The glutes are the most powerful muscles in the body, so to reap results, you need to work them hard and often. That's exactly where doing high-intensity glute exercises at home comes into play.
So if your dumbbell glute exercises at home are starting to feel easy, consider incorporating more advanced glute exercises into your training.
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You'll not only see more sculpted glutes, but you'll also enjoy an improvement in your overall fitness performance, from lifting to running, and a decrease in low back pain, says certified functional strength coach and corrective exercise specialist Tatiana Lampa, NASM-CES, creator of the Training with T app.
Fortunately, while your glutes can handle a lot, that doesn't mean you need fancy gym equipment or machines to strengthen them. In fact, one dumbbell can work wonders.
These five glute dumbbell exercises, courtesy of Lampa, are the hardest there are. Add them to your at home glute workouts to fully engage your glutes and make your backside shake.
So, how much weight should you use during these dumbbell glute exercises? It’s different for everyone. “I like to use the rate of perceived exertion (RPE) scale of 1 through 10,” Lampa says. “Aim for an 8, and if the weight is starting to feel like a 6 or 8, that’s a sign you can progress to a heavier dumbbell.”
If you don't have one, try slowing down the lowering portion of each exercise or doing more reps.
Move 1: Single-Leg Dumbbell Deadlift
- Stand on your left leg while holding a dumbbell at your side in your right hand.
- Keeping the left knee slightly bent, hinge your hips back, extending your free leg behind you for balance. During this movement, make sure you maintain a neutral spine and your hips remain square.
- Continue lowering the dumbbell until your upper body is parallel to the ground.
- Keeping your back flat, return to the upright position.
- Alternate sides.
“This is challenging because it’s a unilateral exercise that tests your balance and stability,” Lampa says. And not only does it target your hamstrings and glutes, but recruits your core muscles to keep you steady on your feet, she says.
Take your time. “If you need to modify this, switch into a staggered stance, so you have your back foot supported,” Lampa says. This will create a steadier base for you to focus on your glutes rather than falling.
Move 2: Dumbbell Frog Pump
- Lie on your back and place the soles of your feet together, creating a diamond shape with your legs.
- Place a dumbbell on your hips and thrust them up, squeezing your glutes at the top, then slowly release and lower back to the floor.
This dumbbell glute exericse really isolates your gluteus maximus and can be especially challenging if you use a heavier dumbbell, Lampa says. "Focus on squeezing your glutes at the top and hold it there for three seconds."
Move 3: Dumbbell Sumo Deadlift
- Stand with your feet wider than hip-width apart with your toes slightly turned out and hold the dumbbell between your legs.
- Hinge your hips back while maintaining a neutral spine as you lower the weight toward the ground.
- Keeping your core tight, push through your heels to return to standing, squeezing your glutes at the top of the movement.
The wider stance of sumo deadlifts helps you reach different angles of your glutes — targeting the gluteus maximus as well as your adductors (inner thighs) — and allows you to lift heavier, which increases the intensity. "To make it more difficult, you can start to add tempos like three seconds down, one second up," Lampa says.
Move 4: Dumbbell Cossack Squat
- Stand with your legs wider than hip-width apart and toes facing forward.
- Hold the dumbbell in the goblet position and shift your weight into your left knee.
- Hinge your hips back and lower into a deep lateral lunge, keeping your right leg straight.
- Drive through your left foot to return to the starting position and alternate sides.
Cossack squats will make your hip abductors (aka your side glutes) sizzle and engage your adductors all while raising your heart rate, Lampa says.
Move 5: Single-Leg Dumbbell Hip Thrust
- Sit on the floor and place your shoulder blades on an exercise bench or box. Plant your feet together on the floor with your toes turned out slightly.
- Place a dumbbell in your lap on top of your left (working) leg.
- Press into your left heel and lift your right knee upward so that your knee is over your right hip as you activate your glutes and press your hips upward.
- At the top, tuck your pelvis slightly, keeping it below shoulder height.
- Lower back to the starting position.
- Alternate sides.
This unilateral exercise strengthens your hamstrings and gluteus maximus while challenging your balance and helping to highlight any muscle imbalances. “If you don’t have access to a bench, chair or couch, simply do a single-leg weighted glute bridge instead,” Lampa says.