Your glutes are one of the most powerful groups of muscles in your body. Building them up can make you run faster, jump higher and punch or throw harder.
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Your rear end is comprised of three glute muscles: maximus, medius and minimus. The gluteus maximus extends your legs back and rotates them to the outside, which is the same motion as pointing your toes out. The medius and minimus turn your leg in and kick it out to the side.
Your gluteus maximus is the biggest and most powerful of the glutes, while the medius and minimus are smaller but still significant. To build up your glutes, you'll have to use exercises that target the different muscles.
Read more: The Advantages of Strong Glutes
The 4 Best Glute Exercises for Guys
The exercises that best activate the glutes might not be the ones that you expect. The squat, for example, helps build the glutes, but it's not as effective as the hip thrust for building the gluteus maximus.
Deadlifts are also useful, but some single-leg movements activate the glutes more, like lunges and step-ups. The single-leg exercises also tend to work the gluteus medius and minimus more.
Whichever exercises you choose to do, you'll eventually want to add some weight to fully activate your glutes. They're incredibly strong muscles, and while you can start with just your bodyweight to learn the form, you should eventually add weight.
Read more: The Top 15 Moves to Tone Your Glutes
1. Single-Leg Squat
HOW TO DO IT: Stand in front of a bench or chair, and hold 5- to 10-pound dumbbells in each hand. Pick one leg up and squat down on the other leg until your butt hits the bench or chair. As you lower, reach the weights forward. This will give you some counter-balance and make it easier to sink down into the squat.
2. Hip Thrust
HOW TO DO IT: Find a bench or chair that is sturdy enough that it won't tip over. Sit in front of the bench with your back against the side. Your butt should be on the ground with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor a foot in front of your butt. You can add resistance to this exercise by putting a barbell over your hips and pressing it up into the air.
With the edge of the bench or chair against your upper back, lean back and thrust your hips up into the air until your body forms a straight line from your knees to your shoulders. Drop your hips back down until they're close to the ground, then drive them back up.
HOW TO DO IT: Stand with your feet together. Take a big step forward, plant your front foot and drop your back knee down to the ground. Then, step forward with your back foot so that it's in line with your front foot. Keep lunging forward, alternating legs each stride. Hold dumbbells by your side to up the difficulty.
HOW TO DO IT: Use a bench, box or sturdy chair at least knee-high for this exercise. Step up onto the flat surface with one foot and plant it near the edge. Lean forward and drive down with that leg, stepping up onto the surface with the other foot. Then, step back down with the same leg. Hold dumbbells in your hands to make it more difficult.