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5 Exercises To Help You Build a Better Butt

Fellas, it’s time to talk about your butt. If overall strength training is a primary component of your fitness regimen, you better be working on strengthening that booty, too. After all, skipping leg day is the cardinal sin of lifting weights. And aside from the aesthetic benefits of having a nice-looking rear end, maintaining a strong gluteus maximus helps to stabilize your entire bottom half. It creates a foundation for your body’s movements and aids in simple, functional motions like standing up and climbing stairs.

Strengthening your butt is pretty easy, thankfully, if executed with proper form. Because the gluteus maximus is such a large, foundational muscle, there are a number of exercises that naturally engage the glutes. But to really target them, you need glute activation exercises that don’t rely too heavily on your quads or hamstrings to get the work done. We’ll cover some basic glute anatomy, reveal the best glute exercises and share a few key pieces of equipment for whipping your butt into shape (literally).


Glute Muscles

Now, for a bit of glute muscle anatomy. Widely regarded as one of the strongest muscle groups in the body, your glutes are broken down into three regions.

The gluteus maximus is the largest glute muscle, which contributes to the shape of your rear end, and is integral to movements activated by your lower body (running, standing, jumping, etc.). The gluteus medius and gluteus minimus — as the names suggest  — are the medium- and small-sized glute muscles, respectively, which aid in rotating your legs and stabilizing your pelvis.

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1. Barbell Hip Thrust

The barbell hip thrust is an incredible glute exercise that utilizes multiple pieces of equipment, so it’s best performed at the gym, which should provide a weight bench, barbell and plates. It’s one of the few glute activation exercises where you can really crank up the weight without getting into trouble; exercises like squats and deadlifts will engage your glutes, but also rely on other muscle groups. Like a bench press on chest day, you can consider the barbell hip thrust the foundation of any glute-focused workout day, or sprinkle it into your regularly-scheduled leg workout. If the weight hurts your thighs, you can wrap a towel or use a barbell cushion to ease the tension.

Instructions: To perform the barbell hip thrust, sit with your butt on the ground next to a flat weight bench, leaning back so your shoulder blades sit comfortably on the bench. Roll a weighted barbell over your legs so it rests on your upper thighs. With your knees bent and feet flat on the ground, thrust your hips upward to lift the weight off the ground. Pause at the top and squeeze your glutes, then return to the start.


2. Glute Bridge Exercise

If you’re looking to tackle the best glute exercises at home, look no further. The bridge is one of the best glute exercises that, though small and simple in stature, does wonders for strengthening your butt. It’s kind of the more rudimentary version of the barbell hip thrust, one you can accomplish with less weight and equipment, but to equally effective results. The simplest version of this glute bridge exercise requires no gear at all, but you can add modifications like placing your feet on an exercise ball or turning it into a dumbbell glute exercise with added weight.

Instructions: Lay on the ground with your knees bent, feet flat and arms extended at your sides. Push your butt upwards until your torso and upper thighs form a straight line. Make sure to squeeze your glutes before returning to the start. For an added challenge, hold a dumbbell across your waist, or place your feet on an exercise ball to make it even tougher.


3. Kettlebell Swings

A favorite among Cross-Fit aficionados, kettlebell swings are a great full-body exercise that targets the glutes while firing up your heart rate and engaging pretty much your entire body. While most full-service gyms should stock kettlebells, you can buy one yourself (linked at the bottom of the article) if you fancy performing these yourself at home.

Instructions: Resist the urge to drop into a full squat here. The goal is to hinge at the hips and thrust the weight forward. Start with the kettlebell a few feet out in front of your body and your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend over so your back is parallel with the ground and grab onto the kettlebell with both hands. Your grip should be strong so your arms stay locked throughout the movement. Rock the weight back between your legs, then swing it forwards until it reaches your head.


4. Glute Band Exercises

Some of the most effective glute exercises are ones you can perform in the comfort of your own home, with just a simple resistance band. For that reason, this fourth exercise is really a group of exercises you can link together for the ultimate glute workout. Many of these glute band exercises lean a bit more female-centric online, but we’re here to say that the journey to stronger glutes is most definitely gender-agnostic. Any exercise that benefits your butt is worth doing, regardless of how it’s branded or packaged online. For this one, we’ll leave it to YouTuber Alex Crockford, who has a comprehensive glute band exercise workout you can do at home.


5. Cable Kickback

Like resistance bands, cable machines offer steady tension throughout the entirety of a movement, making them a valuable tool for any strength training workout. The cable machine is particularly handy for the glutes, allowing you to really activate and isolate your butt. To perform this, you’ll need the ankle strap connector, so make sure your gym has one readily available.

Instructions: Wrap the ankle strap around one ankle and step a couple of feet away from the cable machine, bending over slightly to grab onto the machine for support. With your knee slightly bent, kick your entire leg back until it’s in a straight line with your torso. Squeeze your glutes and return to the start. Make sure to repeat on the other leg.


1. Fit Simplify Loop Exercise Bands

As we demonstrated earlier, you can get a pretty stellar glue workout in with just a resistance band. There are tons of simple glute activation exercises made more challenging by a resistance band, so if there’s one piece of gear you buy on your glute growing journey, let it be this pack of resistance bands from Fit Simplify. It comes with five color-coded bands of varying resistance and a handy carrying case, allowing you to easily tackle glute band exercises anywhere.

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Courtesy of Amazon

2. BalanceFrom Kettlebell Set

What’s better than one kettlebell? Three kettlebells. This three-pack set of kettlebells from BalanceFrom lets your knock-out kettlebell swings at three different weights. These are incredibly versatile fitness tools that not all gyms supply, so sometimes it does pay to have your own collection at home. In addition to kettlebell swings, you can perform a modified hip thrust with a kettlebell, or lay it across your waist for added resistance during a simple glute bridge.

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Courtesy of Amazon

3. Ten Thousand Session Shorts

If you’re headed to the gym to work out your glutes, you might as well show them off in a pair of slim-fitting gym shorts. Ten Thousand makes excellent shorts for working out, including these Session shorts, which you can buy in 5- or 7-inch length and also decide whether you want a built-in liner or not. The shorts’ polyester and spandex blend will move with your body and stay out of your way as you thrust, swing and lift your way to stronger glutes.

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Ten Thousand

4. URBNFit Exercise Ball

If you want to add a challenge to your glute bridge exercise game, try incorporating an exercise ball, like this one from URBNFit. Placing your feet on an unstable surface like this will force your glutes to work even harder to stabilize your body during the bridge movement. Built from PVC material, this exercise ball comes in 10 different colors and five different sizes, and includes an inflation tool for easy setup.

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Courtesy of Amazon

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