Build Stronger Glutes With This 20-Minute Drop-Set Dumbbell Workout

This drop-set dumbbell workout will fire up your lower body, including your glutes and quads.
Image Credit: Drazen Zigic/iStock/GettyImages

Could your butt workouts use a refresh? There are a few simple ways to make your glute routine more challenging, like adding drop sets. And we're not talking about taking reps or sets out of your workout.

Rather, drop-set workouts involve performing an exercise with a certain amount of weight for as many reps as you can with good form and then recovering for as long as it takes you to do the same exercise with a lighter set of weights for as many reps as you can.

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This 20-minute drop-set dumbbell glute workout designed by Carolina Araujo, CPT, a New York-based personal trainer, will strengthen and sculpt your backside. All you need is a pair of heavier and lighter dumbbells and some clear space to get started.

Check out more of our 20-minute workouts here ​— we’ve got something for everyone.

Move 1: Dumbbell Sumo Squat

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Skill Level All Levels
Sets 3
Reps 12
  1. Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-distance apart with your toes turned out at 45 degrees.
  2. Let your arms hang directly in front of you between your legs, holding a dumbbell in each hand.
  3. Bend your knees to lower yourself down into a squat. Keep your chest up, back flat and knees in line with your toes. The weights should almost touch the floor.
  4. Press through your heels to return to standing.
  5. Perform 12 reps, then drop your weight and perform 15 pulse reps with just your body weight.

Tip

To perform pulse reps, begin at the bottom of your squat. Come up halfway and then return to the bottom of the squat. Then, press through the heels and return to standing. That's one rep. Try to perform all 15 reps this way, Araujo says.

Move 2: Dumbbell Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift

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Skill Level Intermediate
Sets 3
Reps 10
  1. Start standing and hold a dumbbell in your left hand.
  2. Rooting your right foot into the ground, hinge your torso forward, pushing your hips and glutes behind you.
  3. Simultaneously lift your left leg behind you until it's almost parallel to the ground, keeping a micro-bend in your right knee.
  4. As you raise the left leg, lower the weight toward the ground, keeping your back flat and hips square.
  5. Pause for a moment and press through the right heel and glute to return to standing.
  6. Perform 10 reps on your right leg and drop the weight to perform a 10-rep drop set.
  7. Once you finish all your reps on this side, switch sides.

Move 3: Dumbbell Goblet Squat

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Skill Level All Levels
Sets 3
Reps 12
  1. Hold a heavy dumbbell at one end with both hands at chest height.
  2. Stand with your feet just wider than hip-distance apart. (Toes can face forward or turn out slightly.)
  3. Keeping your chest tall and core tight, hinge your hips back and down to sink into a squat so your upper legs are parallel with the floor (or as low as you can comfortably go with good form).
  4. Press through all four corners of your feet to return to standing.
  5. Perform 12 reps with this weight, then drop your dumbbell and perform 15 reps with an added pulse for each rep.

Move 4: Dumbbell Reverse Lunge

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Skill Level Intermediate
Sets 3
Reps 12
  1. Start standing, holding a dumbbell in each hand. The weights can hang at your sides or you can lift them up to your shoulders.
  2. Take a big step behind you with your left foot, keeping the right foot planted.
  3. Lower into a lunge until both knees are bent to 90 degrees. Your left knee should hover just above the ground, and your right knee should be stacked over your ankle.
  4. Pause for a moment before pushing through your right foot to return to standing.
  5. Repeat for 12 reps on your right side.
  6. Drop the weights and perform 15 body-weight reverse lunges on your right side.
  7. Switch sides and repeat on the left, starting with the weighted version.

Tip

For a cardio kick in your drop set, add a knee drive to the top of the reverse lunge, Araujo says. You can even try adding a vertical jump, too, using your arms to gain momentum.

Move 5: Dumbbell Hip Thrust

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Skill Level Intermediate
Sets 3
Reps 10
  1. Start seated on the ground with the bottom of your shoulder blades on the edge of an exercise bench or box.
  2. Extend your legs out in front of you and place a heavy dumbbell on top of your hips.
  3. Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the ground.
  4. Keeping your neck long, press into your heels and raise your hips off the ground, lifting the weight up. As you come up to a bridge, your neck and shoulders should move onto the bench.
  5. Pause here for a moment, then lower back down.
  6. Perform 10 reps here.
  7. Put your dumbbell aside and repeat the motion for 10 reps with your right heel planted on the ground, but your left foot hovering above the floor.
  8. Switch sides and repeat, then do 10 reps of single-leg, body-weight hip thrusts.

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