The gluteus maximus are the largest muscles in the body and provide most of the power for sprinting, jumping, picking up heavy things, and even throwing a ball or a punch. Top athletes from all sports have highly developed glutes because body power comes from the hips, and the glutes are responsible for hip extension. If you want a capable athletic body or at least the look of one, you need to work on those glutes!
Here are the top 5 exercises for firming up and building the glutes:
1. Deep SquatsKnown as the King of Lifts, barbell squats are definitely the top glute builder. In fact, you could do squats alone and achieve all the glute development that you want. Use a slightly wider than shoulder width stance and squat down until your thighs are parallel to the ground or lower to fully engage the glutes. Keep your head up and do not allow your lower back to round over. If you’re unable to squat deeply with proper form or just hate squats, don’t worry, you can still build great glutes with these other exercises…
2. Walking Lunges
A fantastic glute exercise that also works the quads, hamstring, and adductors. Take long strides to work the glutes maximally. Add weight when able, either using a barbell, dumbbells, or a sandbag across the shoulders.
3. Stiff Leg Deadlifts
A great movement for the glutes, hamstrings, and lower back. You may use a barbell or a pair of dumbbells. Keep a small bend at the knees and bend forward at the hips as far as you can without letting your back round over. All of the movement should occur at the hip joint. Keep the weight close to your body at all times. Squeeze the glutes at the top of the movement.
4. Glute kickbacks
A great exercise to isolate the glutes and focus on that muscle contraction. Ideally this exercise is performed on a glute kickback machine, but you may improvise using a low cable and ankle strap.
5. Reverse Hyper Extensions
A tremendous glute builder that emphasizes a full contraction of the gluteal muscles. It is the best exercise for isolating the glutes and deserves your time and attention if you have access to one. The only reason I listed it last is that most gyms do not have one.
*Honorable mention: Sled pushes
Sled pushing is primarily thought of as conditioning exercise, but it’s also a killer glute exercise. Use a challenging weight or do them light with speed – either approach will build your glutes long as you push hard with your lower body.
For the sake of brevity, I didn’t get detailed about how to perform each exercise. If you don’t know how to do them properly, youtube is your friend or consider the help of a trainer.
Sets and reps depend on personal preference and training experience, but a good starting point is 3 sets of 15-20 reps. Two glute exercises per session is plenty. Start with weights that you can handle without much difficulty and add a small amount of weight or reps each week. Weight progression over time while keeping good form is the key to getting results on any weight training program.
If you’re familiar with all the popular glute exercises, you may have noticed that I left glute bridges / hip thrusts off my list. I find them to be an awkward exercise that’s difficult to load with sufficient weight. I also consider them to be more of a fad than anything. The exercises that I listed are time proven.
Now get to work, no if’s and’s or butts!