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What are the best glute exercises, and the best workouts to build your glutes?

Your glutes are powerful muscles whose primary job is to pull your leg behind you (the technical name for this move is hip extension).

glute exercise hip extension

Hip extension is the first glute exercise

Here are some of the most effective exercises that target your glutes:

Glute bridge:

Start by lying on your back with your knees bent. Brace your abs (important, because you do NOT want to change the shape of your spine while you perform this exercise). Squeeze your glutes and hamstrings to smoothly press your hips toward the ceiling. If you’re strong and flexible enough, press your hips high enough so that there’s a straight line between your knees and your shoulders. Do not arch your back to push your hips up higher. Use good control as you lower your hips back down towards the floor — no dropping or flopping!

A weighted bridge, also known as a hip thrust, is also a very effective glute exercise.

Start in a similar position as the floor-based glute bridge, but this time your head and shoulder blades go on a bench or chair instead of the floor. Feet planted on the floor about hip-width apart, place a barbell or other weighted object across your hip bones (feel free to use a pad or towel for comfort). Perform the same move as the floor bridge — brace your spine (do not arch!), smoothly flex the glutes and hamstrings to press your hips up towards the ceiling. Use good control as you lower your hips back down towards the floor.

Hinging Exercises For Your Glutes

The Romanian Deadlift is one of the great glute builders of all time. Begin in a standing position with perfect posture, feet hip-width apart. Bend your knees 20 degrees and keep them bent at that angle throughout. Lean your hips and upper body forward (called “hinging at the hips”) keeping your spine stiff as a board — do NOT allow your spine or shoulders to round forward. When your pelvis can no longer lean any more, flex your glutes and hamstrings to pull yourself back up into the upright position. Everything from the bottom of your butt to the top of your head should remain as one stiff piece the entire time — no movement of the spine or knees.

Another hinging exercise you can do in your personal training is a Glute-Ham Raise. It’s basically the same hip hinging move as the Romanian Deadlift, but it’s performed on a bench with your feet secured:

More Glute Exercises

Stand facing a wall, pole, car, or other sturdy vertical object. Stand on one foot (you can put a hand on the object for a little balance assist if you need it) and put your pelvis into a small anterior tilt (butt backwards, hip bones tilt forwards). Now squeeze your glute to pull your pelvis upright (or even slightly backwards if you can). Do not arch your back or move your leg, it’s the pelvis that is supposed to move. Think of it like a clock pendulum with the round ball as your ‘sit bones’ (technically called the ischial tuberosities) and the other end as your hip bones (the superior iliac crests). You tilt your pelvis back and forth like a pendulum, from anterior tilt to posterior tilt, the whole time really trying to feel your glutes engage to do the move. For extra credit, put one or two hands on the wall as resistance against the pelvic pendulum.

Don’t forget your “side butt” — the hip abductors! The easiest way to target these is to lie on your side and do straight-leg raises (just like Jane Fonda in the 1980s). You can vary this exercise a little by changing the rotation of your thigh — do some reps with your kneecap and toes turned slightly inward (which is towards the floor when you’re lying on your side) and some with your kneecap and toes turned a little bit out (towards the ceiling). Keep your pelvis perpendicular to the floor during all variations — the “cheat” is to turn your hips facing up.

If you notice a big difference in strength between left and right hips (very common), do more work on the weak side until it catches up to the other, then you can work both sides evenly. You can add ankle weights after 20 reps is too easy.

Looking For Help?

A personal trainer can maximize the results of your training efforts, both in and out of the gym! If you’d like a free lesson on performing these (or other) exercises for your glutes, drop us a note and we’ll find a time.