Pinterest

by Katie Hoehn January 18, 2023 7 min read

So you want to work the glutes? “Hey Siri, play my booty playlist.”

Let’s get to work!

Glutes are one of my favorite muscles to train, because let’s face it ... they are the definition of form and function. Not only do they fill out a pair of jeans nicely, but they keep you upright by supporting good posture.

Your glute gains can really pay off in more ways than one. From an athletic standpoint, strong glutes also help with powerful and explosive movements. Strong glutes can also mean less aches and pains in your knees and low back since they maintain proper posture and body mechanics.

Sounds great, right?

But … which exercises will maximize your time in the gym training glutes?

Well, the good news is ... there are a lot of great glute exercises you can do in the gym. It can just be hard to know exactly where to start.

That's why I wanted to share some of my personal favorite glute exercises. These will help strengthen and shape your glutes to your liking.

All it takes is some dedicated effort and time. So let's get into it!

HIP THRUST

Targeted Muscles: Gluteus Maximus, Gluteus Medius

For this exercise, you'll need a loaded barbell and a bench.

How-To: Load a barbell with the weight you have selected to complete hip thrusts. If this is your first time doing hip thrusts, don't worry! Just start with a lower weight to establish your form before moving into bigger weights.

Workouts For Beginners

Start by placing the loaded barbell on the ground between you and the bench. Sit on the floor with your upper back rested on the bench and your feet out by the barbell.

Roll the bar over your legs until it meets your hips. From here, bend your knees and plant your feet on the ground. Grab either side of the bar outside of your hips and drive the bar upward by driving through your heels and glutes.

Bring the bar upward until your body forms a bridge. Squeeze your glutes at the top of the movement, then slowly bring your hips back to the ground. This is one rep.

SUMO DEADLIFT

Targeted Muscles: Gluteus Maximus, Gluteus Medius

For this exercise, you'll need a loaded barbell.

How-To: Place a loaded barbell on the ground in front of you and assume a wide stance. Your toes should be pointed outward at a 45-degree angle as well.

Bend over and grab the barbell at shoulder-width apart. Your hands should remain inside of your knees - if not, you'll have to widen your stance.

Hinge at the hips, keeping your shoulders pulled back and your head and chest neutral. Pull the barbell up and keep it as close to your body as possible. Squeeze your glutes at the top of the movement, then slowly return the barbell to the ground.

STEP UP WITH KICKBACK

Targeted Muscles: Gluteus Maximus, Gluteus Medius, Gluteus Minimus

Make sure to grab a set of dumbbells and a box or bench for this exercise. Be cautious: this exercise requires some stabilization strength.

How-To: Place a box or bench in front of you and grab a set of dumbbells. Hold each dumbbell with one hand and let the weight fall to your sides.

Start by stepping up on the box with your right foot, pressing through the heel to straighten your leg. With your right leg straight, kick back your left leg and squeeze your left glute at the top of the extension.

How to Get the Most Out of Your Leg Day

Slowly draw your left leg back in to stand on the box. Then, step down off the box using your left leg first, then your right.

COSSACK LUNGE

Targeted Muscles: Gluteus Medius

This exercise doesn't require any equipment. If it's too easy for you though, feel free to add a kettlebell, barbell, or dumbbells!

How-To: Position your body in a wide stance with your toes pointing straight ahead. Shift your weight to your right leg by bending your right knee and sinking into your right hip, keeping your chest high.

Your left leg will stay extended. As you descend into the cossack position on the right leg, your left foot should rotate on your heel, toe up. Your right heel should remain on the ground and your torso should be upright. Pause at the bottom, then slowly come back up to repeat on the other side by bending your left leg and shifting your weight to your left hip.

LEG PRESS

Targeted Muscles: Gluteus Maximus

This exercise requires a standard leg press machine.

How-To: Sit in the leg press machine with your back resting against the pad for support. Place your feet on the footplate about hip-width apart. Your heels and the balls of your feet should be firmly planted.

Un-clip the footplate and slowly begin to draw your knees in toward your chest. When you can't draw them in further, press through your heels and forefoot to extend your legs. Be careful not to lock your knees through a full extension (stop just short of full extension).

Pause at the top of the movement before drawing your knees into your chest. Repeat for reps!

CABLE KICKBACK

Targeted Muscles: Gluteus Minimus

For this exercise, you'll need a cable machine and an ankle cuff attachment.

How-To: Set the cable to the lowest possible setting by your feet. From here, attach the ankle cuff and select a good weight. Place the ankle cuff around your right ankle to begin with.

Face the cable and hold the frame for support as you hinge at your hips. With your core engaged and knees slightly bent, squeeze your right glute to push your right leg behind you.

7 Habits That Will Improve Your Workouts

Keep your left leg firmly planted on the ground for balance. When you can't push your right leg back any further, slowly return to the starting position. Repeat this for reps with each leg.

