Think you’re doing all the right things to tone your glutes? You might be surprised.
While squats and lunges are great exercises for the lower body, they may not be providing the stimulus your glutes need to really start firing. Your booty is a big, strong muscle group and it needs to be worked hard to make a difference.
And this is especially valid nowadays, when the majority of the population is sedentary, due to the nature of our work! Most people are sitting all day long, and then come home to sit some more.
If you’re sitting for hours on end each day to get your work done, the odds are that your glutes have started atrophying.
And that is no good!
Weak glutes mean less lower-body strength and an increased chance of hip, knee, and lower back injuries. Weak glutes can also contribute to pelvic floor dysfunction, if you're still in the midst of having babies.
In this post, I'll outline the best glute-building exercises, so you can make sure you’re getting the most out of your lower body workouts.
Before we get into any specific exercises for the glutes, it’d be good to understand the anatomy of that muscle group and what functions it has - This is how we can determine the best glute exercises.
Contrary to popular belief, the glutes are not just one big piece of muscle.
The glutes are made of 3 main components:
These three muscles work together to realize 3 main functions - Abduction, Extension & Rotation of the hip.
Besides that, the glute muscles help keep us upright, move forward and also aid the stability & balance of the hip!
Fun Fact: The Gluteus Maximus is the BIGGEST muscle in the body! And as such, it needs to be trained properly.
Why Are Glutes Important?
Okay, so far, you learned that the glutes serve a variety of important functions, are the biggest muscle group you have, AND are located right around the center of your body.
Contrary to popular belief, glutes are in fact a part of your core that keeps you stabilized, balanced and helps you generate power through a variety of movement patterns.
This is precisely why glute development is essential!
A set of properly developed glutes will:
Make you more balanced
Help during all lower-body movements
Make you stronger
Help prevent lower back/knee injuries
How To Train Your Glutes
And so, how can you target your glutes and develop them to the best extent possible? Well, the answer is simple - Choose exercises that target the glutes through all their main functions and overload on those exercises!
Now let us show you our three favorite exercises and then some worthy mentions!
#1 Ah, Yes, Squats!
If there was one single exercise that would be the epitome for lower-body strength, functionality, and development, that would likely be the squat!
Even more so, squatting is one of the most natural movements anyone can do.
During a squat, your quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings work together to move you up and down.
Additionally, the calves, lower back & abs help keep your body upright and stabilized.
So, if you want well-developed glutes and lower body as a whole, don’t forget your squat movements!
Barbell squats, dumbbell squats, hack squats, machine squats, front squats, sumo squats, cannonball squats, etc, etc.
The second essential hip movement is the deadlift - This is a hip-hinge movement that promotes hip flexion/extension.
The best part of this exercise is perhaps the strong glute flex you get after a nice, deep stretch of the hamstrings.
Generally speaking, most types of deadlifts target the glutes, but if you want to emphasize them, try deadlift movements where your legs are only slightly bent at the knees.
The best one for this purpose is, without a doubt, the Romanian deadlift.
Make sure to initiate the movement up with your glutes and flex them hard up top!
#3 Glute Bridges
Last but not least, we have glute bridges!
There aren’t really many exercises that can target the glutes like glute bridges, mainly because this movement focuses on the primary function of the muscle group.
The gluteus maximus is the primary mover in this exercise, meaning that the hip thrust is quite a direct glute movement, unlike the squats and deadlifts, where the glutes work with surrounding muscle groups in synergy.
The best part? As an exercise, the hip thrust can easily be overloaded on as the glutes get stronger and stronger!