Having a better backside has grown in popularity over the past couple of years and regular women all over the world have started to shift their workouts to accommodate for strength growth.
In order to gain strength, you need to build muscle. To build muscle you must do workouts that create small tears in the muscle so that when it rebuilds it becomes bigger. And don’t forget that your backside actually has three different muscles (the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus) and in order to get a better backside you need to implement exercises that work each of the muscles.
For a long time, the squat was believed to be the holy grail when it came to getting a better backside. But the traditional squat alone won’t provide the gains you are looking for by itself. You see, the squat is a great compound exercise that works way more than just your glutes. In order to really see growth in your muscles, you need to use exercises that put a more direct strain on your glutes to really work them. Now, of course, this doesn’t mean you should never do squats again. It’s a great exercise to use to strengthen your lower body. Just don’t expect squatting to do the trick by itself. So here are 20 glute exercises you should add to your workout immediately.
20 Sumo Squat
The sumo squat is different than the traditional squat because it works the muscles in a different way. Live Strong says that due to the foot positioning the sumo squat places a bigger emphasis on the inner thigh adductors which move your legs in toward your glutes.
To perform a sumo squat you must stand with your feet significantly further apart than hip width.
A key part of the movement is to turn your toes out about 45 degrees.
Lower yourself by bending your knees and hips until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Then push through your heels and stand back up.
19 Bulgarian Split Squat
The Bulgarian Split Squat is a great lower body exercise that works all three glute muscles. Having one leg on the ground and the other elevated makes your muscles work harder to stabilize your body.
To do this exercise you should have one leg out in front of you with your back foot rested on a box or bench. Drop your back knee down to the floor, just as if you were doing a lunge. Try to go down as low as you can. Bodybuilding.com says that the further you place your leg in front of you, the more you will work your glutes. Add weights for a harder workout.
18 Hip Thrust
According to Bodybuilding.com hip thrusts activate your upper glutes better than both squats and deadlifts.
To do this exercise you want to start by sitting on the ground with your feet planted in front of you and your back against a bench.
If you are using a barbell you probably want to make sure it is padded first as to not bruise your hips. You will place the weight on your lap and raise your hips until your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. Make sure to squeeze your glutes as you do this and slowly lower your hips back down. You can perform this exercise without weights if needed as well.
17 Cable Kickback
The cable kickback really focuses on the gluteus maximus. Women's Health says that this really shapes your backside.
To do this exercise you will need to lower the arm of the cable machine until it is at ankle height. Stand facing the machine with your feet hip-width apart. Attach one ankle to the cable and use your glutes to pull the foot, and the cable, directly behind you. You need to make sure that you are keeping your chest lifted and that your back isn’t arching. Pause at the top of the exercise then slowly return your foot to the starting position. Finish your reps on that side then move on to the other.
The traditional barbell deadlift is something plenty of women tend to stay away from. They tend to think of it as something reserved for athletes or people who are trying to bulk up their bodies. But in reality, it is a great lower body exercise for anyone and Women’s Health even included it in their nine best backside exercises.
Once you load up the barbell with your desired weight, just the bar is fine too, you should roll it against your shins.
Bend at your hips and knees, not your back, and grab the bar just further than shoulder length apart. Keeping your back straight, pull your torso up while you thrust your hips forward and stand up. Make sure to squeeze your glutes. Lower the bar back down keeping it close to your body.
15 Straight Leg Deadlift
The straight leg deadlift, also known as the Romanian Deadlift, is a popular variation of the traditional deadlift. When done properly you should really feel this exercise in your hamstrings and glutes.
This exercise is traditionally done with a barbell but you can switch it out for dumbells as well. To perform the exercise you should start in a stance that is roughly shoulder-width apart. Start by standing with your weight and start leading the weight to the floor without bending your knees. Go as far down until you feel the stretch and come back up. Bodybuilding.com wants to remind you to keep your back straight so that you don’t injure yourself.
14 Cable Standing Hip Abduction
The standing cable hip abduction works your upper glutes which Women's Health says that most people neglect. The stronger that your upper glutes are the more sculpted your backside will look.
To do this exercise you will need to lower the arm of the cable until it is at your ankle height.
Stand with one side close to the cable with that foot just slightly behind the path of the cable. Attach the cable to your other ankle and pull your leg out to the side. Pause slightly with your leg extended before returning your leg to the starting position. Perform your reps on the same side then switch to repeat on the other side.
13 Reverse Lunge
The reverse lunge works your gluteus maximus, your backside's main muscle. Women's Health says that if this exercise is done often enough it’ll lift it up. Plus the movement places less stress on your knee than a regular lunge.
To do this exercise you should start in a standing position with feet about hip-width apart. Take a large step backward with one leg while the other remains in place. Lower your hips until the thigh of your front leg is parallel to the ground. The front knee should be above the ankle and not go over the toes. Your back knee should be at a 90-degree angle with your back heel of the ground. Return to the standing position by pressing into the front heel and returning your back leg up. Repeat on the other side.
According to Visual Impact Fitness, this is the perfect glute activation exercise to use before doing other lower body exercises such as squats.
The exercise should burn your glutes and thighs in no time.
To do a clamshell lie on one side on the floor. Your knees should be bent at roughly 45 degrees with one leg on top of the other with heels touching. While keeping your feet together raise the top knee as high as you can without moving the other leg and return to the starting position. To make the exercise tougher you can add a resistance band around both of your legs.
11 Glute And Hamstring Extension
The glute and hamstring extension does exactly what it sounds like. The move helps isolate these muscles making for a better burn that a compound movement.
