12 Exercises That Hit Your Glutes From Every Angle

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These exercises will give you a total-glute workout.
Image Credit: Nikolas_jkd/iStock/GettyImages

One thing all good workout programs have in common: they're well-rounded. And if well-rounded glutes are your goal, you need to prioritize exercises that will target every angle of this muscle group. That means doing more than just body-weight squats.

Your glutes are made up of three parts: the gluteus maximus, medius and minimus, and you'll want to hit each of them on your designated glute day. Luckily, with a proper warm-up and a well-built program, you can target and activate all angles of your glutes.

Start With Glute Activation Exercises

Regardless of where you're training, you want to start your workout with a few glute activation exercises. As we spend most of our time sitting, whether at home or at work, you need to wake the glutes up to ensure they're firing properly during your workout.

Do: 10 to 15 reps on each side

1. Donkey Kick

1. Donkey Kick
Image Credit: LIVESTRONG.com/Carolina Araujo
Skill All Levels
Type Strength
Region Lower Body
  1. Start on your hands and knees with your knees under your hips and hands under your shoulders.
  2. Keep your right knee bent to 90 degrees and lift that leg up until your thigh is parallel to the ground.
  3. Keeping the bottom of your foot facing the ceiling, squeeze your butt and kick your foot straight up as high as possible.

2. Clamshell

2. Clamshell
Image Credit: LIVESTRONG.com/Carolina Araujo
Skill All Levels
Type Strength
Region Lower Body
  1. Lie on your left side with your legs stacked on top of each other.
  2. Bend your knees to approximately 45 degrees.
  3. Keeping your ankles together on the ground, lift your right knee up toward the ceiling as far as possible, squeezing your glutes. Don't allow your torso to rotate.
  4. Hold this position for two to three seconds, then slowly lower back down.

3. Leg Lift

3. Leg Lift
Image Credit: LIVESTRONG.com/Carolina Araujo
Skill All Levels
Type Strength
Region Lower Body
  1. Lie on your left side with your legs stacked on top of each other.
  2. Keeping your left side rooted to the ground, lift your right leg up toward the ceiling as far as possible.
  3. Keep your toes pointed straight forward throughout this movement.
  4. Hold for two to three seconds at the top, then slowly lower back down.

4. Heels-Elevated Glute Bridge

4. Heels-Elevated Glute Bridge
Image Credit: LIVESTRONG.com/Carolina Araujo
Skill All Levels
Type Strength
Region Lower Body
  1. Start lying on your back with a chair, bench or couch a few inches from your feet.
  2. Place your heels onto the elevated surface.
  3. On an exhale, squeeze your glutes and lift into a bridge.
  4. Pause when you reach the top of the movement.
  5. Lower back to the ground with control.

Glute Exercises You Can Do With or Without Weights

1. Without Weights: Glute Bridge

1. Without Weights: Glute Bridge
Image Credit: LIVESTRONG.com/Carolina Araujo
Skill Beginner
Type Strength
Region Lower Body
  1. Lie on your back, bend your knees and rest your feet on the floor, hip-width apart.
  2. Squeeze your butt and lift your hips up off the ground as high as possible.
  3. Hold for two to three seconds, then slowly lower back down.

Tip

You can make this exercise more challenging by performing the bridge with one leg off the ground. If you take this variation, don't forget to repeat on the opposite side.

2. With Weights: Weighted Hip Thrust

2. With Weights: Weighted Hip Thrust
Image Credit: LIVESTRONG.com/Carolina Araujo
Skill Intermediate
Type Strength
Region Lower Body
  1. Take a seat on the floor with either a bench or couch behind you. The edge of the bench should align with the lower part of your shoulder blades.
  2. Extend your legs straight out in front of you and roll a barbell or dumbbell over your hips. Place your feet flat on the ground and point your knees up toward the ceiling.
  3. Hold the sides of the weight and on an exhale, press your hips up toward the ceiling, raising the weight.
  4. At the same time, allow your shoulders and head to come up onto the bench, keeping your neck long, chin slightly tucked.
  5. When your hips are parallel to the ground, pause for a moment.
  6. Then, reverse the motion and lower the weight back down to the ground.

