Strengthen and sculpt the buttocks, hips, and legs by using these gluteus maximus exercises. As the largest gluteus muscle, these glute exercises will challenge your gluteus maximus in the best of ways.
Skip the squats and start making strategic choices in your glute training. These exercises each have their own variations and equipment options but all of them are effective in growing the glutes.
What Is The Gluteus Maximus
The gluteus maximus muscle is the biggest muscle in the human body. And essentially, it is your buttocks. Specifically the squishy part of your bum you sit on.
Most people will mention "weak glutes" in an assessment. However, as a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist, I can tell you that they're not always weak so much as underutilized.
Glute training goes hand in hand with hip mobility in regards to getting stronger.
The gluteus maximus works alongside the gluteus minimus and medius to produce movement like:
- Hip extension
- Hip abduction
- Hip external rotation
One thing to understand, however, is that all three gluteal muscles work together to produce movement.
Meaning, that it’s not exactly possible to isolate just the gluteus maximus. The exercises below do place a lot of tension on the gluteus maximus but the other ones will be working also.
Why Is It Important To Train Glutes?
Because the gluteus maximus is such a big muscle, it plays a role in a lot of daily actions. Strengthening the glutes can help:
- Alleviate back pain
- Improve posture
- Boost sports performance
- Protect the knee
And so, so much more.
Below are seven awesome gluteus maximus exercises that you should work into your weekly training program. They all have both bodyweight exercises as well as other variations to target the glutes muscles.
Exercise 1: The Glute Bridge
This movement is crucial in any glute program to build the gluteus maximus, and is the base for most glute training.
To perform a glute bridge:
- Lying on your back, bring your heels close to your bum and keep the knees bent. Feet shoulder-width apart roughly.
- Push through your heels and lift your hips by squeezing the glutes. Do not excessively arch the lower back.
- Pause at the top for maximum glute squeeze before releasing the tension and bring the hips back to the starting position.
Perform anywhere from 8-30 repetitions depending on your training goals. The glute bridge also comes with a handful of variations you can use to progress your training.
- Single leg bridge
- Resistance band bridge
- Elevated bridge
Exercise #2: The Hip Thrust
Literally the king of a good glute workout. The hip thrust gives a greater range of motion to the glute bridge and is one of the fastest ways to boost gluteus maximus strength.
- Place your back against the bench while sitting on the floor. Keep the knees bent and bring them into your chest keeping the feet shoulder-width apart as you lift your back onto the bench.
- Hips should be hovering over the floor and the strap of your bra should on the bench. Push through the heels, squeeze the gluteus maximus, and lift the hips towards the ceiling.
- Keep your eyes facing forward so that the upper back is slightly rounded and not extended over the bench!
- Squeeze the glutes to lockout. Then release the tension and bring your hips towards the floor (the starting position).
Learn more about how to hip thrust to boost your glute muscles here and watch this video for form tips. Perform 5-25 repetitions
Hip thrust variations
- Single leg hip thrust
- Barbell hip thrust
- Resistance band hip thrust
- Elevated hip thrust
Exercise #3: Reverse Hyperextensions
This is a great exercise for the gluteus maximus because it’s done lying on your tummy. Though many people believe you need a fancy machine for this, you can actually perform a reverse hyperextension at home.
- Lay belly down on a bench with the end of the bench at your hips (legs hanging off).
- You can do this with straight legs or bent knees. Squeeze your glutes so that your legs raise up and your hips extend (go from bent to open). Pause and return the feet to the floor.
Perform 10-30 repetitions.
- Straddle legs
- Froggy reverse hyperextensions
- Reverse hypers with a band
- With a dumbbell between the feet
Exercise #4: Curtsy Lunge
A lunge variation that places an extra emphasis on the gluteus maximus due to a bit of a twist (literally!)
- Standing upright with your feet together, step the right leg back and to the side of the left foot.
- Hinge slightly at the hips and bend the knees toward the floor making sure the front knee isn’t caving inward.
- Push through the front foot and return to the starting position.
