Without strong glutes, one’s strength in compound movements can be extremely limited. In other words, your deadlift, clean and jerk, and squat can only get so strong if your glutes are lacking, and that’s why we’ve build our favorite glute exercises list!
The glutes function as the prime movers in hip extension, which can be a very prominent indicator in strong sports performance.
Gluteal muscles are an incredibly important muscle group on the body.
On top of being useful for hip extension, walking, squatting, deadlifting, and moving freely, the glutes also play a few key roles in our overall wellness. For example, they can have an influence on lower back discomfort and can actually help decrease it. This study from 2015 in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science suggested that glute exercises coupled with lumbar muscle strengthening exercises decreased lower back pain (1).
Direct glute training is beneficial for beginner, intermediate, experienced athletes from every strength sport Below we’ve included our four favorite exercises for training the glutes!
1. Hip Thrusts
Hip thrusts have become a glute strengthening staple for a wide variety of gym lovers. They’re not only an exceptional movement to build strong glutes, but they can also be used to improve maximal strength and power. If your goal is gluteal muscle strength and hypertrophy, then hip thrusts are one of your best bets.
In a 2015 from the Journal of Applied Biomechanics the authors suggested that the hip thrust was slightly superior in recruiting the gluteus maximus and biceps femoris musculature compared to the back squat with estimated 10-RM loads (4). Yeah, this exercise can compete with and exceed squats when it comes to training the body’s posterior!
Read more about hip thrusts and their benefits!
2. Glute Bridges
If you’re new to glute training, then glute bridges are one of the best exercises to start with. They have a low bar of entry, so any level of fitness can benefit with their use. One of the best parts of glute bridges is how dynamic they are in nature. This exercise can be used pre, intra-, and post workout, which makes them an awesome tool for any training adaptation.
For pre workout, use could use them unweighted for warming-up the posterior, for strength you can use them as an accessory loaded with weight, and for supplemental work at the end of workouts you can burn out with them after a long session.
Read more about glutes bridges and how to perform them.
3. Romanian Deadlift
The Romanian deadlift is great movement to target the glutes while simultaneously improving in exercises like the squat, deadlift, and Olympic lifts. Like other hip hinging movements, the Romanian deadlift does an exceptional job at targeting the whole posterior chain.
This movement can be used as a primary exercise, or as an accessory and can be loaded to accommodate multiple training goals. The Romanian deadlift can also improve lifting postures by strengthening the hip hinge, so the glutes and your performance will improve. On top of that, there are multiple variations to can use with the Romanian deadlifts such as single leg, dumbbell, and kettlebell.
Use our Romanian Deadlift guide to improve your lifts and build stronger glutes.
The hyperextension is a great exercise to use for posterior chain strength and hypertrophy work. This movement made our list for two specific reasons. For starters, we love the hyperextension when trying to train the posterior chain as a whole. With this movement the erectors, glutes, and hamstrings can all benefit.
In bodybuilding, the hyperextension can be used as a primary glute training exercise. Then in other strength sports, the hyperextension can be used as a supplemental movement when trying to improve deadlift and squat lockout while improving hypertrophy for the posterior chain.
Want to learn more about hyperextensions? Check out all of their benefits and a how-to with our hyperextension article!
5. Belt Squat
The final exercise that makes our list for the glutes is the belt squat. This movement is an awesome accessory for isolating the lower body musculature, especially the glutes.
The belt squat can be performed for both strength and hypertrophy, but possibly the best part about this movement is that it limits stress on the spine. For this reason, we love this movement for working around injuries and getting in extra volume without burning through a ton of recovery storages.
Learn more about the benefits of the belt squat!
Jeong, U., Sim, J., Kim, C., Hwang-Bo, G., & Nam, C. (2015). The effects of gluteus muscle strengthening exercise and lumbar stabilization exercise on lumbar muscle strength and balance in chronic low back pain patients. Journal Of Physical Therapy Science, 27(12), 3813-3816. doi:10.1589/jpts.27.3813
Santos, T., Oliveira, B., Ocarino, J., Holt, K., & Fonseca, S. (2015). Effectiveness of hip muscle strengthening in patellofemoral pain syndrome patients: a systematic review. Brazilian Journal Of Physical Therapy, 19(3), 167-176. doi:10.1590/bjpt-rbf.2014.0089
Kim, E. (2016). The effect of gluteus medius strengthening on the knee joint function score and pain in meniscal surgery patients. Journal Of Physical Therapy Science, 28(10), 2751-2753. doi:10.1589/jpts.28.2751
Contreras B, e. (2018). A Comparison of Gluteus Maximus, Biceps Femoris, and Vastus Lateralis Electromyographic Activity in the Back Squat and Barbell Hip Thrust Exercises. – PubMed – NCBI. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Retrieved 17 December 2018, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26214739