Tip

Slow down the eccentric (lowering) part of this hip-thrust exercise to make it more challenging. This will increase the workload on your glutes.

3. Without Weights: Wide Stance Squat With External Rotation

3. Without Weights: Wide Stance Squat With External Rotation
Image Credit: LIVESTRONG.com/Carolina Araujo
Skill Beginner
Type Strength
Region Lower Body
  1. Begin with your feet placed slightly wider than shoulder-width distance.
  2. Externally rotate your feet slightly by pointing your toes outward.
  3. Push your hips back and bend your knees, lowering your butt toward the ground.
  4. As you lower, keep your chest out and shoulders back.
  5. When your knees bend to about a 90-degree angle, press into your heels and return to standing.

"This is a movement that targets most a great deal of your lover body muscles, specifically engaging your glute medius," says Carolina Araujo, certified personal trainer and IFBB pro. "This movement can also be performed with small, looped bands around the ankles, shins or below the knees. Band placement will change level of resistance during the exercise."

4. With Weights: Dumbbell Sumo Squat

4. With Weights: Dumbbell Sumo Squat
Image Credit: LIVESTRONG.com/Carolina Araujo
Skill Intermediate
Type Strength
Region Lower Body
  1. Begin standing with your feet a bit wider than shoulder-width apart, toes pointed outward.
  2. With your back flat and arms extended down the front of your body, hold a dumbbell in both hands at one of the ends. Allow the rest of the weight to rest between your legs.
  3. Push your hips back and bend your knees, keeping a flat back.
  4. Squat down until your knees form a 90-degree angle or lower, if possible.
  5. Then, press through your heels and return to standing.

5. Without Weights: Hip Abduction

5. Without Weights: Hip Abduction
Image Credit: LIVESTRONG.com/Carolina Araujo
Skill Beginner
Type Strength
Region Lower Body
  1. Begin seated at the edge of a chair with your feet at hip-width distance.
  2. Plant your feet on the ground and push your knees outward, simultaneously contracting your glutes.
  3. Hold for a moment, then bring the knees back to hip-width distance.

6. With Resistance: Banded Hip Abduction

6. With Resistance: Banded Hip Abduction
Image Credit: LIVESTRONG.com/Carolina Araujo
Skill Intermediate
Type Strength
Region Lower Body
  1. Start on all fours with a resistance loop around both legs just above the knees.
  2. Using your gluteus medius (the side of your butt), lift your leg with the knee still bent so that your knee is parallel to your hip (or as high as you can go without rotating your hips).
  3. Lower back down to the start with control.
  4. Do all your reps on one side and repeat on the other.

7. Without Weights: Bulgarian Split Squat

7. Without Weights: Bulgarian Split Squat
Image Credit: LIVESTRONG.com/Carolina Araujo
Skill Beginner
Type Strength
Region Lower Body
  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart three feet away from a chair or bench.
  2. Facing away from the chair, raise your right foot onto the seat, tucking your toes.
  3. Place most of your weight in your left leg and begin to bend the knee, simultaneously lowering your right knee toward the ground.
  4. Keeping a flat back, bend your front knee until it forms a 90-degree angle and your back knee just hovers above the ground.
  5. Press into the left leg and return to standing.

Tip

"The important aspect is to make sure the movement is being controlled by the anterior (hind) leg and that you are lowering yourself enough to feel a deep stretch into your hamstring," Araujo says. "This is a great glute minimus and maximus movement."

8. With Weights: Dumbbell Bulgarian Split Squat

8. With Weights: Dumbbell Bulgarian Split Squat
Image Credit: LIVESTRONG.com/Carolina Araujo
Skill Intermediate
Type Strength
Region Lower Body
  1. Stand a few feet away from a weight bench, facing away from it and holding a dumbbell in each hand.
  2. Keeping your weight on your left leg, raise your right foot onto the bench, tucking the toes.
  3. Holding the dumbbells at your sides, simultaneously bend your left knee to 90 degrees and lower your right knee until it hovers just above the ground.
  4. Pause for a moment here.
  5. Then, press into your left heel to return to standing.
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