The five best exercises for glutes

Build your glutes with these simple, expert-approved exercises

Best exercises for glutes: Image shows woman doing squats at home
(Image credit: Getty)

The glute muscles are the largest in our body and they're crucial for everyday balance and mobility. If you spend a lot of time sitting at your desk, it’s likely your glutes will be weak or underworked, so it's well worth strengthening them.

“People often think the glutes refer just to the buttocks, but actually they consist of a three big muscles that make up the glute region in that area,” explains personal trainer and women’s health coach Kate Rowe-Ham. “If we want to get technical, the glutes include the gluteus maximus, the gluteus medius and gluteus minimus.

“The glutes are important as they stabilize the hips and help us carry out everyday functions, like sitting, standing and walking. Strong glutes support to your lower back, so when you are lifting something heavy you can prevent injuries.”

Ready to build some muscle? Pull on your best cross training shoes and dive into these exercises, to start strengthening your glutes. 

Kate Rowe-Ham
Kate Rowe-Ham

Kate Rowe-Ham is a level 3 personal trainer and women's health coach with a special interest in menopause, fitness and nutrition. She is the founder of Owning Your Menopause app and is passionate about educating women on exercise, nutrition and movement. 

What are the best exercises for glutes?

Here Rowe-Ham reveals five glute exercises you can try at home. Start with 10-12 reps and two rounds, building up to 12 reps and three rounds when you feel stronger. Remember to warm up properly before you start too, as tight glutes can lead to injury. 

1. Squats 

Man doing squat at home

(Image credit: Getty)
  • Start by standing with your feet hip-width apart. 
  • Engage your core and steadily push your hips back lowering towards the ground, as if you were sitting back in a chair.
  • Lift back up through the movement, ensuring you drive through the heels to stand up and complete the rep. 

Make it harder: To add intensity and ensure you're adhering to the progressive overload principle, try doing the movement with a set of dumbbells. 

2. Glute bridge  

Kate Rowe-Ham

(Image credit: Kate Rowe-Ham)
  • Lie on your back with your arms by your sides, your knees bent, and your feet planted on the ground. 
  • Tilt your pelvis to the ceiling so your back is engaged with the floor. 
  • Squeeze your glutes, press through your heels, and drive your hips up so you form a straight line from your knees to your shoulders. 
  • Hold for a second at the top of the move, then lower slowly, ensuring there is no arch in your back as you come down. 

Make it harder: Turn this move into a hip thrust by adding a weight, such as a barbell or free weights. 

3. Romanian deadlift with dumbbells

Kate Rowe-Ham doing Romanian deadlift

(Image credit: Kate Rowe-Ham)
  • Begin by standing with your feet hip-width apart and knees slightly bent. Brace your core. 
  • Hold one dumbbell in each hand and place them in front of hips with palms facing thighs. 
  • Keeping your spine in a neutral position and squeezing the shoulder blades, start sending the hips back, without bending the knees. 
  • Follow the line of your thighs and knees with the dumbbells pressed against your body, and lower the weights down slowly to the middle of the shins. 
  • Maintaining a neutral spine, drive up through heels to fully extend hips and knees, squeezing glutes at the top. 

Make it harder: Increase your weights. 

4. Reverse lunges 

Kate Rowe-Ham doing reverse lunge with dumbbell

(Image credit: Kate Rowe-Ham)
  • Stand upright with your feet shoulder-width apart. 
  • Take a big step backward with your right leg as far as you can comfortably while dropping your hips downward. 
  • Once in the down lunge position, push back to the starting position with both legs at the same time. Repeat with the left leg.  

Make it harder: Hold a pair of dumbbells or kettlebells at your sides.  

5. Sumo squat 

Kate Rowe-Ham doing sumo squat with weight

(Image credit: Kate Rowe-Ham)
  • Stand with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart and your toes pointed at a 45° angle. 
  • Lower into a squat, then push back up again driving through the heels, pushing the knees out to avoid them collapsing in.  

Make it harder: Hold a dumbbell or kettlebell as you do the wide squat.  

Maddy Biddulph

Maddy Biddulph is a freelance journalist specializing in fitness, health and wellbeing content. With 26 years in consumer media, she has worked as a writer and editor for some of the bestselling newspapers, magazines and websites in the US and UK. 

She is also a qualified L3 personal trainer and weight loss advisor, and helps women over 40 navigate menopause by improving their physical and mental strength. At Maddy Biddulph Personal Training, she runs one-to-one and small group training for menopausal women who want to get fit to ease symptoms and feel like themselves again.