Build a Better Butt – The 15 Best Glute Exercises

Ask a girl what her workout goals are, and other than toning-up “here…here…and here” and losing “this..this…and this,” she wants a smokin’ butt. And frankly, that’s what us guys are hoping for too.

But here’s the sad part. Most women end up following nutrition plans and workout routines that produce the opposite – a Flat Ass! Because as much as they can try, blind caloric restriction and chronic cardio makes them lose the wrong kind of “weight,” and destroy all that muscle they need to build a better booty.

(If Butt = Muscle. Then More Muscle = More Butt?)

And this is why, before we even get into exercise, the first step to growing your glutes is recognizing that calories are a good thing; especially when they’re protein calories.  So stop counting them, and starting making them count!

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The second step is understanding that cardio doesn’t build muscle, it burns it. And an under-muscled physique is weak, less attractive, and has a slower metabolic rate – meaning it burns less energy (calories) at rest.

Or put another way, the lean, toned, rock-solid body you want isn’t accomplished via losing, it’s accomplished via gaining – strength, muscle, and power – by lifting weights. And despite what those aerobics classes and workout DVDs would have you believing, it’s not going to make you big, bulky, and mistaken for a bodybuilder.

Males, have as much as 8 times the blood concentration and 20 times the daily production of testosterone.

In fact, as thousands of women across the globe can attest to, lifting weights will give you the EXACT physique you’re looking for.  Including those long, lean, muscles yoga-lates has been promising you for years.

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The third and final step is actually training the glutes, which could include any or all of the 15 exercises listed below.

If you’re new to resistance training, start with the bodyweight options and progress to traditional weight-training before diving into the higher impact dynamic exercises.

For those with a little more experience, you can really ‘get after the glutes’ by performing a heavy weighted-resistance exercise that’s challenging in the lower rep ranges (4-8) and moving directly to one of the dynamic or bodyweight resistance exercises for speed or maximum repetitions.

LEVEL 1 – BODYWEIGHT/WEIGHTED

  1. Fire Hydrants/Kickbacks – on all 4’s from the floor or a bench, lift 1-leg out to the side or directly behind you, while keeping your torso parallel with the floor. To get more from your bent-knee fire hydrants (out to the side), try the forward and backward circles performed in the video. The best kick-back for the glutes is the semi-straight leg donkey kick, where you kick upwards with the heel as your leg travels behind.

  1. Banded Walks (Front and Side) – position a resistance band just around your knees or just above your ankles, slightly bend the knees so you’re in an athletic stance (upright torso), and slowly inch forward or sideways while maintaining a wider than shoulder-width foot stance. The forward walk with the band around the ankles seems to be the best way to activate the glutes for most people, but positioning it at the knees may be necessary for the knee-knockers, who need to learn to keep their knees over their toes.
  1. Glute Bridges – start with your back and feet on the floor before progressing to your back or feet on a bench, and 2 legs before 1. The goal is to drive through the heels until your hips are fully extended, while forcing yourself to use and contract your glutes. Those struggling to feel it in their butt, should get in the habit of doing a 1-3sec full squeeze and hold at the top. It could also be that your feet are positioned poorly, so move them forward if your getting too much quad, and move them back if you’re getting too much hamstring. Dumbbell Demo Here
  1. Supermans/Arch Body Rocks/Prone Glute Curls – while laying flat on your stomach, lift your legs and arms off the floor so your back is arched and set them back down. This is called a superman, and it’s the basic movement before progressing into the more challenging Arch Body Rocks or Prone Glute Curls. The Arch Body Rocks are essentially a Superman held tight in the top position, followed by rocking back and forth. You’ll probably feel it in the glutes the most with The Prone Glute Curls, which involves holding an arch so your arms and legs are off the floor, but your knees are bent and you’re straightening each leg individually in an alternating fashion.
  1. Squat (all) – anytime your body is an upright position and you’re executing a knee-bend, you’re performing a squat. The best way to build great glutes is to perform a variety of squatting variations and continuously progressing in weight. Pick a variation – front, back, box, sumo, goblet, barbell, dumbbell, high-bar, low-bar, zercher – execute it for 3-4 weeks (getting stronger with each session) and then select a new one.
  1. Romanian (Straight-Leg) Deadlift – this movement requires a ‘hip hinge,’ which involves bending at the waist with a slight arch in your back and bend in your knees; as if you’re bringing your chest towards your feet or pushing your butt to the back of the room. Generally, it’s weighted with a barbell and the arms hanging down in front, but you can use anything you like – 1-dumbbell in front, 2-dumbbells at your side, or even a low-pulley between your legs. The low-pulley option with a rope is actually a great way to learn the hip hinge if you’re struggling to execute it.

  1. Sumo Deadlift – the difference between this deadlift variation and the romanian deadlift, is that the sumo is uses bent knees and a wider stance.  Some would say it’s closer to a squat than a deadlift, based on the body positioning, but either way it’s fantastic for the glutes.  Especially if you work very hard to get nice and low with an upright body position, and keep your butt down as long as possible on the way up. Barbell Demo Here
  1. Lunges (all) – similar to the squat, you can’t go wrong with lunges when it comes to the glutes. Choose a variation (standard, reverse, drop, walking, etc), get better at it over the course of a few weeks, and then select a new one. As far as execution goes, perform the concentric portion of the exercise (moving from lunged to standing, or lunged to next step) explosively.
  1. Front Step-ups – of all the step-up options, the front-step up is best for your butt, and you can execute them weighted or non-weighted, with a knee-drive or without, and using a dumbbell, kettlebell, medicine ball, barbell, or whatever you can find. The key is making sure the lead leg (the one stepping) is doing the work, and seeking progression via extra weight or extra height.
  1. 45 or 90-degree Back Extension – in order to execute this exercise, you’ll need a 45 or 90-degree hyper extension.  The 90-degree extension hits the glutes a little more, especially if you practice it with a 1-3 second pause-and-squeeze at the top.  In both cases (45 and 90), start with your bodyweight and work your way up to any of these progressions.

LEVEL 2 – DYNAMIC/EXPLOSIVE

  1. Jumps (all) – the trick to getting the most from your jumps is maximal contraction.  Jump as high or as far as you can on every rep.

  1. Hip Thrusts (kettlebell, med ball throw) – basically the dynamic version of the Hip Hinge (Romanian Deadlift). It’s very important that you’re comfortable in a loaded deadlift before moving to this explosive variation. Not so much for the thrust portion, but so you have control when returning to the starting position.
  1. Sled/Car Push – the name says it all; get behind a car or sled and push it.  The lower you are and the bigger the steps, the more you’ll hit your glutes.
  1. Up-Hill Plyometrics (jumping, bounding, etc) – plyometrics are great on their own, but they’re even better uphill. For great glute development, try bounding, which is kind of like sprinting with giant explosive steps. You basically extend the back leg to propel yourself up and forward, and drive that front knee to cover more ground. Sideways bounding is also very effective for the glutes; the only difference is, you’re in a crouched or athletic stance (similar to the Banded Walks)
  1. Sprinting – if you want a great butt, Stop Jogging. Because to look like a sprinter, you need to sprint

…and lift.

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Stay Lean!
Coach Mike


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