been featured on KevinMD, The Doctor Weighs In, My Fitness Pal, Reader’s Digest, Livestrong, and The Active Times. Learn more about them here.