4 Overlooked Glute Exercises to Mix into Your Training
Glutes and glute exercises are a hot topic these days and with good reason. As the largest muscle group in your body responsible for keeping you upright and walking, strong glutes are a pillar of overall athleticism. Since ancient Greek and Roman times, flat butts have never been in fashion.
Your glutes articulate the hip joints in a few different directions: extension (pulling the leg out behind you when running), abduction (moving the leg away from the body), external, and internal rotation. Most of what you do with your legs is controlled by your glutes.
Do These Twice a Week to Grow Thicker Cakes
Have you ever paid attention to the glutes of a strong sprinter, NFL running back, Olympic gymnast, or competitive weightlifter? Of course you have, they’re impossible to miss. With strong, full glutes comes the power to jump, run, squat, and garner looks from men, women, and nonbinary people alike.
Dominant glutes are a universal advantage.
Glute exercises, specifically accessories, are easy for strength athletes to ignore in favor of compound movements, core work, lazy foam rolling and basically anything else. But if it’s easy not to do, it’s also easy to do. And if you don’t want a bigger butt, you’re lying (even if you’ve already got one).
Sure—squats, deadlifts, cleans, lunges, and a ton of other common movements work your glutes, but it never hurts to target them with some practical, strategic accessory work. Do a few sets of these effective glute exercises to warm up before you train or burn out your butt afterwards. It could make the difference between real glute hypertrophy and just a little soreness.
Get yourself a coveted “plump dumper” by working some hip thrusts, frog pumps, hip abductions or extensions into your training. Start with a couple times a week and check that cupcake in the mirror again after a few months.
The best exercises to grow your glutes
Hip thrusts have gained popularity over the years, but most athletes could stand to do them more often. They’re easy to do with a barbell and a bench, but because of their wider use, hip thrust machines have become more common in commercial gyms. These are awesome. The hip pad doesn’t dig into your hips like a barbell does and you can load plates on and off the machines easily.
If your gym has a hip thrust machine, don’t be scared to use it. If not, find a pad, towel or yoga mat to wrap around your barbell.
If you have trouble activating your glutes with hip thrusts or glute bridges from the floor, the positioning for frog pumps should help by adding an element of external rotation. Lay on your back, bend your knees, and bring your heels together. Scooch your heels as close to your butt as possible. With your legs in this butterfly or frog position, pump your hips, being sure to squeeze your glutes at the top.
Add a band around your knees or hold a dumbbell on your hips for more resistance. (Or try both for the ultimate glue exercise and let us know how that goes.)
Seated hip abduction
The seated hip abduction can be done with a small band around the knees (above or below) or on that funny-looking machine at the gym. Make sure you use the one that puts force against opening your legs, not closing them.
One of the glutes’ primary jobs is hip and leg abduction, or pulling the limbs away from the midline of the body. Add resistance to this movement to work on building your upper/outer glutes. Try changing the angle of your hips by leaning both backward and forward.
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Often inaccurately called a back extension, which is a totally different movement, the hip extension is an awesome accessory piece for working your glutes. Use a GHD (glute-ham developer) or similar setup to fix your lower body in a stable position. Focus on hinging at the hips, tucking your pelvis, and squeezing your glutes to come up.
Hold a weight against your chest or get a friend to help load a light barbell on your back. If adding resistance to hip extensions doesn’t fire up that butt, nothing will.
Keep these in mind when looking for ideas to work your glutes outside of the usual compound weight training. Remember: easy to do, easy not to do. Just mixing a couple of these into your training each week will move the needle on your glute strength.
- Single-Leg RDLs – Drill one side of your glutes at a time while working your balance and hip stability.
- Sled Push – Focus on driving your feet through the floor, using your glutes and hamstrings to propel the sled forward.
- Bulgarian Split Squats – Split squats are an excellent unilateral strength exercise. Be sure to watch the video for this one to see what angles are best for glute work!
Lily is TrainHeroic’s Marketing Content Creator and a CF-L1 with an English background. She was a successful freelance marketer for the functional fitness industry until being scooped up by TrainHeroic. An uncommon combo of bookish, artsy word-nerd and lifelong athlete, Lily is passionately devoted to weightlifting, CrossFit, yoga, dance, and aerial acrobatics. Find her showcasing her artist-athlete hobbies on IG @lilylectric.