Perform 8-12 repetitions
- Dumbbell curtsy lunge
- Deficit curtsy lunges
- Resistance band lunges
Exercise #5: Quadruped Hip extensions
This exercise is performed in a tabletop position either on your hands or elbows.
- Come into a tabletop position on all fours. Place a dumbbell (a light-ish one) on the back of one knee.
- Keeping the core strong and engaged (you need to have mastered bird dogs for this), move through the hip as your raise the foot towards the floor.
- Do not let the low back drop. Return the knee to the floor by releasing the tension in the glute.
Perform 8-15 repetitions on each leg.
- Dumbbell hip extensions
- Mini loop hip extensions
- Strength band extensions
Exercise #6: Deficit Lunge
Take lunges to a deeper level to get more out of your glute muscles!
- Using a bottom step or yoga blocks, stand upright, chest lifted, on the step.
- Step the left foot back onto the floor and begin bringing the knee down towards the floor as you hinge the upper body forward slightly.
- Pause at the bottom and then reverse the movement and pull up your body with the right leg (don't push off the left foot!), extending the hips back into a standing position.
Perform 8-12 repetitions per leg
Exercise #7 Bulgarian Split Squats
Bulgarian split squats can be performed in a variety of ways.
The way in which you do them can place more focus on the quadriceps or more focus on the gluteus maximus (though the gluteus medius and minimus are still very present).
- Set up in lunge position with the left leg elevated on the bench and the right knee over the heel.
- Hold the dumbbells either by your sides or use one dumbbell in the "goblet" position.
- Hinge forward with the hips bringing the chest down (to create more tension on the back of the body: glutes) as you push backward and drop the left knee towards the floor while keeping the right knee facing forwards.
- Squeeze the glute of the right leg as you push through the heel to reverse the movement and extend the hips to the starting position.
- Perform all repetitions on the right leg before moving on to the next.
Perform 9-10 repetitions or opt to go for time (30 seconds) per leg.
Reduce Daily Back Pain & Build Strong Glutes
In just 25 pages you'll have the exact formula to reduce back pain and carry your kids easier. My Stronger Glutes For Busy Moms E-book provides you with everything you need to strengthen your glutes at home including the exact workouts I use with clients.
This e-book will take you through:
- No equipment glute workouts to do over a four week period
- Resistance band glute workouts to take your toning to the next level
- My favorite glute finishers (booty burners)
- 5-weeks worth of full-body, progressive workout programs to continue using after you’ve finished the initial programs
Take the guesswork out of your glute training and follow a plan. Because being strong isn’t optional when you're a mom.
More glute training tips you need
Before you do anything, learn how to activate your glutes in a bridge position. Engagement is crucial.
From there you can learn:
- Glute isolation exercises
- Gluteus minimus exercises
- Awesome glute exercises with weights
- Best at home glute exercises
- How to strengthen glutes with just 3 exercises
- Workout finishers for strong glutes
- How glutes help alleviate back pain
- Glutes exercises to help in pregnancy and postpartum
- The best activation exercises
- The best dumbbell exercises for your booty
Discover the perfect fitness gifts to motivate and energize your loved ones on their health and wellness journey.
Frequently Asked Questions About Gluteus Maximus Exercises
Just like you build any muscle! With a combination of mechanical tension, metabolic stress, and muscle damage. You need to use a variety of gluteus maximus exercises as well as a variety of loads and repetitions ranges for them to grow.
The glutes respond well to variety. This means that because you're not going heavy in every glute workout, you can train glutes multiple times per week. A good place to start it working gluteus maximus exercises into four workout days per week.
You want to use a variety of hip extension glute exercises like the glute bridge and hip thrust. Those two exercises can be done unilaterally (with one leg), with resistance, pauses, etc. Use multiple variations of those exercises and progressively load them (add tension) to really target your lower butt.
Although it’s not necessary to work your glutes every day, the glute muscles do respond well to volume. The smaller glutes like the gluteus medius and minimus especially can be worked frequently as the exercises tend to be very low impact. So long as you’re not training heavy, compound lifts (like loaded barbell hip thrusts to failure) or eccentric exercises (deficit lunges) daily, your glutes will adjust to the stimulus.