The best glute exercises aren’t just about looking good in jeans. Your glutes provide the power you need for a wide range of exercises, and if you strengthen them the right way, they’ll help support your lower back while you’re figuring out how to lift weights. Furthermore, a strong butt can even reduce the risk of knee injuries when you’re running.
If you’re looking for the best glute exercises, that probably means you want to tone up the area around your bottom. When you think of a glute, the gluteus maximus springs to mind, but did you know there’s also a gluteus medius and minimus? The best glutes workout will activate all of them.
The worst thing you can do a glute is to sit on it all day, which unfortunately is what a lot of people end up doing, whether through a sedentary job or an excess of Netflix on the sofa.
You’ll often hear a fitness trainer telling you to 'Squeeze your glutes' if you’re doing a move like a squat and it’s important to engage them. Make the glutes do the work or you risk muscles such as your hamstrings taking too much strain.
Whether you’re a beginner who wants to shape their booty or a total gym pro looking to improve your technique, here are the best glute exercises for you.
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Best glute workouts for beginners
The trusty squat is one of those exercises that’s great value. It’s easy to master and works your legs and glutes and you don’t need any equipment. But technique is very important, so learn how to squat, watch and practise before you think about adding any weights.
Technique tips: The weight should be in your heels, so if you find them lifting at first don’t go down so far.
If you’re finding it hard to get the balance of the weight in your heels, remember you should be able to lift your toes slightly. And if you can, it’s a good guide that shows your bodyweight’s in the right place.
Your knees should stay behind your toes, never over-extending. If you can’t see the tips of your toes, adjust your stance so you can.
And of course squeeze your glutes at the top.
Add a resistance band around your thighs to make the exercise more effective – and keep your glutes engaged because it forces you to keep your legs apart.
This is one of the best glute exercises for beginners, and a classic way to start working those all-important muscles a safe and controlled way.
Technique tips: Ripple through the movement vertebrae by vertebrae starting at the base of your spine to make sure you get the technique right.
Engage your core and don’t come down all the way – hover an inch above the floor instead.
Add a pause at the top – and take it to a longer hold. Your knees should be above your ankles when you come up.
Want to make it tougher? Try lifting one leg in the air, which forces you to stabilise. Then pulse at the top of your range.
Best glute exercises for intermediates
You’ll feel the burn in your glutes with this exercise. Technique is very important, so watch this carefully:
Technique tips: Exhale as you lift your leg because that’s the hardest part of the exercise.
If your arms aren’t strong enough to support you in an all-fours stance, you can do this on your forearms.
The donkey kick is about controlled movement rather than trying to lift your leg high – so it shouldn’t go any higher than your torso. Your hips should stay steady and your spine neutral, so you’re isolating the glutes.
Work on one leg at a time rather than switching for a smooth movement. Start with 30 seconds on each side and build up.
When your legs are staggered, you have to work harder to stabilise your body – and this is where your glutes come in to help.
Technique tips: Practise getting your form correct and don’t extend your knee over your toe. Taking a bigger step back will help you avoid overextending.
Keep your chest up and your gaze forward.
Work one leg at a time to keep the movements controlled and focused.
If you want to work your glutes (and thighs) harder, put your back foot on a raised platform like a step.
Best glutes exercises with a kettlebell
Adding weight will work the glutes harder – and a kettlebell is always a worthwhile addition to your collection of the best workout equipment for home anyway. The kettlebell swing is simple, but very effective to strengthen your core and work a wide range of muscles including the glutes.
Technique tips: The swing is not a squat. Hinge at the hips and exhale at the top with a flat back.
Don’t worry about getting the kettlebell high – stop at chest level.
Use the momentum of the kettlebell to drive you.
Never stop your swing at the top on your last rep. Bring it down in a controlled way.
Kettlebell sumo squat
Keep hold of that kettlebell for a sumo squat and your glutes will thank you.
Technique tips: If you haven’t got a kettlebell, you can use a dumbbell for this exercise.
Keep your core tight and back straight at all times.
Breathe out on your way up, not on the way down.
Want to take your sumo squat to the next level? Try the explosive kettlebell squat jump. This is one of the best glutes exercises for more advanced students of the toned butt.
Hannah Verdier is a journalist and personal trainer who's motivated by music, outdoor workouts and making other people love fitness.
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