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What are the best gym exercises to sculpt your glutes?

How do you work your glute muscles

We’ve all heard of the gluteus maximus – the biggest butt muscle that makes up most of the shape and mass of your bum. But there are lots of other muscles in the glutes, and you need to choose gym exercises that train them all properly.

The three major muscles in the glutes are the large gluteus maximus, the gluteus medius and gluteus minimus. All three muscles originate from points on the pelvis, and insert on the thigh bone. If you want strong, functional glutes that look great you need to train all of the glute muscles.

Why is it important to train your glutes

Everyone appreciates a shapely behind, but aesthetics is just one reason to train your glutes properly. The glutes play a big role in protecting your lower back, keeping your whole body in alignment, and giving you power to do other types of training. Without strong glutes, you can’t build strong legs, abs, shoulders or back.

Commonly Asked Questions On Glute Exercises

What are the best glute exercises to do in the gym

Now you know that there are different muscles in the glutes, you need to figure out the best glute exercises to do in the gym. We’ll run through the top 10 glute exercises below, and you’ll notice they aren’t all squats!

Do you need to squat to grow your glutes

Squats are the classic glute-building exercise, but they’re not the only thing you need to do. There are lots of different ways to do squats in the gym, but don’t get into the habit of only squatting on glute day.

Best bodyweight glute exercises

Can you build glute strength and size with bodyweight exercises? It depends on your start point. If you’re a beginner to strength training, bodyweight glute exercises can help to add strength, tone, and size but you will need to do higher reps.

The best bodyweight glute exercises are air squats (bodyweight squats), walking lunges, single legged squats (also called pistol squats) and glue bridges.

Best glute exercises with weights at the gym

The glutes are big muscles, which means you need to add load (i.e. weight) to really build them up. The best way to add strength and shape to your glutes is a combination of heavier weighted exercises and high-rep bodyweight exercises.

The best glute exercises with weights in the gym include barbell exercises like back squats, front squats, lunges, and Romanian deadlifts. Good dumbbell exercises for glutes include Bulgarian split squats and weighted step ups. And of curse don’t forget weights machines for glute workouts, the best ones are the leg press and any hamstring curl machine.

The 9 best glute exercises in the gym

Here’s our pick of the best glute exercise to do at the gym. You’ll notice we’ve chosen exercises that use plenty of different equipment – barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, weights machines, and bodyweight.

Best bodyweight glute exercises

Glute bridge

Glute bridges are a great beginners glute exercise, or as part of your leg-day warm up to activate the glutes.

Lie on your back with knees bent, feet hip-width, and heels close to your butt. Press down into your feet and lift your hips with control. Think about rolling through your vertebra as you lift your hips high. Pause and squeeze your glutes at the top before lowering down with control.

Walking lunges

Walking lunges are an active exercise which use forward movement to push through the glute muscles.

Take a stride forward and lower the back knee to the floor with each step. You can either bring your feet together momentarily on each rep, or swing the back foot through to take the next stride.

Wall sit

This is an isometric hold that will make your glutes burn! Ideal as a finisher on leg day.

Sit with your back against a wall, ensuring that your hips are below your knees. Hold for as long as possible.

Best dumbbell glute exercises

Weighted step up

Step ups onto a box are a great glute exercise, and when you add external load by carrying a weight they get even more effective.

Hold a dumbbell or kettlebell either by your side or on one shoulder, or in front rack position with both hands. Step up onto the box with both feet ad stand up fully at the top. Step back down carefully. You can swap leading legs every rep, or do 10 reps on each leg.

Bulgarian split squat

This is the glute exercise everyone loves to hate – and it certainly is effective!

Stand in front of a box or bench, facing away from it. Hold a dumbbell or kettlebell in one hand. Put one foot on the box or bench behind you. Lean forward slightly as you lunge down so the back knee almost touches the floor.

Best barbell glute exercises

Barbell back squat

The classic barbell exercise that will build your glutes. If you want to switch things up, bring in tempo (slow down, fast up) or paused squats.

Set the barbell in the rack. Get underneath it and walk out so your feet are slightly wider than hip width. Sit back and down, keeping your chest up, and make sure your hip crease goes below your knees. Press back up, thinking about sending your knees out.

Romanian deadlift

This deadlift variation will target the glutes even with very little weight on the bar.

Pick up the bar and start the movement with the bar at the top. Bend at the hips and think about sending your glutes backwards. Lower the bar to the knees or calves, focusing on feeling tension in your glutes and hamstrings. Stand back up by driving the hips.

Hip thrust

This simple barbell movement puts all the focus on the hips and glutes, and you can go as heavy as you like.

Set a barbell up in front of a bench. Sit with your back against the bench, and your legs underneath the barbell. Roll the bar up until it’s in your hip crease. Lean your upper back against the bench and press into your feet to lift the barbell off the ground. Squeeze at the top and lower with control.

Best gym machine glute exercises

Gym machines can be a great way to grow and shape your glutes on leg day.

Leg press

Leg press machines offer a good compound exercise for glutes. Vertical leg presses are best, but horizontal leg press machines are good too. Play around with different stances (wide or narrow feet), and use tempo to really feel the work in your glutes.

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