Bigger, stronger glutes help you run faster and lift more weight in some lower-body exercises. Big booty men are also at less risk for lower back pain. Some people also find bigger glutes more aesthetically pleasing.
Glute Muscle Anatomy
When you refer to the glutes, you're usually talking about the gluteus maximus, which is the biggest muscle in the body. It's the visible muscle that makes up the bulk of someone's rear-end. However, there are actually three glute muscles.
The gluteus maximus spans the backside of your hip bone and runs down into your femur. It also connects to the iliotibial band, which is a thick band of tissue that runs down the side of your leg. There are two more glute muscles: the gluteus medius and minimus.
Your glute muscles extend your hip and lift your leg to the side, a movement known as abduction. They also help rotate your leg. The gluteus maximus is the biggest and most powerful of the three muscles and the most important when it comes to things like running and lifting weights.
Advantages of Bigger Glutes
Sprinting requires hip extension, so much so that building up stronger glutes can actually make you faster. An August 2018 study published in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine showed that some weighted glute exercises can help improve sprint performance. Sprinting is important in many sports, so men who want to increase their athletic performance should do glute exercises.
For male athletes, performance is important. However, you don't need to be an athlete to benefit from glute training. If you're a man who suffers from lower back pain, glute exercises can help. An August 2017 study published in the American College of Sports Medicine's Health & Fitness Journal discussed the importance of glute strengthening exercises in managing lower back pain.
In the article, the authors explain that stronger glute muscles help you move and lift with less effort, reducing strain on your lower back. Stronger glutes can also improve your posture, which can help reduce lower back pain.
1. The Hip Thrust
To build bigger glutes, you should perform an exercise that activates the glutes and allows you to easily add resistance: the barbell hip thrust. A December 2015 study published in the Journal of Applied Biomechanics showed that the barbell hip thrust activates the glutes more than a barbell back squat. The latter is a well-known lower-body strength exercise, but the barbell hip thrust is better at specifically targeting the glutes.
- Use a bench or box that won't tip over. It should be heavy or securely fastened to the ground. Whatever object you use should be 16 inches high and flat on top.
- Sit in front of the box or bench with your mid-back resting on the edge.
- Place a barbell on your lap. You can rest a pad on your lap between your body and the barbell, or use a bar pad that wraps around the bar. This will protect your hip bones as you're doing the thrust.
- Place your hands on the barbell.
- Bend your knees and plant your feet flat on the ground.
- Lean back and thrust your hips up, pressing through your heels.
- Bring your hips up as high as possible. At the top, your body should form a straight line from your knees to your shoulders. Your knees should be bent at 90 degrees.
- Relax and put the barbell down.
Try this exercise without a barbell if you're not sure how much weight you can lift.
2. Other Glute-Building Resistance Exercises
While the barbell hip thrust is one of the best gluteus maximus exercises, you should switch things up and add variety to your booty-building workout routine.
Move 1: Step-Ups
Step-ups can be used as part of your glute-building routine. Use a box to step on and some dumbbells or kettlebells to add resistance.
- Place a box with a flat surface on the ground.
- Put one foot on the top of the box.
- Step up so that you're standing on the box.
- Step back with the same foot you used to step up. Switch sides when you've completed your desired number of repetitions. You can hold dumbbells or kettlebells by your sides to add resistance.
If this exercise is too difficult, use a shorter box or drop the weights.
Move 2: Barbell Back Squat
While it's not quite as effective as the hip thrust, the barbell back squat can help you build your glutes. You'll need a barbell and a power rack for this exercise.
- To start, put the bar over your upper back and grab it with both hands, wider than shoulder-width apart.
- Lift the bar out of the rack and take a step back.
- Set your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart and turn your toes out slightly.
- Squat down, keeping your feet flat on the ground.
- Go as low as you can; then stand back up.
You can hold a light kettlebell in front of your chest to squat instead of using a barbell if the exercise is uncomfortable.
3. Unweighted Glute Exercises
Beginners or men suffering from lower back pain who aren't ready to touch weights can use isolated glute exercises.
Move 1: The Clam
- Take an elastic band and place it around your knees.
- Lie on your side with your knees bent and legs stacked on top of each other.
- The bottom leg should be on the ground. Lift your top knee off of the bottom knee while keeping your feet together. Don't turn your body to lift up, simply raise your top leg as high as you can.
- Lower it back down slowly and under control; Your legs should look like a clam opening and closing its shell.
Remove the resistance band if you can't raise your leg with correct technique.
Move 2: Side Plank
- Start by lying on your side with your forearm on the ground.
- Lift your hips up so that you're in a side plank position with your body in a straight line and legs stacked on top of each other.
- Lift your top leg up and hold it in the air as long as you can and then switch sides.
Don't raise your top leg if that makes the exercise too difficult.
- Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy: "Which Exercises Target the Gluteal Muscles While Minimizing Activation of the Tensor Fascia Lata? Electromyographic Assessment Using Fine-Wire Electrodes"
- ACSM's Health & Fitness Journal: "Posterior Chain Exercises for Prevention and Treatment of Low Back Pain"
- ACE Fitness: "Build Your Glutes With This Strength Training Routine"
- Research Gate: "A Comparison of Gluteus Maximus, Biceps Femoris, and Vastus Lateralis EMG Amplitude for the Barbell, Band, and American Hip Thrust Variations"
- Journal of Applied Biomechanics: "A Comparison of Gluteus Maximus, Biceps Femoris, and Vastus Lateralis Electromyographic Activity in the Back Squat and Barbell Hip Thrust Exercises."
- Journal of Sports Science and Medicine: "Barbell Hip Thrust, Muscular Activation and Performance: A Systematic Review"
- University of Washington: "Gluteus Minimus"
- Loyola University: "Gluteus Medius"
- University of Washington: "Gluteus Maximus"
- Library of Congress: "What Is the Strongest Muscle in the Human Body?"