Build Stronger Glutes: Exercises and Tips for a Stronger Butt (2024)

We’ll come right out and say it—your butt doesn’t get enough love. The glute muscles that pad your behind are responsible for supporting all sorts of daily movements, yet it’s all too easy to focus your fitness on other parts of the body.

Perhaps it’s time to focus your workouts on strengthening the muscles in your bum. By doing so, you'll build greater power for both athletic and everyday activities. Read on for your guide to glute strengthening.

What Are Glutes?

The muscle group that forms your butt is actually made up of three distinct parts—the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus. This is why we call them your “glutes,” not one singular “glute.”

The gluteus maximus is, not surprisingly, the largest of the three muscles, stretching from the back of your pelvis to the top of your femur. In fact, it’s the biggest muscle in your entire body! It provides shape for your butt and allows you to extend and externally rotate your hip joint.

The gluteus medius sits above the maximus on the outer shelf of the pelvis. It’s responsible for the internal rotation of the thighs. The gluteus minimus, meanwhile, is the smallest of the three butt muscles. It hides beneath the medius, where it helps stabilize your hips.

Benefits of Strong Glutes

Though you may think of it merely as padding for sitting, your butt does so much more than cushion your bones. Your glute muscles provide support for your entire frame and having a strong derriere allows you to stand, walk, and sit comfortably.

Glutes are also a major force behind many common motions. Climbing stairs or hiking up a hill would be impossible without their energetic lift—and just try squatting and lifting something heavy without the power of glute strength. (Hint: You can't.)

By performing exercises for your glutes, you’re also staving off potential injury. Solid, strong glutes keep your hips in proper alignment, decreasing the likelihood of injuring your legs, knees, lower back, or groin as you run, walk, or climb.

Interestingly, having strong glutes might even help prevent pain elsewhere in the body, such as your knees and low back. If the gluteus medius muscle weakens, it can allow your thigh to pull inward, putting stress on your knees. It may also increase pressure on the low back. A 2016 study found that people with chronic, non-specific low back pain commonly had weakness in the gluteus medius.

Exercises to Strengthen Glutes

Keeping your glutes strong and functional will not only benefit your overall fitness routine, but it also will improve your functional movement—or how you complete your day-to-day activities. If you are looking for a glute workout to give your behind a boost, try these simple moves below.

Lunges

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Lunges are an excellent exercise for increasing stability and building glute strength. For a quick, no-equipment move in a small space (or even while watching TV) you can practice these moves while standing in place. Here's how:

  1. Stand upright with your feet together.
  2. Step one foot straight forward (about 3 feet).
  3. Lift your opposite heel and bend both knees, sinking down and sending your back knee toward the floor.
  4. Lift off your back foot, resuming a standing posture.
  5. Repeat, alternating sides, for one to three sets of 12 to 16 reps.

Squats

There’s a reason squats are known as a classic glute exercise. Getting low in a squat works not just the muscles around your hips, but your calves, core, and thighs as well. Here's how to do a squat.

  1. Stand with your feet hip-distance apart.
  2. Lower as though sitting down in a chair, keeping your torso straight, and pointing your butt out behind you.
  3. Resume a standing posture.
  4. Repeat for two to three sets of 12 to 20 reps.

Donkey Kicks

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Donkey kicks may have a funny name, but research shows they’re highly effective for glute strength. A 2020 study found that a six-week exercise regimen of donkey kicks and squats built gluteus maximus and gluteus medius muscles and reduced bottom fat in young women. Here's how to do a donkey kick.

  1. Get on your hands and knees with your hands under your shoulders and knees hip-width apart.
  2. Raise one foot up and back toward the ceiling, keeping your knee bent.
  3. Return to original position and repeat on the other side.
  4. Repeat for one to three sets of 10 to 16 reps.

Strength Training Workouts for Runners

Step-Ups

Step-ups fire up your glutes and provide some cardio if done quickly. All you’ll need for this exercise is a step or platform high enough to create a 90-degree angle in your knee. Here's how to incorporate step-ups into your fitness routine.

  1. Stand facing a step or platform.
  2. Place one foot on the step.
  3. Step up, pressing into your heel, and touch your opposite toes to the step.
  4. Return to standing and repeat on the other side.
  5. Repeat for one to three sets of 15 to 20 reps.

Glute Bridges

If you are feeling a little tired of standing exercises, glute bridges allow you to build your butt muscles while lying on your back. Here is how to do a glute bridge.

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent upward and your feet flat on the ground.
  2. Lift your hips upward, pushing down into your heels and squeezing your glutes as you go.
  3. Hold for a moment, then slowly release back down to the ground.
  4. Repeat for one to three sets of 12 to 20 reps.

The Best Exercises for Activating Your Glutes

Tips for Building Stronger Glutes

Of course, strengthening your glutes means focusing your workouts on these muscles. But besides engaging the gluteus maximus, medius, and minimus with targeted moves, there are other steps you can take to build strength in this area. Consider these tips:

  • Vary your exercises and reps
  • Add weights to your exercises
  • Increase resistance and range of motion–progressively going lower in squats or lunges or higher with donkey kicks
  • Add a glute-strengthening spin to other workouts, such as running on an incline or standing up straight while pedaling a bike
  • Practice mindfulness as you perform each exercise, focusing your attention on the muscles you’re using

How to Avoid Injury When Strengthening Glutes

Strengthening your glutes comes with the bonus of helping prevent injury elsewhere in the body. The last thing you want is to injure yourself while working your butt. To avoid accidentally hurting yourself during a glute muscles workout, pay attention to your posture.

Engage your core and, if standing, maintain balance with your weight evenly distributed between both feet. Enlist a spotter if your are using heavy weights, wear proper footwear that won’t slip or slide, and stop an exercise if it causes undue pain.

Finally, don’t forget recovery days! Overtraining can increase your risk of injury—so allow yourself days off from glute workouts, knowing that rest is part of the process.

3 Sources

Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. Cooper NA, Scavo KM, Strickland KJ, et al. Prevalence of gluteus medius weakness in people with chronic low back pain compared to healthy controls.Eur Spine J. 2016;25(4):1258-1265. doi:10.1007/s00586-015-4027-6

  2. Kitamura T, Kido A, Ishida Y, Kobayashi Y, Tsukamoto S, Tanaka Y. Muscle activity pattern with a shifted center of pressure during the squat exercise.J Sports Sci Med. 2019;18(2):248-252. PMID:31191094

  3. Ekechukwu N, Okoh A. Effects of six weeks donkey kick and squat resistance exercises on gluteal adiposity, muscle strength, and muscle bulk of young Nigerian female adults: A randomized controlled trial.Int J Med Health Dev. 2020;25(1):28. doi:10.4103/ijmh.IJMH_36_19

Build Stronger Glutes: Exercises and Tips for a Stronger Butt (4)

By Sarah Garone, NDTR
Sarah Garone, NDTR, is a freelance health and wellness writer who runs a food blog.

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