The 8 Best Glute Exercises For A Total Glute Workout

Strong glutes will not only give you a firm, shapely, and toned butt but will also help power your jumping, sprinting, running, squatting, and deadlifting exercises.

So, what are the best glute exercises for strength, power, and size? How should you structure glutes workouts to increase strength?

In this article, we will discuss how to put together the best glute workouts for strength and hypertrophy and provide step-by-step instructions for some of the best glute exercises:

Let’s jump in! 

A single leg hip thrust.

How to Perform the Best Glute Workout for Strength and Size

The glutes tend to be relatively weak in the posterior chain, requiring greater reliance on the lower back muscles and hamstrings even though the glutes are larger and more powerful muscles. 

For this reason, performing isolation exercises for glutes can help improve your ability to properly activate your muscles while also increasing the strength and size of your glutes.

Note that when you are doing glute workouts to increase strength, aim to perform 2-6 sets of 3-5 reps using at least 85% of your one-repetition maximum (1RM) for the load. 

The fewer reps you perform, the closer to 100% of your 1RM you should strive for.

With glute workouts for hypertrophy (muscle growth), try to perform three sets of each barbell exercise, using loads that are 70 to 85% of your 1RM for 8 to 12 reps.

The 8 Best Glute Exercises

Here are some of the best glute exercises for mass and strength:

#1: Banded Squats

Most glutes workouts include numerous squat variations.

This squat exercise not only strengthens the quads, glutes, and hamstrings like normal squats but also works your gluteus medius, a key hip abductor, which can help you maintain proper loading forces through the lower body as you run and jump.

You can use dumbbells or even a barbell as you get stronger to further load up the glutes.

Here are the steps for this exercise for the glutes:

  1. Place a strong loop resistance band around your thighs just above your knees.
  2. Space your legs slightly wider than shoulder-width apart so that there is a good amount of tension on the band in the starting position.
  3. Perform regular squats by bending your knees and sitting your hips back while maintaining the constant tension on the band. Make sure to keep your kneecaps facing forward the whole time.
  4. Squat down until your knees are bent to 90 degrees and your thighs are parallel to the floor.
  5. Press through your heels to stand back up, keeping the tension on the band by pushing outward with your legs.

#2: Single-Leg Romanian Deadlifts

The single-leg Romanian deadlift is one of the best posterior chain exercises, and the unilateral nature helps activate all of the glute muscles, including the gluteus medius and deeper hip rotators and abductors.

Here are the steps to perform this glute exercise:

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, chest up, arms at your side, holding a dumbbell in your right hand.
  2. Bring your left arm out to the side for balance and engage your core.
  3. Lift your right leg off the ground and extend it behind as a counterbalance as you bend your left knee (the one on your standing/support leg) about 20 degrees to activate your glutes and hamstrings and hinge from your hips to bring your torso towards the floor.
  4. Reach your right hand with the weight down towards your left foot.
  5. Engage your core and glutes to stand back up, extending your hips until they are fully locked out. If you need to regain your balance, you can tap your right foot back down on the ground; otherwise, try to keep it lifted and move into your next rep.
  6. Complete all of your desired reps and then switch sides.

#3: Step-Ups

The weighted step-up is one of the best lower-body strengthening exercises, helping train your glutes to work in conjunction with your other leg muscles.

Focus on really driving your leg into full extension as you step up onto the box to isolate the glutes.

Here are the steps:

  1. Stand facing a plyometric box that is roughly knee height. Hold a heavy dumbbell in each hand with your arms down at your sides.
  2. Engage your core and glutes while you step up onto the box with your right foot, pressing through your heel to step all the way up, straightening your right leg fully.
  3. Step your left leg up onto the box to follow.
  4. Step back down backward with your right foot first and then your left foot.
  5. Continue leading with the right foot for all your reps, then switch sides.

#4: Deficit Reverse Lunges

The deficit reverse lunge is one of the best exercises for glutes for functional strength.

Here are the steps for this glutes workout exercise:

  1. Stand up on a step or BOSU ball with a dumbbell in each hand. Hinge from your hips to lean your torso forward about 20 degrees. Maintain a straight back.
  2. Engage your core as you step one foot back off the step as you drop into a deep lunge by bending both knees. Your front knee should be aligned with your toe, and your back knee should almost touch the ground.
  3. Push through the heel on the step to return to the starting position.
  4. Complete all of your reps on one leg and then switch sides.

#5: Single Leg Barbell Hip Thrusts

The unilateral hip thrust exercise is one of the best glute exercises and a great way to load the glutes and really develop power, strength, and size.

Plus, since you are only doing one leg at a time, you can really isolate the workload on each leg and help identify and correct muscle imbalances in your glutes.

Because your hips are elevated on a weight bench, you can achieve a greater range of motion than with a glute bridge.

Accordingly, studies have found that the hip thrust can be more effective than squats at building strength in the glutes and more effective than deadlifts for activating the glutes.

Here are the steps for this advanced glute workout exercise:

  1. Place your shoulder blades on the long side of a bench with your body bridging off the side with your hips up in a tabletop position, your knees bent 90 degrees, your feet hip-width apart and flat on the floor, and your core and glutes engaged.
  2. Rest the barbell across the crease in your hips.
  3. Lift one foot off the ground and straighten the knee out so that you are only pressing through the other foot.
  4. Lower your hips towards the floor.
  5. Pause when your butt is nearly on the floor.
  6. Press through your heel to pop back up to the top position, where your thighs are parallel to the ground.
  7. Complete all of your reps and then switch sides. 

#6: Barbell Hip Thrusts

You can perform the same unilateral hip thrust with both legs. This can be a better glute exercise for beginners or for those who want to maximize strength with a very heavy barbell.

#7: Cable Leg Extensions

One of the primary functions of the glutes is to extend the leg, so this is one of the best glute workout exercises. The cable maximizes your time under tension throughout the range of motion.

Here are the steps for this glute exercise:

  1. Attach the ankle cuff to a cable machine or resistance band and move the pulley to the lowest setting. 
  2. Face the upright post of the cable machine and hold on lightly for balance.
  3. Allow a slight bend in your stabilizing knee while lifting your leg with the ankle cuff and extending it directly behind your body, reaching back as far as you can.
  4. Squeeze your glutes on the supporting leg as well as the leg with the weight and hold this position for 3 seconds before returning it back to the starting position.
  5. Complete all of your reps and then switch sides.

#8: Curtsy Lunges

This is a difficult lower-body exercise that works your quads, glutes, hip abductors, adductors, and hamstrings, while also challenging your core.

Here are the steps:

  1. Stand upright with good posture holding a kettlebell or medicine ball toward your sternum.
  2. Lift your right leg up and cross it behind your left calf as you lower into a full single-leg squat on the left leg. Press the weight straight forward for a counterbalance.
  3. Tap the right toe behind and to the outside of your left leg.
  4. Return it to neutral as you press up with only your left leg.
  5. Complete all of your desired reps and then switch sides.

For glute activation exercises, check out our guide here.

A hip thrust.
Photo of author
Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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