To do this exercise you will need to be on a back extension pad with your thighs resting against it. You must bend at the hips and lower your chest as far as it will go while keeping your back flat. Then you will come back up by pushing your thighs against the pad and squeezing your glutes. To really work the muscles don’t try to rush through your reps. Slowing down and controlling your movements will work the muscles even more. Shape says, “Use a controlled tempo during the exercise: aim for a 2-3 second count on the way down, 1-2 seconds on the way up.”
10 Step Ups
The step up is an exercise we tend to forget about when it comes to building glutes as it is a usual part of our day. But according to Shape, this exercise is great for working the main large muscles of the legs such as the glutes and the hamstrings.
To do this exercise you will need to start off with one foot on top of the bench.
Push off the bench with your foot bringing the other one to also land atop the bench. Place one foot back on the ground with the other foot staying in place. Repeat with your other leg. If you are using weights hold dumbbells in each hand and let your arms hang straight by your side.
9 Quadruped Hip Extensions/ Donkey Kick
The quadruped hip extension, also commonly known as the donkey kicks, offers the most glute activation for the gluteus maximus and the gluteus medius according to Shape. Plus this exercise can be done almost anywhere which makes it perfect for an at-home workout.
To do this exercise you will need to start on your hands and knees. Your wrists should be beneath your shoulders and your knees should be beneath your hips. Slowly lift one leg towards the ceiling with your leg remaining bent. Keep your core tight and refrain from sagging your back in order for the exercise to remain effective in the glutes.
8 Stability Ball Hamstring Curl
Without being shown this exercise you probably wouldn’t think of it on your own. But after trying this movement on your own you will see why Women’s Health recommends it. The stability ball makes your muscles work extra hard as you try to balance.
To start lie faceup on the floor with your lower legs and heels on a stability ball. Before you start the exercise you should push your hips up so that your body forms a straight line. Pull your heels towards you and try to roll the ball as close as you can towards your butt. Pause for two seconds and roll the ball back out so that your body forms a straight line again.
7 Fire Hydrant
This move will target your glutes and your outer thighs. And according to Daily Burn it will also give your core a bit of a challenge as well.
This is another exercise where you start on all fours with your wrists below your shoulders and your knees below your hips. Keeping both knees bent, and your feet flexed, you should lift one leg up until it is parallel with the floor.
Keeping your movements slow and controlled move your leg back down to the starting position.
Once you have done your reps on one side make sure to do the other side as well. For a more advanced exercise you can lift the arm opposite of the leg you are moving to make it harder to stabilize your body.
6 Lateral Lunge
According to Daily Burn lateral lunges not only strengthen your glutes but also the muscles around your hip and knee joints. The movement can also improve your hip mobility and stretch out tight hamstrings.
Start with your feet hip distance apart and your hands by your sides. Take a big step with your right foot out to the right. Gently bend your right knee and sit your hips back but make sure that your knee doesn’t extend past your toes. Keep the left leg straight as you do this. Return to the starting position and repeat on the left side.
5 Banded Lateral Walks
This looks like such a simple exercise and you may be asking yourself if this could really help you build some better muscles. Women's Health says that when a resistance band is placed around the top of your shins while you move side to side it activated the gluteus medius and will allow you to use all of your flute strength in compound exercises.
Start by placing both legs in the band with your feet just beyond shoulder width and place the band at the top of your shins.
Take steps to the side with a bit of bend in your knees. Repeat in the other direction and it’s as simple as that.
4 Curtsy Lunges
This move was also featured by Cosmopolitan. The exercises work to target your inner thigh and your gluteus medius.
To do this exercise start with your feet hips width apart and you can either hold weights in your hand or just keep them in front of your chest without weights. It’s important that you keep your hips square and facing in front of you while you step diagonally behind you (in the direction of the other leg). Both knees should be bent at 90 degrees. Press down on the front foot and bring your back leg to the starting position.
3 Rainbow Kicks
Rainbows are pretty and nice but just because you name a workout after them doesn’t mean it’s not difficult. Getting through several rounds of this exercise will have your muscles aching which is why Cosmopolitan included it on their list of “Nine Moves That Beat Squats.”
You should start on all fours with your wrists under your shoulders and your knees hip-width apart.
Start with your right leg extended to the right side with a pointed foot.
Lift your leg up towards the ceiling and with slow and controlled movements move your foot across to the left side. It should land about a foot to the left of the kneeling leg. Lift leg back up and over to the starting position. Once you have completed a set on the right leg repeat the exercise on the left.
2 Side Lying Hip Abduction
Side Lying Hip Abduction or leg raises are a great way to work your lateral glute muscles. According to Women's Health performing the exercise off of a bench helps to increase the range of motion and make your muscles work harder.
To do this movement you want to start out by laying on the floor, or bench, on one side of your body with your legs stacked on top of each other. You want to kick your leg up in a controlled manner to make sure you are working those muscles. Keeping your foot pointed forward is the key to working your thighs and glutes. Slowly lower your foot back to the ground and repeat on both sides.
1 Kettlebell Swing
The Kettlebell swing, when done correctly, works your hamstrings and glutes according to Women's Health.
To get the full glute activation you should be squeezing your glutes at the top of the exercise.
To do this movement start by bending your hips and holding a kettlebell in both hands an arm's length down in front of you. Then you should rock back slightly and hike the kettlebell between your legs. Make sure to squeeze your glutes while moving your hips forward. You should swing the kettlebell up to shoulder height. Reverse the move between your legs and repeat the movement.