We’ll come right out and say it—your butt doesn’t get enough love. The glute muscles that pad your behind are responsible for supporting all sorts of daily movements, yet it’s all too easy to focus your fitness on other parts of the body.
Perhaps it’s time to focus your workouts on strengthening the muscles in your bum. By doing so, you'll build greater power for both athletic and everyday activities. Read on for your guide to glute strengthening.
What Are Glutes?
The muscle group that forms your butt is actually made up of three distinct parts—the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus. This is why we call them your “glutes,” not one singular “glute.”
The gluteus maximus is, not surprisingly, the largest of the three muscles, stretching from the back of your pelvis to the top of your femur. In fact, it’s the biggest muscle in your entire body! It provides shape for your butt and allows you to extend and externally rotate your hip joint.
The gluteus medius sits above the maximus on the outer shelf of the pelvis. It’s responsible for the internal rotation of the thighs. The gluteus minimus, meanwhile, is the smallest of the three butt muscles. It hides beneath the medius, where it helps stabilize your hips.
Benefits of Strong Glutes
Though you may think of it merely as padding for sitting, your butt does so much more than cushion your bones. Your glute muscles provide support for your entire frame and having a strong derriere allows you to stand, walk, and sit comfortably.
Glutes are also a major force behind many common motions. Climbing stairs or hiking up a hill would be impossible without their energetic lift—and just try squatting and lifting something heavy without the power of glute strength. (Hint: You can't.)
By performing exercises for your glutes, you’re also staving off potential injury. Solid, strong glutes keep your hips in proper alignment, decreasing the likelihood of injuring your legs, knees, lower back, or groin as you run, walk, or climb.
Interestingly, having strong glutes might even help prevent pain elsewhere in the body, such as your knees and low back. If the gluteus medius muscle weakens, it can allow your thigh to pull inward, putting stress on your knees. It may also increase pressure on the low back. A 2016 study found that people with chronic, non-specific low back pain commonly had weakness in the gluteus medius.
Exercises to Strengthen Glutes
Keeping your glutes strong and functional will not only benefit your overall fitness routine, but it also will improve your functional movement—or how you complete your day-to-day activities. If you are looking for a glute workout to give your behind a boost, try these simple moves below.
Lunges are an excellent exercise for increasing stability and building glute strength. For a quick, no-equipment move in a small space (or even while watching TV) you can practice these moves while standing in place. Here's how:
- Stand upright with your feet together.
- Step one foot straight forward (about 3 feet).
- Lift your opposite heel and bend both knees, sinking down and sending your back knee toward the floor.
- Lift off your back foot, resuming a standing posture.
- Repeat, alternating sides, for one to three sets of 12 to 16 reps.
There’s a reason squats are known as a classic glute exercise. Getting low in a squat works not just the muscles around your hips, but your calves, core, and thighs as well. Here's how to do a squat.
- Stand with your feet hip-distance apart.
- Lower as though sitting down in a chair, keeping your torso straight, and pointing your butt out behind you.
- Resume a standing posture.
- Repeat for two to three sets of 12 to 20 reps.
Donkey kicks may have a funny name, but research shows they’re highly effective for glute strength. A 2020 study found that a six-week exercise regimen of donkey kicks and squats built gluteus maximus and gluteus medius muscles and reduced bottom fat in young women. Here's how to do a donkey kick.
- Get on your hands and knees with your hands under your shoulders and knees hip-width apart.
- Raise one foot up and back toward the ceiling, keeping your knee bent.
- Return to original position and repeat on the other side.
- Repeat for one to three sets of 10 to 16 reps.
Lower Body Exercises for Runners
Step-ups fire up your glutes and provide some cardio if done quickly. All you’ll need for this exercise is a step or platform high enough to create a 90-degree angle in your knee. Here's how to incorporate step-ups into your fitness routine.
- Stand facing a step or platform.
- Place one foot on the step.
- Step up, pressing into your heel, and touch your opposite toes to the step.
- Return to standing and repeat on the other side.
