The Best Exercises to Build Gluteal Muscles

Your butt, correctly called your gluteus maximus but sometimes called gluteals or glutes, is the muscle primarily responsible for extending your legs backward. Your gluteals are the largest and strongest muscle in your body and are very important for sports performance and appearance. There are a variety of exercises you can perform for your glutes.


Stiff Legged Dead Lift

To perform stiff legged dead lifts, grasp a barbell with a shoulder-width overhand grip and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Keeping your knees slightly bent, but rigid, push your hips backward and bend forward at the hips until the barbell is below knee level. Pause in this bottom position before pushing your hips forward and standing up, contracting your gluteals all the while.

Hip Bridges

Lie on the ground with your legs bent and your feet close to your butt. Pushing down through your heels, lift your hips and push them up toward the ceiling. Contract your glutes as hard as possible before slowly lowering back down to the floor and repeating. You can make this exercise more challenging for your glutes by holding a weight across your hips or performing it using one leg at a time.

High Step Ups

Stand facing a sturdy knee-high exercise step. Bending your left leg, place your left foot on top of the step and step up. Make sure you push down through your heels to maximize the use of your gluteals. Step back down with the opposite leg and repeat for the desired number of repetitions before swapping legs. You can make this exercise more difficult by holding dumbbells.

Deep Squats

With a barbell across your shoulders, stand with your feet hip-width apart. Keeping your torso upright and your back tight, push your hips backward and bend your knees, lowering your butt toward the floor. Push your hips forward and extend your knees to stand back up.

Dead Lifts From a Deficit

The greater the range of movement at your hips, the more your gluteals are involved when dead lifting. Using a step for dead lifts increases this range of movement. Stand with your feet hip-width apart on a sturdy 4-inch step and bend at the waist to grasp a barbell with a shoulder-width overhand grip. Keeping your hips lower than your shoulders and your arms straight, stand up by simultaneously extending your knees and hips. Push your hips back and bend your knees to return the barbell to the floor. You can make this exercise harder by using a wider than shoulder-width grip or a higher step. Make sure that your back doesn’t round when performing this exercise as you may injure it.

  • "The Butt Book: How to Build a Non-Cellulite and Fat-Free Butt in 9 Weeks"; Tosca Reno; 2007
  • "Bodybuilding Anatomy"; Nick Evans M.D; 2006
  • "Designing Resistance Training Programs"; Steven Fleck and William Kraemer; 2003

Photo Credits:

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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or