The top 5 glute exercises for strength

The glutes are the largest muscles in your body and are responsible for maintaining balance and power when you jump, walk and run. 

If your goal is to build your glutes, you need to target all the different parts of your gluteal muscles.

Your glute workout should include different rep ranges, tempos and variations with the top 5 glute exercises.

Important functions of glute muscles

The glute muscles are activated in daily activities like running, climbing or hiking. Your glutes help promote balance when walking (as well as other activities) by helping keep the pelvis balanced and assisting in keeping your posture upright.

The glutes consist of three muscles:

  1. Gluteus maximus: This is responsible for hip extension, like when you are walking, and lateral rotation of the thigh, such as swinging your leg. 
  2. Gluteus medius: This is responsible for moving your leg away from your body, like when you step out of bed, and balance. 
  3. Gluteus minimus: This is the smallest of the three muscles and helps with walking and rotating your legs.  

Everyone needs strong glutes.

You may not realize it but if you sit for long periods of time for work, your glutes are probably weak or underworked. This can lead to lower back pain or stiffness, poor posture and knee pain.

Top 5 glute exercises for strength training

You need to make sure your glute workout and overall training includes train hip extension, hip abduction, external rotation and single leg exercises.

Mix up your workouts with high and low rep ranges, slow and fast tempos and isometric holds.

Barbell hip thrust and glute bridge

Hip thrusts are one of the best glute exercises that specifically target your glutes, quads, hamstrings, core and hip adductors.

posterior chain hip thrust

You also can effectively target your posterior chain by doing glute bridges off the floor.

It’s important that your glutes are the main working muscle and not your lower back.

If you feel the exercise more in your quadriceps than your glutes, your feet might be too close to your body or you may be pushing off with your toes. To avoid this, make sure you’re pushing off with your heels and that your knees form a 90-degree angle in the top position.

Variations: Bodyweight hip thrust, bodyweight glute bridge, single leg hip thrust, barbell hip thrust and barbell glute bridge.


Squats are a staple glute exercise that targets your gluteus maximus, quads, hamstring, hip flexors and core muscles. Squats are a great compound exercise, which means they strengthen multiple muscles at once with just one exercise.

woman standing in squat rack with barbell on upper back for barbell squats

Squat variations You can do traditional back squats. But you also should add other variations, including the front squat, sumo squat, goblet squat and Zercher squat.

You can do them with barbells, kettlebells, dumbbells or just your body weight.

Bulgarian split squats

The Bulgarian split squat is a unilateral exercise similar to the split squat; however, when performing a Bulgarian split squat your rear leg is elevated.

The Bulgarian split squat allows for a greater range of motion and depth – increasing the muscular stress on the working front foot and leg. They will help to develop your quads, as well as your glutes.

It is a great exercise that will also improve any muscle imbalances.

Romanian deadlift

Deadlifts are a compound exercise that strengthens multiple muscle groups, including your glutes, hamstrings, back, hips, core and trapezius muscles.

woman in motion doing barbell deadlift

You will feel the burn in your glutes when you do deadlifts and work your entire posterior chain at the same time.

Deadlifts are most commonly done with a barbell but you can use dumbbells or kettlebells.

Sumo deadlift

The sumo deadlift is a variation of the traditional deadlift but with a wider stance and a slightly different technique due to where and how you place your feet.

During a sumo deadlift, your feet are slightly wider than hip-width apart and your toes are turned out slightly.

woman in sumo sdeadlift

The wider stance of the sumo deadlift allows for a greater range of motion in the hips and allows for greater activation of the glutes, making it a great exercise for targeting the glutes and building strength in the legs and lower back.

How to build strong glutes

Strength training is one part of building and strengthening your glutes. You also need to do: 

Be consistent. The best way to strengthen and grow your glutes is by consistently doing exercises that target them several times a week.

Rest and recover. Muscles need at least 48 hours after a strength workout to recover and repair themselves. 

Proper nutrition. You need to eat well to build muscle. Proper nutrition is key to growing and seeing changes.

Glute training combines compound movements that allow you to put a significant load through the glutes, and lower body muscles – making them ideal for growing stronger, more powerful glutes.

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