- Repeat for one to three sets of 15 to 20 reps.
If you are feeling a little tired of standing exercises, glute bridges allow you to build your butt muscles while lying on your back. Here is how to do a glute bridge.
- Lie on your back with your knees bent upward and your feet flat on the ground.
- Lift your hips upward, pushing down into your heels and squeezing your glutes as you go.
- Hold for a moment, then slowly release back down to the ground.
- Repeat for one to three sets of 12 to 20 reps.
The Best Exercises for Activating Your Glutes
Tips for Building Stronger Glutes
Of course, strengthening your glutes means focusing your workouts on these muscles. But besides engaging the gluteus maximus, medius, and minimus with targeted moves, there are other steps you can take to build strength in this area. Consider these tips:
- Vary your exercises and reps
- Add weights to your exercises
- Increase resistance and range of motion–progressively going lower in squats or lunges or higher with donkey kicks
- Add a glute-strengthening spin to other workouts, such as running on an incline or standing up straight while pedaling a bike
- Practice mindfulness as you perform each exercise, focusing your attention on the muscles you’re using
How to Avoid Injury When Strengthening Glutes
Strengthening your glutes comes with the bonus of helping prevent injury elsewhere in the body. The last thing you want is to injure yourself while working your butt. To avoid accidentally hurting yourself during a glute muscles workout, pay attention to your posture.
Engage your core and, if standing, maintain balance with your weight evenly distributed between both feet. Enlist a spotter if your are using heavy weights, wear proper footwear that won’t slip or slide, and stop an exercise if it causes undue pain.
Finally, don’t forget recovery days! Overtraining can increase your risk of injury—so allow yourself days off from glute workouts, knowing that rest is part of the process.
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
Cooper NA, Scavo KM, Strickland KJ, et al. Prevalence of gluteus medius weakness in people with chronic low back pain compared to healthy controls.Eur Spine J. 2016;25(4):1258-1265. doi:10.1007/s00586-015-4027-6
Kitamura T, Kido A, Ishida Y, Kobayashi Y, Tsukamoto S, Tanaka Y. Muscle activity pattern with a shifted center of pressure during the squat exercise.J Sports Sci Med. 2019;18(2):248-252. PMID:31191094
Ekechukwu N, Okoh A. Effects of six weeks donkey kick and squat resistance exercises on gluteal adiposity, muscle strength, and muscle bulk of young Nigerian female adults: A randomized controlled trial.Int J Med Health Dev. 2020;25(1):28. doi:10.4103/ijmh.IJMH_36_19
By Sarah Garone, NDTR
Sarah Garone, NDTR, is a freelance health and wellness writer who runs a food blog.
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Which Muscles Lift the Buttocks? The gluteus medius, gluteus maximus, and gluteus minimus are the three main muscles that lift the buttocks and make up the gluteal (butt!) anatomy.What muscle lifts the buttocks? ›
Which Muscles Lift the Buttocks? The gluteus medius, gluteus maximus, and gluteus minimus are the three main muscles that lift the buttocks and make up the gluteal (butt!) anatomy.How long do glutes take to build? ›
Although it has been suggested that optimal glute growth can take around 18 months and 2 years to see your final desired result, the most important thing to know is that with focused effort, you can accelerate this process and start seeing your hard effort pay off earlier.What foods build glutes? ›
- Salmon. Salmon is one of the richest sources of protein. ...
- Eggs. Eggs are loaded with nutrients like selenium, riboflavin, vitamin B12, and phosphorus. ...
- Quinoa. Quinoa is a rich dietary source of protein. ...
- Legumes. ...
- Flaxseed. ...
- Brown Rice. ...
- Avocados. ...