BOX SQUAT

Targeted Muscles: Gluteus Maximus, Gluteus Medius

For this exercise, you'll need a box or bench, a loaded barbell, and a squat rack.

How-To: Load a barbell with some weight on the squat rack and place a box or bench behind you. I recommend going lighter on the weight to get the movement down before really pushing it.

With an overhand grip on the bar, dip your head underneath the bar to rest it on your traps/upper back. Brace your core and stand up tall to unrack the barbell. Take a small step back from the rack and slowly descend into a squat.

When your butt reaches the bench or box, pause for a brief second, then drive through your heels to stand up tall. Make sure to keep your chest up high the entire time. Repeat this movement for reps!

SINGLE LEG DEADLIFT

Targeted Muscles: Gluteus Maximus, Gluteus Medius, Gluteus Minimus

For this exercise, you'll need a dumbbell or kettlebell.

How-To: Standing with your feet hip-width apart, hold the kettlebell or dumbbell in front of you with your right hand. Keep a slight bend in your knees, and make sure your back is in a neutral position the whole time.

Shift your weight to your left leg and slowly extend your right leg behind you. As your right leg goes back ... lean forward, lowering the weight toward the ground.

When the weight gets to roughly shin-height, reverse the movement until you're standing upright. Do this for a set number of reps before switching to your other leg.

BULGARIAN SPLIT SQUAT

Targeted Muscles: Gluteus Maximus, Gluteus Medius, Gluteus Minimus

For this exercise, you'll need a bench or an elevated surface to place behind you. If you'd like to make it even more difficult, you can also hold a pair of dumbbells at your sides.

What Should I Eat Before a Workout?

How-To: Stand 2-3 feet in front of a bench or an elevated surface. Have one leg rested behind you on the elevated surfaces by resting the top of your foot on the edge of the bench. Your front foot will remain 2-3 feet in front of the bench.

Sink into your hips as you use your front leg to squat. Make sure to keep your upper body upright throughout the movement. When you've sunk into your hips as far as you can go, push through your front foot to a standing position.

Do a set number of reps, then switch to the opposite leg and repeat. Make sure to avoid leaning forward too much or pushing through your rear foot.

LATERAL BAND WALK

Targeted Muscles: Gluteus Maximus, Gluteus Medius, Gluteus Minimus

All you'll need for this workout is a small, wide band to place around your thighs.

How-To: Place the band around your thighs, slightly above your knees. From here assume an athletic position with your knees slightly bent, feet shoulder-width apart, and hips pressed back.

Now, take a step to one side of your body, creating tension in the band. When your foot meets the ground, step your opposite leg in toward the midline of your body.

You can alternate between sides or complete a set number of reps on one side before the other ... it's completely up to you!

SAMPLE GLUTE DAY WORKOUT

I always recommend you start glute day ... and any other workout session ... with a light warmup! Get your muscles warm by doing some dynamic stretches or some light cardio. I personally love walking on the treadmill with a slight incline for my warmup.

Top 3 Ways to Increase Flexibility and Mobility

When you're done warming up, do 2 sets of 10 reps of the following:

• Squats
• Lateral lunges
• Hip press

Make sure you pick a weight that is light enough to do for 20 reps, no more. Once you've completed these, it's time to get into the bulk of the workout:

 Exercise Sets Reps Rest
Sumo Deadlift 3-4 8-12 60 Seconds
Lateral Band Walk 3 20 Total 30 Seconds
Hip Thrust 3-4 12-15 60 Seconds
Bulgarian Split Squat 3 8-12 60 Seconds
Single Leg Deadlift 3 12-15 30 Seconds


When the workout is over, take some time to cool down. I recommend doing some gentle stretching, especially of the glutes and hamstrings.

We're Here to Help!

Turns out the glutes are one area that stubborn body fat tends to be stored. On top of that, growing your glutes can be quite the monumental task.

In order to get those firm, shaped glutes you're looking for ... it will take both dedication to your workouts, and your nutrition. At the end of the day, you have to be willing to put in the work to earn your results.

Now, I get it ... getting started is hard. However, if you need the help ... that's what we're here for! Feel free to reach out to our team of NASM Certified Personal Trainers and Certified Nutrition Coaches for FREE.

Download the 1st Phorm App

If you're looking for even more resources, download the 1st Phorm App! Inside the app, you'll get access to 1-on-1 coaching, nutrition planning, food tracking, a full library of custom workout programs to suit you and your goals ... and so much more!

Now let's get after it and kick some glutes!

Katie Hoehn
Katie Hoehn

Katie Hoehn Registered Dietitian ACE Certified Personal Trainer ACE Fitness Nutrition Specialist ACE Youth Fitness Specialist 1st Phorm App Advisor