How often should you train the glutes for maximum results? The short answer is 2-6 times per week. The long answer requires you to read on, as there are variables you will need to adjust in order to optimize your recovery and ability to train effectively at a given frequency.What are 3 exercises for the glutes? ›
The big three glute-building exercises are squats, hip thrusts, and deadlifts.Do you have to lift heavy to build glutes? ›
Experts say you can build a bigger, stronger butt by doing variations of exercises like squats. You don't necessarily need weights, either — body weight movements like donkey kicks work, too. To build glute muscles without equipment, focus on increasing muscle tension and effort with good form.Does squeezing buttocks strengthen glutes? ›
Researchers found that those who performed gluteal squeezes increased their hip extension—or glute—strength by 16 percent compared to an 11 percent increase in those who performed glute bridges. Gluteal girth also increased in the group who performed gluteal squeezes.How many squats should I do a day to get a bigger but? ›
You need to do more squats with heavier weights to build bigger muscles. Aim for 4-6 sets of 6-12 reps. Finally, if you are trying to improve your overall fitness and get a bigger butt, aim for 3-4 sets of 15-20 reps.Why is my butt getting flatter? ›
A flat butt can be caused by a number of lifestyle factors, including sedentary jobs or activities that require you to sit for extended periods. As you age, your butt may flatten and lose shape due to lower amounts of fat in the buttocks.
How often should you train the glutes for maximum results? The short answer is 2-6 times per week. The long answer requires you to read on, as there are variables you will need to adjust in order to optimize your recovery and ability to train effectively at a given frequency.Can I workout my glutes everyday? ›
You can train your glutes every day, but you shouldn't if your goal is to build bigger and stronger glutes. Instead, 2-3 times a week is a better option depending on your training age.Will 50 squats a day make my bum bigger? ›
“If you are eating healthy, exercising daily, then you should see some positive results in the glutes within 30 days. But if you are exercising, have added 50 squats a day but continue to unhealthy foods, then that will definitely hinder your results.” Note to self: Ditch the Doritos.What foods to avoid when growing glutes? ›
That means no: chips, crackers, candy, cakes or anything else that will deter your buttock-toning process.” Instead choose foods that will help build your butt muscle mass (high in protein and healthy fat!),” says Belgrave.Will protein shakes help my bum bigger? ›
On their own, protein shakes aren't going to make your bum bigger. Only a consistent mix of a healthy, protein-rich diet combined with regular lower body weight training will give you a rounder, fuller bum.What proteins grow glutes? ›
- Transparent Labs Whey Protein Isolate — Top Pick.
- Naked Nutrition Naked Whey — Runner Up.
- Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey.
- Isopure Whey Protein Isolate Protein Powder.
- Orgain Organic Vegan Protein Powder.
- Dymatize ISO 100 Whey Protein.
Squats work all of the glute muscles in one movement. When you strategically recruit and tax these muscles, you can trigger hypertrophy (or muscle size growth). So, yes, squats can help you build bigger glutes.How long does it take to see results from glutes? ›
Patience and consistency is absolutely KEY when it comes to growing your glutes! Building muscle is a slow process, but with your diet and training on point, you will start to see results typically around 8 weeks or even longer in some cases.What is the number one exercise for the glutes? ›
1. Barbell Hip Thrusts. Why this is one of the best exercises for your glutes: Hip thrusts aggressively target the gluteus maximus (upper glute muscles) and gluteus medius (lower glute muscle) and recruit the hamstrings as secondary movers, making this one of the most effective exercises for your backside.How to get a better butt? ›
- Glute bridge.
- Jumping squats.
- Walking lunge.
- Single-leg deadlift.
- Banded side step.
- Donkey kicks.
- Weight training.
- The Squat. The squat is known as “the king of all exercises” (or queen, if you will), and when it comes to glute training, it lives up to the hype. ...
- Barbell Hip Thrust. What is this? ...
- Romanian Deadlift. ...
- Bulgarian Split Squat. ...
- Banded Side Kicks.
If you overwork your glutes, they can become tight, leading to pain in the lower back or leg. This tightness can also negatively affect posture, making it hard to walk or stand up straight. The best way to avoid overtraining the glutes is with a diversified exercise plan.Does walking uphill build glutes? ›
Walking on an incline increases leg muscle activation, stimulating the muscles of the calves, hamstrings and glutes. The muscle fibers that are triggered and worked by walking or running on an incline are called slow twitch muscles, which is tones your muscles.
How many inches can glutes grow? In general, you can expect to natural add around 1-2 inches in a reasonable time frame to your glutes, provided that you were consistent with your workouts, worked all of your glute muscles with a varied training programme, and fed your muscles correctly with a protein-rich diet.Does walking tone your butt? ›
Walking is absolutely a great form of exercise, and one that doesn't get a ton of love because it's so chill and easy compared to other forms of exercise, Saltos says. But, rather than building butt muscles, walking can actually make your bum a bit smaller.How long does it take to lift a saggy bum? ›
Expert trainers will typically recommend that you work out 3-4 times a week, taking plenty of time for muscle recovery and rest. If you imagine that you could dedicate 3-4 hours a week to your lower body, you might see results in as little as 5-6 weeks.What happens if I squat everyday? ›
Squatting every day will undoubtedly ramp up the amount of volume that you're putting on certain muscle groups. This will in turn allow you to steadily progress in your training while getting through any plateaus you might hit.What type of squats are best for your bum? ›
A sumo squat is excellent for targeting your glutes. A wider stance keeps your hips externally rotated to promote greater glute activation. Stand with your feet wider than shoulder width, your toes pointed slightly outward, and your hands out in front of you.What happens if I do 50 squats everyday? ›
Doing 50 squats a day will increase the muscle tone in you bottom, thighs, calves, hamstrings and stomach. You will start to tone up and will increase strength in your lower body.Which sleeping position reduces buttocks? ›
Side sleeping: This position helps to improve sleep, lose weight and pain. back, avoid swelling in legs, buttocks, thighs.
The heart- or A-shaped butt is typically considered the prettiest and most desirable shape. “This is what I feel to be the mode ideal shape—it's sexy and feminine,” says Los Angeles plastic surgeon Steven Svehlak, MD.How can you tell if your glutes are weak? ›
- Pain in your lower back or pelvic area. Often, lower back pain is associated with a weak core. ...
- Having a hard time with stairs. ...
- Feeling fatigued from standing briefly.
|DB Single Straight Leg Deadlifts||8-12||3|
|DB Walking Lunges||8-12||3|
|Bodyweight Single Leg Hip Thrusts||8-12||3|
|Bodyweight Glute Bridge 10 Second Hold||8-12||3|
Squats, lunges, dead lifts, leg presses, and stair climbing are all great for targeting these muscles. Working the butt muscles frequently, and slowly increasing the weights that you use, will allow you to get a beautiful butt once and for all! You'll be proud of every single one of your curves!How many squats a day? ›
When it comes to how many squats you should do in a day, there's no magic number — it really depends on your individual goals. If you're new to doing squats, aim for 3 sets of 12-15 reps of at least one type of squat. Practicing a few days a week is a great place to start.Is glutes 2 times a week enough? ›
Yes, two to three times a week is enough! That's because the in-between recovery days are just as important for your glute strength.How many times do you need to grow glutes? ›
How often should you train the glutes for maximum results? The short answer is 2-6 times per week. The long answer requires you to read on, as there are variables you will need to adjust in order to optimize your recovery and ability to train effectively at a given frequency.Does squeezing your glutes make them grow? ›
Researchers found that those who performed gluteal squeezes increased their hip extension—or glute—strength by 16 percent compared to an 11 percent increase in those who performed glute bridges. Gluteal girth also increased in the group who performed gluteal squeezes.How often should I hit glutes a week? ›
The short answer is three times a week, but the longer answer is anywhere between 2 and 6 times a week.How can I build my glutes at home? ›
- Single-Leg Deadlift. Start standing with feet shoulder-width apart. ...
- Squat to Wood Chop. ...
- Squat to Calf Raise. ...
- Wall-Sit Knee Extension. ...
- Walking Lunge. ...
- Plyometric 180 Squat. ...
- Lunge to Shoulder Press. ...
- Weighted Side Lunge.